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Where to begin with modeling?

Hey there everyone,

I am a programmer who is using UE4 for the first time. Besides some basic 3D modeling in Solidworks I have not used any other modeling software and quite frankly their UI’s do my head in =(

So I was hoping some one could help me with some links on the best practice of creating models which import correctly into UE4. Below is the method I have been using and the problem I am having with it. But any info on this topic would be great.

For the time being as I haven’t learnt much of any other software this is what I have tried

  1. Make a basic model in solidworks
  2. I export this as a .STL file (StereoLithography)
  3. Open 3DS max 2014
  4. Import STL
  5. change the texture ID of polygons
  6. apply multi\sub-object with 2 base textures
  7. Export as a .FBX using the options shown in the image below
  8. Import into UE4

Everything imports correctly and the base model looks great and the multi\sub-object (my 2 colors red and blue) are applied fine to the model. The issue comes from when I try to apply any material from within UE4. I get really strange behavior.

I have been reading up on this issue as some one else has mentioned here

Why does the model go all funky when applying any material but the base added with 3DS max?

From left to right screenshots are:
Model in 3DS Max, Export Settings, Model imported and on UE4 canvas, Model with the red material replaced with M_Cobblestone_Smooth

Is your model unwrapped? You will need to lay out the UV’s before material can be properly applied.
In 3ds max add the unwrap UVW modifier to your stack. A simple cube based unwrap should do the trick.

I will look into doing that as I have not done that yet. I am very new to 3DS Max so will take a quick look around see if I can find what you are talking about. I remember reading some one else saying the same thing on another post.

Oh if your are totally new to UV’s just get this for max: http://www.renderhjs.net/textools/
It does most of the work for you.

Thanks, that tool looks VERY VERY handy.

also I am just checking out the regular way of unwrapping but there is some other parts of the model inside that box which are more complex I am about to test but will a simple cube based unwrap still work?

Also make sure that you have a 2nd uv channel with a proper lightmap when you use static lightning -> otherwise you will get problems when you build your light (of course simple objects will work fine without a 2nd uv channel)

You may have to split the mesh into parts and do the uv’s for each part individually. Afterwards collapse the uv modifier so that it is “baked” into the model. You can then use the attach function to re-attach all bits. You may have to reweld the open vertices on edges were you have split the mesh.

Thanks alot for all the help. I have atleast gotten it to apply a material onto the surfaces I am getting errors about overlap and such when doing it manually so I am going to check out that toolkit see how it goes.

I will also look into the 2nd UV channel with a proper lightmap.

I know these steps must be very basic for you guys and thank you for your help. I am starting to get somewhere with this now and am beginning to understand how it all works.

EDIT: Here is my .max file without any unwrap applied. So you can check the model out for yourself.
SpeedyShare (click the link at the top next to file size)

I took a look at your model. I would say that you should consider trying to learn how to model in Quads if you are going to go further with this. UE4 (as most game engines) needs triangles for a model mesh, but modeling in quads creates a discipline that gives you a cleaner model mesh that will be converted with less anomalies. Another thing to try and do (once you get familiar with UV editing) is to unwrap parts of your model using different unwrap settings. For example, your current model is box-like but has a couple of cylindrical shapes inside. It is best to select a cylindrical shape and unwrap it with the cylindrical setting, move it aside and do the next…with the remaining parts use the flatten setting etc. There is a real art to unwrapping a model properly and it is overlooked by a lot of people new to 3D modelling. It is vital to get proficient at it for game engines if you want good rendering results.

I am alot more used to solidworks then any other modeling software. However it seems I may have to just be patient and learn my way through 3DS Max rather then trying to get this long winded method working.

Since I am starting with a .STL I have no choice but to use triangles. So I think rather then get this round about method working I should just be patient and learn the 3DS software.

But for the meantime. With unwrapping the space provided to stick the unwrap is the outlined box correct? If so does it matter where in this bounding box the different unwrapped components are?

Not really, you can use the outside as a temp work area to arrange, edit or scale. Remember the real estate in the UV editor box is precious as far as resolution goes (the UVs should be positioned to fit within the 0 to 1 UV range)

The larger a piece gets, the more resolution it gets (it’s getting a bigger piece of the texture or material). Remember you can scale the UV’s separately from each other within the UV box. If you had a helicopter you were unwrapping, you’d want to think about the parts of the model the player is going to see most of… from the outside of the helicopter, particularly if he’s standing next to it. This would be the fuselage. So you’d want the fuselage taking up all the width of the UV box.

The rotor blades and couplings could be scaled down to create more space since they are above the player and don’t require the detail. If the helo is flying they are usually replaced by a blurred animation. Some parts like the inner parts of the intakes can be scaled down even more just to show the colour… (no one is going inside the intake to see the inner part details)

So, not everything has to be unwrapped at the same scale which is what happens with one-click unwrapping unless you go in after and change it.

Thanks for all the help. I have now gotten it all working and understand what needs to be done now.