I decided to model the university using 3d studio max. Little did I know the trouble I would face, but I won't complain about all that just now. There were 3 main difficulties I encountered. The first was getting the coulees the way I wanted them. I have never done much modeling before, but if I never have to do hills again, it will be too soon. I started with a self-created mesh that looks pretty basic. I figured out after an easier way to do this would be to start with a plane and then just segment it using a simple toggle then convert it to a mesh, but I think a lot of the things here could be done more efficiently.
About 10 hours later, I have all the counters meticulously detailed the way I want them. if I did this again, I would spend considerable more time probably doubling the amount of vertices for the mesh and spending further time creating the countours. You will notice I added and refined some vertices in order to shape most of the hills as well. The difficulty in this portion was simply that the hils are very uniquely shaped. They have contours that can go in many different directions. Because of this I had to attempt a pretty flexible mesh whereby points would be moved in any direction in order to achieve a desired look. Because of this, this picture is really only suited to the perspective I chose to use, as another perspective would probably yield a pretty ugly picture.
After this was done, I moved on to the university. I started with a pretty standard box and split it into 25 segments by 15 segments by 10 segments in order to get the amount of polygons I needed to manipulate. Again, if I did this again I would add more polygons for a more refined look. I neglected to take a picture of it in its early stages, but I selected certain faces and extruded them to get the university's unique (and annoying) shape. I extruded specific "rows" of faces by the amount to give it a sort of top heavy orientation. This is directly mirrored to the backside, although can't actually see that side. For the holes through the university. I created 3 simple boxes and aligned them to the correction position (scaled, translated, and rotated). I then turned the university into a boolean compound, using subtraction to remove all 3 from its model. Here is the picture with the boxes unrotated and still existant.
Here is a quick picture of me in midway progression. Its a wireframe picture that shows both the vertex complexity of the university and the environment. It shows the general shape from a different perspective then my final picture will, but it gives you an idea of the shape of both important pieces.
The next portion (possibly the most painful, and still imperfect) was texturing. Texuring is something I didn't have time to fully learn, and as such my final picture does suffer. I physically took a picture of the university and some grass, imported them into 3d Studio max, and then creating them as materials. Unforunately with my small crossections, you will notice I had to repeat (or tile) them, and this is less then perfect. After these 2 were finished, I started selecting individual polygons (windows) and attempted to give them a transparent mirrorish look. I don't think I succeeded, but I did it nonetheless. What made this difficult is that each window has a small cement spacing in between. So the nice and difficult way I accomplished this is to create a plane hovering just over the surface of EACH(83) window, texture it seperately, and then recombine it with the main model. Im sure there is an easier way to do this, but im learning. Here I will supply a quick odd position of my university about half done the windows and rendered, just so you get a general idea. And if you think there is an easy way to position each of those planes, well, there probably is, but I don't know it, so I did it by hand:( Oh, and one thing you will notice about this picture is that the university is actually box shaped, where it isn't in reality. This is because I chose to obstruct the view of the univsity with a hill, so while it looks like its the right shape, my shape is easier. I didn't want to spend the possibly days of configuring the university to be the correct shape when I would do it with perspective. Thats what this class is all about anyway, perspective.
I will also supply a quick picture showing the wireframe version of all this plane molding just so you can appreciate how much I actually had to do.
The last step was the lighting. After fighting with the lights for awhile I finally settled on using the sunlight style light, with it at about 11oclock almost directly overhead. I chose this because the countours of the university weren't clearly seen without shadow, and I felt it would show off some of the hard work I did. This is my final photo, completely rendered, all lighting, shadows etc. And for comparisons sake, I will also include the picture I was modeling it against so you get an idea of what I was trying to do. I also dropped this picture in as part of the background, because I didn't have time to model all those other stupid little houses. Because the original picture as a resolution of 1000x664, I also chose this odd resolution as my final one.
As you can see, it would be wonderful for me to add better textured grass with brown spots and all the little trees and powerlines and junk, but I simply did not have that kind of time, considering the amount of time that went into both the university and those blasted coulees. The thing I learned most in this project is how much persective matters. Even in still footage, creating the perspective you want takes a considerable (backbreaking) amount of work to accomplish correctly. The worst part about this is that from other perspectives your picture can be completely ugly. This makes me give considerably more respect to the people who create games and 3d models where you have no idea what the perspective is going to be, thus your picture must be perfect in every situation. Much to think on I have. I am slightly disappointed with how the university appears in the perspective view, so I will throw in a quick shot of it rendered at a different angle as well.