Seriously, how does anyone learn surface modeling at a professional level?

Seems this one hasn’t been posted yet, and it’s not Rhino, but there’s a lot of damn good general information in here… in fact, in the past decade of watching various Youtube videos (not counting a crazy Korean dude) these are absolutely the best videos you can watch:

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Yes, I’ve followed this guys work for a bit and the approach is certainly novel for finishing his concepts quick. He makes sure to keep his isocurves behind the curtain, which hides a lot. Where he uses the side surfaces, split at toe and heel, and Lofted into a heavy surface with 2 singularities is really odd for sure (may be another video). In this case, Sky’s point is great (once you know the techniques):

The argument of ‘who cares’ is also valid for a shoe sole versus a boat/plane. Fran’s work looks great in rendered mode and there’s very little reason to think anything other than they’re excellent models. Once I started using curvature graph and Emap more I became a lot more critical of my work and learnt a lot of good practices, but these can also be restricting and you might be focusing time on perfecting areas of little consequence. It’s like a pendulum swinging. You may start out modelling quite loosely, see the light of high quality surfacing, and in the end you just take what you need from each camp to make it work for you.

Flipping around his Alias car tutorials — this guy is pretty amazing and equally hilarious. I’ve never used Alias and have no dreams I ever will (…cost), but looking at moments like this:

Isn’t most of this 100% doable in Rhino? He goes so fast that I can’t tell what tools or actions he’s always using, but given that this is still NURBs, most of this could be replicated in Rhino, right? Does it just boil down to Alias having even more fine grained controls and tools (like this magic “align” action he used right at the timestamp I provided)?

Overall Alias looks kind of like a dream to use and I’m wondering why it isn’t used for just about everything beyond just cars :slight_smile:

Finally… if Rhino is sort of a lightweight version of Alias, do you think Alias tutorials like this one are worth watching?

Just expanding on my previous comment, watching more of HandleBar3D’s content like:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems ~80% compatible with the surfacing videos @sgreenawalt shared, yeah? This guy seems to espouse using very basic preliminary blocking curves only as creative guidelines to get quickly to surfaces, and it seems like all of his surfaces are magically <= 5deg single spans (as Sky recommends), etc.

The things that get me are how effortlessly it all seems to be in his workflow without constant ChangeDegree and checking/counting CV counts (etc). Is that just part of the benefit of something in Alias, or is he methodically making these steps seem effortless through sheer skill?

Both, you can do many things in Rhino, but it requires more effort and workarounds.
And of course if you know what you are doing you get it much easier done. Under the hood anything is a surface and its about setting the cps to the right location…

But beginners usually underestimate many things, thats the other truth. So do many professionals underestimate the effort to learn things, once they are pro.

It might be worth to note his statement about Corner Blends in one of his videos. Just do a couple of thousands and you can do them quite easily. That’s exactly how I‘ve learned it.

But if I would have the choice to model something like a car using Alias, Icem or Rhino, I would always pick one of the first two. (I consider Icem even more powerful). But this is my personal opinion. Not because I don‘t like Rhino (its the opposite), but simply because its my experience with them. For anything else Rhino is great! And many principles are valid for Rhino as well…


Mmm, changing the degree of a curve can be hotkeyed in Alias, and changing the degree of a surface is always present on the right side of the interface. And yes, Rhino requires much more fiddling and manual work, but as you mentioned, I still think the videos are worth watching because the principles are the same, and he drops some nice real world knowledge into his videos that other videos often skip.

I’ve been using Alias since 2009, and Rhino for about a year and some things are actually far more efortless in Rhino (which is why Autodesk killed VSR, I suspect… it sounds like it made things too good).

Rhino’s “Surface match” tool lacks one very important setting and that’s the ability to match a surface edge with curvature continuity while preserving the control point flow. This usually means that the curvature matching is tiny bit bellow real G2, something like G1,97 :smiley: I described it in detail in the following topic:

Many surface patches that look easy to build in Alias are nearly impossible to recreate in Rhino with a similar quality, or take too much time, because it still needs some extra functionality be added to become more powerful for surfacing.

If you want to force Rhino into creating single span curves (from which you can then build single span surfaces from) try the _Curve command and in the command line options enter 11 for the degree of the curve.

Now, every time you click for a control point it’ll automatically up the degree of the curve (keeping it single span for every click) up until it gets to degree 11 where it’ll then switch to multispan for every click after that.

Just remember to switch it back to degree 3 or 5 when you want multispans.

Or buy ICEM Surf…:wink:

The Legend of Giotto’s "O"
Giotto was a Florentine painter, architect and sculpture of immense talent. As the artist who first broke free from the constraints of medieval and byzantine art, he’s considered the first genius of the Italian renaissance.

