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Is NURBS worth using?


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#1 Burning Hand   Members   -  Reputation: 265

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:25 PM

So I admit I am not a 3D modeler/artist. I am well versed in 2D and lost when I open a modeler.
I am planing a project that involves modeling mostly spaceships. Most of my concepts are very organic curvy sort of ships. I've read that NURBS is very well suited to these sorts of shapes. Unfortunately most game engines are not, specificly I do not think Unity is.

If Unity doesn't handle NURBS models they would need to be converted to standard polygon based models. I've heard this process can be done automaticly but often screws up leaving the artist with a mess of sides and vertices to merge and fix.

What I want to know is if using NURBS for my models would be a good choice or not. I think the format is well suited but if it has to be converted then the benifit may be outweighed. Perhaps the benifit is over-rated in the first place and I shouldn't even be thinking about it. Or perhaps I'm wrong about NURBS support and I would have no trouble using it. I need more information.

Please keep in mind that I am not yet invested in any particular software and run both Mac and Windows. With no experience in any particular system I have no particular reason to choose one over the other except for how it affects my project.
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#2 Aerin   Members   -  Reputation: 136

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 12:55 PM

For games, I don't think there are a lot of, if at all any game engines that support using curve based modeling which nurbs essentially is. I recommend sticking with polygons if you want to see best results.

You can convert a nurbs or curve surface object into a polygonal object without much problem. However I recommend when converting, to convert directly to quads, and not triangles. Always have a quad, and triangulated version of your model.

Nurbs modeling is good for organic characters or objects but it isn't necessary for animation, rendering, or modeling. Most organic game models use normal maps, which can be made from Zbrush, Mudbox or Sculptris. And are pretty much always polygonal objects.

My opinion, for games? Don't use nurbs at all.

Edited by Aerin, 22 July 2012 - 12:57 PM.


#3 Burning Hand   Members   -  Reputation: 265

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 01:07 PM

Is it easy to model organic forms with polygons? Is NURBS easier?
Either way looks like I will use polygon based models within the engine.
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#4 Aerin   Members   -  Reputation: 136

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:32 PM

I apologize for not addressing that.

It can be easier to setup organic, and smooth shapes with nurbs modeling, yes. However, when converting to a polygonal object it is important to set the lowest level possible when converting nurbs models into polygonal objects. Nurbs can have a cage surrounding them which will indicate the lowest level of mesh resolution in polygons. A nurbs model is essentially a smooth representation of the polygonal object.

After converting the nurbs model into a polygonal object at it's lowest level, I recommend subdividing or "smoothing" the polygonal model in quads so it begins to look more like it's nurb counter part. Always backup any nurb shapes as well so you can make adjustments to the model later if needed. After all that you can create UV maps, and import the model into a sculpting program to start working on normal maps which will allow you to create the organic and micro details for lower resolution models that can be used in games.

Edited by Aerin, 23 July 2012 - 05:33 PM.


#5 Burning Hand   Members   -  Reputation: 265

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:44 PM

Thank you for clarifying. I will try out NURBS for initial modeling, but convert to polygons for further editing.
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