Maya for automotive modeling YES or NO

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  03 March 2013
Maya for automotive modeling YES or NO


I would like to tell you guys about the study loop I had to do lately and I'm curious what do you think about that?

I started to do a CG car modeling in Maya with polygons which of course is not precise technique as we know the car designers are using programs as Alias Studio, Rhino, Solid Works and others to create class A surface famous among the people who are using mostly polygon modeling techniques as entirely different modelling universe - which sometime is exactly true and it has it's strong and week sides like the polygons have their own, but what I am trying to say here is that I kind of felt the same way earlier because I was only used to Maya NURBS tools. So I was thinking that polygons are good enough if you have the knowledge how to use them, and that is good but very often we can model something ten times more accurate and ten times faster if we use a traditional NURBS approach.

After struggling for a while eventually I came to the realization that poly modeling is just not enough to provide clean and smooth surface for automotive parts but the same is also true for hard surface modeling and modeling in general. So I was thinking isn't it great that we can use NURBS tools in Maya to generate polygon surfaces and we can chose freely what type of surface to make at any given time instead of always hitting the box modeling approach. The problem with this is that the NURBS workflow inside of Maya is somehow slow , unnecessary complicated and unstable comparing with some other programs like Alias Automotive, Autodesk Inventor and Rhino. And I think this leads to a huge gap between the two basic modeling methods inside of the program.

 So after searching around it turn out that it is possible to use a workaround by starting and doing most of the modeling in Autodesk Inventor or Solid Works (which are pretty much all the same CAD and NURBS modeling packages) and eventually refining and rebuilding if necessary in programs like Rhino or Alias. And than if we want to do an animation or texturing and go back to Maya we can export the resulted geometry as an FBX, OBJ ( if we need polygons ) or IEGS, STEP file format (if we want to keep the NURBS). Same counts for any rendering or poly modeling package it might be Maya, 3D Max, Showcase or any other similar type of software.

By using this technique it is not possible to maintain very low-poly and 100% quad layout. So where this is necessary for texturing purposes there is no problem to re-topologize the resulted geometry. But very often this is not the case because for some parts of our models we only need UV's and no textures at all. And as we know all types of surfaces triangulate during render tessellation so usually there is not need to maintain polygonal workflow 100% of the time. The amount of surface control that we can take advantage of by using this technique and the high quality surfaces are worthed to go thru all that trouble to study all this different programs.

​ Hopefully Autodesk Maya development team will make their mind and will decide to improve the NURBS modeling tools in Maya so we can use this great idea for NURBS modeling techniques for generating polygonal shapes without having to study two or three other different modeling packages and also more reliable and stable NURBS workflow inside of Maya itself - it has been started already but apparently latter it's been abandoned for some reason. I am guessing here but it might be something like marketing strategy or whatever else but definitely not impossibility to continue the development of the NURBS modeling and the NURBS tools inside of the program.

Maya is my favorite program and it is still one of the best around but unfortunately we have to admit that when it comes to NURBS it is foaling behind the competition.

Another option would be a file format that can maintain clean quad layout for exporting NURBS to Poly out of Rhino and Alias Automotive or even better straight from SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor. Why all that trouble you may say ?
It is important to be able to take advantage of the both methods - inside of one piece of software -because having the freedom to switch back and forward between NURBS and poly workflows and combining their strength could bring greater flexibility that can be very useful.

Ignoring all the great features of NURBS just because traditional polygon modeling is a bit easier is limiting the modeling process and I am sure that in future the gap between the two will be narrowed down for achieving a faster and more powerful modeling process. Instead of labyrinth of interface issues and two completely different directions in the design industry.
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Last edited by Vladivpg : 04 April 2013 at 11:37 PM.
  03 March 2013
I seriously can't read what you typed because it is a wall of text. Paragraphs exist for a reason man.
  03 March 2013
You seem to have answered your own "Maya for automotive modeling YES or NO" question. All I can add is that many people making car/vehicle models do so in May and Max and seem to be happy enough. But as you observed, engineering programs are best for cars. Maya is a great all-rounder for modelling, lighting and rendering.
I like to learn.

Last edited by Dillster : 03 March 2013 at 10:03 PM.
  03 March 2013
I write this down for other purposes and kind of just copy and paste it here that's why is a little bit too long and self explanatory. I don't know may be my English is not so good to make my point clear or the problem is something else but I got to those ideas after lots of efforts and I was hoping if someone who has more experience with the same problems can add something else about those problems or disagree or something of that sort. But anyways, thank you for the comments guys.
  03 March 2013
when you write in English, imagine that you are speaking it. now imagine how you have to pause and take a breath? that is a good time to insert some punctuation. Finish a line of thought? new paragraph.

no, maya is not a good choice for nurbs modeling. If you want to model cars in maya, then you should stick to subdivision surfaces and learn how to use edge weights.

