Hard Surface Modeling-suggestions needed

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  09 September 2012
Hard Surface Modeling-suggestions needed

I am no engineer, far from it, but I would like to give a try on modeling individual parts for giant robots ^^ I am also a noob at modeling. The main software I use for modeling is zbrush, however, I found it to be very quirky and imprecise for my needs. I an a very very bad box modeler. I always wondered about nurbs. I would like my models to end up being as polygons though and modifying nurbs to polygons in maya leaves me with a very big mess. I haven't tried Maya subdivision surfaces yet but I've heard that T-Splines for Rhyno are better. Then again, I would want to import the final nurbs model from Rhyno into Maya and convert them to polygons and don't know how that will end up since I haven't obviously done any thing. What if I convert the nurbs surfaces to subDs and then to polygons as an extra step to get cleaner topology? I think I could always go to Modo and retopologize the converted meshes from nurbs. ( I'm getting student versions of all these programs ) Or should I just do the best I can using Maya subDs and convert them innto polygons or even leave them as subDs. So many choices I haven't tried. I would like some input from you guys before I try these methods. Mind you I don't have Rhyno nor the tspline plug in yet and don't even know whether I would even want or need it. I know these are very odd questions coming from a newby but please bear with me. ^^ Any thoughts a very appreciated. Thank you in advance.
  09 September 2012
My suggestion is to just stick with polygons from the start and avoid the conversion issues. Modeling hard surface shapes with polys is straightforward. In a Maya context, you can use Smooth Mesh Preview to apply a fast subdivision/smoothing, and can convert that to straight polygons when done. As much as possible, stick to quads, avoiding triangles or n-gons (polygons with more than 4 edges). This is because the smoothing works better on quads.
  09 September 2012
I don't know Maya. But I'd use NURBS to do the model in. NURBS worked great with boolean cutting and trimming and union adding. Once the robot is how you want it, any NURBS tool app these days has the feature of converting a model to polygons for export as OBJ. I use 3D-Coat to auto UV map my NURBS models I converted to OBJ. Then I render in modo.

The trick is... and this is important... how the NURBS app converts to polygons. You need to tell the app how dense the mesh should be in order to retain the surface smoothness, as well as the edge sharpness, created from your NURBS. If your app can generate quads from such meshes, the power to you. But it isn't necessary, since you won't be smoothing the objects afterword or bending/animation them. These are hard surface objects that will be hinged and connected by rotating axis as joints probably.
  09 September 2012
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