Box Modeling

3D modeling has limitless potential. It is rendered versatile by various techniques among which box modeling is a prominent one. With box modeling techniques, the final model is sculpted gradually in 3D design software from a fundamental and native shape such as box, cylinder or other primitive object. Through various iterative steps and cutting-edge tools, the primitive shapes are modeled from scratch. The amount of detailing and intricacies that you want to incorporate in the shape can be controlled.

More about Box Modeling

In Box Modeling, the rough model is refined and redefined by subjecting the basic model to various stages. In every subsequent stage, more details are added and unwanted elements set right. The first stage is planning wherein you form a basic idea of what you want and how you plan to accomplish the same. This is followed by rough drafting, detailing, final detailing, cleaning up, refining, and finishing stages.

The stages are logical in the sense that all areas of the model receive same attention in terms of adding details. It is never advisable to concentrate on one aspect of the model and then proceed to the next after finishing the earlier part. If you do so, this could cause a visual imbalance. Viewers can identify that certain areas of the model have been crafted with finesses, whereas rest of the areas have been done in haste.

The areas of the model which you want to grab the attention of viewers should be more geometrically rich. For example, in case of a character in game, the face as well as the torso should have similar geometric detailing particularly of the game has to be viewed through floating camera as used in cinemas.

Various Steps in Box Modeling

The box modeling steps you need to commonly adhere to for impeccable results are defined below.

  • Search for relevant and attractive reference materials that can be applied to the model
  • Set up multiple views or angles of the model to be refined for best results
  • Prepare the plan about how you are going to proceed beforehand
  • Map the level of detailing required and the steps involved for achieving the same
  • Work out the method that would allow faster and easier modeling
  • Go about setting the work environment optimally
  • The reference image needs to be placed in the background
  • All short cuts and layout related expedients to be set up
  • Choose a basic shape in 3D software which would lead to faster completion of draft
  • Try to define the rough draft with customized segments or iterations to the basic shape
  • In Maya, the segments can be found in Channel Box
  • In 3DS max, the iterations can be created from Command Panel on Create/ Modify panel
  • Now, go about adding details to the rough draft
  • Extrude the desired faces and trying using the Connect command
  • Other helpful tools can be used for finalizing the basic draft of model
  • The objective should be to arrive at a workable outline or shape silhouette
  • The model in outline form would appear like a mass of roughly connected basic shapes
  • The face can be extruded in positive or negative manner for extending the area evenly
  • With Insert Face, you can develop a face that is evenly formed into another for ease of extruding in or out
  • This would provide more symmetry to the shape’s geometry
  • In 3DS Max, edge can be added with ‘Connect Vertices’ command
  • It also allows for defining or controlling any four-sided polygon’s tessellation
  • The Connect Edges command in 3DS Max allows for combining the shape with Loop and Ring
  • Even geometry can be added using this command in hassle free manner
  • Edges can be merged and redundant geometry cleaned for a streamlined flow with 3DS max command ‘Target Weld Vertices’
  • Redundant geometric shapes can be eliminated with Remove edge or vertices command
  • Start by removing the edges initially and then the isolated vertices connected to removed edges for maintaining the integrity of geometry
  • With ‘Cut edge’ command, you can swiftly and efficiently adjust the edges
  • Be careful while using the command as its improper use can lead to clumsy geometry or newer, unwanted additions
  • The gaps which had surfaced after deletion of certain faces can be filled with ‘Create face’ command
  • The face must be created clockwise to ensure that the viewable portion of model is edited
  • Once the aforesaid common modeling techniques have been executed, it is time to add more details to the model for redefining it
  • You can round the edges, introduce further geometry, clean up or remove geometry, and create edge loops
  • The rough model achieved so far can be refined by repeating above steps
  • The tools that are to be commonly used at this stage are discussed below
  • In 3DS Max, use Connect vertices for adding an edge or controlling the four-sided polygon’s tessellation
  • Connect Edges command in 3DS Max allows adding even geometry easily and efficiently combining with Loop and Ring
  • The Target Weld Vertices in 3DS max would allow edge merging, removing extra geometry
  • Unwanted geometry is eliminated through ‘Remove Edge or vertices’ command
  • Edge followed by isolated vertices connecting the edges should be removed
  • Edges can be sliced faster and efficiently with ‘Cut edge’ tool
  • Gaps created due to face deletion can be filled with ‘Create Face’
  • Use the command on faces in clockwise mode to target the visible faces
  • Edges can be rounded off or two edges can be formed out of one with the ‘Chamfer Edge’
  • If the model form is set and some vertices or edge have to be moved little, the same can be done in 3DS Max with Constraints tool.
  • The path along which edge of the face or vertex has to move can be defined using constraints
  • In 3DS Max, Constraint can be located under Edit Geometry roll out available for polygon being edited; command is also available for box modeling Maya shapes
  • The face which has been oriented wrongly can be corrected using Flip Face or Normal command
  • Now you can enter into the final detailing stage
  • The model needs to be smoothed out effectively by repeating aforesaid commands
  • Subtle detailing such as fabric folds or others can be added as per requirement
  • The geometric flow would be significantly improved and sharper edges achieved
  • The model silhouette has to be worked upon from all possible directions
  • This eliminates the potential of having untreated edges or vertices which can ruin the appearance of the final model
  • Finally, you need to enter the clean-up stage
  • The geometry that is needed for animating the model can be added over here
  • If texturing the geometry becomes a tough ask, reduce the texture pinching optimally
  • Get the silhouette related problems rectified
  • Cross check each face’s geometry for any abnormality and fix the same promptly
  • A quick rig can be set up if the character for a game or so is being modeled
  • Geometry of the character can be deformed based on its proposed movements
  • Look out for areas that are running the appearance of the model in the deformed state
  • All clumsy deformations in the geometry need to be corrected properly
  • The hip region or the shoulders of the character would have maximum deformations
  • Ensure that every aspect of the model has been finished adequately using polygonal modeling techniques discussed above
  • All individual box shapes should be symmetrically joined to one finalized object

