3D Artist

How to demolish a building in 3ds Max

Tips & Tutorials

Stefan Morrell explains how the RayFire plugin helped him fragment and demolish a wall in 3ds Max

Using the RayFire plugin in 3ds Max you can:

  • fragment
  • destroy
  • demolish
  • wreck
  • break down
  • wreak havoc
  • blow up
  • burst
  • detonate
  • explode

Stefan Morrell takes us through the destruction of a wall using the RayFire plugin in 3ds Max, a technique used for his image ‘City Ruins’…

Stefan Morrell demolishes buildings in City Ruin

Get ready to fire

To ruin this building I used a lot of manual modelling, and a plugin called RayFire, which is widely used in the entertainment industry, from game cinematics to movies such as ‘2012’ – it’s the go-to tool for destroying and generally wreaking havoc on your models!

I usually fracture the models first and then use RayFire’s PhysX connection to do the simulating; I also make use of additional demolition options that allow the models to break on impact. For this model I tried to keep things very low-poly, but with RayFire you can achieve some very detailed destruction.

Simulate bricks with the RayFire plugin in 3ds Max

Here we have a before and after of a group of bricks randomly placed, and then as they appear after the RayFire simulation

Manual destruction

Along with RayFire I manually add some destruction; this takes a lot of time but the payoff is some very specific destruction and optimised geometry. I used basic poly modelling techniques in 3ds Max; because these were to be commercial models, keeping everything optimised was paramount.

I first cut out a basic shape from the textured building facade and then duplicated a single brick around the broken opening (stopping occasionally only to move UVs around to avoid repeating textures). When placing these bricks, I followed the applied texture map so the manually placed bricks lined up correctly. I also added many broken bricks that had been fractured in RayFire.

Stefan Morrell manually destroys a wall

Here we have a detail of a manually destroyed wall created using basic poly modelling techniques

Rubble piles

The biggest thing that will help sell a destroyed environment is bucketloads of detail. Adding lots of rubble piles and other debris is essential. The focus with these  is creating a good sillhouette; my images usually have a good amount of atmosphere, so I know the piles will read better as they recede into the distance so long as the shape is interesting.

Add pipes, steel reinforcing, bits of concrete and brick – whatever you can – to sell the the destruction, as these will also be seen in close up. I use displacement for added detail.

Rubbles piles help add extra detail in the City Ruin

This image shows one of the final rubble piles

Featured images: ©Stefan Morrell

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