Maya 2014 just received a healthy boost for the subd modeling toolset. I have seen some amazing car models with that tool-set. Nurbs are better for automotive applications because the surfaces are more appropriate to drive computer automated equipment. If you are just visualizing the cars, then its more efficient to use subdivision anyway (provided that you understand how to make an efficient edge flow).

maya is considered DCC from autodesks POV, (digital content creation) vs industrial. So i dont think they will ever try to make specialized tools for automotive applications inside maya. Maybe if someone writes a set of plugins that improve the nurbs workflow? maybe nex will? Autodesk is probably going to focus on creating geometry that is ideal for deformations and dense scenes vs extremely detailed, hard, industrial models.
From Russia, with love @

Last edited by stooch : 04 April 2013 at 12:01 AM.
  04 April 2013
well they dont have to copy inventor to make nurbs more useable.

just a few more tools would be useful like multi radius fillet for example and some way of more effectively organizing curves. with history turned on you can get a lot of stray orphaned curves spread all over the place.

this along with modelling constraints like inventor/solidworks could be useful in poly workflows too. its just that no one is accustomed to think that way and we think 'oh poly modeling is like THIS'

people like to think - oh polys and nurbs are 2 different worlds and they cant meet. i was chatting to the programmer of moi3d on his forum saying it would be cool to have edge loop selection in his very cool nurbs modelling program and he said as much....2 different point in doing it.

but programs like inventor fusion and even sketchup challenge that to a certain extent. - u can select edge loops in inventor for example...nurbs edge loops. and the whole push /pull paradigm which has changed the industry in some ways is just an extrude really. we need to think out of the box more.

incidentally i thought your paragraph structure was just fine and you were just being thoughtful

also, i dont think its all that fair to say maya is falling behind the competition in nurbs modelling. no other DCC app has nurbs tools as advanced as maya as far as i know...
Scott Turner

Last edited by republicavfx : 04 April 2013 at 12:23 AM.
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by blade33ru: incidentally i thought your paragraph structure was just fine and you were just being thoughtful

dude, one of his paragraphs was a sentence. no need to lie to people just to be nice.
From Russia, with love @
  04 April 2013
lol, im not trying to be nice. i thought he was trying to be thoughtful about the topic.
having said that, im an english speaker in a foreign country . i appreciate it when people give me a break
on local grammar expectations
Scott Turner

Last edited by republicavfx : 04 April 2013 at 01:04 AM.
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by blade33ru: lol, im not trying to be nice. i thought he was trying to be thoughtful about the topic.
having said that, im an english speaker in a foreign country . i appreciate it when people give me a break
on local grammar expectations

you should appreciate it even more when people give you friendly and easy to follow advice that can greatly improve your writing and legibility

anyway, I think nurbs often do come in handy for TD work. I agree that it becomes really messy when you try to organize a bunch of lofts, projection curves, etc. My suggestion though is not to hold ones breath in terms of automotive modeling tasks in Maya. I guess it doesnt hurt to make an entry in the official feature requests forum.
From Russia, with love @

Last edited by stooch : 04 April 2013 at 01:48 AM.
  04 April 2013
It has paragraphs now because I edited his post and added a bunch of random paragraphs. It was one block of text before .
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by blade33ru: an english speaker in a foreign country . i appreciate it when people give me a break on local grammar expectations

Don't pay too much attention to those that find fault with everything, instead of giving encouragement. Unfortunately there are many nitpickers, which is possibly why the forum is relatively quiet compared to others.
  04 April 2013
In short:

Maya rocks in this area if you know how to wield it.

Nurbs is not the awnser, it's a tool towards your polygon goal!

Don't start with detailed rims, tires, front, medium side and back, and low top and interior. I hate those things.

You want to impress: model motorcycles in detail. Not much of them around.
Wanna guess why?!

cheers and good luck
I'm not a computerfreak!! but a freak with a computer!
And I'm not afraid to use it!
  04 April 2013
To sum it up (for myself, anyway!), if you need accuracy, use a NURBS application. Rhino is my favorite, but Solidworks and CATIA certainly have their benefits as well.

If you want a pretty picture or animation, modeling in polys is just fine. Sure, one could script or write all the tools in Rhino's NURBS toolset for Maya - but that would take years to put together, and in the meantime you'd get no actual work done.

They're all good tools, use them all!
Commodore 64 @ 1MHz
1541 Floppy Drive

"Like stone we battle the wind... Beat down and strangle the rains..."
  04 April 2013
love maya, but no
  04 April 2013
Thank you guys for all the picky notes about my English. Yes I have to admit I am very uneducated. And I'll try to improve my style as much as I can too.

To be honest I was hoping for more of a technical discussion. That's a CG forum for god sake.
And some of you really did try to stick with the subject in hand. Like the guy from Chile who got hunted for not noticing my illiteracy. Thank you man, I appreciate everything that you said.
So to him and all others who posted a constructive critique and comments.

No I am not saying that Autodesk should include all the features from Rhino neither to copy Inventor but it would not hurt for as a users of the software if they do the best they can to make Maya better and more stable handling NURBS. Because the fact that we can generate clean quad poly surfaces with the NURBS tools in Maya is just great. It is kind of like an universal solution for all NURBS to Poly conversation issues.

For example I've being trying to import STEP or IEGS files from Inventor to Maya and it was not working right but the same file imports just fine in Rhino or Alias. There is something about the surface density. Maya requires more points to be able to represent the curvature of the surface correctly.

Don't you guys think that NURBS features like fillets and booleans could be less picky about surface directions, history and parametrization the way it is in Rhino and Inventor?
For my experience with inventor I never had any crashes or unexpected problems. Over there operations like boolean are as simple as surface A minus surface B creates surface C and that's it. You can get creative as much as you want and there are not any history related problems after that. No matter that the history is on and working thru all your project. You never need to stop and clean all your surfaces before executing an operation.
At the end it doesn't matter in which program the model has been created. Models that come out of Rhino and Inventor are not worse quality comparing with those from Maya just because we do some stuff manually which is done somehow under the hood in the other programs

Also the curve tools in Maya could be extended a little bit more. Again not with all the features from Rhino. But over there you can do everything with curves. I think it would be great if we had some of that functionality in Maya.

The way I see it from year to year Maya is getting more and more pure polygon modeling package and the program is not getting any better from the fact that the NURBS toolset is keep staying all the same.

This are some of the problems that I had in mind when I wrote my initial "hart braking" post.
Vladislav Georgiev
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