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The Making of an Audi TT
By Michael C aka Mcmach1
Website:
http://www.mcmach1.com/
Contact:
mcmach1@hotmail.com

Time spent modelling car body: 3 days (tweaking will last forever;-)
Skills you will learn: Manipulating Quad and Tri Patches

Vehicle Background:

The TT began life at the Volkswagen Audi Design Centre in California, May 1994. It is a piece by German/ American stylist Freeman Thomas. Romanian designer Romulus Rost was responsible for the interior, clean simple aluminium and leather. I love concept cars and this because it is one of the few concept cars to make it into production pretty much unaltered.

The vehicle had its debut at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show after a 7 month development schedule.

It hit the roads in 1997.


I hate to admit this as a former box modelling fan but it has to be said that patches have a lot going for them as a modelling technique. They allow you to create very detailed objects.

I hope you have a basic knowledge of 3d Studio Max before starting this, so no stupid questions! However if you do run into a problem or I have not been clear enough in a certain area of the tutorial then feel free to email me. The picture above shows my TT as it is now, still a lot to do on it but body done. Talking you through all the body would be a very long task so prepare to think for yourself at certain points.

Disclaimer: This is how I made my TT with my miniscule 2 months of max experience and is by no means the only way / right way to go about the task.

We proceed......

I learnt how to use patches from Maxforums user Codfish so this piece starts off just like in his tutorial. By the way do drop in to his site and download, yes download his Dreamcar! Study it and learn!

1. First you start off going to the Create->Geometry->Patch Grids menu and choose Quad Patch. Create a Quad Patch with a width of 300 and a length of 300 in the left viewport. Always create a patch with width and length the same and the size of 3,30,300,3000,etc. That is because if you choose the sub object 'vertex' now your control points will be on a grid intersection. Don't get it? Just do it, and don't think about it :) You should now have this in the Front viewport:

2. Now first go to the 'Edit Stack' and convert the Quad Patch to 'Editable Patch'. Press sub-object and choose vertex. Edit the vertex's and control points so they will look like this:

(front viewport)

Due to numerous emails from people trying to understand how on earth to get to stage 2 I have added the following gif!
It should help something click into place.

 

 

3. Now from the top-viewport edit the vertices to look like this:

(top viewport)

you also have to edit the patch in the right viewport to look like this:

(right (press R) viewport)

4. now create another Quad Patch like we did in step one: (front viewport)

5. Edit the vertices of the new patch so they look like this (front viewport).

To check if you have done it right, look if the two patches fit together. This is important, because we will attach and weld the 2 patches later on.

6. Copy the two patches and mirror the copy along it's X-Axis. Fit the two pieces together. They should presicely fit(0,1 gridpoints is the max-difference you can have), so it might come in handy to turn 'vertex' on in the snap menu. Your creation should look like this now: (front viewport)

 

I also made a little strip at the front of the other patches, because I thought it would look better. The strip looks like this, and looks flat in the right viewport:

(front viewport)

7. You should have a piece looking like this.

(perspective viewport)

You should know how to do the inside of the wheel arch without help! Do it before you mirror everything. Common sense prevails!

Make sure everything is welded together and apply a material. Use the default Raytrace color, and set 'specular level' to '100' and 'glossiness' to '20'. See how it looks.

8. Save the file as audittarch.max.

Ok now we leave the Codfish tutorial behind. If your results are smooth looking and neat then you are ready to proceed. If not then go and play with patches for a while before moving on. Don't worry about the segmented look around the arch, that will be sorted out later.


Problem Section

I really should add this section before we go further about some patch problems and how to fix them:

1. You move a handle and instead of 1 moving; all the rest spin around with it? All you need do is right click on the vertex that the handle belongs to and select Corner instead of Coplanar, then try again.

