Box modeling Technique:
 
  Box Modeling knowledge
 
  Box Modeling is where you take a basic primitive shape (like a box, cylinder or others) and make the basic shape “rough draft” of your final model from there you sculpt out your final model. The process uses various tools and steps that sometimes get repeated again and again until your done. Despite the fact you’re repeating these steps you will model faster and control the amount of detail you wish to add, slowly building your model up from ground level of detail to high level.

  The other method is Edge modeling which is placing out points and connecting the dots. There is no repeat of steps to refine the model to the level of detail you need, its created right on the spot when you place your points and faces. I recommend that if your using this technique to use it to get to your Rough detail Stage.

  Now Box Modeling is about refinement, and redefining. So there is a sort of stage that the model goes through. Each stage can be viewed as a progress report. Once one stage is meet you can go to the next stage (the stages are: Planning, Rough Draft, Rough Detail Draft, Final Detail, Clean up or Done). This progress will control the level of detail you add to the model as a whole without adding to much detail to one area compared to another. Don’t fall in to the pitfall of finishing an area off and then moving on to another cause you like to see things done or finished. If this is the case often times certain parts of the model will look as if the artist spent more time here than here, overbalancing the unimportant or under-balancing the important parts. When modeling keep in mind this, there should be more geometry in the area I want the viewer to focus in or the viewer will naturally focus in on. A good example is the face or head of a game character should have as much geometry has the whole body (from neck on down) has, if the game is a third person viewed game (floating cinematic like camera).

 

 
  Box Modeling Steps and Stages
 
Step 1: Find some good reference material that applies to the model your making. Multiply views or angles of the same object in large pictures are best. Most of all think out ‘how’ your going to do this before you start. Will it take a few simple extrudes and you’re done, or is it going to take more than that. Try to break down the fastest and easiest way on how to do this model.
 
Step 2: Set your work environment, this means place in your reference image in the background or as I recommend on a plane or two, load or set up your short cuts and layout. Now create a basic primitive shape from your 3D application that you figure will get you the quickest “rough draft” the fastest and easiest. If you can create your segments (iterations) in the basic primitive so you can define your rough draft with, do so. For Maya you can find this in the Channel box, 3DS Max its in the Command Panel on the create panel on creation or the modify panel after creation.
 
Step 3: Start defining your rough draft. This is basically the adding stage. The common part of this stage is Extrude and if you’re lucky to use this command Connect. The other tools listed below can be used but they are for adding mostly to get the basic shape for the rough draft stage. Your goal here is to get an outline or a very basic silhouette of the shape. This means your model at this stage might look like a bunch of primitive shapes connected or next to each other.
 
Extrude a face positive and negative- This creates a even extension of an area, very help in the early stages.

Insert face- Creates a face set evenly inside another to extrude out or in to create a nice continues geometric shape.

Connect vertices (3ds Max)- This allows me to add in an edge I need to define or control the tessellation of a 4-sided polygon.

Connect edges (3ds Max)- This is a very helpful tool. Combine with Loop and Ring I can add in even geometry very quickly without much fuss.

Target Weld vertices (3ds Max)- Another helpful tool that will allow the merging down of edges. It helps remove unneeded geometry and leave a cleaner flow.

Remove edge or vertices- This removes really unneeded geometry, but be careful not to ruin the flow of your geometry. I have always found it much easier to remove the edges first then the isolated vertices that used to connect to those edges I removed.

Cut edge- Very dangerous but sometimes necessary. It has a habit of creating bad geometric flow or adding in geometry where you don’t want it. But like a sawzall is need when you have no other tool that can do it faster and as efficient as this tool.

Create Face- Great for filling in gaps created when you deleted out some faces. Remember to create face clockwise to have it face the way you’re looking at the model.

 
Step 4: Redefine your model past the rough draft to a rough detail stage. This includes rounding edges, introducing more geometry or cleaning up and removing geometry, and creating edge loops. It will appear that you will be repeating this step again but this is roughing out the form past a blocky square-ish form that you had at the end of Step 3. Tools that I recommend you use are, if you application has them (notice extrude and insert are no longer one of them):
 
Connect vertices (3ds Max)- This allows me to add in an edge I need to define or control the tessellation of a 4-sided polygon.

Connect edges (3ds Max)- This is a very helpful tool. Combine with Loop and Ring I can add in even geometry very quickly without much fuss.

Target Weld vertices(3ds Max)- Another helpful tool that will allow the merging down of edges. It helps remove unneeded geometry and leave a cleaner flow.

Remove edge or vertices- This removes really unneeded geometry, but be careful not to ruin the flow of your geometry. I have always found it much easier to remove the edges first then the isolated vertices that used to connect to those edges I removed.

Cut edge- Very dangerous but sometimes necessary. It has a habit of creating bad geometric flow or adding in geometry where you don’t want it. But like a sawzall is need when you have no other tool that can do it faster and as efficient as this tool.

