Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Technical Skills/ 3D Realisation- Sketch Up Advanced.

Progressing from out previous Sketch Up lesson on the basics (previous lesson), we had enough to go upon to advance further in sketch up so make a magnitude of fantastic things. Firstly Gareth went back over the basic set up and how we should have it so turn on large skill set, tools and styles. This set our Sketch Up user interface up nicely ready for the advances we was about to make.

We was shown to use the free form drawing tool to create a shape of any imagination just a random shape then to use the push/pull tool to expand it width wise to any scale we could think of as this was our advanced sketch up project. Before we did this for ourselves we watched Gareth create his own Sketch Up model using multiple techniques. First thing he introduced us was to the 3D Warehouse then Get Models, this is the place where other Sketch Up users have uploaded there models to the warehouse for all others to see and comment, but the feature that makes this warehouse useful is that you can then import them models into your current project. So Gareth wanted to go an aircraft he imported many different ideas such as a cockpit from a harrier jet, some small angled drone wings, body of a apache helicopter and much more. These were all full models of e.g. a harrier jet but the good thing was that when you import these you go to Edit->Components in Model->Explode, those steps make the models you have imported spilt into different segments depending on how it was made, the repetition of exploding maybe required to get the smaller more detailed or little parts of a jet e.g. the wing flaps then use the move tool to keep the items you like. Make a Group by selecting the set of objects you want and then clicking make group so it all bundles together and keeps your model moving as one. If you want to mirror an object to the other side e.g. a wing of an aircraft just copy, paste, then use the scale tool to drag across to overlap current format  and flip the image (tip: use the measurements in the bottom right so you have a complete mirror of the image you are flipping/ mirroring). He then pieced together using multiple items and models he liked over the top of the original random shape to make a futuristic 2 seated aircraft.

The mini-brief we was then given you can probably guess is to build our own 2 seated aircraft doing this same process using the 3D Warehouse. I have taken many images on my progress throughout the model and then even animated it to upload to my YouTube channel. After I had finished with my model I could do many things with it of my choice really, I had the choice to upload to YouTube which I did, Export into Photoshop to experiment on it as a model and maybe turn it into concept art, or weaponise it develop the model more in Sketch Up which I will return to at some stage.

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This is how I started you can see the random shape in the middle and then I had gathered a drone from the Model warehouse taken the small front end body wings placed them on what is currently the back of the shape to give it a streamlined futuristic look then the front is also from that drone it was the panels on the bottom of the ship but I mirrored them to give a modern panelled look to add the cockpits onto the ship.

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I then wanted wings for this model so this was key for the model as the wings need to be scaled correctly or the aircraft will look unbalanced its the same with dragons if they have tiny wings and a big body they look like a cartoon funny dragon rather than fearsome so a sense of scale is important. Then I tried to experiment with how to add a cockpit so this front end was from a different drone to try panel it and add a cockpit in-between these mirrored panels.

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This was an attempt to add weapons to the spaceship, which I decided against for now as I wanted the basics of the ship first. But I got rid of the front end from the previous photo as it didn’t look right but the body of the ship was coming together nicely. This was all done with all I learnt from the last lesson on the Sketch Up basics like rotate, move, and scale.2013-11-06 16.19.422013-11-06 16.48.36

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This is the cockpit I found on a spaceship this is the only piece I took from the ship as the rest didn’t appeal to me so I exploded the ship until it allowed me to take the cockpit and place it on the front of my ship, I particularly like this feature and design of it as the glass allows panoramic view for the pilot so he can see a lot more than say a single slot. Also I move the gun scaled it down rotated it and tried to place it on the bottom as I liked the cannon for firepower but it just wasn’t working. I also made the wings bigger to make the scale more realistic.

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This is pretty much the final product I found the rear end of a spaceship as I wanted futuristic thrusters to power my spaceship and then the wing just glide it around in space or future earth. To get just the rear end I had problems with exploding the image as when I tried to take the rear end it was stretching the ship rather than separating. so to do this  and get just the rear of the ship I had to make a rectangle then use the push/pull tool to cut straight through the shape then select the model going to edit->intersect faces->with selection. This will cut the shape when you then move the rectangle out of the way so there I had my rear of my ship. I also needed one more seat to I put a harrier 1seater cockpit on top which is still streamlined.

And there is my finished animated version of my 2 seated spaceship. I showed this to my tutors today they was very impressed with my full animation of it and the style of the ship, Gareth imagined it dropping out of a huge star destroyer then the wings raise up to a glide then the thrusters has the option of hyper speed. That’s exactly what I was trying to get across so therefore I felt like I had done my job with this well and now all there is to do is possibly weaponise it or concept art it in Photoshop.

This was all to let us get better at Sketch Up as its a useful software for doing really quick 3D Designs and concepts for example buildings, I am currently doing a gladiator arena in Sketch Up for my Adaptation task so I have really taken a shine to Sketch Up.

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Technical Skills- Sketch Up

In todays session of technical skills we began to learn the basics of sketch up. Sketch Up is the program that was used to build the buildings on Google earth and also was used for a lot of the environment of the game Uncharted. So this for us as 3d games designers could become a very useful software to get the hang of for such things as: level design, environment art and even concepts.

So Sketch Up the basics was the lesson, we learnt pretty much all the basics in one lesson it was just using our own creative minds to create a building or a car or anything you can visualise as long as you piece it out step by step. Today wasn’t about amazing buildings or extreme detailed missions though it was about the basics and getting us Sketch Up beginners to get a grasp on the program. To utilise the program properly you needed a good understanding of the basic tools. These tools were Orbit (rotate camera view zoom in and out with scroll), line/ shapes (draw your objects using the guidelines), select (drag to select certain parts to modify), move (move shape or a line in a shape), push/pull (make the objects 3d in or out) and rotate (rotate object or a line once selected). These are as I say the basic tools needed to begin with sketch up. Other tools such as follow (stretches shape into all sorts of things), paint bucket tool (add colour/texture/ transparency to your object) and even animate (create a small guided tour of your project using scenes) were all tools which just added onto the basics.

Another thing you may want to get used to is having an idea of scale, when you open Sketch Up you have many options of scales e.g. millimetres or inches etc. this is useful to know as when you try to enter this into another project that may be to life size scale your little project may be way out of scale.

You can also go into the Trimble Sketch Up Archives to upload other peoples exported projects onto your own project and use them for inspiration or even dismantle their work to add to your own its up to you. I tried this immediately when I searched games design and a robot showed up it wasn’t elaborate at all I could see how it was done it just takes planning and vision to do so. So this was useful to me as a learning compound.

After learning the basics we began to experiment with the program. I began trying to build my statue upon which my eagle will sit upon in one of my other modules of 3D, so trying to kill 2 tasks at once really but what began as a platform I slowly built into a building with a sort of balcony level entrance through a tunnel. This immediate showed to me that one idea can easily grow into another and then another and you just keep building on your original ideas, I started with a simple cylinder with a circle platform on top it turned into a basic outline for a level in a game.

platform 1 build

platform 1 build

platform transform onto building

platform transform onto building

added colour and transparency to level

added colour and transparency to level

final product of first attempt with Sketch Up. Level 1 platform building.

final product of first attempt with Sketch Up. Level 1 platform building.

I was very pleased with my first attempt with sketch up, if anyone is interested in using the program the Pro version is free for 30days otherwise you can use the free version or pay for pro. Although we may not use this for 3D in the game itself it will be useful to me personally for concept design and modelling.

Here is a Getting Started video for Sketch Up with step by step help for beginners, for more help see the Sketch Up Learn Centre.