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This isn't exactly a game development question, but I am planning on using Unity as my engine and modeling in Maya so I was hoping folks on here might have some experience with this.

I want your advice or examples of modeling real-world buildings (inside and outside) ensuring accuracy but not necessarily detail.

The breakdown:

  • I am doing a project in which I want to make a 3d interactive, explorable map of my university's campus.
  • I am starting small with making one single building as my prototype.
  • My plan is/was to model the building in Maya then import it into Unity to make the application.
  • So far I have been able to access floor plans, however they lack measurements/dimensions (width, length, height, etc)
  • I am in the process of attempting to get more resources but am unsure of what I will be able to acquire
  • I have access to the building in question
  • As a legitimate school project, I can try to get permission for various related needs

I wanted to know if anyone has any experience related to what I am doing or if anyone may be able to point me in a good direction for any resources that may help me.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you trying to model the inside of the building as well or just the outside? Since you lack actual measurements I would highly suggest buying a tape measure and measuring a couple of the walls. Using these measurements you should be able to figure out the scale of the floor plans which would make things a lot easier. If you are planning to model everything (the interior and exterior of multiple buildings as well as a few key objects inside/outside them) you might want to consider getting some help because that is a pretty big task. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Danger Johnson Oct 8 '13 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I am hoping to model both interior and exterior of the building. My fear with measuring the structure/rooms myself was that I would not get accurate results with all the different variations, but it does appear that I may have to measure some of the lengths and then use that as a scale for the other sections. I agree that modeling multiple buildings is beyond my current ability, so I am just limiting scope to a prototype of the one building for now. \$\endgroup\$ – ddv Oct 8 '13 at 23:25
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In doing a similar project, I found the SketchUp modeling program to be excellent for copying existing architecture. That's what Google originally meant it for after all.

Here's an account of how I did this:

Outsides

SketchUp's Photo Match feature (tutorial video) is an absolute killer.

Photo Match in action; a still from the video linked above.

It lets you to do this:

  1. Load in a photograph of the real building from any perspective.
  2. Adjust the model axes to match the photograph.
  3. Edit the model directly over the photograph.

SketchUp automatically maps the photograph's textures to your model. You can take multiple photographs of the building from multiple directions and repeat this process for all of them.

This should also give you a pretty good idea of where the floor of each level of the building should be placed.

Insides

Building insides are hard, but become easier once you have the outside frame. You can use SketchUp's Section Plane feature (tutorial page) to see inside your model. I recommend creating a floor polygon for each level of the building at a height based on the external model of the building. You can then Photo Match the floor plans as textures onto each of these floor polygons in turn!

Section Plane in action; from the above tutorial link

You can then use the floor plan texture to draw in the contours of the walls and extrude them out to form actual walls. Depending on the level of detail you want, you can use the floor plan to correctly place doors and furniture. Once you're satisfied, just delete the floor plan texture from the floor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I will give this a try as I have heard of SketchUp but never actually used it since I am a little more familiar with Maya. This does sound like a very solid plan, and thank you very much for your links and very helpful details. \$\endgroup\$ – ddv Oct 8 '13 at 23:37
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Just found a recent good article on Getting Real-World Objects into Unity 3D that adds a different and good prespective using MeshRoom and MeshMixer.

The following image shows the three steps required to achieve it

Getting Real-World Objects into Unity 3D

  1. Take several photos, as many as possible, around the object and use MeshRoom to digitize it. This tutorial illustrates the process. Upon saving Meshroom's own files the program also creates a folder named "MeshroomCache" (\MeshroomCache\Texturing) where it deposits the result in the widely exportable .obj format.
  2. The digitized object will probably need some cleaning (parasite shapes of the surroundings) and/or reshaping. That's easily done with MeshMixer. Since digitized objects tend to be highly detailed and heavy on rendering, we may need to reduce/simplify the complexity/detail of the model, a feature included in MeshMixer. this program also exports to .obj format (among others). Look at Meshmixer Quick Tips tutorials.
  3. Finally drag the .obj with the associated textures into a Unity 3D project. It's a straight standard process explained in Unity's manual.

All credits go to the Bael X3D's user vcard.

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