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Hard Surface Modeling for Films

Hard Surface Modeling for Films

A 10-week course focused on hard surface modeling for film VFX production
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Prepare hard surface models for VFX

Prepare hard surface models for VFX

This course covers the creation of VFX production assets of an inorganic nature. Lectures will cover creation of form, efficient manipulation of topology, the art of kitbashing, scene organization, texture preparation, light rigging techniques that will aid in the modeling process, and final rendering. Students will learn the process of efficiently creating high-quality hard surface models from concept to completion, and complete exercises that will give them the tools to overcome typical challenges faced by production artists.

Course Format


Skills Level



10 weeks


Once a week


Individual recordings

Lecture Type

Deadlines each week
Knowledge of Maya and ZBrush is required
Maya (or equivalent) and ZBrush (or equivalent)

The more you know, the better.

Instructor introduction and background | Discussion of hard surface modeling principles | Introduction to the Maya interface as we will be using it
Setting up image planes in Maya | Using NURBS curves to create guidelines | Box modeling process | Naming conventions and hierarchy organization
Importing blocking models into ZBrush | Using dynamesh to combine primitive shapes together into more complex surfaces | Hard surface brushes and demo sculpt on car body | Adding panel lines | Using decimation master | Exporting from ZBrush | Importing sculpts into Maya | Quad-draw workflow in Maya
Maya modeling techniques: Maya booleans; box modeling methods using extrude and multi-cut tools; bevel tool to create supporting edge loops; Maya sculpt tools | Radial modeling exercise: creating a rim and a tire | Creating a thruster using radial modeling techniques: anatomy of a thruster, reality vs. sci-fi; using instances to model thruster details; using pivot points to facilitate animation of thrust vectoring
A look to the past: techniques used by practical modelers | Modeling vintage model kit parts for kitbashing | Getting UVs onto geometry | Exporting parts with thumbnails for use in Maya’s content browser
Kitbashing using a parts library: a look at practical kitbashing techniques; adding our greebles to Maya’s content browser | Kitbashing workflow: plant on details; greeble assemblies
Modeling and rigging the pistons: single axis and ball & socket; hierarchy setup; aim constraint setup | Creating mechanisms: building the basic skeleton and animating motion; experimenting with piston placement; setting up set-driven keys | Integrating these parts into the model
NURBS curves modeling tools | Extruding along curves | Animation snapshot and tank tread exercise | Other pipe modeling techniques | Using wire deformers to create cable looms
Creating and unfolding UVs | A discussion about texel density: what it is and why it is important | UV packing techniques | UDIMS; how to organize your model’s UVs for multiple texture maps | Final model setup
Alternative methods: edge creasing, face weighted normals, rounded corner shader | Rendering in Maya using Arnold | Rendering in Keyshot

Igniting your imagination

For specific questions regarding TBA instructors, please contact CGMA Admissions Department at registration@cgmasteracademy.com

What makes this learning experience unique?


Receive personalized feedback on all assignments from the industry’s top professionals.


Enjoy lifetime access to the spectrum of course content, including lectures, live Q&As, and feedback sessions.


Show off your Certification of Completion when you turn in 80% of course assignments.


Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with flexible, online course scheduling.


In all aspects, it was a great course. I learned a ton about the industry, the software, and techniques to improve my modeling. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn hard surface modeling.


This course helped with my topology, design, modeling thinking process, UVing, use of curves, scripts, confidence in my work and ability, and more.


His extended effort to show additional examples and methods both in the forums in the week days, and in the Q&A’s deserves an applause! Describes and explains everything very well, and is easily understandable.


Great teacher and awesome professional. Could end up learning a lot more than on my 2 year degree.


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