Working with Modular Sets
First of all, this tutorial is going through some general ideas and hints rather than go indepth on howto create a specific set of models.
I have tried to make it so general that it could be applied to pretty much any type of set of models you are working on ranging from sci-fi corridors to rock walls.
I have split up the tutorial into sections where I try to give you some ideas on what I think about and avoid when I work with modular units.
You will notice that it is almost always a question of comparing different options depending on which engine you use, what technical limitations you got and how the set of units will be used among other things.
Do keep in mind that the examples here are extremely basic geometry and texture wise, I did this on purpose to be able to show off different ideas better.
Prepare your Set
So, first of all start with the absolute first basics: What type of set will you create?
Gather references/concepts or just start experimenting right away in 3D. I tend to do the later one quite often even if I have a pretty strong initial idea in my head first.
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to usability of modular sets.
However, the one thing that you can almost be certain of is that you will need/want to extend your set after you made the planned out units, and you thought you would be done.
This is why it is very important that you can easily add more units in the same set without having to start all over with those but rather use segments of the finished ones to create all new units.
If we go right to my super ultra basic example here which happens to be a sci-fi wall panel.
I built a very simple highpoly of that part. There's actually nothing added to it, just smooth edges.
I tend to start unwrapping stuff almost a I build them, this is why I also like to add just the absolutely most basic texture details, such as smooth edges and base colors early on.
These are the two shapes I will base the whole set on. It's always important to build on the grid when working with modular units. It's really only the edge parts that need to be on grid, where units connect with each other.
However if you later on discover later on you may need to add units that connect to parts you did not plan for, it's always best if you try and keep most of your stuff on power of 2 grid sizes.
The red shape here is 32x128 units and the yellow 64x128 units large. With these two I can rotate, flip and cut them into several different units.