View Full Version : box modeling frustration

04-05-2006, 07:01 PM
hi guys

I knew that at some point or another i would end up frustrated, despite my good start.
I've been 3D modeling for just over a week or so now with lightwave 8.0
and im really stuck.
I watched a few online videos on box modeling a head, and i really like the technique.
I read into it and understand that only 3 and 4 point polys can be converted to subp, but thats where my problem lies.
I tried adding edges and use the knife tool, but where i split the polygon, the joining polys on each side end up with 5 sides and when i triple them, then merge polys i end up getting geometry in places i dont really want :(
Is there a straight forward way in doing this? or is there alot of headbanging involved?
also, in some videos i see (mind you these are fast paces videos to reduce file size) some peeps select polys in one line and add points then simply connect them, how do they do it? when i select the points i created in a row and create poly, the polys i created the lines on seem to be seperate rather than being connected to the new polys.
I'm allmost certain there isnt an easy way around this and that its a time consuming process to get a grip of.
I just wish i could find a book which explains all the principals in a way so i can actually proceed to model systematically without lacking knowlege of different aspects of the darn polys.
my knowlege isnt 0, and I know the functions of most commonly used tools.
So could you guys please be so kind to direct me in the right direction?
*sighs* i know im not very clear about what my problem is, and to be honest its not just 1 problem.
I basically wana learn how to box model properly, and i have all the determination in the world to do so and achieve my goal.
I may be a little dishearted but im in no way giving up!
Thanx upfront to all who sugest a good book, and to those who can relate to my frustration.


04-05-2006, 07:21 PM
hey bry, thank you for replying,

I have a vital question for you, and eventhough i would be contradicting myself, cuz I sayd i wouldnt give up...
Does the result vary? i just have the impression that box modelling created better results from what I've seen.
Does poly by poly or spline modeling create less pleasing results?
because i hear it so many times that when approaching a project, it needs to be done in the way you are most comfortable, because its not about the method but the results.
So maybe i'm just not a guy cut out for box modeling?

04-05-2006, 07:31 PM
If you want to add geometry you'll need to use smooth shift, and along with that sqin quads. There are excellent tutorials on box modeling.

04-05-2006, 07:39 PM
Thank you both for your posts, and thank you Bry for taking the time to help out new ol me ^_^

I'm going to post up a link of the video which impressed me most about box modeling, and truthfully, its absolutely fantastic!
this is the link
Notice towards the middle of the video how he adds points to the front of the face, how he removes polys and creates them again by adding points,
The movements and manipulations seem rather straight forward...he mostly uses symmetry aswell...now if i could only find out what tools are exactly used, i think i could figure out quite alot by myself without any step by step tuts.
to name a few...
-Smooth shift
-add points (i think)
but im too novice to figure out all the tools by the cursor symbol.
but yeah..this looks absolutely amazing, defenatley worth a look!

04-05-2006, 07:48 PM
This is another good video.


04-05-2006, 07:55 PM
Thank you guys, I'm going to have a sincere look at those, infact, [email protected], im doing them NOW!
I greatly appreciate your help and time.
I'll making sure i contribute to this uber great community when i have something which is worth contributing, because you guys made me smile again and im putting on my brave hat now :D
All the best to you guys!

04-05-2006, 08:03 PM
Oh and gjjackson,
That video tutorial is defenatley clearer than the one i had found!
Thank you, ill be paying it a close look asap!

04-05-2006, 08:15 PM
"Inside LightWave [8]" by Dan Alban is a good book.

04-05-2006, 08:22 PM
Dan Ablan has a great tutorial in his Inside Lightwave books on 'detail up' or 'per polygon' modeling. The books are big but well worth having I thought.

I know box modeling gets results quicker but I find polyflow is really hard to control when I start with a box. Maybe I just need more practice... :D

04-05-2006, 10:34 PM
I made 3 attempts at box modelling a head and haven't succeeded in producing something that wasn't a hideous mess yet. :o I'm 1-for-1 in spline patching a head though. It's tedious but precise and I have a bit of background with Animation:Master so there's probably some carry over knowledge. I then spent a week doing splines guides for a body (not even patched; I do wish that spline modeling in LW worked like A:M where it patches as you go) and then threw it all away and box modelled a body in about 2 nights.

The moral of the story is that there can be different techniques that work for different parts (and different people).

04-05-2006, 11:49 PM
Take a look at the caveman tutorial at:


It's not free, but it does illustrate the box modelling process thoroughly.
The instructor is very methodical, clearly showing different ways of adding geometry, and how to clean up. It's perhaps a little bit too slow paced for some, but if you are just starting out, could be just what you need.
On the same site is a free head modelling tutorial, using a different method, poly by poly. Try them both and see which method suits you best

If you are modelling humans, get to know anatomy. There are loads of books for artists on this. It just helps a lot, while you are modelling, to have a good overview of proportion and how structures flow together.

