3D Artist

4 Tips for hard surface modelling in Maya

Tips & Tutorials
Carrie Mok

Alex Novitskiy teaches us this methodical technique to build, unwrap and texture objects so that they’re easy to work with

4 Tips for hard surface modelling in Maya

3D character artist Alexandr Novitskiy gives us some pro tips for modelling hard surfaces with Maya.

Simple shapes

Simplify your shapes as much as possible; it’s easier to work with simple shapes and a single mesh, even if your object is complicated and unusual. It’s best to make each object as one simple mesh then divide it into parts. All of the armour models for this image were created with Maya, then polished with ZBrush (geometry of scratches, unevenness and so on).


All the bevels in this image were the final step in making each object, which is a good tactic for keeping your workflow comfortable and flexible. I used selection sets for all of the edges that needed to be strong, then I made a bevel in world space for each part of the geometry. 


The best way to unfold an object like the knight’s helm is to make the correct mesh first. All parts of this helmet unfolded very easily because I modelled it carefully and divided all logical objects into different meshes without thickness (that’s important!). Do not use thickness in unseen places. And do not forget about scale failure – use ‘Shells scale average’ to prevent this problem.


Here is one major rule: the devil is in the details. The key to good texture is to closely observe the subject before you start; you should understand what you’re texturing, how it works and what result you need to reach. For this knight, I learned how the armour works, and based on this decided where dirt and scratches would accumulate.