Theoretical SUB-D


Neat image, Rens! I know this thread is about modelling but would you mind sharing how you lit the scene and what did you use for material settings?


cool impresive and good look :smiley:


Pardon me for my inexperience and perhaps the inconvenience, but what are Sub-d’s???

Can anybody direct me to a tutorial link?

I want to learn very much.


Thanks guys. :slight_smile:

Sorry about the late reply.
It’s pretty basic really. The lighting is a only skylight with a reflection card above it so the sphere has something to reflect. The material is a raytrace material with a falloff map in the reflection slot (fresnel type, IOR 1,6).

You can read more about reflection cards here.

Hope this helps!

  • Rens


Hello everyone, i am new to this forum and would love as much advice and help as possible…
Cutting to the chase, i am an animation student in london, but i am having problems with the later stages of rigging in 3DS max, using normal bones, not biped. I have created solvers and skined the model to it, but now i can’t adjust the envelopes and paint weights?? I have been up nights trying to make the model deform correctly to the bones, but no luck…
Can anyone help as this is a small part of a much bigger animation which is due in soon.
Thank you.



perfect! great work ! I like it ,


this is the sub d thread… post your question in a new thread , i nthe max forum.

but… do vertex weighting, dont use envelopes, there is no straight answer to your questrion, so post an image of your model in a new thread etc.


Sub-D’s are subdivision surfaces. Do an advanced-search on Google for the exact-phrase and you’ll be inundated with tutorial materials.

The most basic idea is that with these you are able to model good, organic shapes (consisting of curves and so forth) without dealing directly with true mathematical curves … a process that has been described as trying to build a model with spaghetti and Jell-O. :scream:

Subdivision works by starting with a wireframe model and creating a smooth, curvy-looking model “inside of it,” based on the frame. The mathematics of it all definitely looks like PhD stuff. But it works well, giving you a nice mixture of curvy appearance, and control.

Look at that sphere on page-52. (Wow! Is that a length-record for one thread, or what?..) Notice how all of the edges are slightly, nicely, convincingly beveled. Nothing takes a precise 90-degree turn; it’s very slightly rounded. All physical molded objects have these, partly so that you won’t cut your hand and partly to enable the material to be easily removed from the mold. But ordinary polygon-geometry not only doesn’t have that; it’s very hard to do. Subdivision techniques can do it precisely.

Another very, very nice feature of subdivisions is that, since the final point positions are calculated, based on a much-smaller set of reference data (the polygons), they can produce arbitrary visual precision without piling-on more geometry. Reposition your camera and ugly flat surfaces won’t start showing up. You get a visual effect analogous to having thousands more polygons than you actually built. The concept is loosely similar to that of a NURBS-surface (where points influence a curve by “attracting” it). You get the benefits of a mathematically generated surface, but you have much, much more control.


basicly, we look for solutions for problems that we encounter, its a sort of puzzling, we all work with polygons(4 sided faces (square) and with that we want to build something.
to do this correctly there are some rulez and solutions for typical problems you could encounter. those solutions are posted and showns here, or discussing a point to get one.

look through this thread and youll found numerous things we came upon, and found solutions for and discussed.

if you have a problem, in terms of how to get a shape build with polygons, you can post it here. (not total structures, human body etc) but specific points.

just read the thread youll get the picture


I love this thread guys! Thanks so much!


fei chang hao



Just want to say that this thread is extremely informative and I have learnt quite a bit from it.

Not being rude or rushing 3DZ, but is the pdf still going to be released or has it been released elsewhere? I ask this cos I joined up late and there hasn’t been a post in this thread for quite some time.

One thing that I don’t quite understand is what 3DZ said back on page 44 (yeh I read through every single page!).

“Poles are really important, else we might as well be using nurbs. It’s all about locate refinement, and if there is no way to break the loop, the darn thing will stretch across your entire model.”

What I don’t quite understand is from what I’ve read, poles are quite bad in that it’ll result in shading problems or the like when smoothed. So why are they important?

