Adding detail to curved objects, like a car dashboard

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  06 June 2013
Adding detail to curved objects, like a car dashboard

Having some trouble figuring out what must be a simple method I'm not understanding.

Trying to model a car dashboard, not the wheel or gears but the big shape you hit your knees on if you sit in a car. Following some simple box modeling to get the basic T-form, apply turbosmooth, add some edge loops to get the right amount of curvature on some edges, great.

I'm miserably failing the next step, which is adding in details like lcd screen and vents. Even something as simple as making a crease that goes left to right across the whole vehicle, since those loops end up breaking the smoothing and the nice subtle curve is gone.

So next I tried geting the basic shape and adding an edit poly modifier on top of the turbosmooth then another turbosmooth on top of that. But it's getting very out of hand with the amount of faces and several times I've lost work by clicking on the wrong edit-poly and it messes up the rest of the stack.

Another idea was putting in the detail first on a flat plane, then using FFD 4x4 to get the curve in, but then I'm not able to pull out the pieces that came from the box modelling method, like how the armrest area comes out from big piece itself.

Am I missing a method of doign this? I don't want to have to resort to just unwrappign it and adding my details with a normal map. I want to use real geometry, and I've seen some great models in the past with this kind of detail, but don't know how to get there.
 
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