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..::3D cre@te logo using Plasma::..

Note from the author: This article was written with Plasma in mind, however it can be performed in 3ds max with very little trouble.

Discreet recently released Plasma, a 3D package designed for the web-developer with it’s own built-in Flash renderer and Shockwave exporter. What many don’t realise is that it’s Scanline renderer is as good as 3ds max’s, and can create some nice photorealistic renders! … so let’s get started!

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After Plasma has loaded, select the Front Viewport. Click on the View menu and select Viewport Background. An additional box will pop up. Click on the Background Source’s Files button and select the CreateOnlineLogo.gif file that was sourced from Cre@te’s own website. Check Match Bitmap on and click Ok. Right click on the Front text in the top left of the Front viewport and select Show Background. The Cre@te logo should now appear in the Viewport and be locked to any panning around that you may perform.
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We shall now trace the logo in 2D before extruding it to a 3D object. Zoom into the first letter of the logo so it is prominent in the Viewport. Click and hold on the Circle shape icon in the toolbar and drag out to select the Rectangle shape. Create a rectangle that outline’s the “C” of Cre@te”. Once created, we need to modify and refine it’s shape. To do this we need to collapse the rectangle to an Editable Spline, so right click on the rectangle and select Convert To: Editable Spline in the Quad Menu that pops up.
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Select the Modifier tab and expand the Editable Spline menu to select the Sub-Objects. In here we can refine our Spline and create new splines for additional letters. Select Segment Sub-Object mode and select the top segment. With Move mode selected, hold hold the mouse over the “Y” axis of the Transform Gizmo, hold down shift and drag the segment vertically down to copy the segment. Position this using the move tool to create the underside of the top of the letter “C”.
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Perform the same operation for the other sides of the letter. We should now have several lines that are not connected together to form the basis of the letter. Select Vertex Sub-Object mode and line the vertices up so they form the outline of the letter. Weld them together by selecting each couple of vertices and clicking on the Weld button. Select all vertices, right click and select Corner from the Tools1 Quad menu. Re-perform this operation for the rest of the letters; you may wish to copy the letter several times as a guide for sizes.
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As we haven’t created the curved edges of the lettering yet now is as good a time as any. As there are two sets off curved edges (inside and outside the letters) we will need to do this in two separate steps. Firstly, select all of the relevant inside vertices (ensuring that all are welded and set to Corner). Increase the Fillet spinner until the curves fit those on the background image. Select all of the relevant outside vertices (checking again they are welded and set to corner) and fillet these aswell.
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Throughout creating the shapes, you may have unwanted excess vertices in your Spline, such as one positioned half-way across the base of a letter. If this is the case, ensure that it is a single vertex and delete it. The edge itself will not be deleted, but will result in a clean line with no excess vertices. Additionally, ensure that there are no duplicate vertices elsewhere in the model. Check to make sure each spline is continuous and solid; ie not broken or made up of more than one shape (inner shapes are allowed as they make the holes in our 3D model)
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With our shape now complete, come out of whatever Sub-Object mode you are in and expand the Modifier selection menu. Select Bevel from the list. You may wish to turn off the Viewport background at this point as it is no longer needed. Enter a Level 1 height of 1 and an Outline of 1, a Level 2 height of 50 (leaving Level 2 Outline as 0) and a Level 3 Height of 1 and Outline of -1 (to bring the edge back in again. Set Start Ouline to -1 to bring the model’s sides back in to where they were initially before the bevel as it makes the model slightly “fatter”.
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Lighting makes the scene, so create a single Direct light in the Top Viewport. Change the Type to Target direct and move the light’s Target to the center of the 3D logo. Make the light’s colour a slight tint of blue, check on Cast Shadows and set the multiplier to 0.05. Check on Overshoot and increase the Falloff to 250. Amend the Shadow Map Params Bias to 0.01, the Size to 256 and Sample Range to 30.
Enlarge Screenshot Copy the light by holding shift and moving the light. To the other side of the object. Select Instance Copy when prompted. Select both lights and copy-rotate them by 90 degrees. We now have 4 lights sharing the same settings. Instance Copy rotate these 4 lights by 45 degrees and the resulting 8 lights by 22.5 degrees. In the Front Viewport, move the lights vertically and Instance them again so we have some overhead lights aswell. Create an additional light and label it Sun. Make the light’s colour slightly yellow, set the Multiplier to 0.8, the Shadow Size to 512 and the Sample Range to 8. Position this light overhead.
Enlarge Screenshot Open the Materials Editor, select the 3D logo and assign the material in slot 1 to the logo. Set the Specular Level to 175 and Glossiness to 90. This makes it a very shiny plastic material. Amend the colours to whatever you see fit. Click on the Reflection map slot and choose a Falloff map. Click on the Falloff map’s second (Side) slot and choose a Bitmap map. Navigate to Plasma’s maps included with the software and select the Chromblu.jpg file. Set the Mapping to Environ : Spherical. Blur the reflection by setting the Blur offset to 0.1.
Enlarge Screenshot Finally, create a Plane object and reposition it directly under the logo so it receives the logo’s shadows. Open the Render window and change to the Bitmap renderer by selecting the Bitmap icon in the bottom left of the window. Render the scene in the Perspective window. And that’s your lot! Notice how the multiple lights subtly illuminate the logo, creating diffused shadows around it’s base, while the brighter sun creates a harsher shadow. Also, notice how the Falloff map works – it masks the reflection and only displays it on the perpendicular
Download the max file! Zip file to accompany (Plasma scene and Cre@te logo).

Initially published: Cre@te Online (Website - now retired), Sepember 2002.

Copyright Pete Draper, September 2002. Reproduction without permission prohibited.