Hard surface modeling in MODO

Learn how to model efficiently and get perfectly clean meshes
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Instructed by Juan Jimenez Design / 3D & Animation
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  • Lectures 27
  • Length 6 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 11/2015 English

Course Description

What is this course about?

Hard surface modeling is a field of 3D modeling suitable for projects related to industrial design, engineering or prototyping. In the middle of the path that goes from pure polygonal modeling (mostly used in the videogame industry or archviz) and solid modeling (purely used in CAD systems for very technical levels) there is the hard surface modeling field, In this modeling style you will get advantage of both worlds: You will have the creative freedom of polygonal modeling and the finesse of solid modeling.

In terms of building a path in your 3D artist career, hard surface modeling is a key point.

What do I need to start?

First of all, the techniques and methods shown in this course are, in a high percentage, applicable to any other 3D modeling software. As a teacher, I always try to keep it simple, use the tools wisely and show the basics that every 3D modeler should know.

For this course, I used Foundry´s MODO901, so you will need to have that software installed in your computer. It is not strictly limited to the 901 version (you will be able to replicate almost all the procedures even in previous versions) but it is highly recommended to follow it with the latest version, or you will be missing some specific tools.

Included in the first lesson there is a download link for you to download the sample files in MODO´s native format, and also in OBJ format if you want to use another software. The images used as blueprints and a nice hdri image for the illumination is also included.

What will I learn?

This course covers a wide range of modeling methods with the purpose of showing all the techniques available to you to get a good quality model. This means:

  • Keeping a good mesh flow
  • Working in all quads for a good finished mesh
  • Solving typical problems
  • Adding interest to the look of your project, be it materials, lightning, modeling details...
  • Knowing the tools and how to use them properly

What are the requirements?

  • You need Foundry MODO, in almost any version, although the course is performed in the 901 version

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Know how to deal with typical modeling problems
  • Get your geometry well organised
  • Manage to work in all quads
  • Produce meshes with a mix of nice smooth surfaces and sharpen edges

Who is the target audience?

  • Beginner to intermediate 3d modelers
  • 3D artists wating to be able to make solid-like objects in a polygonal software
  • Industrial designers
  • NOT for videogame characters artists
  • NOT for archviz artists

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome to the course!

So you want to make some hard modeling, right? Polygonal modeling softwares are very creative and fun tools for this task. So let me take you through all the process, from scratch using simple tools, methods and approaches, you will learn how to accomplish the goal of modeling a nice and clean mesh. If you are new to 3D modeling or searching for an easy to follow course, I will be definitely happy to take you from start to finish.

Section 2: Modeling the rim

This will be the first step in the modeling. We will start modeling a basic version of the rim, then tweaking it until we get a good structure to work with.


We will continue with the general construction of this particular model. Since it´s a radial shape, we will focus on modeling one part and replicating it later to conform that kind of shape. We will be making elegant, smooth modeling since the beginning, using the subdivision mode to smoothen your mesh and always caring for a good polygon flow.


Having the strokes modeled as some kind of general structure, we will take care of generating the outer structure of the rim. You will learn how to get perfectly circular shapes to insert your geometry and getting a perfect transition from one area to another.


Detailing is a mandatory phase in 3D modeling. Once you have the big picture, you must go deeper in the model and start adding those little (or not so little) addings that will make it pop up.


We are modeling a tyre & rim, so we´re dealing with mostly symmetric shapes. This is 50% an easy and hard stage. Mirroring is kind of a 1-click action, but then you will have to deal with not so symmetrical areas. Don´t get scared for this. If you keep it simple and well organized, the task is done.


In this stage, the rim is almost done, but we need to finish it properly. Subdivision surfaces always have that overall blobby-smoothed look you need to avoid. By using the geometry density wisely and knowing how to work with edge weighting, we will make a lot more interesting and close to real life shape.

Section 3: Modeling the tyre

The easiest way to build the tyre is by creating a profile to work with. In this lesson we will see how to make a good profile, not only in the correct shape, but also perfectly fitting the rim shape.


Now, this is the fun part. Of course you can always apply some tricks like displacement maps to generate a tread pattern, but I want you to face the problem of modeling with real geometry. So, we will be modeling the pattern, and make it bend around the tyre surface.

