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Hard Surface Modeling for Films

An 10-week course focused on hard surface modeling for film VFX production

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

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:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   10 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Maya (or equivalent) and ZBrush (or equivalent)
Skills level:   Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Knowledge of Maya and ZBrush is required

Hard Surface Modeling for Films WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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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 mulit-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

Jay is a Senior Hard Surface Modeler and Texture Painter at Industrial Light and Magic; he has been at ILM for 4 years, and has 6 years of experience as a modeler. His credits include Rogue One, Star Wars: the Force Awakens, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. In addition to his work on feature films, Jay has worked on music videos, commercials, an AAA game, and amusement park rides. He is also exploring physically based rendering, VR, game development, and 3D printing outside of work.


July 21st!

winter TERM Registration

May 14, 2019 - Jul 23, 2019




July 21st!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

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