2. Make sure that no handles ever over lap each other!

This is bad news for your surface, the pink arrows show the handles and what vertex they belong to. Avoid cross overs like this. Keep track of handles in all viewports.

another example of a common cross over

3. Always scrutinize and eliminate "over patching" the left side has too many patches and will not create a very smooth surface whilst the right side will.

4. Use the ctrl button to select more than 1 vertex; if you drag select make sure you have not caught an unwanted vertex in your selection by reading the selection rollout.

 

5. Remember the Min/Max togglebutton, is very useful.

6. Sometimes you want to move a vertex, you select it and try to move but it keeps de-selecting. Look along the bottom for the button that looks like this to lock selection set, making sure you cannot select any thing else or lose your selection prematurely.

7. Use a camera with your file, use the user/perspective viewports when checking the model or welding vertices but a camera (35mm) gives you a better view.

(create panel>cameras>Target>drag toward object>press 35mm>select a viewport and press C to change to camera mode.)

camera looks good

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

user/perspective viewport looks strange

 

8. Restricting movements to X Y Z comes in useful too, if you only want to move a handle in one direction use these buttons. Don't put your trust in a steady hand!

You are now armed with valuable patching knowledge.......now where were we again? Ah an Audi TT!! Rock on!


9. Hey get rid of the gridsnap thing if its annoying you! It annoys the heck out of me so I never touch the dang thing! Yep I'm nuts! Go back to editing the patch select Sub object> Patch and delete the patch shown in red.

Sub object> Edge and select the edge shown in red.

Look in the Edit patch>Geometry rollout and click the Subdivide button, what this does is split the line and puts a vertex point near the middle. The propagate box next to it should be ticked (easier), only by testing will you understand what happens when the box is ticked or unticked and the probs it can cause when unticked so explore that in you own time.

After subdividing got to Sub object> Vertex, you will notice a new vertex dividing the line. Go to edge mode and select the edge below the new vertex and subdivide again. Select edge mode and click the add quad patch button in Geometry rollout.

Neaten the new quad patch till you have something like this.....

Look at the back view, pull out all the vertices on the extreme right to give more of a protuding arch if you please. Does not matter.

Viewing the car from above, this is the left forward wheelarch, now curving to the front of the car just underneath the left headlight.

Save as seperate file audittarch02.max

Go and have a break away from the computer!!

10. Welcome back. Head on over to Thomas Suurland's website and find a TT in his blueprints section.Save the file. Whilst there, do take a moment to have a peek at his TT in the gallery section and drool on your keyboard ;-)

Wipe keyboard and proceed to Max.

Open audittarch02.max. First job is to get the blueprint into a viewport background. There are other ways of doing this which are more accurate but take more time. Select a viewport (eg left would be a good choice) press Alt+B (Viewport background screen pops up) Under Aspect Ratio select Match Bitmap and tick Lock Zoom/Pan look up and click the Files button (find your blueprint) double click and then press ok when you back in the Viewport Background screen Right click on the viewport label (the one saying the viewport name) and then untick Show Grid. Use min/max toggle to make that viewport fill the screen (take note depending on your system if you zoom in too close max starts asking for more memory.

You now have the blue prints in the viewport , they may look small in comparison to your patch so scale down the patch using the uniform scale button and zoom in. Now to start making patch match the blueprint.

Argh my eyes! When you select the patch you cannot see it! Hmmm maybe you should take the blueprints and fill all white areas with grey in your paint program? Or you might want to apply a material with the wire setting ticked and then play with buttons F3 and F4. All you are trying to do is find a way of seeing your patch when it is the selected object thats all.

11. Here you can see how I have stretched the patch out using non uniformscale mostly and some vertex tweaking. Not a very neat wire but the surface looks ok.
I was lazy here, notice in the left viewport, I go straight from arch to the panel under the headlight;
This does not happen on the real car, it has a spacer there.

after you have done, that make a quad patch (not add! make a new one) in the top view remember earlier pointers.Stretch it out to form a sort of oblong shape.

