Blog Entry 02/03/2017

Dissertation Name Change and LOD Testing

I wanted to hold off on blogging this week until I had received my feedback

from my presentation. Now I have, there are some changes to the deliverables

and the title of my dissertation that I need to make. The feedback chimes with

what I’ve been thinking for a while in the fact that I’m MODELLING and not

designing. With the work really being “An investigation into the inherent

problems associated with the production of LOD spaceships in a modern, real-time

game engine.” I feel a lot of the work I’ve done up to this stage, with research in

LOD and poly counts, suits this new focus for my dissertation and has given me

new resolve and direction for this project. It is, therefore, imperative that I

produce a document which should be included in my deliverables. This

document should contain a detailed analysis of current industry LOD workflow

compared to my own workflow, clearly laying out my findings, Pros & Cons of

each method to the lecturers.


Testing into LOD in 3DS max and its results compared to Zbrush Decimation master.

Decimation master was part of my LOD testing because I not only mentioned it

in previous blogs but I also knew it could retain the UVs of the model after

decimating it, whilst retaining good mesh detail. On testing a fully attached

Corvette model in Zbrush using “Decimation Master”, it struggled to take out

polygons in an efficient manner while holding onto the UVs. Holding onto the

UVs forced Zbrush to conform to the UVs rather than retopologizing the mesh

its own way, this process left the mesh with high vertex counts and unevenly

distributed polys (Figure 3).  I also tested another method where I had

retopologized each section of the Corvette individually (Figure 1&2). This did a

slightly better job, but I then ran into the problem of not being able to get my

required poly counts for the LOD. The lowest LOD needed to be 80% fewer

polys than the High poly; It was the case that some sections just couldn’t be

reduced by that much, without compromising the UVs. This was an obvious

failure and this method would not work for me.

Figure 1.) Retopologizing each section individually, Not my desired outcome, mesh way to messy.

Figure 2.) Left the turret with really bad geometry.

Figure 3.) As a result, the texture was unable to map to the UVs after retopology.

These two tests in Zbrush didn’t produce my expected outcome, and so I moved

into testing LOD inside of 3DS Max itself. Inside of 3DS Max, I once again tested

a fully attached Corvette mesh. Using the modifier “Pro Optimizer” you could

retain texture and UVs and then aim for a percentage you wish the final poly

count to be. The results of this test were far more successful, with the mesh

retaining its UVs, and therefore the texture I’ve made (Figure 4&5&6). The

mesh had slightly been broken in parts due to the process of retopology, but I

can either repair some parts or leave it, with the knowledge that the Low LOD

will be hardly visible. It also retains its silhouette as we go through Med and

Low LOD as well which was also a big plus. Since this process yielded the best

results in terms of mesh quality/UV protection/Texture preservation, I’ll use the

“Pro Optimizer” modifier for the other 2 spaceships.

Figure 4.) 6,000 poly Med LOD was respectable, retaining a good mesh, and losing unnecessary geometry such as panelling detailing.

Figure 5.) 3,600 poly Low LOD was also respectable, retaining a good mesh also.

Figure 6.) Even for the Low LOD, the texture had no problem mapping onto the UVs, with no signs of stretching on the surface.

I didn’t like the current diffuse texture colours I had used on the ships, They were

too bright, and didn’t look metallic even with metal overlayed textures. My aim

was to match that of the anaconda in Elite regarding colour palette (Figure 7.),

something my models currently didn’t do. So I decided to go through all of the

models and redo the underlining colour and that of the greeble colour, to

something more pleasing. Though this took some time, it had the benefit of

allowing the normal map to come through a lot cleaner and clearer, as I’d

removed a load of layers (levels, curves etc) in photoshop (Figure 8.). I’ve also

started poly-painting in extra colour where I feel there needs to be more

definition of the shape, help define the silhouette better. As a result making the

texture cleaner and sharper, here are some results on this so far.(Figure 9.)

Figure 7.) Anaconda, Elite Dangerous (Frontier)

Figure 8.) A Much darker colour palette for the spaceships now, with much more defined shape poly-painting.


Figure 9.) The defined edges look much better and give the spacecraft a much greater silhouette.