Box Modeling

3D modeling has limitless potential when it comes to designing. In this process, the surface of any object is represented mathematically in three dimensions with the help of specialized software. It is rendered versatile by various techniques, among which box modeling is a prominent one. But what is box modeling? It is one of the 3D modeling techniques in which a primitive shape is utilized to develop the basic shapes of 3D model. This can be further used to sculpt out the final prototype of the object.

With box modeling techniques, the final model is sculpted gradually in 3D design software from a fundamental and native shape such as a box, cylinder or other primitive objects. 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 the 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 the 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 the case of a character in the game, while modeling a face, you also need to make sure that its torso is possessing similar geometric detailing. It is mainly because, in games, it has to be viewed through a floating camera as used in cinemas.

Box Modeling vs. Edge Modeling

The main difference between box and edge modeling is that it does not uses primitive shapes for the development of prototypes. Instead, the process requires the placing of polygon loops along with the outlines. Here, the model is developed piece by piece, which is usually not seen in the case of box modeling. Besides, box modeling is faster when you create both form and topology simultaneously.

Various Steps in Box Modeling

In box modeling, you need to commonly adhere to some steps for receiving impeccable results.

Setting up the Work Environment

First, you need to search for relevant and attractive reference materials that can be applied to the desired things to model in 3D. Then, you need to set up multiple views or angles of the model and prepare a plan about how you are going to proceed. Now, map the level of detail required and the steps involved in achieving the same. Finally, you can try working out the method that would allow faster and easier implementation of box modeling.

After setting the work environment optimally, place the reference image in the background. Setting up all the shortcuts and layout related expedients, choose a basic shape in the 3D software which would lead to the faster completion of the draft.

Defining the Rough Draft:

Try defining the rough draft by making customized segments or iterations to the basic shape. In Maya, the segments can be found in the Channel Box for effective use of maya box modeling method. In 3DS Max, the iterations can be created from the Command Panel or on the Create/ Modify panel. Finally, you can nowstart adding details to the rough draft. With the help of the Connect Command, extrude the desired faces and use other tools to finalize the basic draft of the model. The objective should be to arrive at a workable outline or shape silhouette.

The model in the outline formmight appear like a mass of roughly connected basic shapes. You can either extrude the face in a positive or negative manner for evenly extending the area. With Insert Face, you can develop a face that is evenly formed into another for the ease of extruding in or out. This would provide more symmetry to the shape’s geometry.

In 3DS Max, the edge can be added with the ‘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 a hassle-free manner. For a streamlined flow, you can merge the edges and clean redundant geometry with the 3DS max command ‘Target Weld Vertices’. In case you want to eliminate the redundant geometric shapes, you can use the‘Remove Edge or Vertices’ command.

For maintaining the integrity of geometry, you can initially start by removing the edges and then gradually removing the edges connected to the isolated vertices. With the ‘Cut edge’ command, you can swiftly and efficiently adjust the edges. However, make sure to 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.

For ensuring that the viewable portion of the model is edited, the face must be created clockwise. Once the aforesaid common modeling techniques have been executed, you can start adding 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.

Rough Detail Stage:

The rough model achieved so far can be refined by repeating the above steps. Apart from that, below are some other tools that are commonly used at this stage.

  • Gaps created due to face deletion can be filled with ‘Create Face’. Try using the command on faces in the 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 with 3DS Max modeling techniques by using Constraints tool.
  • The path along which the edge of the face or vertex has to be moved can be defined using constraints.
  • The face which has been oriented wrongly can be corrected using Flip Face or Normal command

Clean-up stage

In the final detailing stage or the clean-up stage, the model needs to be smoothed out effectively by repeating the aforesaid commands. Subtle detailing such as fabric folds can be added as per the requirement. This would significantly improve the geometric flow and help in achieving sharper edges. 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.

The geometry that is needed for animating the model can be added over here. If texturing the geometry becomes a tough task, you can reduce the texture by pinching optimally. Now, you need to rectifythe silhouette related problems. Cross check each face’s geometry for any abnormality and fix the same. A quick rig can be set up if the character for a game or so is being modeled.

The 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. Make sure to correct all the clumsy deformations in the geometry. The hip region or the shoulders of the character might have maximum deformations. So, ensure that every aspect of the model is finished adequately using the polygonal modeling techniquesdiscussed 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. With the help of a handful of clicks, you can give a neat look to the character or normal model whereas 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 the 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, results would be better if the subdivision is applied. 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 the 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. Then, switch to ‘Edit Face’ mode and move down to locate Subdivision Roll-Out. After check marking, go to ‘Use NURMS subdivision’ to set the number of iterations to 2. You can get the box converted to an editable polygon by collapsing the stack. Go again to the ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ and put the number of iterations to 2. Here, you can carry out face extrusion in the inward or outward direction. Now, adequately move the edges and vertices to 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. For assigning it, you can navigate to the Customize User Interface window under the Customize menu. The Group is to be set to Main UI and the Category to Editable Polygon Object. Now, 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 the ‘Assign’ option. This would allow you to turn on and off the ‘Use NURMS subdivision’ by just 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 the 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 until the perfect look is accomplished. You can also hire the services of a renowned 3D modeling company for quicker and professional looking models.

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