Jake Yavis -- Student ID# 001158567
Fall 2014 -- University of Lethbridge
CPSC 3710 -- Computer Graphics
Professor -- Steve Wismath
Project -- 3D Modeling Software
THE INTRO & THE PHOTO
For my project I decided to model a set of dice and a cup to be used for rolling them. I wish to be able to print the dice with the 3D printer and use them to play Crapola (also just called Dice) or Yahtzee (though I will probably have to colour in the dots to be able to see them in the texture-free version.) I initially downloaded Blender and spent 3-4 hours learning the basics of the program and how to manipulate some basic objects/primitives.
Coming into this having zero experience with 3d modeling software, I struggled for a while. After taking a break and subsequently discovering that Autodesk offers legitimate students a FREE 3-year licence for 3D Studio Max, I dropped Blender for the better, more powerful paid software. The time I spent on Blender was not entirely wasted however, as some of the aspects of 3D Studio Max came more intuitively now that I had at least a little experience.
Once I figured out what I was going to model, the procedure went fairly smoothly. I wanted the dice to be standard size at a real-world scale. I looked up sizes of dice and found that by-far the most popular size of dice is 16mm. I easily changed the scale in 3D Studio Max to represent Metric Scale units of my choice.
THE JOURNEY (How I Made the Thing)
I started with a simple cube with side length 16mm. At first my view was so zoomed out I could not figure out why I was not seeing what I was creating. It was just too small...
When I found it, I rounded the corners and divided the faces into 3x3 grids. I rotated the object around and selected the appropriate segments needed to represent a standard 6-sided die.
I then used the Inset and Bevel Modifiers to create the indented dots. It took me a while to get the numbers right so it would indeed be concave after applying smoothing modifiers.
When I got the combination right, I had smooth concave dimples in my cube. Voila, a simple die.
I selected the dimples and gave them Material ID #1. Invert selection and make the rest of the die Material ID #2. Using the Material Editor I made both Materials a glossy standard texture and tried to choose colours with eye-catching contrast.
Once I made one, making five more was just a matter of time.
Now to make a Yahtzee-style dice-rolling cup. I used the Lathe modifier, which, like a Lathe in real life, makes things real easy. I drew the outline of the cup floor and walls right beside the dice, using them as a rough sizing reference.
With the click of a button my 2d Spline turns into a cup. There is not enough appreciation for the power of this software. Thousands upon thousands of people just use it, not wondering what makes it work (non-computer scientists of course.)
I used the Quick Slice tool to give the cup a simple stripe design. After slicing, I had to select all the segments on the cup resembling the stripe, then similarly assign different Material IDs to the sections.
One final picture showing the inside of the cup. I am excited to see how the print works. It's just too bad it's not a colour 3D printer!
I naturally struggle with anything that combines creativity with artistic ability, so deciding on what to model was a challenge that I came across.
As mentioned above, getting the dimples in the die to be perfectly concave, instead of having a flat face in the center posed to be a bit difficult, but after enough tries I eventually got it. With more time I certainly could have learned more extensively the capabilities of 3D Studio Max, and in turn done a bit better and more efficient job.
I referred to countless tips and tutorials, both written and video to aid in learning the software. It would appear that both Blender and 3D Studio Max are popular software with lots of free (as well as paid) learning opportunities available online.
Thank you very much Internet. Also thanks to Autodesk for offering the educational version of 3D Studio Max for free.
One thing I am a little worried about concerning the print, is the dimples on the bottom side. Since the area where the bottom-side-dimples are is not contacting the z = 0 plane like the rest of the object, I am wondering if an attempt to print layers on top of this area would result in a cave-in, so to speak.
This issue is the main reason why the dimples needed to be as close to perfectly concave as possible (see side-view below), as opposed to if they were flat across (poorly illustrated with a black line below). This way I think the printer will have a little bit of an edge to build each subsequent layer on, instead of trying to build a whole layer on top of a space that contains nothing. We are talking about a dimple that is about a millimeter deep.., so I am interested to see how the printer quality is and how it turns out.
Overall this project was worth the time invested in it. I feel like I know and appreciate now a lot more of what goes into 3D modelling and how many hours it takes to create a scene, whether it is for a game or an animation.
That being said, it is certainly not my cup of tea. I had enough trouble manipulating a simple cube to represent a simple die. I cannot imagine the patience and precision required to model something like a city, a complex vehicle like an excavator, or even a tree. Nonetheless, I enjoyed creating the dice set and am proud of my newly acquired (but sadly limited) 3D modeling skillset.