At the start of the 14th century, word of Giotto’s mastery reached Pope Benedict XI in Lombardy. The Pope sent a courtier to Florence to see who this Giotto was, with a view to commissioning some paintings for Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The courtier first travelled to Siena to collect designs from other masters. He then went to Giotto’s studio in Florence and asked for a drawing to take back to the Pope.

Giotto took a canvas, dipped his brush in red paint, pinned his arm to his side and drew a perfect circle with his hand. He grinned and said “Here’s your drawing”.

The courtier, feeling mocked, asked for another drawing. Giotto replied “This is enough, and more than enough.” Although he suspected that he was being taken for a ride, the courtier took Giotto’s drawing back to the Pope along with the other masters’ drawings.

The courtier explained how Giotto had drawn the circle unaided, and the Pope and his advisers realised just how much Giotto surpassed all the other painters of the era. Giotto got the job ***** .

Giotto’s proof of his masterpiece was his free-hand circle. It was a concise way for him to demonstrate his enormous technical skill. Watching him draw the circle, it probably looked easy, but undoubtedly it took years, if not decades, of practice to get that kind of lazy, deft skill.


Having watched lots of the Handlebar 3D vids this week (I dunno how I never saw these before?!?!) I can confirm that his workflow is the logical extension/conclusion of what I’m showing in my vids. In fact what I’d say is that I’m trying to show people the small, digestible building blocks of how you get to that kind of workflow. As for effortless - realize that many of his vids are sped up around 4x! And when he says things like “yeah it took me about a week of full days to go from V1 to V2 of the basic surfacing on this car” he means it!

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Most of the time car surfacing is basically going back and improving already created areas of the car. :smiley:
I have some designs that a professional Class-A modeler with Alias could create in a couple of hours, as soon as he or she has a clear idea about proportion and shapes. However, it may take me up to 3 months (!!!) to perfect a car design before I’m satisfied with the result. Even though I may seem happy with some design, a week later I notice something that could be just a bit better, and start over with the said area. :crazy_face:


Handlebar 3D is really, really good. And while he’s modeling in Alias, the workflow applies 100% to modeling in Rhino. Just watching him model and resolve complex blends has really helped me out in a few situations.

Don’t know about other people here, but I certainly have fired up Rhino after seeing something from him and try it myself, just to get a feel for the technique.


Like this right here:

When he turns the points on for that surface that goes from the lower/aft to upper fender surfaces, and you realize it goes edge to edge and is then trimmed, so he gets that BEAUTIFUL flow across what ends up being a small section…that kinda made my week.

ETA - dunno why it’s not skipping to the proper time - go to around 29:20

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nice- those a re great videos !

The problem with Rhino is that there are too many ways to create heavy garbage surfaces from reasonably lightweight curves. I’d love to see your take on surfaces like this. Even back in the day the Rhino tutorials in Car Styling magazine had heavy heavy sweeps and network surfaces. Once VSR came out it tended to create clean surfaces from the start- so I never went back to stock Rhino to tease out which commands to avoid in a situation and how to create clean flowing surface matches and controlled blends.


Basically it’s two - Loft, and Surface From Edge Curves. So like, if you want to do a clean blend, the best way is to make single span guide rails between your edges, feed that into Surface From Edge Curves and then MatchSrf the result. Everything else either can or definitely will make overly dense surfaces, often for no reason.


This is so true.Although many of the principles are CAD independent, there are also some which are not. If you do not own VSR, the hardest path is to stay lightweight, which is a important constrain in many of these workflows. And this essentially is the greatest difference from Rhino to Alias/Icem. But in that direction Rhino also improved a lot.

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For this reason, quite often after creation of a dense surface I use the following tools: “Rebuild surface UV” > “Move UVN” > “Match surface”

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12 years ago I made a tutorial video and was really surprised the first time I ran surface creation through all the commands available using the same four curves- that was literally the first time I’d used surface from edge curves and was amazed at just how different the outcome was and how certain commands were history enabled or not. That’s why I really appreciate your video because it distils your years with Rhino- I’ve learnt enough software to know that you can’t say that all CAD software does essentially the same thing- it’s really not- and most tutors don’t have a deeper experience of the overall path to clean modeling. The trimmed corner workflow in your videos for instance - that is used all over the place - and I have some similar things in my tool belt- but seeing your workflow come together like that only comes after YEARS of struggling through the nuances of Rhino- and there is NO documentation so you always have the sneaking suspicion that you are missing something.

That said- there is also an art to quick and dirty garbage CAD for early concepting- and even Rhinos heavy surfaces are super-models compared to the CHONKY big bois from Solidworks and Creo. It’s really important to know both ends of the spectrum of model creation

Look forward to more videos!

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Ahhhh that made my morning. I’m working on a vid right now showing how to make super simple and clean creases and details like on car hoods and stuff. Likely done this weekend!