REVIEW: The Secrets of Organic Modeling Lightwave Modeling Techniques with Taron


   [b]Review: The Secrets of Organic Modeling Lightwave Modeling Techniques with Taron[/b]
   [size=1]by Yariv Newman
   [i]The Gnomon Workshop's latest offering is an opportunity to learn from one of the most talented and well rounded artists in the industry, Taron (Timur Baysal). As early as 1997 Taron's work appeared in online Newtekniques articles by CgChannel founder Jean-Eric Henault, which dropped jaws as it reached levels of photo-realism and horrifyingly beautiful stylizations. He revealed that such complex results were achieved simply by using a limited set of tools. A far cry from nurbs modeling and stitching, which is very tedious to work with. At the time, he helped set a higher standard for what one individual could achieve. Taron helped pioneer a Sub-division surface modeling (SubD) technique which seeks elegantly and simply preps your models for displacement, animation and final rendering.
   [/i][b]Note[/b]:[i] it should be pointed out that the techniques Taron shares are quite universal to any modeling task. Most sub-division capable modeling packages are capable of executing this approach. More on this later in the Review.
   [/b][left] In the ususal warm and friendly way,Taron starts this DVD by introducing himself in a humorous manner. This DVD was created in real-time, which I find more advantageous, rather then watching a sped up version of the artist racing through what he's talking about. 
   [left]Taron starts by removing aspects of Lightwave's interface which he feels impedes people by getting them hung up digging through sub menus. He limits the number of tools he permits to be visible in order to achieve his results. While Taron prefers to use Lightwave, he encourages you to find similar features in your modeling package and map them to hot keys. To review this DVD I had the advantage of following along using Modo v2.03 on OSX, and only one function I didn't have (collapse polys in the same way Lightwave does with symmetry activated)  I wrote a script for and mapped to a hot key.  If you are using Max, I recommend [PolyBoost]('s set of plugins. If you are using Maya I recommend the [NEX]( plugins by dRaster to emulate this. If you are using Wings3D, XSI or Silo you can find similar functions in those programs. None of this detracted significantly from the overall learning experience.
   [left] For me, it was very easy to follow along with Taron, who cracks jokes as he works to help move the process along. His sub-divisional modeling philosophy is: the only piece of geometry you ever need to create is a box.
   He outlines all the specific tools and techniques which are used through-out the tutorial, so that users modeling in other packages can follow along. Each time he goes through the motions, there is a conscious attempt on Taron's part to teach the viewer something:
   [left]•    Selects a group of polygons where you wish add detail
   •    Smoothshifts(extends) that area 
   •    Use the stretch tools to push them into position 
   •    Drag points to further position to your liking, defining the surface 
   •    Lastly, study the area you just created to define the edge flow in the topology to create the geometry you desire, and repeat.
   From this point, Taron then focuses on what the main draw of his DVD is: How to approach modeling organic structures like a human head. He chose this because a head has all the curvatures and details which translate to modeling any other organic form. He reveals advice about anatomy,design, modeling for animation and displacement. We also see again how by starting from a mere primitive box can turn into a highly elaborate yet necessarily simplistic model of humanoid head, all of which he accomplishes in 2 hours of real time.
   He focuses a good deal of time generating the silhouette of the head. In minutes he roughs out something organic and humanoid, extending a box out to form the neck, shoulder area, and jawline, all using very little geometry. Taron wants to get all the features in place then tweak, add and manipulate the geometry to further reveal  the character within. For myself, the toughest part of approaching faces has always been modeling the eyes. Taron gives advice that upper eyelids should run over the lower lids. The skin above the eyelid is another challenge, to finesse this fold nicely,Taron to relieve stress, suggests having you come back later when the rest of the  head is more complete which I appreciated because it is very much how a painter works an entire canvas, rather than getting hung up massaging solely one location.
   Taron takes a moment between each step and makes large modifications to make the model focus into form. The process repeats, promoting experimentation yet always keeping control of where the geometry is going. Taron's idea is to have the edge flow very homogeneous so that one area flows into another very cleanly. Modeling this way instantly shows the correct way in which the geometry is supposed lay. Problem areas are always addressed right away by spinning quads or collapsing areas and rebuilding them. It's surprising how he defines so much with very little geometry.
   The most fun part of the DVD for me was when Taron starts defining and shaping the more challenging areas of the ear, muscles in the neck and the adam's apple. This is done simply by  taking groups of polygons, shaping them, extending the geometry in that region and spinning quads, thus creating a very simple flow to further define areas. Taron is able to laugh at his creation as the form is brought into shape. You'll find this part of the process to be more a meditation as Taron jokingly debates how to approach these areas. The model he leaves you with is quite ready for displacement where you can chisel in those further details right in without much effort.
   At the end of the process, you get a feeling that you really learned something over the time you've invested.
   [/b][b]General Comments
   [/b][left]I feel this DVD is mistakenly marketed as a Lightwave modeling tutorial, rather it is a universal way to look at modeling. You can apply these techniques to modeling just about anything (cars, planes,trains,etc) in any modeling package.  Its also a bit odd that Gnomon fails to mention that this is part one of a series, as future DVDs from Taron are on the way, for displacement, animation, and rendering. I would have rather waited for Taron's 3 DVDs covering all the areas of his particular work flow and purchase them all together. Yet , it does give those artists who do not have knowledge of this technique some time to familiarize themselves with it before the proceeding DVDs arrive. 
   As I mentioned at the beginning, the fact they use Lightwave in the title of this DVD might turn a great deal of heads away from buying the DVD. Most modelers out there use the tool they are comfortable with. I would have changed the title to reflect what the DVD is really about. While you might find that his approach can be done easier in some 3D modeling packages then others, i.e partially switching between faces and sub-division surfaces. I think if you know your particular modeling package well enough to find these features, then this tutorial is a breeze.
   Over all I had a really good time with this DVD, as I watched it 3 times in order to write a thorough review. You’ll learn to use familiar tools in new and useful ways. I learned several tools I never noticed before. Taron shares his thinking and observations as he works, explaining his inner process , and how it is very helpful and freeing. His idea of letting the geometry indicate to you how it should play out allows you to have fun with it and to learn not to sweat all the little details. The results turned out well enough for me to create these header  and footer graphics. Special thanks is due to Taron for sharing his rendering and shading techniques. I tried to create a model that was following the tutorial with more realistic proportions, one more cartoony and one ready for displacement and animation.
   [left][i]If one wishes to learn how to model in today's world a quick google search will reveal various modeling techniques which start with a point by point edge extend as a means to patch a model together. There are even tutorials where people will use image planes in hopes that this effort will result in a convincing 3D model. Some tutorials will use Triangles and N-sided polygons as a solution hoping it will translate into something usable for production even when displacement is being considered. There may even be a rare occasion you might find an exquisite render only to realize that the process behind it was not as pleasant as initially described. The process they hold to can be long, and mind numbing as watching paint dry. Taron's DVD will amaze you, a modeling process which never gets boring and takes place in a short period of real - time. You will not find a formal tutorial/class teaching these techniques. For someone who's never even experienced a 3D program and wishes to learn modeling in the least painful way possible, this DVD can also be strongly recommended as a starting point.
 [/u][/i][The Gnomon Workshop](
 [Taron's Website](
 Additional Resources
 [/u][Luxology]([Project Messiah Group](