Section 4: Braking system: The caliper

I will use this lesson to show another cool method to get complex shapes with the less effort. The brake caliper is the perfect example for this. First of all we will rough the general shape by placing some simple objects without worrying about geometry or mesh flow.


Another stage of refining the base mesh of the caliper and making it more interesting. We will finish having some really nice intersecting geometry with some holes in it, but we´re not done yet.


This is the funny part. By using the retopology tools, we will generate a closed single mesh out from our messy base shape for an elegant and flow-perfect result.


Of course, our caliper mesh will be also smoothed using the subdivision mode to get nice flowy lines, but this implies we need to sharpen some edges, while leaving the rest smooth and soft. As we did in the rim lessons, we will use the geometry density method, but a lot more tricky.


We´re almost done with this piece, and we only need some final touches and details. But don´t think the details will be a minor thing if you´re not very skilled in modeling. Even at a small scale like this, modeling details must be done with method and proficiency to make it work.

Section 5: Braking system: The Brembo logo

Surely we could solve the logo print with a simple texture, but this is all about modeling. And the logo will be an object itself that must be modeled. First of all, let´s rough the shape of it.


Now that we have the result, we must of course clean our mesh. This means assuring a good flow of the polygons, getting rid of triangles, trying to get an all-quad mesh and so on. It´s always a time consuming task, but also a great exercise for getting the hang of a lot of tools.


Finally we have a correct mesh and we can place our logo in its proper place

Section 6: Braking system: The braking disc

This will be a great exercise to combine the use of the radial cloning tools, use of the subdivision mesh controls and organization. It´s NOT about creating a disc and making some booleans to make holes. We will make it all polygonal.

Section 7: Putting it all together

By applying the methods and tools we´ve been learning, we will learn how to make the central bolt that unites all the braking system to the rim itself. It will also have some screws and round holes in a radial pattern.


Finally the model is (almost) fully done and we need to put all the spare parts together, making some fixes and adjustments to make sure it all assembles nicely.


The devil is in the details, they say. Another round of adding little objects here and there to make our model more interesting.


When going across the whole process there will be some situations where we will realize that what is shown in the blueprints just can´t be done. It happens almost always unless you are working over a technical document. Let´s see the decisions we will need to make so everything can fall into place without sacrificing the general concept of the design.

Section 8: Making a nice render

Now it´s time to make your awesome model look gorgeous. Check how a very simple lightning and a few materials from the preset panel can make a really eye-catching image.


To have our final image more editable later in the composition, we will learn how to render our model with a transparent background, but keeping the contact shadows intact by using the shadow catcher. Besides we will cover some aspects of the render and materials settings to easily avoid the usual problems such as noise, splotches and the like.

Section 9: Extra chapter: A fix and a challenge

Before publishing this course, I´ve been showing the exercise to some people for feedback. They were unforgiving. And that´s good. We will be facing some kind of error fixing here, nothing terrible, but something we can´t definitely let it be. After that, the real challenge: Modeling the tyre and the tread pattern in one single mesh.


In this lesson we will see a problem you will face when dealing with such intricate shape as the one we are doing. With the new profile modeled, suddenly I´ve found that I cannot make it work... and found a solution.


And this will be the full length explanation of how to solve the problem, and while in the process, how to treat our pattern like a real pattern, making it fit in a square space so it can work as a tileable geometry. Making it this way, the struggle of bending it around the tyre is completely gone.

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Instructor Biography

Juan Jimenez, Gerente en FACTOR3D

Interesado en el modelado 3D desde el año 2004 con Lightwave, el software con el que inicié mi experiencia en el campo de la infografía. Tras numerosas colaboraciones para mods de videojuegos como NASCAR RACING 2003 o RFACTOR, descubro MODO701 y empiezo a desarrollarme como profesional, cubriendo trabajos de logotipos animados o viajes virtuales. Actualmente sigo trabajando con este maravilloso software y trato de difundir su uso.Dirijo mi propio estudio -Factor3D- desde donde realizo servicios de infografía y visualización 3D a nivel profesional.

• Diseñador 3D especializado en infoarquitectura y render de estudio. Más de 10 años de experiencia en modelado y render.

• Autor de BUILDING 3D MODELS WITH MODO 701 para packpub publishing.

• Propietario de APRENDE MODO 3D con Juan Jimenez, el principal canal de YouTube para usuarios españoles de MODO.

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