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Best Way to Model?

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I've seen a couple different ways of modelling, and I'd like to know which is the most efficient. The method I'm most comfortable with is the one I've been introduced first. Basically, set the picture you want to model into 3D into the background of the modeller, find strategic vertices in the front view, and set their appropriate depths in the right view. Then you "connect the dots" to form faces. I learned this in a MilkShape tutorial, and it's my preferred method. In a blender tutorial, there was a slight variation to the last method. Basically the same thing, except all with bezier curves. I'm more comfortable with the first method, but I didn't find a way to do it in blender (plot vertices instead of bezier curves/polygons). So firstly, I'd like to find a way to plot only vertices in blender, and then connect them to form faces. For some reason, I found plenty of tutorials on this method for milkshape, but only one tutorial for blender. Is there a different preferred method for modelling in blender that I'm missing? Also, I keep finding tutorials about how to model from nothing in blender, but, again, only one on how to model from a reference picture. Am I getting the wrong idea about modelling in general here? How exactly do you model? Don't you use reference pictures? Or do you model from nothing, i.e., fire up blender and make shapes without any reference pictures?

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Depends on how well I know what I want to model. Fantasy things, such as spaceships or robots, I can usually whip up with minimal sketching. But if I want to model a complicated object I will try to sketch it out and get it "fixed" in my head before beginning. I usually use the so-called connect-the-dots method if I am modeling something that I want to have realistic proportions.

Otherwise, I can just fudge it. Really, it doesn't matter -- As long as the result is what you are looking for. There are various way to tackle the actual modeling itself, such as box modeling or spline/patches. I'd just use what comes natural to you and generates the best results. Don't hesitate to try new things and give them a chance before dismissing them as unusable.

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I'm not a modeller, but I see 'connect the dots' as a pretty slow way of doing things. I thought most modellers start of with some sort of primitive like a sphere, cube or cylinder and stretch and split faces to form whatever they want. This is the kind of method taught by Wings 3D.

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I don't know if Milkshape or Blender have the same tools available, but the way I work in Maya is to create a single polygon face in side view which is the outline of the head (this is just an example), it'll have as many verts as needed to get a properly detailed silhouette, but it's just a single flat face. The next step is to make a split through the face - for example, from nose ridge to the back of the head, following an approximation of the natural curves of the head. Once you have that first split, you select those inner verticies (i.e any that are not on the outer edge) and pull them out to where they should be in front view. This is an excellent way of quickly blocking out the shape and is very fast as well once you're used to it.

I don't like the sound of this connect the dots things...sounds cumbersome. For me modelling has to have a flow to it. If you think too much you get lost and slow down. I treat it like sculpting in a way. It should be intuitive.

Hope that helps.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
i'm a 3D STUDIO MAX User ...

to do the join the dots method in max you have to make a box first .. just so u can get into vertex editing mode.. :/

as for the best technique for modelling... thats the one that works best for you..

i try to learn many techniques..and hopefully master them..

the best way to make low poly heads is not the best way to make hi poly heads, and so on and so forth...

in max i use
spline modelling . box modelling . edge modelling . join the dot ....
don't be afraid to mess around with new techniques.. i would reccommend getting one technique down first though and then building on that...

...style

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usually the most efficient method is the one you're most comfortable with. That said, connect-the-dots is a horrible way to do. Yes, you can model using that... but I honestly feel sorry for you because you went and learnt how to model that way. It's harder to switch now.
This is actually the reason why I never liked Milkshape. I prefer to create my own triangles/quads on the fly or do box modelling.

Box modelling is where you first create a box then use all sorts of tools to change it into something (usually) completely different.

The way you model in say, metasequoia is closer to connect-the-dots as in milkshape, but not as tedious. Basically you create the triangles by clicking where the vertices go. (if you click an existing vertex, it will use that) So rather than first doing the points and then the faces, you'll do it all at the same time. It's a lot faster... especially in application as intuitive as metasequoia. But this "method" doesn't work so well in 4-window layout.

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Wow! So you guys make models right out of your head?

Call me weird, but I prefer connecting the dots [smile]. What if you had to model something complex, like a car, for instance? Wouldn't you want to put it in the background of your modeller and plot its points? Take this pic from a tutorial, for instance:



That specific tutorial can be found here.

Would something like that be done right out of your head? Out of a heavily manipulated cube?

Maybe I am just weird... What do you think?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
depends...
reference material is used by most... even if it is just their own quick sketches scanned in..
photo's are used as references for photo-realism ..
if your doing fantasy, sci-fi etcetera that just isnt possible.. there are no photo's of made up things?...

i personally use reference pictures.. sometimes just to get the base proportions right, and then i do my own slant once the foundation is there..

it's a style thing overall..

and as far as join the dots go.. it is not the best way to model quickly, though it is a good way to make sure you fit in details such as noses and eyes on the face.. i wouldnt use it for making a car mind.. that could be done way quicker extruding and cuttin poly's (box modelling) ... if i was going hi-poly car i would think about patches as they can do supersmooth curves that aren't to hard on the processor, thing is patches are messy once u want to go into angular details.. there are pro's and cons to each method... some are quicker, some more accurate.. more often then not i mix and match techniques on the same model

i would reccommend u continue using reference pictures as they are a good help starting.. even pro's use em.. though they don't rely on them as a blueprint in general, more a suggestion..

hope i have been helpful rather then patronising... :/

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You know how to sculpt an elephant, right? You start with a granite block, and you cut away anything that doesn't look like an elephant!

I actually do this: start with a big box or other simple shape, and cut out anything that doesn't look like what I want, using CSG. Sometimes, I build the pieces I want to cut out using CSG in turn.

At the end, I end up with a very low-poly outline of the shape I want. This can work as the coarsest LOD, and/or collision mesh. Then I start subdividing edges or faces and using soft selection to push/pull vertices around to make the shapes rounder and better matching to whatever I'm trying to accomplish.

I'm not a great modeler, but I thought I'd post this method, as it seems pretty different from what others have posted in this thread.

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