Modelling Classic Architecture

Started by DebussyMan, April 30, 2012, 08:47:24 PM

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Description: this tutorial is intended for INTERMEDIATE BATers who wish to learn a few easy techniques to improve the detailing of their models. (If you don't know anything about BATing, please follow other basic tutorials here and in other sites before you attempt to do this one, check the "Previous Knowledge" list below to see what you should know before you begin with it.)

Don't expect to get photo-realistic representations of complex shapes and moldings, but rather give your models enough complexity to look good in-game. I'll be using gmax for universality, but this applies also to 3dsmax of course.


1. Model a doorway with support columns and pediment (Pointed and arched).
        *With this you'll learn how to model: cornices, pedestals, pediments, arches and doric columns.

2. Model a balustrade.

3. Model a polygonal dome.

4. Model a Gothic tracery window.

With these examples I'm trying to cover most elements needed to model almost any building in classic style (i.e. Neoclassical, baroque, gothic, etc.) I will not include corinthian columns as there are lots of pre-made models available for free in several websites that one can use and thus, it would be just a waste of time to model them again.

Previous knowledge:

You should already know the basics of BAT:

-Viewport configuration (placing a background image)
-Creation of primitives.
-Moving, rotating, resizing, cloning, array, etc...
-Using the "snap" tool.
-How to make walls with windows, doors, roof, etc.
-How to texture your model.
-How to export  it.

I will not be covering any of these.


1. I'm in no way a design professional, I've learned these methods empirically, from other BATers or by tutorials around the web. I'm sure there are better methods to do these things, I'm just explaining how I do things in my own way.
2. I won't be taking into account the scale. I never do in my own practice; usually I rescale it to the correct size after the whole modeling is done just before I apply textures.

Visit my new MD: Emerita Augusta 1910 -


Objective 1: Model a doorway with support columns and pediment (Pointed and arched).

This is the main part of the tutorial. Here you'll learn the basics of architectural detailing and once you know all this you'll be able to use the techniques learnt to make most architectural elements for things like windows, archways, colonnades, loggias, etc...

First will start placing the image we'll be using on the background. For this tutorial we'll use this one (Please download to your PC and set it in the front viewport):

I usually get rid of the viewport grid pressing the key "g", but that's a matter of taste.

We'll start modelling the door way supports:
1- Create a box the size of the support.
2- Add the "Edit mesh" modifier
3- Go to the polygon subdivision.

4- Go to the perspective view and select the top polygon.
5- Go back to the front view and move the "extrude" rolling case upwards to the height you want.
6- Move the "bevel" rolling case upwards to expand it until it fits the image.
7- Move the "extrude" rolling case again until it fits the image.
8- Click once on the upwards arrow of the "extrude" rolling case and then move the "bevel" rolling case downwards until it fits the image.
9- Extrude again
10- Keep extruding and beveling until you fill the entire profile of the image.

Now you have a support! Clone it and place it in its place.


We continue modeling the arch:
1-In the front view, create an arc using a spline along the reference image, give it the following specs:
   Display mesh checked.
   Thickness: enough to cover the inner half of the reference arch.
   Sides: 4
        Angle: 45.0

2- Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select all polygons and click in "clear all" under the "surface properties" area in the side panel:

3- In the perspective view select only the top polygons (all of them).
4- Turn back to the front view and use again the "extrude" and "bevel" rolling cages to make the profile, but this time remember first to select "local" option located under the cases.

5- In the left view select all the vertexes of the back of the arch and move them left to give it depth.

6- Create a box following the keystone
7- Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select  the top polygon and resize it with the size tool along the x axis to fit the image.

8- Select the arch again, go to the polygon subdivision, select all and under the "surface properties" write 10.0 in the bottom box and click "auto smooth"
9- In the perspective view move everything into place.


We continue modeling the back wall of the arch.
1- Create a plane in the middle of the arch that fills all the wall in the reference image. The plane should have 3 length segments and 3 height segments.
2- Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select the 2 polygons at the center-bottom. Hit the "delete" key to remove them.
3- Go to the vertex subdivision and move the free vertexes in the center to fit the arch without any holes or overhanging parts.
4. In the perspective view, move it to its correct place.


Now we continue to the side columns.
In the picture you'll notice there are two plants covering the bottom of the columns, for the sake of it we'll imagine there are two pedestals there. We'll begin by modeling them:
1- Create a box where you want the pedestal to be.
2- Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select the bottom polygon.
3- Using the "extrude" and "bevel" rollers we already know create the base.
4- Do the same with the top polygon to create the cornice of the pedestal.


Now we make the column itself.

1. Create a cylinder with the thickness of the Bottom of the column (not the base, we'll make that later, just the bottom part). Give it 1 height segment and as many sides as you want. (This is to save polygons, if it is a tiny column with 8 sides it is enough, the larger it is the more sides you should give it, for a standard column 18 sides is enough.)
2. Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select the bottom polygon.
3. Again, with the "extrude" and "bevel" rollers create the profile of the base.
4. Select the top polygon and move it to the top of the column just before the capital begins.
5. You'll notice that in most columns the thickness of the upper part is thinner than at the bottom. Resize the top polygon to fit the thickness of the reference image (remember to do this in all axes and not just on the X one).
6. Use the "extrude" and "bevel" rollers to make the round part of the capital.
7. Create a box above the column to make the square part of the capital (called abacus).
8- Add the "edit mesh" modifier and under the "polygon" subdivision select the top polygon. Use the "extrude" and bevel rollers to give it a profile.

*A note on smoothing: You'll notice something weird with the polygons you extruded in the column, they are not soft! This is solved with the "Auto Smooth" tool like we did with the arch. To do this, select all the polygons of the column, put a value in the "Auto Smooth" case and then click on the "Auto Smooth" button.

Tip: play with the auto smooth case values to get only the polygons you want to be smooth, if you give it a value too high everything will be smoothed and will look bad, if it is too low you'll see the transition between the polygons and will also look bad.

Finally, in the perspective view select all three parts of the column (pedestal, column and abacus), group it (if you want), clone it and move everything into place.


Making the main cornice...   

To make the main cornice create a box and do as we've done so many times by adding the "Edit mesh" modifier and playing with the "extrude" and "bevel" rollers to give it the profile of the picture. By this time I'm sure you can manage that on your own ;)

Making the pediment

1-   Clone the main cornice. With the new cornice selected, right-click and click "Hide unselected"
2-   Select the bottom vertexes that DON'T correspond to the profile of the pediment and delete them pressing the "delete" key"
3-   With the cornice selected go to the "hierarchy" tab and click on "affect pivot only"
4-   Move the pivot to the corner of the cornice.
5-   Move the cornice slightly to fit the reference image.
6-   Rotate it on the Y axis to fit the angle of the reference image. Right click, "Unhide all"
7-   Create a perfectly straight line using splines and then, using the "Align" tool, center it to the main cornice in the X axis and with the peak of your pediment on the Y axis.
8-   On the top drop-down menu select "Parent" and using the squash tool "flatten" all you can these vertexes on the X axis.
9-   Move the vertexes, together all at the same time, on the X and Y axis to the exact point where the top of your line and the highest vertex meet. You can use the snap tool to make this easier.
10-   Clone it, mirror it on the X axis and align it again with the line. Delete the line. Create a small 1x1 segment plane to make the center, modify the top vertexes if you need with the "Edit mesh" modifier so it doesn't stick out.

11-   On the perspective view move everything into place.


If we wanted it to be Arched...

1- Create a box with several width segments (again, to your discresion, smaller ones 5 – 10, really big ones up to 30-50).
2- Select all the Top polygons.
3- Using the "Extrude" and "Bevel" rolling cases try to imitate the top of the main cornice.
4- Move it to the top of the main cornice. Add the "bend" modifier, set it on the X axis at 90 degrees direction and with the angle you desire.

That's it!

Visit my new MD: Emerita Augusta 1910 -


Visit my new MD: Emerita Augusta 1910 -


Visit my new MD: Emerita Augusta 1910 -


Visit my new MD: Emerita Augusta 1910 -


The Floraler

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, feel the earth move, and then...

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *    * 


Great tut. Thanks for sharing.  :thumbsup:

To extract and correct textures I use a small tool called: Texture Ripper by renderhjs.

It really a small powerfull tool, when you get the hang on how to mark the area.

You will need to install Adobe Air first (don't worry its free).

A screenshot:

Spacebar : paste from clipboard
Enter save all to desktop.


Thanks for sharing your knowledge Debussyman and thanks to Vester too for the software(s) &apls

Guillaume :thumbsup:
L'atelier d'architecture
* * * * * Longwy * * * * *


Thank's You guys!!! This is fantastic tutorial. Great Job. Thank's fo sharing.