Hey Yariv,

Great stuff, thanks for posting your review! :thumbsup:


Yes, thank you. I’ve been considering this DVD, but as I’m not very familiar with Lightwave, I’ve held back. I think I’ll get it.



Seriously, why is there no review site for 3D and matte painting DVD’s? It would be a godsend to the members of this site. Every DVD in the known world is reviewed, except Gnomon, Digital Tutors, CG Academy, etc…

By the way, really nice helpful review. I really had no interest in this DVD because it was Lightwave specific, but after reading your review and seing that you used Modo for your results, I’ve changed my mind. Just bought it. Thanks.


I would like to thank you for the review. I almost purchase the DVD last week but what held me back was that I don’t use LW but I wanted to know if the technics in the DVD would be useful in other modeling applications. After reading your review of the DVD I now how my answers and I will be purchasing this DVD next week.



This is a must-have for sure.:thumbsup:


Tarons classic organic 3d modeling techniques are useful to all subdivision surface modelers regardless of what app they work with. The Lightwave community has the richest history with subdivision surface modeling. I have books about Lightwave modeling methods which have been used for years that apply to any 3d sds modeling application.:slight_smile:


I have used Lightwave for years and I have never used some of the tools Taron uses like Collapse Polys. As a Lightwave user I am always amazed at how some artists use a tools that I thought were totally useless. My eyes have been opened! :slight_smile:


I don’t know but I think that Taron sees the 3d modeling process a bit differently than most other professional organic 3d modelers. The way he approaches using the software features are a bit like how a traditional master sculptor develops personal processes, adjustments or uses for their chisel collections, etc. It’s a gift. It’s good to see Taron sharing his amazing modeling methods with the 3d community.:slight_smile:


Thanks for the review! :slight_smile:

It’s good that you made it clear that the presented modeling techniques apply in general, not just to LW and that this DVD is part of a series. Even though modeling is not my favourite part of 3D, I now consider buying the DVD.


As I do own this dvd. Thanks for the spot on review. Don’t think I could have said it better myself. :thumbsup:


thanks for the review, its helped me decide to get this dvd :slight_smile:


I don’t know what the big fuss is about. This is basically the same technique as some of the free video tutorials on the Newtek site by UserDelta.

Grab the videos here:

This really displays how good Lightwave has been at modeling for such a long time. Same technique as Taron, but maybe even more streamlined!


Wow, that’s one heck of a nice review!!! Thanx, Crossbones! I’m very proud to read it and about the beautiful reactions! Thanks everyone! :bounce:

Thanks for the link to the little free tutorials on the Newtek site, too. My tutorial is focused on organic modeling and in depth understanding of the toolset. It’s not a head tutorial, just a little reminder. :shrug:

If any of you has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, and practice well, because the second one will come very soon, hopefully by July or August. :slight_smile:


Hey everyone, This was my first review I’ve ever written. Thank you for the nice comments and thanks to Taron for taking time to make these DVDs and Gnomon for producing them.

Regards to the above post, I watched those videos. Simply put, those techniques are not Taron’s. The only thing Taron’s tool palette shares in common with UserDelta are 5 tools(Box,Symmetry mode, SpinQuads, SmoothShift, and Drag points). Taron’s DVD covers in depth methodology on modeling the way which I defined in my review.


This is great news!


What are you going to have on the second one?


I just watched this dvd and wanted to put my 2 cents in:

I liked it
Taron’s version of box modelling is different from any other video I’ve seen
He explains his technique very well and makes his points well
He’s really funny!.. I can’t think of any other tutorial that made me laugh while watching it

I wanted it to be longer
I know he was making the model to be used for displacement in zbrush, but I would have liked to see him detail/refine the model a bit more

Overall, I’d say I learned a lot and the dvd is very worthwhile.


Weel in Modo i merge polys simply right clicking:

u don’t need script.


Not merge Polygons, but collapse polygons doesn’t work in Symmetery mode doesn’t work in MODO. i had to write a script for it in modo. Brad told me in 301 its fixed and working.

I know you would have rather seen Taron go into more detail, but with the techniques he’s teaching you could make your models as detailed as you desire in SubD form.