Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Every 3D Car Making Attempt, Ever

Choose your fighter!

A long time ago, it was actually started as a project to fill up my own inventory for use with Mike Nike's TSR Replayer tool which would allow custom 3D models to be used in the tool. This TSR Replayer tool would turn a Turbo Sliders Recording file into a 3D experience, as the past videos showed during the last F1 World Championship season. This of course motivated me to make my own models, but after a while, I realized that it's really fun. I mean, real fun, something so fun, you'd learn things off of video tutorials and do things with the blueprints you've saved, which has been what I did recently.

With the little to no signs of activity in my top down racing game communities, I have decided to immerse myself in Blender car making with one goal in mind: low-poly cars, considering that I'm still a beginner and, as a big bonus, they can come handy as game assets for making my own game, top down racing games especially. That said, I've started at bottom first: the basic low poly car video tutorial which gave me a car with a cartoon-esque shape, but I put my own spin at the end. The next couple of tries were a series of tests to "make it right" with a couple of car types, and ultimately harnessing the next-level texturing which would give even a low poly model an edge and a classic feel, just like in classic video games.


Going with the basics, with a twist.

It was July last year where I considered going to model a car just to waste time. Hyden's low poly car tutorial was the first reference I take in making my own car in Blender. My intent was simple: to learn, obviously. Alas, I've made my own car which, actually, a bit different from the tutorial: I aimed for a more sporty approach than the tutorial's cartoon-styled proportions. Furthermore, I made more use of the UV Texturing to make it a racing version. Yes, it's a basic car in the style of his tutorial, but is actually race modified, especially when you look at the wheel, which is actually taken from a Sports Car GT mod revolving on All-Japan GT Championship.

Things were actually straightforward in terms of modeling and texturing, but I itched myself to model more cars. Since Mike Nike's TSR Replayer came to mind, it motivated me to create another car which would nicely fit for races involving LMP-styled cars in Turbo Sliders (basically my own replays to be honest), and for that reason the thought of making an LMP car, despite my rather easy start, came to fruition, although the model itself was meant to be as simple as possible despite its complexity.

And so the LMP1 was born. While there weren't much textures to make use of, the car looks... acceptable. I wasn't sure if the textured tires and wheels would make it to the Replayer if it were released, but for a starting, ambitious model, it's quite well done. I already tried to make a mock render involving multiple LMP cars like this based on one of my screenshots captured on TS, but haven't got the time to finish it, as well as some supporting assets to represent some trackside objects, trees being one of them.

Bear in mind that I made this LMP1 without any reference image used (e.g., car blueprint) so it might be inaccurate in terms of dimensions. The only reference used was the spotter's guide and my visual cues on how an LMP looks like based on years watching Le Mans.


First attempt at a real-life car modeling.

One month passed since the start of my 3D antics. A new car was thought from the drawing boards, and it was none other than the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, the one world knows as the Godzilla. Since the Real Racing 3 update which added the Group A monster as one of the cars, I developed an obsession with the R32 Skyline, and that did somehow influence which car I'd make next. While I make this car out of spite, I thought it would look nice for the Replayer as well although I haven't thought about the TS version of the R32. As a matter of fact I haven't made any more TS cars, yet, and that there are no new WIPs at the moment.

Other than just the basic car mesh, the details were modeled as well: the windows are definitely modeled, as well as the front bumpers in which the front fascia, headlights, and intakes on the bumper are part of the mesh. On the rear, a separate cylinder mesh is placed to make up as the taillights, the same method I use during my first try at car modeling above. The proportions of the car was made to "fit" the box which would make up projected proportions of any of the future cars I'd be making in case I do continue (think of a die-cast car). The complete model, including the tires, stands with 704 vertices, 621 faces, and 1324 triangles, although the model has no UV Texture. I take it as a best attempt so far.

Front render of the Cappucino, which, though low-poly, looked well so far. I improved my UV Texturing game here by employing textures for the headlights, taillights, and wheels.

UV Texture utilization however came to mind upon modeling this particular car: Suzuki Cappucino, one of the most prominent Japanese Kei cars in production. The term Kei cars refer to small, compact road-going production cars with generally an engine capacity of 660cc (past Kei cars have lesser capacity) and are easily distinguishable by their yellow plates (black-background plates for commercial use). Like the R32, the intakes in front are modeled, but the headlights and taillights would have their own polys and textures, as well as the windows, and that no extra mesh (like a cylinder for example) is used to make up a fancy stuff or two, unlike the R32. The car doesn't use that much poly as well compared to the bigger Group A monster so the car is much more straightforward to make.

What distinguished the Cappucino with the others however is the usage of the textured wheel, though this is much different compared to the method used during my first take: by utilizing Alpha transparency settings, I'm able to loosely simulate a real wheel shape. Or, in Cappucino's case, the real hubcap shape. With this in mind, this also allowed me to put one more thing behind the hubcap which is none other than a plane reserved to be the brake texture, again using the same Alpha transparency technique, but I haven't modeled the brake yet so it's still a bright red plane. It's actually a nice idea to be honest!

Rear view of the Cappucino

The model totals 686 vertices, 436 faces, and 924 triangles, which also included the tires and the projected brake meshes. It's actually the most low-poly effort to date, but in terms of vertex numbers it's on the R32's level, close to the 700 mark.


