View Full Version : Wrapping your head around subpatch visualisation

02-02-2007, 12:16 PM
Hi Folks.

I've been working through "Inside Lightwave 8" Dan Ablan's excellent book, and I've recently been working on his subpatch tutorial to create a giraph. While following the tutorial, I am amazed at how easy it is to construct organic models with subpatches and it all makes so much sense. But when I try to do something on my own, I'm 100% completely lost!! While seeing it in action in the tutorial makes so much sense, I can't for the life of me visualise how to create organic models on my own with subpatches. I can visualise the model I want to make in my head, no problem, but the logic, the construction menthod needed to form that mdoel with subpatches in Lightwave totally leaves me behind.

Can anyone point me towards a tutorial, or give me some tips on how to wrap my head around the visualisation of modelling with subpatches?


02-02-2007, 12:31 PM
here's a thread that I started and it may or may not give you some insight as to how some folks model.......remember to make your form as precise as possible when your using polygons and make sure you have a reference.....also make sure that you make use of spinquads/ smooth shift and tweak the whole thing till your satisfied..........I want to make a little video but I don't know of any free video capture for the Mac....

02-02-2007, 12:31 PM


02-02-2007, 12:33 PM
I've dealt with this before (sometimes still do).

Here's a couple of ways to break through.

1. Start sketching in 2d from side, front and/or top views, whichever is appropriate, with the pen tool or spline draw. Create a profile as well as some of the primary shape features. Then, put this sketch in a background layer. This helps give you a foundation to begin creating final polys and know where you're going.

2. draw ngon ribs that fill out the structure of your model, and then use the bridge tool to connect the edges into a skin. The ngons will be removed by the bridge tool, and you'll be left with a quad skin appropriate for subpatching.

3. Simplify what you're trying to model down to a few boxes. Create those boxes, and begin beveling, subdividing, and knifing from there. This is actually a common method for traditional 2d drawing as well. A blank canvas can often be the most difficult thing for an artist to deal with, and sometimes you need to just get something down so you can go from imagine mode to edit mode in your brain

4. The extend tool is your friend. The beauty of this tool is that you can create a single square somewhere on the surface of your background template, and then just extend polys to flow around that template surface, giving good edge flow and making it easy to just pull a skin out and make the final shape.


02-02-2007, 02:53 PM
here's a easy method to partly go where you want....look at my steps and then see that I've tweaked the crap out of the model to get it at this stage...........take the nose for example, I select the area of the face where I want the nose to be then I smooth shift it or I pull it out and in my side view I slice some cuts into it so that I have more geometry to work with then I smooth shift the nostril bits then I try to make the flow of the polygons follow the facial muscle structures that you see everyone model - go to subdivisionmodeling.com/forums/ and check out their stuff.

Spinquads, smooth shift, bevel, knife, cut, bandsaw etc - your best friends...

I really think that Newtek should put up more time lapse modeling vids to increase the skillset of new users - perhaps have 3 or 4 different methods on how to model a head and then show the tools and technique/ reasoning behind what is being done.

Eric is there anything you can show picturewise that could help visualize your methods.

02-02-2007, 11:48 PM

They've changed the site since i last visited, but this was a good basic breakdown for me. I think it helped, there was sort of an ah-ha moment a for me where the work-flow finally made sense, but i think it was with that same book (inside lightwave that is) about the fifth time through that #%#$ giraffe...

02-03-2007, 02:38 PM
I know how you feel...I was in a similar state at one point. Basically you just need to keep doing tutorials (and do some of them over and over and over) until your brain internalizes the basic mechanics. The "Joan of Arc" tutorial really helped me, specifically the "head" part:


(The tutorial is written for 3DS Max, but the tools are the same as Lightwave with different names--it's not too hard to translate.) What I did for practice was to build several heads, using different people for backdrops.

Also, the principle of "edge loops" is important to keep in mind when you're working with subpatches. It's worth keeping the following link bookmarked--if you don't quite grasp it now, you will soon:


Good luck.

02-03-2007, 05:51 PM
thanks very much guys. i was also looking for these as well. very exciting!!!

02-04-2007, 12:35 PM
Yes, thanks very much for all the feedback, tips and links. Some of the stuff is truly mind blowing when you see how a simple box can become a head! Still wrestling with getting my head around subpatch modelling. I agree with what has been said above, it will just take time. Keep at it till it clicks.

Thanks again, really appreciate your help.

02-06-2007, 06:55 AM
The last real 3D modeling I did before LW was in A:M which is really different than SubD modeling. At first it seemed like it would be impossible to produce anything precise with box/subd modeling because its...well...just a box.

Anyway I did the Giraffe tutorial from Inside Lightwave 8 too which showed me I needed to think differently. The difference from splines/poly-by-poly method is that you have to think about the model emerging from a subdivided box as opposed to put together from assembling pieces. Personally, I find this is contrary to typical drawing lessons that say "draw an egg shape for the head.. now draw a trapezoid for a body...connect the two with these lines, etc."

You can start your model "emergence" from any where (I believe the giraffe tutorial starts with the head), but I find it makes the most sense to me to start from the biggest portions and work towards the smaller portions. So if making a human body I start with the torso and "pull" out legs and arms and work my way to the digits (assuming a unibody construction). I've not had any real success with heads/faces done with box modeling so I typically switch construction techniques.

It helps to think about how much mesh you need for your limbs as that may dictate how many subdivisions you need to start with on your original box. I like to pull from a minimum of 4 polys per limb, but you may need a lot more. Thinking about your geometry as a whole will help you decide how complex a box you need to get a good start. For example, if you make something with wings where will the wings sprout from? I find some planning up front gets me further and generally with better results than making it all up as I go, but I'm no expert.

Learn bandsaw and band glue. I find them very useful in subd modeling to add and remove geometry. Hope some of this helps.

02-06-2007, 12:26 PM
Thanks, Steamthunk, more good advice given there. Appreciate it.