Cage Modeling

Through this subdivision modeling technique, you can render the organic model smoother. Through handful of clicks, you can give a neat look to the character or normal model. The aesthetic appeal of the model is not enhanced. Cage modeling is done only for organic models to give the surfaces a smoother feel through introduction of better geometry by enhancing the steps to be iterated. The amount of smoothness that you want for the model would also lead to beveling of the corners.

Planning for subdivision modeling should be done well in advance. After the box modeling has been done, subdivisions cannot be achieved with a single iteration. If you try to do so, the model’s charm would be ruined. At a predefined stage of rough detailing during the box modeling, if subdivision is applied, the results would be better. If you have not planned to use subdivision, it is better to avoid it later on.

Models that are in need of harder or crisper edges need not be subjected to subdivision. For example, if you are modeling a blade or something with cutting edge, applying subdivision to it would cause dulling or softening of the cutting edge. This would make your efforts go in vain. The model is rendered rounder or smoother using the iterations of the polygon being edited. Once the stack has been collapsed in 3DS Max, harder or crisper edges have to be defined.

Steps of Cage Modeling in 3DS Max

  • Start by creating a primitive box and setting the segments to 1
  • Next, have the box converted into an editable polygon
  • Switch to ‘Edit Face’ mode and move down to locate Subdivision Roll-Out
  • After check marking ‘Use NURMS subdivision’, set the number of iterations to 2
  • Get the box converted to a editable polygon by collapsing the stack
  • Go to ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ again and put the number of iterations to 2
  • Carry out face extrusion in inward or outward direction
  • The edges and vertices are to be adequately moved
  • Bring up the model to the shape of a cage similar to that of box modeling
  • The orange hued model encompassing the rounded model signifies the cage
  • After ‘use NURMS Subdivision’ has been turned off, only the cage modeled version would be visible
  • It is better to assign ‘Use NURMS subdivision’ command to a keyboard button
  • Navigate to the Customize User Interface window under Customize menu
  • The Group is to be set to Main UI and the Category to Editable Polygon Object
  • Keep scrolling down in the Action list till you reach “NURMS Toggle (Poly)” and then select it.
  • Clicking on the Hotkey input box would allow you to select the desired key
  • To bind the key to the command, click on ‘Assign’ option
  • This would allow you to switch on and off ‘Use NURMS subdivision’ just by pressing the key
  • When ‘Use NURMS subdivision’ is applied, the cage is actually modeled and worked upon
  • You can have the stack collapsed once more to visualize the geometry that is being created by NURMS
  • You need not manipulate all the faces as the amount of geometry would be higher
  • Gradually get the model pushed into smoother feel and collapse the stack for accommodating subtle details

3D modeling is a time intensive and critical task wherein precise attention has to be provided even to minute details. You may have acquired a fair idea of box modeling procedures by now. The model can be fine-tuned further till the perfect look is accomplished. You can also hire the services of renowned 3D modeling company for quicker and professional looking models.

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