04-06-2006, 08:37 PM
I muchly appreciate your help guys.
Shows that I'm not alone in my frustration and that you guy have been there and done that.

Parm mate,
thats a goldmine right there!
i checked out the head modeling tut before i decide to purchase some points, and im most defenatley going to.
Those video tuts are irreplacably dear!
one thing i know for darn sure though...if the documentation is decent, no method is hard to grasp if you decide to learn it on a serious level!
I quite like the poly by poly method, but as steamthunk sayd...there are different methods for different parts which work better than others, so its a worthwile thing to get atleast some knowlege on all of the techniques.
what considers the documentation, i give it 10 out of 10!
Many thanks to you kind people!

04-06-2006, 08:59 PM
:D the more i look, the more i find, i think im in heaven LOL
So much knowlege to take in, and i thought it all ended here :p

I'm not sure if i should start a new thread about my following question, and im sure its a simple answer to my question, but when I use the drag tool, and am in symmetry mode, i cant manage to get the symmetry to work.
I.e. i drag a point and only that single point moves, not its symmetrical opposite. i tried everything, all the selection modes and point/poly modes.
Any ideas?
Sorry, i dont mean to sound like im takin advantage of the quick help and replies you guys offer to people like me.
Either way, muchly appreciated for your help :D

04-06-2006, 09:36 PM
I'm new myself, but I've found that symmetric points must be truly symmetric. That is, if you choose a point on the plus-X axis, the position of the corresponding point on the minus-X side must correspond exactly.

Try it yourself. Create a box with three X, Y, and Z axis segments. Center it in the window (F2). Click symmetry on and select a point on the plus-X side. The corresponding minus-X side should also appear selected.

Now, undo the selection, and move your whole box just slightly left or right, and try again. Symmetry won't work because the location of the plus- and minus-X (or -Y or -Z) points is now different.

04-06-2006, 10:13 PM
excellent advise!
It works for me :D
Thanx for that quick reply mate ^_^

04-07-2006, 02:03 AM
I made 3 attempts at box modelling a head and haven't succeeded in producing something that wasn't a hideous mess yet. :o I'm 1-for-1 in spline patching a head though. It's tedious but precise and I have a bit of background with Animation:Master so there's probably some carry over knowledge. I then spent a week doing splines guides for a body

Oh my gosh.. That hurts! I'm making it in 20-40 minutes total.. But one week?!

Spline extruding/Spline extending rules :D
There's no faster way to create dozen of splines in just a few clicks! Then just unify polygons used on loop of newly made curves, and geometry will be smoothed and properly curved.. I could show you how to make in spline modeling a hand with 5 fingers with each finger with 3 segments-bones (that's 14 splines per finger if I counted correctly, and 70 splines per 5 fingers) in less than 3 minutes.. And they will look like they would be made with Sub-Patch, nicely smoothed..

(not even patched; I do wish that spline modeling in LW worked like A:M where it patches as you go) and then threw it all away and box modelled a body in about 2 nights.

But you could have them patched in real-time.. You just need EasySpline.. More recent at the top..


04-07-2006, 02:20 AM
Here's (http://www.secondreality.ch/) one of the best box modeling tutorials around (Tutorials link at the top of the page) I box model just about everything so don't despair. If you like the method stick with it, the mesh probelms you are experiencing are down to knowing your tools and what to use when. Understanding topology helps too!

I learned to box model with Wings and I struggled a bit with lightwave because it's old tools aren't that suited to box modeling IMO. Bandsaw, knife, smooth shift, spinquad etc will get it done but it doesn't make for a smooth workflow for me. I couldn't box model in LW until Powertools was released for Mac. It's now integrated in LW8 - Add Edges, Remove Edges and Reduce Edges.

I model nearly everything with add edges and remove edges and since LW8.5 Connect (shortcut lower case L) LW9 will also add dissolve which I'm looking forward to. I'd use Smoothshift for things like noses, eyesockets, mouth etc but rarely for adding local detail.

Beware of using the Knife tool, I got into all sorts of trouble with it when I first started using LW It's great to slice through a whole mesh but if you want to just cut a few polys it can cause problems. I'd use add edges or Connect.

Last tip, keep you poly count as low as possible, it'll make the modelling MUCH easier!

Hoe that helps! - Baz

04-07-2006, 02:54 AM
I'm not going to add anything to what has been said here...you just have to find your style. I tried box modelling and didn't liked it...

so what I do is poly by poly...lots and lots of extender. For a face for example I create the eyes, nose, ears in parts and then "bridge" them...always trying to use the same poly "density" for each one.

you can check this site...it has examples of both methods...

I have to say that watching a good box modelling video impresses me more than poly by poly.

