Is having subD plug-ins like Clayoo a necessity for achieving some specific and organic shapes?

Do we need to have subD plug-ins for achieving desired result in some specific models?

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Yes !
Not not necessarily a rhino plugin, any polygonal modeler can help.

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You mean that we cannot achieve any model without subD plug-in. Right?

I mean , for organic shape is necessary to have a SubD Modeler, Rhino plugin or external like Modo, Maya, Blender , 3Dsmax etc…

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I would say no.
That said, SubD tools can be a very efficient and simpler way to model some organic shapes than using only native NURBS surface modeling tools.

But absolutely required or not possible?

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totally not. If you have advanced techniques on surfacing tools ,you dont need it in my particular case was a good modeller in 3ds max so I had the technic , but play with T-splines or Clayoo is a simple way to explore the shape if you dont sketch it before.

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I think it’s better to use appropriate tools, we can plant a screw with an hammer, but will be better with a screwdriver.

Many things are doable with nurbs, but nurbs are absolutely not appropriate for organical shapes, and high details modeling.


@Cyver ditto that and also agree with @John_Brock …I find that sometimes forcing myself to make something in Nurbs teaches me very useful skills…and often also teaches me that I should be using another tool if my goal is to make money.

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What are “organic shapes”?

Some forms with double curvature are easily modeled in Rhino, whereas others in Modo, whereas others far easier in SolidWorks.

It very much depends on the forms in question and the use case (rendering, 3D printing, plastics engineering, toolmaking, etc.).

This here is a typical Rhino, NX, Alias, ICEM, Catia case.

One shouldn’t forget personal editing preferences…

I find such tension rich shapes with that little variation in detailing the area where SubD excells – at least for concept development. Good SubD modelers can create a reasonably close 3D representation of – say the Panton S chair – in a matter of minutes: From just one single surface, 3D printable, ready for further discussion and refinement. At some point in the project one should switch to Nurbs tools, obviously.

I think the answer is A multiple: Yes. No and It Depends.

  • Most people don’t know how to model complex geometry that exactly matches their intent in Nurbs. In my experience working with industrial designers, and Ive been lucky to work with very good ones, maybe 1 in 8 or 1 in 10 can master this obscure skill. Regardless of what software they use.

  • Modeling complex free flowing geometry is very easy in SubDs. It requires basic skills and understanding of the workflow. That being said, most of those models are not well topologized, they are bumby and not very high quality when looked closely. It also takes good skills to make excellent models in SubD. But unlike in Nurbs (that wil time and skill you can model anything) in SubD there are certainly things that just cannot be achieved.

SubDs are 100x better for iteration. So not just to model one thing. Once. But to then make incremental tweaks and changes to that model. The elasticity and edit ability of a SubD model is what makes it great for design exploration. We use mostly SubD for this type of work. We can make a design change in 3 seconds and seeing in real time how much of that change we want. While in Nurbs you take multiple minutes, if not hours, per iteration and you lose any kind of interactivity.

Nurbs are much better for controlled surfacing, exact numerical ofsets, perfect circles, mechanical detailing, etc. That’s why they are great to clean up and rebuild a SubD model after the early exploration has been narrowed down.

I think a designer/modeler that only uses one of these technicques is having a tremendous skill gap that is going to become career limiting soon. Unless you focus in just one section of the market, like concept art (SubD) or just finish production surfacing (Nurbs). Then being a complete master at just that one skill is pretty marketable. More limited, but still marketable.

Come on Nerds, come and disagree with me. Let’s the fun begin! :crazy_face:


If I had to make human face in Rhino, I would make dense (lots of control points) ellipsoid first. I would use SelBrushPoints to select some control points and Gumball to move them. I would use Smooth and FitSrf for final editing. (I would rather make the human face in Sculptris. It is similar to ZBrush and free.)

You could also grab a hammer, dip it in a paint bucket and swing it towards a fence to drop paint on in. And eventually you could paint the fence with it. …or you could use a brush. Choosing the right tool is 95% on the battle.

Exactly. It’s all about iteration.

pollock reinterpreted

I think the largest problem in having to reconstruct a model to try out a shape change is not that the process sucks. It sure does.
The largest problem is that with the growing investment also one grows hesitant to discard a bad idea.

Yes and this is a work culture problem, not exactly technical one, but they are related. This is why peer-review and creative direction matter. I’m always a big proponent of always modeling everything with the clear understanding that all the designs being modeled and reviewed, are shown with completely disposable, unrespected, hacked, shitty, lousy geometry. So no one ever thinks: “Ok, let’s choose that one just the way it is, because then we are done.”

That iterative and disposable nature of the process is actually a very easy idea to communicate to upper management, stakeholders and marketing teams (when they are good, competent clients) , but it is very hard for engineers. Engineers tend to be irrationally frugal and they measure efficiency by number of iterations, hours, and days. Even in large companies where what’s a stake are continuums of failure to success in the range of U$ -100M to $1B. At that magnitude of impact, getting the product right, the design right, the surfacing right it’s just too important.

I still see many products in the market that from a design standpoint are absolute turds. Obviously designed on a sketch, modeled by an engineer and gone to tooling in rev 1 or 2. More rushed-to-landfill crap.

I’m hopeful that better tools will lead to better culture. A very good culture of design already exists, it’s just too small and exclusive. Better tools should expand this pie.


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As a designer in the film industry, I find that a subD plugin or stand-alone subD program is indispensable in the design and creation of beautiful compound curved surfaces that can be used for concept illustrations, visual effects, construction drawings or manufacturing. Although it is definitely possible to create beautifully smooth compound geometry using only NURBS, it is not practical to use a design tool. Who is able to get their design just right on their first pass? No one. Design improves with iterations and as more information is known or discovered in the design process. SubD gives the designer the freedom to make mistakes and the speed to find effective solutions.


Just got Clayoo - OMG what a different experience. You can create beautiful organic models in no time vs native Rhino tools. Absolutely love it - it’s tons of fun.