Modelling Studio 1- Critical Reflection

Critical Reflection –

Most good articles and tutorials on organic modelling begin with a statement about the importance of understanding form and structure and holding back on detail.

Glen Southern, in an article for 3D world magazine suggests that the ‘two big mistakes modellers make are adding too much detail too quickly and not getting the form and volume correct (2010).’

After a modelling semester mainly focused on organic modelling I can now attest to this fact. Learning how to study an organic structure and ‘feel’ how it is put together and how it moves is critical to being a productive modeller. As somebody who had only modeled hard, non-deforming, man-made objects before, I quickly realized the importance of topology in how something moves.

Personally, a turning point was a class project modelling and rigging a penguin. It was impressed upon us the importance of studying not just how something looks but how it moves and the underlying structure of its anatomy. When it lifts it leg to take a step, which parts of the body move with it and where do we see definition lines from the tension of muscles. This is the driving force behind ‘flow’.

After building the ‘box model’ for the penguin and thinking the model was 90 percent complete, I found that many times those hours could then be spent tweaking and re-running edges to get the structure to ‘flow’. I don’t pretend to have ever got it right, no matter how many attempts. Like traditional sculpture, I have realized that it may take years, if not a lifetime to truly master this art.

But I did make some leaps forward with regard to being able to see the patterns of edges and how they ‘should’ look and what it is that I am striving for when modelling. I guess being able to see that is a start. Some ‘visualisation’ techniques were explored to help with this, such as colouring up rows of faces with a shader, taking a screen shot into a paint program and drawing edge loops or even a printout and a texta can work wonders.

These ideas were re-enforced when the human anatomy lectures began. I started to feel more confident with body parts and the best methods for building them, especially as we tackled the most difficult anatomy like hands and faces. I personally find the face the most challenging and this proved true with my final character model. The face is such an expressive part of the body and there are a great deal of underlying muscles that need to move correctly to form convincing expressions.

Perhaps what I took out of this class most was the knowledge of how much I do not know yet and hopefully the patience to push through some boundaries. The class made me realize that in the balance between learning the tools and learning the art, it is the art that really takes time. To quote Erick Miller (2006) ‘I’m from the school of thought that you should be an artist more than a technician’.

I definitely feel motivated to practice more traditional sculpting and more Maya modelling and eventually start to explore dedicated sculpting software like mudbox and Zbrush.

3D world 2010 Tips and tricks for organic modelling
accessed 28 November 2012.

Miller, E 2006, Maya Techniques:Hyper-Real Creature Creation, Autodesk, California.


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