Precision Building: How to accomplish it and the benefits
This article was written by CorrivalRhyme, the architect behind numerous places that Roblox users come to work, live, and play in. From games such as BuildWorld, Cursed Tales, and Audio City to creating one of the startup images for Roblox Studio with Martxn, CorrivalRhyme has a wide range of experience with creating on Roblox.
Precision is a virtue. Think of Origami (in which I have had years of experience): if you start the fold offset by some minuscule length, it’ll become more and more noticeable as you fold the model. This principle applies to building: if there’s a part that is offset in super crazy decimal increments, it’ll show, whether manifesting itself in weird, inexplicable lines that show up everywhere because of shadows, or in the realism aspect of building for immersion, being perfectly aligned on one end of the build and marginally offset on the other.
Precision building is great in a few main ways: realism, complex builds, working mechanisms, and showcases. Advantages of this include visual satisfaction, immersion, minimizing potential future issues, and overall evenness of elements within the build.
Sometimes you need to create a fence or something similar, containing incremental, repeating elements. A really good way to solve this as a builder is actually simple math. Let’s say that there needs to be fence posts that go along a railing. The first step is to identify the length of the railing. Let’s say it is 14.5 studs for the sake of an applied problem. With that, whatever the value of the width of these posts are going to be, subtract that width value from the railing length, let’s say the width of each post is 0.25 studs.
It will look like this: 14.5–0.25 = 14.25
Now, depending on how many posts you want to have along this railing, it must be divided by one less than how many are needed (If that isn’t accounted for, the post could appear on the other side of the end of the railing when the last post is placed). If 5 posts are needed, divide 14.25 by 4, with the answer being the increment (3.5625) that you need to use to copy & paste those posts evenly along this railing.
To sum: 5 posts desired along 14.5 long railing > Divide 14.25 by 4 = needed increment.
The best increments for moving and resizing are even ones that coincide with the scale of the stud, Roblox’s standard universal unit for everything. 1, 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, 0.0625 (all just halves of the other) and even 0.03125 for those pesky details are the most useful in terms of moving and resizing. Building in 0.1 and 0.01 consistently throughout, tends to throw you off and becomes hard to keep things even, efficient, and keep track of. As for rotating: 15, 10, and 5 degrees would be the most ideal and even increments for whenever you are rotating things; working with radial symmetry, or corner rotating (like offsetting a part from the corner of another).
A big thing when it comes to just building in general is the use of reference imagery and just conjuring up with own designs. From my standpoint, definitely do a bit of both. I come from a background of building almost entirely out of my own mindscape, which is really hard to do for most. But I’ve recently found that it’s also good to use reference imagery and whatnot for building too. Sometimes, there will be a case where I need to come up with a filler element for a scene, but I have never made it before. So, I search for images to give myself some ideas of that element, build it based off of them, and go from there. But here’s where this is key: I now know significantly more about that element than I did previously. The next time I am in a similar situation, I will now have a greater knowledge base on that so that I can use less and less imagery and be the real architect that I hope to be one day.
Another big question is: what to even build? I’ve noticed over time that many developers wish to build something, but draw blanks to what to build and ask others for suggestions. Now, this can be a difficult problem to solve sometimes because of what is interesting to build at the moment, what is not, and what will provide a great result. What I can say on the subject is that you should wait. It will definitely come to you at some point in time. Wait for the idea to come and maybe even write it down. Trying to force yourself to build something that doesn’t interest you will bring nothing to the table and can result in loss of motivation and a lack of productivity while developing. It could also get boring over time when what you thought was a good idea ended up being an overly-ambitious goal that couldn’t be accomplished in the time that you wanted it to. A word I could use to describe the process is flow. When you become lost in the process, you know that you love what you’re doing and when I first had this feeling getting into architecture, I then knew that it was going to be one of my biggest passions. I have come to love designing places that people would figuratively come to live, work, and relax in. When an idea does come to mind, don’t get started on it right away. Take a little time or so to make a mockup of what you’re thinking. Simply put: Make the entire build but in a simplified form of a few basic gray parts.
This example (white buildings) is a concept-to-reality build of a high-rise residential building, and was one of the next phases of my building styles. I was beginning to add more realism to the overall quality of what I was designing, and had streamlined what is called cladding (basically tiling of the exterior wall) of building exteriors.
Notice that I did the mockup such that it was basically the same scale as the finished product. I took what I had for the mockup and just expanded on it element-by-element, detail-by-detail to eventually become the result.
It all comes down to your thinking process of the desired product, using even increments to precisely put it together, and knowing whether or not the process is flowing like butter. Sometimes, an idea can come out of nowhere, and it just works. Precise, concrete ideas with your newly-acquired precise skills of building and lastly, a precise result.