Chapter 1: New Divisions of Labor
from the book: The New Division of Labor : How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market
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ON MARCH 22, 1964, THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE TRIPLE Revolution sent a fourteen-page memorandum to President Lyndon Johnson. The signers included chemist Linus Pauling (recipient of two Nobel Prizes), economist Gunnar Myrdal (a future Nobel Prize-winner), and Gerard Piel, publisher of Scientific American. In the memo, the committee warned the president of long-run threats to the nation beginning with the likelihood that computers would soon create mass unemployment.
Studio has two of the easiest to use and most powerful modelers available, and it doesn't take much effort to become skilled at using them-;especially if you know a few special tips to make things even easier. The tips in this chapter come from a wide variety of artists who use Ray Dream Studio on a daily basis and who have figured out the best ways to get things done quickly. All of your favorite Ray Dream models were created using at least one of these tips and, in most cases, several.
By taking advantage of these tips and using them with your own modeling efforts, you'll create models faster and with less effort. You'll also discover ways to do things that you may not have realized you could do at all and you'll also prevent yourself from making some all-too-common mistakes.
Build Models in Separate Files
When a scene starts to get complex, try building each model in a separate file. As you complete each model, select it in the Hierarchy window of the model file and drag it into either the Perspective window or Hierarchy window in the main illustration file. This saves redrawing time and also allows you to experiment with different models without affecting the whole scene.
- Tony Jones
Model in Layers
Another way to speed up the modeling process is to build your scene in layers, keeping visible only the parts of a model that you're working on at any given time. This lets you reduce screen clutter and speeds redraw time.
The process for creating layers is easy. Once you have completed an object or group of objects, make it invisible by selecting the object or group and then selecting Object Invisible from the View menu. The group will disappear from the Perspective window but will still be visible in the Hierarchy window. You can reverse the process by selecting the group in the Hierarchy window and then selecting Object Visible from the View menu. Be aware though that invisible objects do not render, so make sure you make them visible for before starting the rendering process à unless, of course, you don't want them to render.
Complicated scenes can make managing multiple visible and invisible objects a chore. A quick way around this is to make a group called Invisible Objects, and then drag each object you want to make invisible into this group. The objects won't become invisible when you put them in the group, even if you've already made the group invisible, but if you select the group and then choose Object Invisible from the View menu, the visible objects within the group will be made invisible. If you then add more objects to the group and want to make them invisible, simply select the group in the Hierarchy window and choose Object Invisible again. The beauty of this technique comes at rendering time, when you need to make all of your invisible objects visible. Since you've made only the group invisible, the only thing you need to do to make everything in it visible is to select the group and choose Object Visible from the View menu. All objects within the invisible group will become visible.
- Craig Lyn & John Sledd
Use Multiple Perspective Windows
It's impossible to get a complete look at a three-dimensional object using only one view. A car, for example, looks completely different from the side than it does from the front. And while Ray Dream Studio's perspective view is a good way to get an overall look at your model, you'll probably find yourself switching back and forth between several different views to make sure your objects look just the way you want them to and are positioned precisely where they need to be.
You can make life easier on yourself by taking advantage of Ray Dream Studio's ability to have more than one perspective window open at a time. By creating several perspective windows with different views, you can quickly see how your model is shaping up.
To add a new perspective window, just select New Perspective from the Windows menu (or type Command/Ctrl-7). The New Perspective Window dialog box will appear, as shown in Figure 3.1. Make sure the Create New Camera option is selected, and then select a camera position from the Camera Position popup menu on the right. You'll find it helpful to select Isometric from the Camera Parameters popup menu as well, for reasons we'll get into later in Chapter 7, "Camera Tips and Techniques." Click on OK and a new Perspective window will appear.
The New Perspective Window dialog box, accessible from the Windows menu.
Each Perspective window you create can be configured with its own working plane and preview mode settings. For the sake of speed, you may want to have your main Perspective window use the Preview or Better Preview mode and the rest use Wireframe mode. This will give you a good look at your model without slowing everything down.
Once you've created your additional windows, resize and arrange them on your screen so they make visual sense. (You may also need to zoom your new cameras in or out, depending on the size of your model.) Figure 3.2 shows one possible arrangement using (clockwise from upper left) top, reference, front and side views. Notice how easy this makes it to check the shape of the model with just a glance.
Multiple perspective windows showing top, reference, front and side views and using different preview modes.
The last thing you need to do when setting up a custom workspace like this is to save it so you can access it again later. Ray Dream Studio lets you save any workspace arrangement, and then you can switch to it quickly at any time from the menu bar. Just choose Workspace from the Windows menu and select Save Current. The Save Workspace dialog box will appear. (See Figure 3.3.) Give your new workspace a name and click on OK. It will now appear in the Workspace popup menu.