Also, the impression I got is that edge loops are quite important for the topology when it comes to deforming the model, so how come it’s a bad idea for it to stretch across the entire model?

If anyone could explain these two points and in which cases you would want to terminate loops then I’d be most grateful! =D Images to help aid the explaination would also be a bonus! =P


the pdf was… or is in progress. last time ive heard of him it was something of. allmost done… but i think it will still take a long time before it comes out.

from what ive seen, hes very busy…

but ow well… just paste the best parts you want to know in a txt file, print it. and look at it every once in a while .

about poles: yes poles are bad and good in another way.
when modelling and getting a 5 sides poly or some other weird non square poly, with some other, some weird effects can occure… in simple words, when not every little puzzle shape = a(poly/square) , and so not the same sort of shapes in a row, than you will see some disturbans when smoothed. its like throwing a cloth over the floot, than its flat… but when putting it over a grass field, it wont be ONE NICE FLUID LINE. bad example. but thats the bad part, in not havinga continiues flow of the same shapes, that will than give a bad effect when smoothed.

but when you want to create wrickles ,than you can make poles, to create edges in your surface. there are ways to create them right, but dont have the time to explain that at the moment.

edge loops: edge loops always point out regions, like in a head, you always have edge loops around the eyes, nose, mouth etc. they dont stretch over the whole head, because the eye is a separe part of the head, its also allmost impossible to do that.

edge loops are use to isolate things… to model a character you have to follow the flow of the skin/muscles, to create a natural look. this flow will result in edge loops automaticly. because you want to islote eyes, they are round, so you will get a loop around them.

also muscles mostly get a loop of polys around them, to connect them with others, and islote them. also the abs,have loops etc. just look at some wire frames and try to see all the loops, and look why they are there, what for effect do they have etc.


Wow thanks Ivo D for the quick and informative reply!

Really cleared up the things I didn’t quite understand. =)


Hello I was trying out Chin’s method of cutting holes in sub-d on page 25. I downloaded his max file and had a play with it. When I added Conform in step 5 to his model, it worked fine.

I then decided to play around with it again, but this time I thought I’d cut the holes into the model instead. This time, when I added the conform modifier, I found that it messed up the edges of the model.

Does anyone have any ideas on why this is happening and how to prevent it?



Ok, I figured out why this is happening. It happens if I put the holes on one side of the model and then I mirror that side and weld both sides together.

If I cut the holes on the other side seperately, then it doesn’t happen.

How am I supposed to keep both sides symmetrical if I can’t do it without the Conform modifier screwing up the edges?


Ok, I finally figured out when I get the problem, although I’m not sure why it happens. This is Max 5 by the way. I guess I should have made that clearer from the start.

Anyway, the problem with the messed up edges with Conform occurs when I do a mirror of one side and then I weld both sides together. However, it only happens if I choose the mirrored copy, and attach the original to it. If I choose the original and attach the mirrored copy to it, then I don’t get the problem.

Now my question is whether this is a bug with Max 5 or is there a reason why the behaviour is different if I attach in a different order?


Hey guys I wanna participate in this wonderfull thread regarding theoretical Sub-D techniques with a question I got. How in the world is it possible to create a triangle shape on a heavily curved surface with Sub-D? for a better understanding: basically an arrow/triangle type of thing on a sphere or a similar curved object, while that triangle should follow the original shape.
A second question is: How would you approach the shapes shown in the attached image? I really need those shapes for my work. I hope you can help.
btw. If those problems have already been discussed and I looked over it in the thread, please post a diret link to the page (the thread got pretty big).



because of the lack of participation (at this time) and the urgency I tried to solve it myself, and this is what I came up with. Not the best solution (you can still see some little bumps on the surface) but I am kinda happy with the result :slight_smile:
Now I need help with the second question in the post above this one… couldn’t solve it as for now.


Edit: Forgot to attach the images …


Heeey! im so interested to read this thread.but incredible! 54 pages???

how can i start readinem! plz! i want to learn them too!:smiley:
kidding.thank u dave black to start up such a great and usefull thread.gonna read em all ! (yeah?)!:smiley: