Designing Cabinets in Blender3D — Experiments

cabinets.pngI designed these simple 3D cabinets in Blender3D, with the idea that I would use this model, which is mostly right angles and cubes with a woodgrain texture and a marble texture, as a simple test when I try bringing custom models into Hammer.

Classes start in about three weeks, and I’ll start going back to the office later this week, so I’m getting in a lot of power hacking time while I can still do so. I won’t be teaching any courses that use 3D design for some time, but I do hope to make some progress on a few educational games that I’ve been thinking about. But I’ve gotta crawl before I can walk, so I’m working on my skills while they’re still fresh.

I also got the idea to use the same model to generate a flat 2D texture that I could paint on the walls of my latest Hammer level. If I want to create a room that I want the player to be able to open cabinets and search for stuff, then I would want to use a working model. If the player is just chasing someone past these cabinets, I could paint the texture onto a flat wall, and use the texture itself as a guide for pulling cubes out of the wall, so that the cabinets look more realistic. Since the texture already comes with a flat picture that represents the beveled edges and curved handles that you can see in the 3D version, that would save a lot of computer power. If the player will never go into the room, but might only glimpse it through the window of a car, then it can be completely flat with fake shadows.

I initially thought I would just quickly rough something out, but then I started experimenting with lights (there’s one bright overhead spot, another dimmer spot that’s at about 45 degrees, and then a very dim area light that gives a bluish light to the shadows). And I spent a whole naptime getting the accordion fold hatchway to work realistically.

The whole idea behind designing cabinets is that I learned from experience that if you design an open bookcase or shelves, then you have to design stuff to go on the shelves, or else the room looks vacant. And that’s time consuming. If I design cabinets, and perhaps add post-it notes or other flat objects in different configurations, the spaces may look more lived in.

While I love adventure games, and enjoy hunting for clues through every nook and cranny of a richly realized world, that sort of thing would be very time consuming and wouldn’t really be very useful for the particular educational goals I have in mind. (But, darn it, it’s also just plain fun… I do this instead of watching TV.)
Update, Jan 3: Yesterday, Susan Gibb quoted part of this entry, and observed, “And all he was doing was designing cabinets! Just goes to show you how addictive this stuff can get. There’s some amazing tools (toys!) out there.”

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