Using Unity’s ProBuilder To Model A Sci-Fi Container

As part of my remodeling of my 2.5D platformer game assets, today I am modeling a sci-fi box container.

Today’s Objective: Remake an existing 3D Sci-Fi-style box model into something that fits my game a little better using ProBuilder.

The Plan:

At the moment, I have this model for a sci-fi box:

Made by somebody else, not easily modifiable, and not quite suited to the kind of aesthetic I am wanting in my game. That is why I’ve decided to remake it, along with a few other assets, using ProBuilder: Unity’s own 3D modeling package.

The box is 2 parts: The container, and the lid.

I will remake both of these into a more sci-fi, sharper style.

Modeling using ProBuilder:

After installing the ProBuilder package (See this post) and opening its window, I start the modeling by creating a box of the same size as the existing box using the New Shape tool. By clicking the plus, you can see a window which lets you customize it before actually making it a real GameObject.

Once I am happy with the size and shape, I press “Build” to turn it into a real GameObject. Prior to clicking “Build”, the object is in something like a concept state where if you close the “Shape Tool” window, it will disappear.

With the base shape set, I disable the old model and can start customizing the new shape.

The first task is to hollow out the box, so I will click on Face Selection, then scale the top face while holding Shift (to duplicate the face, rather than change the original face).

Now I can lower the center face by holding Shift again, and using the move tool to move it down.

If you only need a really simple container, then you’re done now! But I will continue to add details to this.

A good thing to remember, if you’re going further, is this: ProBuilder works better if you work on models from the outside, inwards. Both in terms of detail level, getting more detailed as you go, but also when scaling or modifying faces, since it can be difficult to undo or backtrack some outer modifications later.

I want to create some bulges and panels on the container, so I start by selecting all outer vertical faces and scaling just the Y axis down.

By holding Shift while scaling, I’ve easily created identical bands that go all the way around the container; one at the top and one at the bottom.

I select all the band faces, then click the plus icon on the “Extrude Faces” option from the ProBuilder menu (while still in Face Selection mode).

After setting the extrude distance and applying, the bands are pushed out away from the container, creating 2 raised loops.

I then deselect one of the loops (otherwise the next scaling will not be centered on each ring’s center).

I repeat this for the other extruded loop.

Next I will generally model the center details.

With 4 centered sub-faces now available, I extrude them using a negative number with the Individual Faces option selected, causing them to retreat into the container’s sides.

At this point, the box is looking pretty good, but since it’s all grey, it is kind of hard to visualize its final form.

Fortunately, ProBuilder makes it really easy to apply your own materials to models, even without using complicated UVs or texture atlases.

A quick tip, before I do the texturing: You can use the “Merge Faces” option to turn multiple faces into a single face, for easier selection. Use carefully, as it is hard to undo.

Now back to the texturing. I select a number of faces that I would like to use a certain material on. Then I select the “Material Editor” option and choose my desired material (which I already created).

By using the Material Editor option instead of just setting it in the Mesh Renderer component, you can set individual faces to be different materials, and the model/renderer automatically adds them to the list:

I’m happy with this level of detail, since the player won’t be viewing this object close up. Next I will make the lid for the container.

I create a new box object just like I did for the container:

Using the same scaling of faces, I make a slight incline on top.

I want to add some handles, but building them through modification of the lid will be needlessly difficult, so I will create 2 new cylinder objects.

Each cylinder has 6 sides and 2 height segments (because I will bend it twice). I have also merged the faces at various points for ease.

Now I rotate each end face 90 degrees while holding control, to point down.

Then move the face down into the lid surface.

Finally, slightly rotate the edge loop just in from the end, and move it until it looks good.

Mine were a little too big, so I’ve scaled them down and added a material.

Finally, with the “Object Selection” mode enabled, select both handles plus the lid:

Merge Objects” does exactly what you’d expect: turns multiple ProBuilder objects into a single object.

The Final Result:

I could have created a lot more detail, but this is a small object so it doesn’t need it. There are plenty of other objects that I have and will make which will be more detailed.

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