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CGMA – Hard Surface Modeling for Films

CGMA – Hard Surface Modeling for FilmsHard Surface Modeling


Hard Surface Modeling for Films : A 10-week course focused on hard surface modeling for film VFX production

Prepare hard surface models for VFX

This course covers the creation of VFX production assets of an inorganic nature. Lectures will cover creation of form, efficient manipulation of topology, the art of kitbashing, scene organization, texture preparation, light rigging techniques that will aid in the modeling process, and final rendering. Students will learn the process of efficiently creating high-quality hard surface models from concept to completion, and complete exercises that will give them the tools to overcome typical challenges faced by production artists.


LECTURE TYPE: Pre-recorded

FEEDBACK: Individual recordingsDURATION: 10 weeks

Q&A: Once a week

MATERIALS: Maya (or equivalent) and ZBrush (or equivalent)

SKILLS LEVEL: Intermediate

PREREQUISITES: Knowledge of Maya and ZBrush is required


The more you know, the better.

Week 1 | Introduction to Hard Surface Modeling

Instructor introduction and background | Discussion of hard surface modeling principles | Introduction to the Maya interface as we will be using it

Week 2 | Blocking out Models

Setting up image planes in Maya | Using NURBS curves to create guidelines | Box modeling process | Naming conventions and hierarchy organization

Week 3 | Hard Surface Sculpture and Retopology Workflow

Importing blocking models into ZBrush | Using dynamesh to combine primitive shapes together into more complex surfaces | Hard surface brushes and demo sculpt on car body | Adding panel lines | Using decimation master | Exporting from ZBrush | Importing sculpts into Maya | Quad-draw workflow in Maya

Week 4 | Large Scale Model Details and Radial Modeling

Maya modeling techniques: Maya booleans; box modeling methods using extrude and multi-cut tools; bevel tool to create supporting edge loops; Maya sculpt tools | Radial modeling exercise: creating a rim and a tire | Creating a thruster using radial modeling techniques: anatomy of a thruster, reality vs. sci-fi; using instances to model thruster details; using pivot points to facilitate animation of thrust vectoring

Week 5 | Modeling Greebles

A look to the past: techniques used by practical modelers | Modeling vintage model kit parts for kitbashing | Getting UVs onto geometry | Exporting parts with thumbnails for use in Maya’s content browser

Week 6 | Kitbashing Techniques

Kitbashing using a parts library: a look at practical kitbashing techniques; adding our greebles to Maya’s content browser | Kitbashing workflow: plant on details; greeble assemblies

Week 7 | Mechanical Modeling

Modeling and rigging the pistons: single axis and ball & socket; hierarchy setup; aim constraint setup | Creating mechanisms: building the basic skeleton and animating motion; experimenting with piston placement; setting up set-driven keys | Integrating these parts into the model

Week 8 | NURBS Curve Tools for Modeling

NURBS curves modeling tools | Extruding along curves | Animation snapshot and tank tread exercise | Other pipe modeling techniques | Using wire deformers to create cable looms

Week 9 | UV Packing, Tips & Tricks

Creating and unfolding UVs | A discussion about texel density: what it is and why it is important | UV packing techniques | UDIMS; how to organize your model’s UVs for multiple texture maps | Final model setup

Week 10 | Lighting, Rendering, and Hard Surface Modeling Alternatives

Alternative methods: edge creasing, face weighted normals, rounded corner shader | Rendering in Maya using Arnold | Rendering in Keyshot

Watch the Introduction Video : 



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