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3D car modelling: creative and technical exploration of the LS CAR

3D modelling has revolutionised the way we perceive and interact with automotive design. In this article, we'll look at the history of the concept and talk about the LS CAR modelling process.

Definition and history

3D modelling is the art of creating three-dimensional representations of virtual objects or environments. This technology emerged in the 1960s, with the first graphic developments initiated by computer researchers. However, it was in the 1990s that 3D modelling really took off, becoming indispensable in various sectors, notably the automotive industry.

How do you do 3D modelling?

3D modelling is carried out using specialist software, where basic shapes are created and details added using polygonal or surface-based techniques. 3DS Max is one of the most popular 3D software packages, offering versatile features for modelling, rendering and animation.

Low poly or high poly ?

terms "Low Poly" and "High Poly"refer to the density of polygons in a 3D model. Polygons, or "poly", are geometric faces used to construct 3D objects.

Low poly: low number of polygons

A « low poly » 3D model has a limited number of polygons. It has a simplified geometry, with less detail and fewer curves. This type of model is often used in applications requiring optimal real-time performance, such as video games or WebGL experiments.

The light weight of this model makes it ideal for interactive environments where fast response is crucial. It requires fewer computing resources, which allows for smoother execution.

High poly : high number of polygons

A high poly 3D model contains a large number of polygons, making it more complex and detailed. It is rich in detail, with complex geometry that meticulously captures the contours and relief of an object.

A high poly model offers a high level of realism. It is suitable for applications where visual quality is essential, even if this means a heavier load on computing resources. E.g. pre-calculated renderings, film animations, etc.

The choice between low poly and high poly depends on the specific requirements of the application. Low poly models are preferred for real-time WebGL use, offering a fluid experience, while high poly models are used when visual quality takes precedence over performance.

WebGL – low poly : low quality

WebGL – high poly : high quality

When the computer graphics designers receive CAD data, their job is to transform drawings into finished 3D objects.

Modelling the interior of the car (seats, dashboards, etc.) requires meticulous attention. The computer graphics designers use an artistic approach to create an immersive experience. They have opted for polygonal modelling for the internal structure of the vehicle. Polygonal modelling offers greater precision for the treatment of so-called "soft" surfaces, unlike surface modelling, which is more commonly used for so-called "rigid" surfaces. Our article on the different types of modelling

Example of LS CAR seats modelled in 3D

The design has been standardised across the various interior configurations of the LS CAR: Hype, Chic and Racing, all of which include a pure and a sport version.

Example of the different versions of the LS CAR

UV deployment, texturing and rendering

The UV deployment phase, crucial in 3D modelling, prepares the geometry for texturing by bringing surfaces to life. Materials and textures, carefully prepared beforehand, are meticulously deployed.

UV unfolding, a metaphor for the sewing pattern, is a crucial step in ensuring realistic texture. This involves cutting and unfolding a 3D object, such as a paper cube, to ensure a distortion-free texture. Sometimes it is necessary to model certain parts of a 3D object. The aim is to optimise each polygon precisely to maximise quality while paying attention to size.

The fine management of light is very important in the composition because the final rendering depends on the quality of the lighting used to stage the product. For the LS CAR project, the F-Storm rendering engine, integrated into 3DS Max, was used for its performance, exploiting the power of the graphics card to produce qualitative images.

Challenges and thoughts on AI in 3D modelling

When exploring the challenges of the field and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the image creation process, a crucial question emerges. The current imperfection of AI and the lack of control associated with automated tools, contrasts with the traditional methodology that offers artists the opportunity to refine every detail as they see fit.

Today, AI is limited when it comes to product presentation, where precision and meticulous control are imperative. A balance must be found between the benefits of automation offered by AI and the continuing need for in-depth artistic control.


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