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Create arches in your map

Many have had questions as how to create arches and the correct way to make them. Some prefer to use meshes and others prefer to use brushes. So who is correct and what’s the correct way to make them.

The fact is that both entities are fine to use to create arches and there are several ways using both entities to go about it. You will notice that where patches excel and brushes fail the inverse is also true. So it’s going to come down to what your comfortable using and also the content that’s already in your map. We will discuss these aspects as we make our way through the tutorial.

In this tutorial we will go through the basics of making an arch with an oval cylinder, square cylinder, and brushes. We will also do a low and high face count version of each. Like any other part of you map we want each feature to look as good as possible but at the same time perform.

So let’s begin, we have a small test map here with some pillars that we will use to make several arches like we discussed.

We will start with the first two pillars. To find the center of our arch we will measure and then construct some reference geometry.

Next we will create a brush that will be the size of our square cylinder which will be the first type of arch. The height of the brush is up to the profile you are looking for in an arch. You can stretch the cylinder after you convert it from the brush so height editing at this moment is not critical. Now with the brush still highlighted go to the top drop down menu and select Patch > More Cylinders > Square Cylinder.

Now our brush has been converted to a square cylinder mesh. Next we will bend the mesh to create half of our arch. Highlight the mesh and hit “B”. You will notice that a small dialog box will appear giving directions on how to bend the mesh.

Following the dialog box we resulted in a bent mesh that makes up half of our arch.

Now take a second to notice the curvature of the bend and the face count. You can see that we have created a great amount of faces and we only have half of our arch. I’m not happy at this point with the curvature so I will do some manual editing of vertices by highlighting the mesh and hitting “V”. This is simply up to your own taste but keep in mind the more you edit the potential in creating even more faces as you will see.

So now that we are content with our half arch we can next copy it to make the other half. Copy and paste the half arch that we have created. Now we want to flip the new half arch to complete the whole arch. At the top left of our screen we have functions for rotating and flipping entities upon an axis. Based off of the view we are in we are going to use the X flip.

Then move our other half arch into position to complete our square cylinder arch.

Notice that the new half mesh has the texture on the inside. To invert the mesh so that the texture is on the outside go to the top drop down menu and select Patch > Matrix > Invert.

Now are square cylinder mesh arch is complete.

Next let’s copy both halves too two other pillars for a low face count version. After you have copied and moved the two half arches in position we will dynamically change the complexity of the meshes. With both of them highlighted hold down “Shift” and then use the right bracket, “]” to increase or the left bracket, “[“ to decrease complexity. This basically modifies the complexity by a power of 2 meaning that each time you use these functions you are doubling complexity or cutting it in half. In our test map we will cut it in half for our low face count. Notice that even though this is a “low” face count version it still has a lot of faces.

Time for an oval cylinder arch. We are going to follow the same steps except we are going to select in the drop down menu Patch > Cylinder.

Our oval cylinder profile is a bit faceted so I'm going to increase the complexity.

After bending this oval cylinder, flipping it, and copying a version to the next two pillars and reducing the complexity you can see how many more faces this type of an arch produces.

Last let’s create some out of brushes. Now let’s take a bit to discuss making arches with brushes. In this tutorial I am going to use CSG subtract. Now I know what you’re going to say “He is using the forbidden function”. I am using this function to basically show you the effects of brushes as arches and not necessarily recommending its use to produce a finished brush arch. Remember when I said “So it’s going to come down to what your comfortable using…” well this defiantly fits that.

Now using CSG subtract on brushes so as to create a template on the other hand makes it a great tool. You could then create new brushes inside of the template and clean it up using the clipper function which is proven to produce brushwork which is more stable and then delete the CSG work.

With that said lets move on. We are going to create two brushes. One will be the size of the outside diameter of our arch and the other will be the inside diameter of our arch.

Now so that we don’t have to recreate these brushes again we will copy them over two our last two pillars for a low face count version even though this does not really come into play when using brushes.

Now back to the first set of brushes. Highlight the outside diameter and then in the drop down menu select Brush > Arbitrary Sided.

A small dialog box will appear where we can input the number of sides. We will use 20 for this tutorial.

Follow the same process for the inside diameter and you will have two round brushes.

We will then do the same for our low face count version but we will use 15 sides.

Now we will CSG subtract the inside diameter from the outside diameter. Just before we do that we need to hide all other entities that touch or come near these brushes just to be safe. Highlight them and hit “H” (To bring back hidden objects hold down Shift + H) .

Then we highlight the inside diameter brush and use the CSG subtract function.

We will do the same for both sets of arch brushes.

Then we will delete the brush pieces of the arch that we don’t need.

Finally we will use the clipper tool to clean up the pieces of the brush arch that pass through our pillars.

Now we have completed our brush arches. You could use these as your final work but I would not recommend it since the CSG subtract command could produce errors. I think though you can see the big difference which is face count. This will vary depending on the curvature you’re looking for and if you choose you keep the CSG subtract work or simply use it as a template for your clip brush work.

Next we will complete our brushwork for our tutorial map by placing some brushes around our arches. It will not hurt to have them intersect your meshes. By allowing them to intersect we can keep our number of brushes down to a minimum.

Let’s take a second on texturing patches. This can sometimes be a trick depending on how much you have edited your mesh. We have picked a nice rock texture and after we have applied it to our mesh we can bring up the Surface Inspector dialog box by hitting “S”. You will see that there are several texture options for patches. For our arches Natural looked good to me so we will go with that.

Now it appears like we are ready for testing.

And here is what it looks like in game.

Can you tell much of a difference from the high face count version and the low face count version? Maybe a little, but ask yourself is it worth double the face count for features that are not keys to your map? Now like we discussed at the start, “…its going to come down to what your comfortable using and also the content that’s already in your map”. If you have a map that’s not full of detail then you can most likely spare the extra face count. Likewise if you map is already heavy on detail then some simple brushwork arches would suit better. And don’t forget that you have to be comfortable in what you like to use.

So to break down the pluses and minuses of each type of arch entity we can look at it like this. Patch mesh arches are easy to modify in size, complexity, and curvature and are fast to create but can eat up your resources as they produce a lot of faces. Brushwork arches can take some time creating the template and then the final clipped brushwork. You also need to be very careful to keep on the gird. They can not be easily modified in curvature but your end result through will deliver less of a performance hit due to low face count.

These are by no means the only way to create arches but this should give you the basic concept.

You can get the .map and .bsp HERE

Tutorial by General Death

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