View Full Version : I never know how to start.

08 August 2002, 12:58 AM
Everytime I have an idea in mind of something I'd like to model, the first to discourage me is not knowing how to start the model. Almost all the time I give up quite early on when I realize the technique I'm using to model what I have in mind is definitly not the good one, so I then start working on something else and the same thing happens.

I know I should "keep on trying" but it just gets very frustrating. Spline patching is simply awfull (I can't even spline-patch a sphere without getting bumps in it). Box modeling always ends up limiting me detail-wise. And with poly-by-poly, I just don't know where to start nor where I'm going as it only seems to work when you have a reference picture (or when modeling heads:p).

So what do I do? I've read all the tutorials I could find. I think the problem lies elsewhere but I don't know where. If you have something in mind, how in the world do you know how to proceed to model it?

I love 3D, but I'm wondering if I'll just end up watching other people's work. Im 20 and 've been trying to model for almost 2 years now and still haven't finished anything. I'm still stuck in the modeling department and haven't textured nor animated anything yet as I want to be able to model first, but I don't feel like I am progressing at all. How come some of you are so good?:surprised: It's almost unreal:insane:

08 August 2002, 01:16 AM
DO draw what you want to model.

Draw draw draw... don't stop drawing it till it's clear in you head the shape of what you want to make.

If you're talking about figure modelling, others will tell you better than me (I've never succeeded at it thus far).

08 August 2002, 02:16 PM
Hey Phil. For what it's worth I know the feeling. With a couple of years of MAX behind me, I still haven't quite solved it.. :\

Back in the day when I first struggled with this I simply moved on. I found I especially liked animation, and today character animation is definitly my strongpoint. Or, rather, everything else is my weakpoint :rolleyes: Most of my current demoreel is about basic IK rigs doing things, since I felt I couldn't be bothered spending God knows how long modeling a mesh.

Nowadays I can model lowpoly objects with some success after having been assigned on a Half-Life mod, but as for many of the highpoly objects I see here on CGTalk.. egads.. I wouldn't know where to start. Perhaps you should try your hand at lowpoly? Actually personally I tend to be more fond of the looks of the lowpoly look (even if it's prerendered, I still enjoy that look more). But that's probably just me being weird.

I've been trying to do a highpoly model recently, because for the love of everything nice and fluffy I have this character I simply must model.

And, as you suggest yourself, it. Over and over.

First sketch out whatever you want to model, that's always a good tip, but then just..model it.. start wherever you want, start with a box and extrude some polys to get arms perhaps. It's all square and ugly. Continue to refine things. And when you see that doesn't work to your liking, hide it, and try again differently. Take speciel note of when you felt things turned bad.. if you didn't like the way the mesh got too dense, or too many triangles, or whatever, try again, specially trying to avoiding that problem.

Actually I tried that recently and I still ended up failing. I just wasn't happy with the way the mesh flowed, but compared to when I started it was a lot better. A few million attempts more and I'm sure I'll have it nailed :) But anyways, I think it's a good idea to just try and try and improve a little each time.

I did get impatient doing that though, I mean, there's a limit to how interesting it is to start over again and again and again. I figure I'll go back to it later, but in the meantime I went to model the skeleton. I had a sudden thought that if I couldn't make the mesh, I could try making something more basic. So what I've got now is the skeleton of my character. Nothing scientifically correct, but the arm-bones looks like arm-bones, he has a semi-correct looking pelvis, etc. etc. And I like the result. I can see how he's proportioned, I can make tweaks to match him up with my original vision. And hopefully I'll be able to make his mesh later, as I "just" have to follow the bones.

Well that's the theory anyway.

Something I found interesting during the making of his skeleton: when making his cranium it still looked wrong, just like when I tried making his head. I think it's a simple case of his head being based on a skeleton structure that simply doesn't work (because when I designed it I never took into account the bone underneath). I could see it didn't work when I tried making his head, but.. without fully knowing why.

So now I'm redesigning his cranium on paper (well technically in Photoshop), then I'll draw his head using the underlying stuff as a guide, and then try to make it in 3D again later.

It's not the fastest or easiest path, but it works. Or, well, I think it works, all I've got so far is the skeleton after all :) (in my specific case making the skeleton is sort of warranted I guess, as he's supposed to be able to make himself somewhat transparent, and thus having his bones in place will hopefully look cool as you get a view into his inner workings :)

If others feel they once were in the same sort of can't-model scenario and eventually beat it somehow, I'd much love to hear those stories.