- Tony Jones
The Save Workspace dialog box.
Model from Different Perspectives
If you followed the tutorial in the Ray Dream Studio User Guide, you already know how to make the process of editing cross sections easier by switching to the Drawing Plane view. You can also make editing the sweep path and scaling envelope easier by switching to the top or left views. Once in the modeling window, choose Preset Position from the View menu and select Top (Command/Ctrl-8) or Left (Command/Ctrl-4). (See Figures 3.4 and 3.5.) If you aren't using this tip already, you'll be surprised at how much easier it makes the modeling process.
- Cecilia Ziemer
A normal perspective view of the modeling window.
A top view of the modeling window, which makes it easier to see and edit the scaling envelope.
Use the Transform Tab
Although it may seem easy to move, place and rotate your models using the standard Ray Dream Studio tools, they quickly become frustrating if you're trying to achieve any degree of precision. Instead, spend some time learning how to use the Properties palette, and keep it open at all times. Do rough positioning of your models using the standard tools if you must, but use the numerical Position fields in the Transform tab of the Properties palette for all the fine-tuning. (Figures 3.6 and 3.7 show examples.) You'll find it especially useful for rotation once you become comfortable with it.
This tip may seem daunting at first, but you'll find that it's not that hard to master and will help you move through the modeling process quite a bit faster than you would without it.
- Tony Jones, Victor Wong
Numerical fields of the Properties palette's Transform tab and associated model before modification.
Numerical fields of the Properties palette's Transform tab and associated model after directly modifying name (in the General tab), rotation and size using Numerical Properties.
Show Axis Information
You may have noticed that the screen shots for the previous tip included Axis Indicators (the three axis lines in the middle of the sphere and egg). When you're using the Transform tab of the Properties palette to rotate objects, Axis Indicators make it much easier to determine which axis needs to be rotated and by how much. They are color coded to match the orientation axes in the Numerical Properties dialog box.
To turn the Axis Indicators on, select Preferences from the File menu to open the Preferences dialog box. Select Perspective from the popup menu in the upper left, click on Show Axis Information at the lower left, then click on OK. (See Figure 3.8.)
The Preferences dialog box showing perspective preferences with Show Axis Information selected.
Keep in mind that the Axis Indicators for an object will not appear until the object is selected.
- Craig Patchett
Memorize Keyboard Shortcuts
As enticing as it may be to navigate through Ray Dream Studio using your mouse, this is a program that makes it worth the time to learn as many keyboard shortcuts as you can. This is especially true, of course, for the commands you use most often. (The preset views are good ones to start with.) It may only take five seconds or so to pull down a menu and make a selection, but when you're doing it hundreds of times a day, it quickly adds up.
- Tony Jones
Don't Make More Objects Than Necessary
Complex objects don't always have to be as complex as they seem. Before you decide to break an object down into individual parts, look to see whether or not the object could be modeled as one piece instead using a complex scaling envelope. (The scaling envelope is a powerful tool that is well worth your time to master. You'll see examples of its use throughout this chapter and Chapter 4.)
In the example shown in Figures 3.9 and 3.10, a path was created in Adobe Illustrator and imported into Ray Dream Studio to form the top half of the scaling envelope. The Symmetrical in Plane option (Geometry Menu > Extrusion Envelope > Symmetrical in Plane) was selected to mirror the path at the bottom of the envelope. The result is a complex object that would have taken a lot more time to model with multiple parts, and one that will render faster as well.
- Johnathan Banta
The top half of this scaling envelope was created in Illustrator and imported into RDS with the Extrusion Envelope > Symmetrical in Plane option selected.
A complex joint structure created as one object using a creative scaling envelope.
Use Bump Mapping as a Modeling Tool
You should already consider bump mapping to be a way to add texture to your models. But it can also be used as a modeling tool. The baseball shown in Figure 3.11 is one example. It's entirely possible to use Free Form objects to create the seam and stitches on the baseball if you have plenty of time to spare. But a better solution is to use the bump map shown in Figure 3.12.
An example of how to use bump mapping as a modeling tool. The seams and stitches were created using a bump map.
The bump map used for Figure 3.11.
The only drawback to this technique is that the bump map doesn't alter the geometry of a model, and the illusion usually falls apart around the edges (notice that the edges of the ball are flat where the seam is instead of raised). Chances are, however, that in most scenes no one will notice (did you?) and the amount of time you save will be well worth the trade-off.
- Craig Lyn, Gray Norton
Select Objects in the Hierarchy Window
If you're building a complex scene with multiple objects, you may find it challenging at times to select the right object in the Perspective window. (This is especially true if you're modeling in layers using invisible objects.) Instead, click on the object in the Hierarchy window to select it. If you've given descriptive names to each object, this approach is faster and a lot less frustrating than trying to get a clear shot at a particular object in the Perspective window.