I shall refer to this piece as "abovearch" this piece stays seperate and will lead into the bonnet of the car.

Select all parts on screen and mirror along the X axis, choose Instance (Instance will update changes made to the original) and leave about some space between the 2.

12. When you have neatened "abovearch" select its edge facing away from you, the edge pointing towards the centre of the car... we are making the bonnet. Add a quad to that one..........woah! Its goes shooting all over the place huh?

Tame it! Bring it under control.........see illustration pic Sorry about the pic quality by the way. Trying to keep them as small as possible and yet useful. See the quad you just added and shaped, detached it frome "abovearch" (edit patch>subobject>patch>click the piece, a red line shows up all around it and you click detach). Just leave it in that position dont move it.

Getting excited now eh? Starting to see your TT ttttttaaaaaaaking shape? Take care to do a good front and you can use it later as the back of the car simply rotate a copy of the finished front and modify it to fit. Not a huge difference!, trust me on that.

I have put the original Raytrace colour back on and animated the piece so far to show you what you should have.

 

Save as seperate file audittarch03.max

13. Ok things are going to jump ahead right now.

What has happened in the pic below is simple. I selected the forward edge of the middle bonnet piece, added a quad patch and folded it inside to make the grill area, neaten this in all viewports before you add another quad to that new one edge, we are patching in a C shape....follow the arrows.

For the bottom patch the left viewport in the pic above shows where you patch from across from under the headlight area by adding a quad.

The pink dots you see indicate where the vertices for both patches are going to meet up and get welded. Do them 2 by 2, bring them close, choose say number 10 and hit weld. Make sure you patch the inside wall, the one near the headlight space Patch from the back, top or bottom to close it, but I think back might be easier. Add a quad and it should go shooting through the wheel arch off somewhere, bring it under control and shorten its handles to avoid overlapping

Hope this shows you the one I mean.

You may notice that the middle of the bonnet and arch are now joined together. The piece above the light or "abovearch" was removed for a while. I have put it back and done an animation.

there are 2 pieces here "abovearch" and the big piece is now called "front"

Save as seperate file audittarch04.max

14. Looking a bit wide huh? Non uniform scale can make it narrower. Right now it is saying A4 or some other Audi in the family; it is not giving off the bad boy TT vibes. Why is that? Characteristics! What makes a TT a TT?? Make it narrower and add the road-scrapping-mock-intake thingy under the bumper and......

.

Dont worry there a still two halfs; the original and the Instance mirror, I have not joined them together as yet. Notice that the front is too pointed and needs some pulling in a bit and the handles flattened from the top view.

I am leaving you to pull off the piece under the bumper. Here are a couple of helper pics, you can freestyle and patch it anyway you want and as elaborate as you want. It is NOT joined to the main body, it is freestanding so that makes it easier than you trying to patch it from the bumper down and yet have the stag horn shape.

Remember, Subdivide and add quad are all you need. They rest is playing with handles from different viewports.

15. Save as seperate file audittarch05.max

Just in case you are wondering about the panels/patch thickness, that will be done later by selecting and extruding the patch faces, you get chunky panels that are then meshsmoothed to give the final look but patience........that happens when you total happy with your body........the car body.

For now, enter the tweaking zone. Spend a while tweaking the model, push and pull vertices till they follow the blueprint reasonably closly in terms on layout. Try to avoid moving bits one by one, move sections.

I shall leave you to do that till you are satisfied!

File: audifront.zip (40.6kb Max) View through camera viewport will show model on left as simple patches. Model on right with patch faces extruded and meshsmooth applied. Enjoy scrutinizing those 2 and see if you can make your own way through the patching maze.

I shall stop here for now, till a later date when I can continue! To keep you busy Copy and rotate your front and try to make the back end of the car with it by moving vertex points.

I hope this has been helpful for you.

Drop me some feedback mcmach1@hotmail.com



 

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