Man! is this discussion still ongoing, really don’t see why you guys actually bothered continuing because it’s quite evident too me at least, that the OP hadn’t really checked his/her ego at the door…Anyhoo might as well throw my 1.5 cents into the ring while I’m here and most likely get ping’d for my effort like y’all…
“I will find shading problems all over it” -What makes you think there will be any errors? There may have been “shading errors” on my early models, but now they are fixed on discovery. Take a look for yourself:
Another one of my models:
There’s no errors because I know how to use Max correctly.
I’ve got to say, you have singly the worst attitude of any Max student I’ve ever come across. You’ve set yourself up to fail spectacularly. Here’s why:
- Entitlement: You think that because you’ve done some high level programming in the past, you are somehow entitled to be good at 3D modeling. This is a fallacy. Its as relevant as me having played one of the 3 wise men during a nativity play at primary school. Its also counter productive as your attitude alienates well meaning folk who would otherwise be inclined to help you.
- Fantastically unrealistic goals: It sounds as though you’ve dived straight headlong into a model of epic proportions. This is like deciding to learn to drive by jumping into an F1 car during a Grand Prix. Its the very worst thing you can do as a modeler.
You are going to make mistakes when you start out -a whole bunch of them. The more complex your model, the more time and energy its going to take to correct them (often to point where its just quicker to start over).
But its not just that. The key to modeling is speed. Example:
I have 50 vertical lines that all end on the same horizontal line. Each vertical line ends in a vert. I want them all to be perfectly aligned horizontally. When I first started out, I would zoom in as far as I could and move each vert individually up or down. For 50 verts, it might take 30 minutes. Nowadays I just select them all and use the scale tool to align them in seconds -That’s just one example of a 1000 shortcuts. In Max ignorance costs time -and a lot of it.
Do you even know the difference between a high and low poly model, or how you use normal maps, or quad topology?
If not I suggest you find the “How to make a next Gen Hotrod” series of videos (they are old but still good -although normal map baking is now done in seconds using a program like Substance Painter). What you will learn in 10 hours, will save your 100’s, maybe even 1000’s of hours of trial and error (I see somebody else posted a link to a tutorial, knowing the quality of the modellers around these parts, I suspect its well worth watching).
Final point: cgsociety.org (this website) is probably the most famous and highly respected 3D modelling site on the web. Most non-pro’s (including myself) wouldn’t share our work here, its just not of a high enough quality. Coming here and patronizing 3ds Max and its users, is like a new violin player finding a website used by the world’s very best composers and violin players and declaring that their understanding of music is wrong, and that you are going to design a new violin because you know better than they do.
You would be surprised: these guys tend be extremely frugal with their topology and only put vertices where they absolutely need to be, relying on the subd algorithms to do the heavy lifting. Small models load faster, are easier/faster to fix & modify: optimization becomes a virtuous cycle. As mentioned above: it is all about productivity. IIRC, Merida’s full-body skin control cage is something like a measly 25k quads, compared to the 125k triangles of a Battlefield 3 soldier.
With that said, cartoon animation is its own niche ; ‘photoreal’ VFX characters will often have much higher surface complexity to support the needs of hyper-detailed articulation (muscle/wrinkle/vascular deformations).
Definitely not as a general practice. The vast majority of assets are 100% Catmark subds (including all the cars in Cars) and rendered as such (you can find papers on how prman intersects those for ray-tracing). You may find some Loop subds for simulation assets like cloth. And some straight low-res poly models for sets background objects (ex. the trash mountains in Wall-E).
Hard/complex-surface modelling with polys is positively medieval. For general animation & gaming, Catmark (with crease support) is generally your best choice. There is a fairly good choice of apps (i include Mudbox & ZBrush here, since they both use subds under the hood), but pretty much all of them come with serious issues & require extensive customization for advanced users. For CAD, NURBS are currently your only hope (maybe one day we will have NURCCs…)