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Tutorial : Easy Build Picture & Eye Candy


This tutorial will teach you how to make build pictures without needing any knowledge of a renderer or of a 3d modeler. Obviously, the results arent as good as if it was done inside a program like Lightwave by someone who knows what he's doing but for ppl like you and me who want a really nice build pic without the hassle of learning a professional rendering package, this is THE solution. I'd say that with a bit of creativity, time and Photoshop skills, you can do just as good. Once you've got the process down, you can create a build picture like the one I did (scroll to the bottom) in about 5-10 minutes. With more time, you can do way better obviously.

Part 1 : MilkShape 3d editing

First, you must import your unit to MS3D (Milkshape 3d), to do this, you need the plugin 3do to MS3D importer. Follow the install instructions in the Readme.txt and then import your unit (Files->Import->Total Annihilation 3do...). For the purpose of this tutorial, we'll use the Krogoth, so import it now. It should look like this : 

It looks pretty nifty but before we get to the rendering part, there's a thing or to that must be done. First, the flares and the ground plate must go. In the "Model" tab to the right, pick "Select" and enable "Face" as your selection type. Make sure "Ignore backfaces" is unchecked "By Vertex" is hecked. It should look like this : 

Now just select the ground plate triangles in on of the side views. Drag a selection rectangle around a part of the face you want to target and it should select it. You can use the shift key to select faces in more than one operation. Once you've selected the target faces, just hit delete to make them disapear. Destroy the ground plate and the head/arms flares this way. Here's the result :

It's looking good but it would be even better if we could get it to take a more dramatic pose. The model Tab to the right contains many different options, like move, rotate and scale. Just pick one and it will affect all the selected faces/vertex. I started with the head, I wanted to give it a little tilt to the front and to the side. It was pretty easy to select via the side view :

Rotate it a bit towad the bottom and a bit on the side. After that, I selected the arms. Those are a bit more tricky, since I'm not very good with MS3D, what I did, was to go into the "Joints" tab, find the corresponding bone and pick "SelAssigned" to select the correspong vertexes. The problem is that I dont know how to select more than one bone at a time, so you'll have to do a bit of work to get the lower arm into position after having moved the upper arm. My end result looked like this :

To finish, export your model to Wavefront Obj format (File->Export->Wavefront OBJ). Be sure to save it in the same directory as your .3do since the texture generated for your unit is saved in that directory.

Part 2 : Viewpoint Editing

For this part, you'll need 2 programs  and a plugin : Viepoint Scene Builder, Viewpoint Media Publisher and Viewpoint Browser Plugin, just click on the names to download them.

Start by opening Viewpoint Scene Builder. Load your model by clicking on "Add OBJ" in the "Scene Commands" to the right. Here's what it should look like : 

Place the krogoth anyway you like, it really doesnt matter, the posing will be done later, now add a background to your scene. Click on "Load Panorama...", pick a Flat one and choose a background you like. For this tutorial, I picked this one :

(Click to enlarge)

Here's the result, note that when you move your unit around, the shadows seems to follow the bumpy ground as if it was rendered to take it's height into account? That's because the shadow is blended on the background.

Now, we must save out scene, go into the "Scene Commandes" and click on "Tab :      Load". A menu should appear, pick publish. In the new menu, click on the "Publish" button toward the bottom and save it under the name you like.

Open up Viewpoint Media publisher and enter the Widht/Height of your background picture. If you dont, the background will be distorted. Click on select Mtx/Mtz and pick your scene. It will ask you the name of the HTML file you want to generate, again enter something you like, ie : Krog.html.

Now, open up the .html file you generated with your browser. Now, place the krogoth where you want it to be. Hold the left button to rotate it around, the right button to zoom in and out and the left and right button simultaneously to move it around on the x, y axis. Here's the final pose I picked :

Now, you might've notice that there's a problem, the right arm has a hole in it. You can fix that easily in any photo editing program. Personaly, I used Jasc Paint Shop Pro. Select the hole with the lasso tool, with point-to-point settings and antilias checked (options in the Tool Options).


Now, open the .bmp containing the Krogoth texture (corkrog.bmp), select a metallic texture that look like it should go there and copy paste into a new image. Personaly, I used this one :

Now, use the flood fill tool, with the tool options set at :

  • Blend mode : none

  • Match mode : none

  • Opacity : 100%

Click on the foreground style to the right, hold your mouse button till a menu appear and choose the pattern fill (third from the left). Now, double click on the foreground style. The pattern menu should appear. Change the current pattern to your metallic texture and set the angle to something matching your current pose. Click ok and apply the flood fill to the area.

It looks decent but it's still a bit too bright, it doesnt fit, you need to adjust the brightness. Go into Color->Adjust->Brightness/Contrast. Set the Brightness to -30 and the contrast to 0. Here's the final result :

For the build picture, I just cropped the image and bit, resized it to 64x64 and then applied the sharpen more filter. The final result in TA color palette is :

Obviously, I didnt take much time to pick a background and create a pose. For a real build picture, I recommend you take a little more time for that, but the sky's the limit. At any rate, I think it still turned out pretty well.

On a side note, I HOPE you realised the potential for displaying your 3rd party units on the web in full 3d using the import plugin and the VET tools. It's a pretty nice possibility to have your units in 3d on the web.