08 August 2002, 02:28 PM
Maybe you aren't daring enough.
There's no shame in totally messing up a model because you experimented to much with it.
I know of a nice, but rather slow method for modelling a head (which I used for my avater btw). I assume you're working with LW.

Start of with defining the face and the edgeloops in it with splines. start of with splining the eyes, mouth and nose. Seperatly.
Simply "draw" the egdeloops in with splines. It's very important that you keep everything as simple as possible, you'll be adding detail later on.
Anyway, once you have drawn the eyes (just draw one and mirror it) and mouth area connect everything through the nose area and add the contours of the face (not the head, just the face). You can also just draw one side of the face and mirror it later on, but you'll need to tweak more to get the seam just right.
Be sure that you only have quads and as little tris as possible.
After all that you should have a nice spline cage. The beauty of this is that you now have a limited amount of vertexes which are easy to control. So if you aren't happy with the shapes, just tweak some more vertexes.
Anyway, once you are happy with the cage, autopatch the whole thing (works like a charm if you only have quads and tris). Use a low setting though so you don't end up with alot of polygons.

If you autopatch you'll want the splines and polys (the patched area) to be in seperate layers, so place the "poly layer" before (as in: layer 3 for polys and layer 4 for splines) the place of the layer with the splines in. Select both layers and use autopatch.

Once done you should be stuck with quite a primitive and relatively low polygonal face, with edgeloops in tact (given you placed the splines right).
Now you can start adding all the little details into the loops and polygons with bandsaw, egdetools. Of course you'll still need to drag vertexes around and so on, but that's what modelling is all about.
It's a fun and sturdy method and I hope it works for you aswell.

Well.. hehe, I just wrote myself a nice little tutorial. :D

Grey is right about the drawing, certainly if you use the method I described, because you'll be drawing in 3D with splines.

Always remember to keep the wires simple. Detail can be added after you get the basic shapes right.

I hope this all helps, keep wipping :D

08 August 2002, 11:40 PM
Thanks for the replies!

I did model a head I'm somewhat proud of. I think it's the first thing I posted in CGtalk (you can find it by clicking on that search button and going to the first post I ever made). I remember finishing it the first time and thinking it was so realistic and nice, until I saw Dan Ablan's head model from his Inside LW 6 CD. I could now see everything wrong with my model. His looked realistic with no textures, mine didn't. So I remodeled certain parts (troath and such), redefined some areas etc. In the end it looked pretty good and I learned a lot.

So I think I get the idea nowaday about heads. But now it's the mountains, the non-organic objects too etc. I have no choice but to keep trying or giving, which isn't much of an option anyway, so I'll keep trying. But man, sometimes I wonder how they pull of the mind-blowing pictures that appear here and there. Lack of knowing anyone who is also into 3D doesn't help either:p

Anyway, here I go again!

08 August 2002, 06:31 AM
Do your homework!!

Draw, draw ,draw and study the thing you want to model.
get loads of reference material and pre plan.

Theres an old army saying over here "fail to prepare then prepare to fail"
It works for me. I spend hours gathering reference material and studing my subject before I start modelling, building up a mental picture of every shape and crease, just like a racing driver visualizing his perfect lap.

I've only been into 3d for a few months and this approach has taken me a long way very quickly.

When I'm as good as some of these other guys I might not have to do this but until then I'm sticking to it.

Good Luck.


08 August 2002, 04:49 PM
But I think my real problem then might be on how to model period. I think I need to see how the pro's model their stuff step by step, then I'll get a good idea. There should be more tutorials that aren't about modeling in general but how they modeled their characters/landscapes. That would really help!

08 August 2002, 05:33 PM
fairly easy, step by step modeling tutorials by pros..



I found these very helpful with no essential steps missed out. Just take your time :)

08 August 2002, 05:37 PM
These are good step by step tutorials:

You might have seen them before though.
about landscapes: I suggest you try to "simply" mimic real life environments. No need to bother with edgeloops etc.. on those...
I don't know why I bother with this one :
It's a bryce tutorial about a landscape, but with really nice outcome though.

edit: you beat me to the punch on the evil plan psil ;)

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 02:00 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.