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Author Topic: Creating a spiral staircase (images aplenty)  (Read 7309 times)


  • Roach
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Creating a spiral staircase (images aplenty)
« on: October 07, 2013, 10:13:44 PM »
D3ads requested this tutorial from me, so here it is!

This tutorial will teach you how to make a spiral staircase with Hammer, like this one, and while you don't have to do it exactly the same way as here, I've deliberately chosen to do it this way in order to present a couple of tricks that can be useful in other situations as well. One of these tricks requires HLFix to be used, so if you don't already have it, you can get it here (I'm not going to explain how to use it though). Also, this tutorial assumes that you have good knowledge with Hammer and its tools, such as Vertex Manipulation, as I won't be explaining how to use them here, and if you haven't already, you should check out my other tutorial, Skewing textures in Hammer, as that method will also be used here.

Okay, so the very first thing you can do is to create a 16-sided cylinder that is 512x512 units wide.

The reason that you should make it this big is because of the next step, where you need to downsize the grid to 8 and move the vertices to the closest grid points (note that it's enough to do this for just one quarter/90 degree of the brush, not every side, as we will cut the brush so that only one quarter is left anyway):

This is done so that the vertices will be aligned on as large a grid size as possible for the next step, when you downsize the 512x512 brush to 256x256 - now the vertices should be aligned to grid 4, as opposed to grid 1, as they would be if you were to just make a 256x256-sized 16-sided cylinder straight away. I recommend you to always work on as large a grid as possible to make the brushwork cleaner and easier to work with, and also in order to prevent potential compiler errors. After having downsized the brush to 256x256 you can cut it into one quarter (if you haven't already) and then cut it into four separate brushes that will form the individual steps of the staircase:

Then you can select the Camera Tool and place it as I have in the following image (downsizing the grid to 1 and zooming in to make sure the camera is properly aligned), go into Texture Application, select "Align To View" and click on the faces that are visible in the 3D view.

Now we want to give the top of the steps the proper orientation, so go into texture application again, but this time use "Lift+Select", click on the front face of each brush and then Alt+Right Click on the top face of the respective brushes. This should result in the top face being rotated as in the following image:

You can also, with the top faces selected, Alt+Right Click on the bottom faces, as this will make those properly aligned as well. Next I resize and move the brushes a little so that they better represent the steps of a real-life staircase, and add the handrail brush, 4 units wide:

Now we're gonna skew the handrail brush, and to achieve this you can either go into Vertex Manipulation or, as I prefer, with the brush selected click on it twice and then click and drag on the white dot on the far right until the brush is lined up as in the image:

Now cut it, using the line that forms the right edge of the first step-brush as a guideline (i.e one point of the clipping tool placed on the innermost vertex, the other point on the outermost vertex):

This presents a potential issue as one of the vertices of the handrail is no longer on grid, which can result in brush errors in-game (not in our case though as we are using HLFix), but more importantly; how are we now supposed to get the next brush that will make up the handrail to align with the one currently in question? Here's where one of the tricks I earlier said I would introduce will come in handy.
Make a brush that is 4 units wide (the handrail brush), copy it and make the new brush (that will act as a template brush) 12 units wide so that they together are 16 units wide, as in the image:

Then go to grid size 1 and with the two brushes selected, click and drag the top middle of the template brush down 1 unit, which should result in the handrail brush lining up with the vertex that is off-grid, as seen in the following image:

Delete the template brush, cut the new handrail brush using the same "guideline" as previously, go into Vertex Manipulation and move it (note: you must use Vertex Manipulation in this particular instance, not skewing the brush by clicking on it twice. Try it to see what happens) so that it lines up with the brush beneath it, and cut it again.

Copy and paste the two handrail brushes, rotate/flip them like this:

Then enter vertex manipulation and move one edge of each of the brushes up 16 units (you might have to use a lower grid size, e.g 4, to prevent the vertices from moving around like crazy and ruining your evening when you attempt to move them) and then move the brushes 16 units up:

Now! Yes, now! It's time to properly texture the handrails! Camera tool engage! Texture alignment tool: I choose you! Texture alignment uses Align to View: it's super effective!

On a more serious note, select the camera tool and place it as I have in the image so that it follows the angle of the handrail brush, go into texture application and with "Align to View" selected, clik on the face that is visible in the 3D viewport. Flip the newly-aligned texture 180 degrees and "Fit" it, and with the texture selected, Alt+Right Click on the opposite face.

Now, if you get this:

Don't panic; just move the bottom vertices like this:

..."Fit" the texture, move the vertices back down, then "Fit" the texture again. Why this works or even occurs I have no idea, but such are the ways of the Hammer; you do not question why, it just is.

Now do the same with the next brush in the handrail queue:

After having properly aligned all the front-and back faces, you can also, with either the front or back face selected, Alt+Right Click on the top face and the hit "T" or "B" in the Texture Applicaton tool, to get the top of the brushes aligned properly as well:

Indeed, Alt+Right Click is a very sexy tool, sure to get any nerdy boner raging and pulsating with excitement when used.

Now you should have a proper spiral staircase (well, a 90 degree angle of one, anyhow), so now you can go ahead and copy, paste, rotate, flip and move it to your hearts content until you have a spiral staircase that reaches the moon or further, who even dares imagine what new and exciting ventures lie ahead of us in these most exciting times!

Thanks for reading, feel free to ask if something wasn't clear due to my half-assed explanation probably being full-assed instead. :joebiden:

« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 10:16:34 PM by kaffikopp »


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Re: Creating a spiral staircase (images aplenty)
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 09:27:50 PM »
Great tutorial once again dude, you make me feel like a n00b not knowing these things :joebiden: Thanks for taking the time to explain all this!


  • Roach
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Re: Creating a spiral staircase (images aplenty)
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 03:54:14 PM »
You mean I'm  :2pro:?

I don't know about that, rather

Anyway, don't mention it - I'm just glad I'm able to contribute with something.