View Full Version : The Best Detailing Dechniques for Cylindrical and Spherical Objects

10 October 2009, 03:15 PM
I am aiming to create a space ship that isn't built with a box (or other large flat surfaces) or detailed with the same. My question then is how is the best way to add small details (like the little inset panels on an airplane or the details on the example image below) without disrupting the geometry or creating ugly polygon artifacts. Pointers on how to do complex greebles on a flat surface without makin them boxy and extruded or using the pluggins would help as incedental knowledge. From the lack of ships with detailed cylinders and spheres I gather that this is eaither difficult or everyone like boxy starships.

There are a few caveats, though: while I know a texture map is probably the easiest way to acomplish this task, I absolutely need to detail the mesh. Also, I use Max 8, so any fancy modelling tools that were added in 9 (the boolean upgrade) or 2010 (graphite) are not available to me, though I don't know how useful they'll be.

This image is not mine, and no credit is taken for it (the drawing belongs to Niklas Jansson). However, this drawing ullustrates the kind of details on curved (or flat, though this is a seperate and slightly less daunting problem) surfaces that I'm after.

10 October 2009, 08:07 AM
Good looking designs :)

If the detail needs to be intricate (close-ups, etc), I would suggest NURBS if you're going for curvy mixed into sharp details. You can always covert to polys for the texturing process if you need to, but the freedom of NURBS would do you well here.

10 October 2009, 05:52 PM
My problem isn't so much with making the base mesh. What I had in mind would be fairly simple in poly or nurbs. What I really don't know is how to inset details (ie a panel into a cylinder) without destroyng my topology or letting the classic Boolean do it for me. The details in the spherical bits of the ships is what I'm after. Any wireframes of similar stuff would be incredibly helpful so I can see how the mesh is set up.

10 October 2009, 02:03 AM
Vadim, the winner of the last DW really integrates fine details into his model, check out his 'making of' his dominance war winning model.

He's got a cool youtube channel aswell.

10 October 2009, 03:49 AM
Damn... Scary good that. For those of you who know maya, was most of that nurbs. Still not sure exactly how to deal with holes and panels as polys (rather than baked normals, though that hadn't occured to me) He seems to build out more than cut in (understandable, of course, since it avoids booleans) but how would I cut in a panel instead?

10 October 2009, 05:33 AM
He models using polygons I'm pretty sure, with the smooth mesh preview active.

If you don't know what the smooth mesh preview does, here's an example:

It's pretty basic, it smooths the polygons as you can see. It works really, really well when dealing with car modeling. To activate the smooth mesh preview press '3' on your keyboard, for maya of course. You can increase the mesh divisions when you want to convert the smooth mesh preview to polygons as well, depending on how smooth you want it. I think the max division level is 4 (3 is usually enough).

10 October 2009, 03:18 PM
That sugestion makes very good sense in retrospect. The inset panels are still a bit of a problem because I'd have to set the mesh up so mesh smoot doesn't take away the hard edges, but thank you. What kind of detail is best for this kind of work (I didn't really see the base mesh he was working with in high poly--was it the same as the low poly base?)

10 October 2009, 05:23 PM
If you want to keep hard edges, insert edge loops/bevel to constrain the edges.

For this kind of work, keep it simple with geometry, the more geo you have, the more irregularities you might have with the smooth, such as bumps, if your going for a smooth type of design.

I'm currently building a car so i can show you what i mean (wip):

So yeah, simple geometry with good edge flow means it should smooth very nicely.
Then the smooth is applied after adding my edge loops, giving it sharper edges.

hope that helps.

and what do you mean by inset panels?

10 October 2009, 02:02 AM
Like insetting a complicated (square-ish) shape into annother object without adding a lot of extra geometry that will screw up the smoothing (i.e. the details on the ring-ship in the image). Also, that technique reminded me that 3ds doesn't smooth flat shapes, so unlike you fortunate maya users, I get a square inside the circle. Not hard to fix except for the scale of the problem. Also, to inset a circle pattern (for example) it seems like I'd need a lot more polygons than I would with the car...

Also, it seems to get detail (inset dots for argument's sake) small enough I do need a lot of polygons, and I can't figure out how to stop distortion when I work with spheres.

Images attatched to illustrate the point. This is the general shape of the biggest part of the model, but I've mangled it a bit to show where I'm having problems. As you can see, the mesh needs a lot of geometry to preserve the important hard-edged details, which leaves artifacts. Also, I can't easily relax my mesh without killing the hard-edged geometry. Hopefully this is more helpful in terms of specific pointers. I may wind up biting the bullet and doing the undetailed hull in nurbs (gotta learn some time, right?) I'll try to post a cleaned up version of my reference images. That'll probably help too.

10 October 2009, 12:04 AM
Hi! there's no definite set of rules you can follow. You just need to exercise (on your ship or elsewhere) and it will become clear to you how to insert detail and holes, it will come natural.
Just model some simple test objects, like a rectangular box with a round hole on it's longer side and one on the shorter side. This simple exercise is helpful. Do the same thing on a round object, like an eggshaped model. try putting round holes and then square holes in it.
Obviously, don't use booleans or the exercise has no purpose!
Just my two cents

10 October 2009, 02:37 AM
Thing is I'm not sure where to start :\. Putting a hole in a simple object, particularly a flat one isn't the problem. I'm trying to figure out how to start cutting complex shapes into curved objects in a stupidly inneficient way, so the hope is to see several different approaches to the problem.

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