Create a realistic off-road scene

Tasks that not so long ago would have taken a long time to learn are becoming much easier to administer with a single click or a dedicated plug-in as 3D software becomes more advanced. One of these is moving a car along a predefined surface geometry.

Most of the time this will be a simple, smooth road, which can be done with traditional animation or using particle systems. Custom rigs are now available for most 3D apps that enable you to place your own or stock vehicle models and then add working suspension, contact with the ground, speed, direction – and even collision deformation, should you wish to add damage to your car. However, having access to these rigs does mean that you can potentially lose the character of your vehicle and its environment. A lot of rigs deal primarily with the car and its placement on tarmac – but what if the car is driving through wet mud, desert sand or even on the surface of the moon? Understanding what impact different types of terrain can have on the passage of a vehicle will improve your CG skills immensely. You should also take into account the impressions the car could make on the terrain; tyre tracks are an obvious one, but there could also be dust and disturbed vegetation.

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