An even better Skyline R32, now embodying an invincible legend.

Since modeling the above cars, I haven't put my interest to car modeling at the moment, yet, although the prospect of creating a low-poly car to hopefully become a future game asset someday still ingrained in me. Cut to March, however, another thought of creating such a car once more took off, and yet again I picked the R32 Skyline. However, unlike the previous attempt, I would try to make this thing as low poly as possible, harnessing more on the UV texturing for the details. Time for Round 2!

With my better understanding at car modeling, I've finally managed to project a better model of the R32, while at the same time relying on the blueprint images I've saved from the net prior to this process. As the basic mesh was done, unwrapping the model to project the texture became the next step as I mapped the islands accordingly. The finished UV mapping would also help in texturing as the next step is none other than to draw not only the headlights and the taillights, but also the front fascia, the front intakes, and the door lines as well. At 336 vertices, 323 faces, 658 triangles, and a pinpointed focus on UV texturing makes this rendition of the R32 the better attempt ever, which not only looks better than the old R32 but also slashed slightly more than a half of the old one's vertex count.

Fittingly enough, I called this project "Tire Factory" because why not? The brake caliper's placement is meant for simulating how it'd look in the final car, although it hasn't been used yet.

Apparently, it didn't stop there: I somehow thought of making a complete wheel model for the car, as in a tire with a mesh, 3D wheel, compared to Cappucino's 2D wheel. The new low-poly wheel concept kicked off with a six-spoke simple wheel that can be used as R32's main wheel, inspired by one of the Skyline pics I searched which used the said wheel in black. I would later create another set of wheels, this time with a variety of designs to choose, while keeping it as low poly as possible. There are now four mesh-based wheels and I even took the time to make a low poly brake as well, but I was stoked that the poly count for one of the wheels was in fact slightly bigger than my new R32 has.

To date, this has become my most ambitious effort yet, although it might be closer to mid-poly, with almost the vital parts of the car being modeled; the car's body, the wheels, and the brakes.


Screenshot of Rally De Africa straight from the emulator (pSXfin), unedited, and brought as a, wait for it, reference image for my next car below.

And at last, here we are, a couple of months after the refined, true low-poly R32, a new idea was born. This eventual idea, which would be way different from what I've done above, would result me in posting the rendered products on my Twitter. The main approach is that the car would have a slightly-deformed proportion with everything made up with UV Textures, even the wheels, to fit the artistic direction and considering this would be my future game assets, but the question is, how did I end up with my first car and the eventual proportion?

It actually all started with an emulator screenshot from Rally De Africa, one of my favorite PSX racing games. The car in screenshot, which actually is based on the Lancer Evolution IV rally car, somehow tempted me on making this very car, and apparently the emulator screenshot somehow made the car shorter in length which somehow makes the proportions interesting. By now, I would take screens of the car's side (only one side is enough), the front, and the rear, but the first two were the main ingredients in making this happen.

Constructing a complete evolution, after minutes of work and following the reference image above.

The car modeling method I use this time is based on Co1e's tutorial, in which the first thing I would do is to define the wheel arches, succeeded by the main car model and all the other bits. The wheels came with an 8-sided cylinder with the tire and wheel textures defined in one face, with tire treads taken from another game whose textures I ripped and made up the rest of the mesh even though it might be hard to see. Finally, the main textures are comprised of windows, door lines, and other details, upping up the game from my previous R32, while of course adding some decals to make it a ringer to the aforementioned real-life rally car, with the main catch being the texture sized at 256x256 resolution. Finally, thanks to the tutorial, Edge Split became the hero which improves the shape a lot with the smooth shading applied. This would also become the motivation to give my previous models an Edge Split upgrade as well.

Without Edge Split, the car, including the wheels, stands at 332 vertices, 297 faces, and 622 triangles, while using Edge Split, with Split Angle of 15 degrees, adds 475 vertices more to the model.

After the evolution comes another: Peugeot 306 Maxi Kit Car, the king of the F2 Kit Cars. Notice that the Lancer also dons a new wheel and tire textures as well from the above picture.

By the next creation, I've played with the proportions for my next car as well, defining how much scale is to be used to determine the model's proportion from its real life counterpart. Of all WIPs, this reflected on the Peugeot 306 Maxi Kit Car Evolution II, resulting in a smaller dimension than the Lancer just like in real-life. By this point onwards I also made my own wheel textures, effectively replacing the ripped textures as the main wheel, not to mention with the additional details added for the tire. With wheels and Edge Split applied, the car actually had lower vertex count at 712, but still a nice low-poly car within the range nonetheless.

Obviously I have more to come based on my fourth take above especially that I've already created and showcased a couple of completed cars on Twitter, if you noticed way earlier. Not only I will talk a lot more about my recent car models, but also I will talk about something that spearheaded me into making those cars: tinkering with PSX textures, like the following picture below, in which it's actually a texture from a PSX game called Rally De Europe overimposed to my own mesh which I hoped it would look like the in-game model since I haven't find a way to extract the game's 3D models, although doesn't seem to be satisfactory in terms of result.


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