VFX Los Angeles

Creating game art for 3D engines

Brad Strong’s Art Asset Creation for the Torque Engine

Learn how to make commercial quality game art and models step-by-step for the Torque Game Engine in Autodesk 3D Studio Max with Creating Game Art for 3D Engines.

Brad Strong’s title, Creating Game Art for 3D Engines, suggests a generic guide to modeling for game engines. This is somewhat misleading, as Strong’s book serves a very specific purpose: creating 3D art content in the modeling package 3D Studio Max for use in the Torque Game Engine.

While the lessons in this book can be applied to other modeling packages for use in game engines other than Torque, the detailed tutorials in the book will best benefit the 3D Studio Max user and a Torque license holder.

The book contains 12 chapters, covering three main topics:

  • Introduction to 3DS Max
  • Low Polygon Modeling, including unwrapping, texturing, animating and exporting game art
  • Character Modeling, including unwrapping, texturing, rigging, animating and exporting character models

Introduction to 3DS Max

Strong’s choice of 3D Studio Max is a peculiar one. The Torque engine is aimed at an independent game developer or hobbyist audience and is priced accordingly. Yet a single-seat license for 3DS Max retails for several thousand dollars. A more befitting modeling package would be the affordable Milkshape, or free modelers such as Blender or Wings, as 3DS Max is beyond the budget of most casual game developers.

However, Strong’s treatment of 3DS Max is excellent. The complexity of 3DS Max can make learning this software overwhelmingly difficult. Strong avoids information overload often experienced by new Max users by introducing only the toolset relevant to creating art assets for Torque and examining that toolset in logical detailed steps.

Low Poly Modeling

low poly model polar bear

The chapters on low poly modeling are quite basic in nature but provide the essential groundwork for the more complex task of creating animated textured game characters. Strong uses his own game art throughout to provide examples, and if this art is amateurish, it is reassuringly so. The book, after all, is aimed at the beginner, and there is nothing so discouraging as seeing commercial quality art used in similar books to illustrate a novice-level tutorial. Strong’s examples are reproducible and easily improved upon.

Character Modeling in 3DS Max

The sections on character modeling are worth the cover price alone. The Torque engine has a particularly unforgiving model importation method, and 3DS Max offers so many exporting options that it is easy to get the process wrong.

Strong strips away the difficulties by providing full explanations of not just how to export models from Max into Torque, but also details the context of why each step in the process is required. This provides thorough educational instruction in both modeling package and game engine.

The book provides a companion CD-ROM to accompany the text. The CD includes:

  • The complete set of figures used in the book
  • Sample characters and weapons
  • Sample pickups with script files
  • Screen captured movie tutorials
  • Trial version of the Torque Game Engine including ShowTool Pro
  • Torque and Dark Industries DTS Exporters
  • Texporter

3D Studio Max can be extremely intimidating, and the convoluted Torque art pipeline only adds to the complexity of creating art assets for use in the game engine. While Strong’s book does read rather like an engineering manual, Creating Game Art for 3D Engines is still an excellent guide to both 3DS Max processes and the Torque engine and should be considered compulsory as a reference book for all Torque developers using 3DS Max for art creation.

Creating Game Art for 3D Engines by Brad Strong

  • Available from Charles River Media
  • 332 Pages, Soft Cover
  • Originally Published September 2007
  • ISBN 1-58450-548-6