- Tony Jones
Name Objects and Groups Descriptively
When creating and grouping objects, use straightforward naming conventions and try not to be obscure. Use names that describe what the object is in a way that you, and everyone else who works with you, can easily understand. (See Figure 3.13.) This may sound like common sense, but it's easy to get lazy and use the default Free Form 1 and Sphere 2 names. As your scene gets more complex, this makes it harder to select the right object from the Hierarchy window and also makes it more difficult when you or someone else has to animate or apply shaders to a scene.
- Craig Lyn
The Hierarchy window for a complex model, showing the use of descriptive names.
Break Complex Models into Simple Objects
There is almost always more than one way to build a model, and part of the modeling process involves determining which approach to use. Part of this decision depends on whether or not you have enough time to work with Ray Dream Studio's more advanced modeling features. If you're on a tight deadline, the best approach may be to ignore the "Don't Make More Objects Than Necessary" tip, and instead break your model down into simple objects and then group them together to make something more complex. (If time is not an issue then you'll find other approaches in Chapter 4 that take advantage of such Ray Dream Studio features as complex scaling envelopes and shape numbering.)
The example shown in Figure 3.14 takes a complex windshield assembly for a vintage Rolls Royce and breaks it down into cylinders and some simple free-form objects. Notice how these objects have been grouped into subassemblies that can then be selected and worked on easily.
- John Stephens, Tony Jones, Christian Nakata
A complex windshield assembly broken down into groups of simple objects.
Round Your Edges
In the mathematical world, an edge is a very precise, one-dimensional line. In the real world, you'll never come across such a thing. All edges have some depth to them, some degree of curvature no matter how small. Look around you and see for yourself.
For this reason, "imperfect" rounded edges can make a big difference between realistic models and ones that look like they came out of a computer. Even a tiny amount of curvature on an edge will add subtle highlights and other visual clues that give it a real-world look. (See Figure 3.15 for a simple example.)
The object on the right uses rounded edges to give it a less computer-generated look than the object on the left.
Adding rounded edges to your models is usually as simple as adding a few additional points to the edges of your cross sections and scaling envelopes. You'll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make in the look of your finished piece, though.
- Johnathan Banta
It's easy to get so wrapped up in the modeling process that you forget to save your budding masterpiece. Unfortunately, it's just as easy for your computer to suddenly decide to take an unscheduled break and take everything you've just worked on with it. It has happened to every 3D artist, and is especially frustrating when it happens in the middle of the creative process or at the end of a long creative session (the two most likely times, by the way), so get into the habit of saving your work on a regular basis.
- Tony Jones
Learn From Others
One of the best ways to learn the modeling process is to take other people's models apart and see how they put them together. Fortunately, the Ray Dream Studio CD-ROM comes with a large variety of models from the modeling experts at Viewpoint Datalabs. Any one of these models is a learning experience waiting to happen. (See Figure 3.16.)
The models that come on the Ray Dream Studio CD-ROM are great resources for studying modeling techniques.
Pick a model that looks interesting, and use the Hierarchy window to see how the different parts are organized and broken down into smaller objects. Then open the modeling window to study different parts of the model and see how the modeler used cross sections, scaling envelopes and sweep paths to shape the model. You'll end up with a ton of ideas and a much better understanding of the modeling process than you could ever get from just reading the manual.
- Craig Patchett
Think about what really needs to be in your scene. For example, don't model a background if you can get away with using a scanned image. A background can also be composited later in postproduction, which is another time-saver.
Also consider whether the backs of your models will ever be seen. If you're doing a shot of a house and you never see the back of it, there's no point in creating walls or windows for the rear of the building. Visualize your scene in advance and determine what does and doesn't need to be included. You'll end up saving both modeling and rendering time.
- Craig Lyn
Keep Caps Lock On
If you prefer to move objects around by dragging their projections in the Perspective window, then you know that it's easy accidentally to grab the hot point and move it instead of the object. There's an easy way to avoid this problem, and although it is mentioned somewhere deep in the Ray Dream Studio User Guide, it's easy to miss: When the Caps Lock key is down, dragging the hot point will move the object with it, keeping the position of the hot point relative to the object intact. So keep Caps Lock on while you're moving objects, and you'll never misplace another hot point again.
- Tony Jones
Build Your Scene in Wireframe Mode
Take advantage of the speed that Wireframe preview mode offers while you're building and positioning your models. (See Figure 3.17.) Preview and Better Preview modes will just end up wasting valuable time until your models are complete and at least roughly positioned, because lighting and shading aren't generally important during the modeling phase. Wireframe mode may not be as pretty as these other two modes, but the time it will save you is well worth the trade-off. Try it and see for yourself.
- Tony Jones
Wireframe mode is fast and accurate, which makes it perfect for building and positioni
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