Create Face- Great for filling in gaps created when you deleted out some faces. Remember to create face clockwise to have it face the way you’re looking at the model.

Chamfer edge- This is great for rounding off edges or creating two edges out of one.

Constraint (3ds Max)- very helpful when you have a form set and you just want this vertex or edge to be moved over a bit. You can set the path it moves based on edge or face and the vertex or edge will move along the constraint. You can find it under a editable Polygon’s edit geometry roll-out in 3ds Max. I can't remmeber where its at in Maya at this moment, but it does have it.

Flip face or normal- Used to correct a face that has turned the wrong way upon creation.

 
Step 5: Redefine your model past the rough detail stage to the final detailed stage. Now it looks like your repeat Step 4 again. But here we redefine the model to a smoother or effective model. This is the make or break stage. The finer detail is added like fabric folds if needed, improved geometric flow (cleaner edges), and in general a model that makes you wonder how it once look like the model in Stage 1 your Rough Draft, back after Step 3. Your using the same tool I recommend in Step 4, so I’m not going to repeat them here. Also you need to work on the silhouette of the model from all directions so that you get no weird points or edges when looking at that model from that direction.
 
Step 6: This is the final stage, the clean up step. Add in the geometry that is required to animate it if you haven’t and need to animate this model with. Fix any geometry that will be hard to texture by reducing as much texture pinching as possible if you haven’t done that yet. Correct any silhouette problems, which you shouldn’t have if you did step 4 then 5, but never hurts to repeat or double check for problems. You can also set up a quick rig if you have a character or the knowledge on how to do that. Then deform the geometry based on the characters movements to see where you need to add in or correct geometry to get rid of any weird deformations that ruins the look of the model in that deform state (mostly this will happen in the shoulder or hip areas on a character). If you have to hand this off to someone else, is everything set so they can pick up where you left off without much hassle? Meaning is everything named right and done that your suppose to do. Is everything attached to as one object if you have any floating objects that suppose to be one object?
 

 
  Subdivision (Cage modeling)
 
  This is a nice trick to make your organic model either it be a character or planet look smoother with a few clicks of a few buttons. This however does NOT make your model better. Understand that subdivision work only well with organic shapes to make their surface appear more smoother by introducing more geometry by the number of iterations. It will also bevel your corners by the number you set smoothness to. Now in order to use subdivision you have to decide early on that you need or plan to use it. If you just Boxed Modeled and decide to throw Subdivision on with one iteration. STOP. Unless your just goofing around this will make your model look like crap. Subdivision works best for box modeling but only at a certain stage, which is the Rough detail Draft stage just after Step 4 before Step 5 outlined above. Plus you need to plan for its use. Don’t model anything that needs hard or crisp edges. Blades or cutting edges is very good example here. By putting on a Subdivision on such objects will make your cutting edge look dull or soft unless that’s what your intending.
 
Cage Modeling (3ds Max)

  Cage Modeling uses the iterations of a editable polygon to make something appear much round and smoother than what it was before. Hard or crisp edges are then defined later after collapsing the stack in 3ds Max.

 
figure 2-01
Step 1: Create a primitive box and Set your segments to 1. Now convert it in to a Editable Polygon.

Step 2: Go to edit Face Mode and scroll down to the Subdivision Roll-out. Checkmark ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ and set the iteration to 2.

 
figure 2-02
Step 3: Collapse the stack by converting it in to a Editable Polygon.

Step 4: Again set ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ on and set the iteration to 2.

 
figure 2-03
Step 5: Extrude the faces out and in, move the edge and vertices, and edit to what is referred to as the cage (the orange-ish model around the round model) much like you would edit in box modeling. When your turn off ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ you will see only the cage or a blockier version of your model. I suggest you set ‘Use NURMS Subdivision’ to a keyboard command like the tilde key next to the number one key and above the Tab key. To do this open the Customize User Interface window under Customize. Set the Group: Main UI; Category: Editable Polygon Object. Scroll down in the Action list to “NURMS Toggle (Poly)” and select it. Then click on the Hotkey input box and choose your key. Then click on “Assign” to bind that key. Now by hitting that key you should be able to switch NURMS subdivision on and off.
 
  Now the tricky thing here is when modeling using NURMS subdivision is that you’re working with and editing the cage, Not the model. Case in point. Collapse the stack one more time to see what the geometry that NURMS is creating. That’s a lot more geometry then working with just that simple cage. But you can edit the cage much faster then manipulating all those faces. The biggest trick is to push the model into smoothness and collapse it down to add in your finer detail.
 
 

 
  Expand your knowledge by reading Tutorial 3. There I explain the finer tricks of modeling and modeling understanding to improve your models looks. Note that some tricks have been shown already, but I’ll be explaining them anyways : )
 
 
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