I've seen excelent stuff with both methods
good luck...choose wisely 'Luke'

04-07-2006, 03:07 AM
Try to remember that everything in modeller, is geared towards creating and manipulating polygons,

If you have good reference, for instance, front and side photos of a head.
Splines are the fastest way to get polygons flowing in the right way. in this thread, celshader shows her spline arrangement for a head:


It saves time, because this is the kind of poly flow you're aiming for, when starting from a box. Subdividing, spinning quads, adding edgeloops, etc.. Do take a look it's well worth studying.

What ever you do, you'll find, that modelling involves a lot of tweaking and fine tuning of points and polygons, in my case too many hours. So, if you can afford it I thoroughly recommend using a graphics tablet

04-07-2006, 03:22 AM
Ive been teaching this for many years. In that time you get to notice which methods are easier to pick up then others.
It doesnt seem to matter which method is used if you have a good artistic background. Most good/experienced artists already know the structure and anatomy of a human head. The simplest way to model is point by point or poly by poly. Its also the most tedious way. This seems to work fine for experienced artists where the most basic modeling approach will still get them there.

Some of the tutorials Ive seen are interesting in that the artist skips many of the basic traditional steps. I always teach to start with the most basic shape and then work into the details. For example when drawing you start with a circular or oval shape then add the centerline, eyeline, noseline etc. and then detail after the general proportions are first established. This has been taught this way for centuries for a reason. Laying out a head this way is like starting with a roadmap.Experienced artists can skip these basic steps because they know the roadmap in advance from years of practice.

Ive rarely seen books that teach you to start with a detailed eye and then work into other detailed local details. My experience has been that this is a good way to get into trouble. You end forcing the detail needed for an eye onto the rest of the head and the model can easily become difficult to manage or alter the flow.

Box modeling can be tricky because the amount of detail you might need for the facial area might be forced onto the rest of the head where its not needed. Controlling flow can also be trickier.

Ive found that using an approach that uses traditional practices is easier to remember. This is important because many people learning 3D are also trying to learn head anatomy at the same time.

If I have good reference I tend to use splines to layout the basic form and flow of the head. Its a quick way to get it done Another method I use is to start with a single polygon and get the front part of the head going and then adjust the flow so that the facial details dont get forced onto the rest of the head.

Ive got some free videos on my site showing the basics of some of these methods. The links are in my signature. Also drop me a line and I can give you a live demo of some of these techniques. :)

04-07-2006, 06:55 AM
Hello to you kind people...

First of all...WOW, i cannot express my gratitude enough.
Thinking how dishearted i was at first -wanting to achieve results in LW but not having the resources nore the past experiences in 3D- and how motivated i am now, shows what a great community is really for.
I dont mean to preach, but I personally think all new comers who read this thread need to learn from this, and not give up on such a wonderful artform.

the links that everybody has posted and contributed to benefit me, will be thoroughly looked at AND all tutorials will be executed, because if you recommend it, you must know what you're talking about.
I am one to learn from other's experiences, and again, all your contributions really give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside :D

Now what concerns the technique of choice, i really can't say I have made up my mind yet.
I find modelling the eye socket with a reference sphere in a background layer (poly by poly) really does the trick for me, while the nose seems to be rather effective with smooth shift in subpatch mode starting with a box.
I have been trying for hours on end (i believe i didnt sleep for two night :o ) to model a rather basic head from a box in subpatch mode.
I manage the basic head shape, which is quite frankly rather simple if logic and basic head anatomy is utilized.
also the nose seems to get along quite nicely aswell as the nostrils.
But i am certain that there is NO alternative for practise and experience, and if it means i have to make 200 heads before i get the result i want time after time, then so be it!
I have also decided to take it a step away from my monitor and actually pick up a pen and paper and get back into the oldschool designing, so i know what i want to model. I find it makes the modeling part easier, opposed to modelling from scratch. which is very much the 'roadmap' principal Splinegod was talking about.

I also noticed that modeling something and making it look like a reference object I have laying around is by far easier than using pure imagination. The explanation for this would be rather logical since you have the ability to look at it and inspect it better.
I took the liberty to add my first model (yes i am particularly proud of it because results were amazing for my inexperienced eyes).
I used a molt from my pet tarantula which allowed me to inspect every detail and decide what should be modeled and what shouldnt.
There are two renders and the model itself, feel free to mess with it if you like ^_^

Now this may sound strange (because ive lived with my head all my life lol), i cant manage to get an equally pleasing result from modeling my own head.
I still cant explain why this is, and I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem, so I guess experience and practice is the key.

So now, i shall put all these words of wisdom into practise...literally ^_^

Also, SplineGod,
I greatly appreciate your offer, and it really sounds like a great idea, so if the offer stands, id be more than thankful for your time :)
But since you have lots of video tutorials, I'll have a crack at them first since i believe you made them for a reason ;)

Now I'll get myself in gear and make the best of my day :D
Talk about motivation...just wow!

04-07-2006, 07:02 AM
Kinda looks like the Pet tarantula I had