Is box-modeling a dying technique?

Pixie3D
polycounter lvl 5
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Pixie3D polycounter lvl 5
It is of my understanding that sculpting is mainly being used for character design, however I have seen examples of artists using sculpting for hard-surface modeling as well. I am curious to know how many of you guys are actually using box-modeling in practice? and if you do, how much do you vs sculpting?

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  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    I box model way more than sculpt. For any workflow in which you already have a clear concept I find it's usually faster and more efficient overall.

    Sometimes I use dynamesh to quickly get the very rough shape of a thing in place, then retopo that and go with box modeling from there.
  • Pixie3D
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    Pixie3D polycounter lvl 5
    Do you also box-model characters or are you mainly doing hard-surface models?
  • Pixie3D
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    Pixie3D polycounter lvl 5
    Yes, I agree. I understand why artists find sculpting more intuitive, creative and natural to use than modeling but if it is meant for animation at a later point there will be a lot of re-topology work to get a clean model. So, I guess box-modeling is not out of the picture in the CG industry yet.
  • Pixie3D
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    Pixie3D polycounter lvl 5
    Yes, I should probably rephrase the topic to modeling vs sculpting. I just assumed that box-modeling was the technique artist would mainly use when modeling. I am not aware of that many modeling techniques in general perhaps you could enlighten me with some common techniques?
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    I hardly do hard-surface.

    Sculpting is only more intuitive for the absolute beginner. Once you start making a lot of characters for games if you don't have the understanding of how 3d really works you will have issues working in zbrush. And to quickly get the silhouette and volume of a thing, modeling is more efficient. Because you are reducing the thing to its most essential shapes and manipulating those first, rather than playing with a blob.

    And the rest of the pipeline -- UV's, rigging, texturing -- it all goes way more efficiently if you started with clean, logical topology from the get go. If you are only making something for portfolio, yeah you can just have each task be separate and figure it out as you go. But conforming a model to the full pipeline takes a lot of planning up front and it's way easier if the first steps are designed to work with the last, versus just sculpting and then figuring out from there.

    I found Justin Marshalls tutorials on pluralsight to be a good place to start for modeling. He shows both hard-surface and character modeling.
  • sacboi
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    sacboi sublime tool
    I specialize in mechanical hard surface subject matter, so occasionally using a box method enables rapid visualisation of the base mesh prior to further iterative work either low, mid or high poly which in turn I confess, hardly ever sculpt but rather rely on various polygonal methodologies in order too project surface detailing from , also to my knowledge there's around about 20 parametric mesh techniques.
  • oglu
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    oglu sublime tool
    Yes around 80% is still boxmodeling.
    On some Chars its 100% Maya cause i need to model an animateable highres with no displacement or normalmaps.
    So no Sculpting in Zbrush.
  • Neox
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    Neox ngon master
    oglu said:
    Yes around 80% is still boxmodeling.
    On some Chars its 100% Maya cause i need to model an animateable highres with no displacement or normalmaps.
    So no Sculpting in Zbrush.
    i think in some cases zbrush is valuable on these tasks too. especially the alternative smooth is super valuable to me when handling smooth modelled surfaces. Also on Blendshapes it helps a ton
  • oglu
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    oglu sublime tool
    I use in this case the sculpting tools in maya. We use the maya build in blendshape editor. Its faster than jumping to Z. Updating an allready rigged and shaded model is saver this way.

    But some other Artists here prefer todo that work in Zbrush.
  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt greentooth
    As an environment artist I mostly make hard surface objects - architecture, machines, etc

    I recently have started using a workflow where I will model in Maya and then export to zbrush to add detail. Some things - like making paneling - is easier in zbrush. But having a model you've made in maya makes it much easier to create a lowpoly mesh later. 

    For some organic objects (trees, rocks) I will create a lowpoly from a zRemeshed object in zbrush. 

    So zbrush is definitely a large part of my workflow. 
  • Blaizer
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    Blaizer polycounter lvl 14
    I usually start from a Quadball Sphere (a box subdivided!? omg!), and the rest is all bevels, bridges, cuts, and extrusions (basic operations). Sometimes i use other subdiv primitives i created, or a bunch of useful subdiv objetcs i have as base models (libraries and mesh parts re-utilization).

    So, yes, i still do traditional modelling, 90% of the time. 

    I only start with Zbrush when i don't know what i'm doing, just experiments, toying or playing with shapes and forms.  And of course, for fine details or those details i can't add with intelligent subdivision topology.

    It's faster for me to start modelling the mesh, or a base mesh when i already have a concept/reference or a drawing i previously did. The workflow is smoother and linear imho.

    A decade ago i posted in the forums something about modelling workflows. Here's the image i posted, i found it in my trash folder. I still do the same process, but in a more efficient way. Years pass and it's like it was yesterday. 






  • Sk0LLiE
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    Sk0LLiE interpolator
    No, not going anywhere yet.
    Use the same techniques as the base of my Highpoly work and then all my retopo / game meshes are build in this general way.
    Zbrush is nice to muck around in, design and detail though. Wouldnt use it for a final game mesh.
  • kanga
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    kanga polycounter
    I dont think box modelling will be replaced as much as its going to be combined with other techniques. So, augmented in a way. Just out of curiosity a while ago I tested out the modelling brush in zBrush. So box modelling with all the other tools we are used to like clip brushes, booleans, alphas and so on. It was kind of weird because I had to resist the impulse to jump back into max instead of searching for a way to solve tasks with zBrush tools. The experience knocked my sox off.


    I was amazed at the amount of freedom combining standard box modelling with sculpting techniques gave me while doing hard surface. Most of the big name 3D packages have sculpting tools now and although they are poly based its still jaw dropping what can be achieved with them. A quick youtube search confirms that.
  • melviso
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    melviso polycounter lvl 8
    I think sculpting softwares might make u get carried away when creating something especially when u need to retopologize later. Box modeling keeps u focused on the goals u need to achieve only, once that is locked down, adding details later seems easier and locked down as well. Also, the need to retopologize is taken care of the in the modeling stage so thats faster  although there seems to be auto retopology or AI thingy these days or in the near future.
  • Unknown_Target
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    Unknown_Target polycounter lvl 3
    What is the benefit of sculpting for hard surface models? Is it the boolean operations?
  • Zack Maxwell
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    Zack Maxwell interpolator
    What is the benefit of sculpting for hard surface models? Is it the boolean operations?
    The booleans are part of it. But you can also very quickly create more freeform/curved shapes, and you don't have to concern yourself with keeping clean topology by avoiding NGons, maintaining edge loops, etc.
    That said, I think box modeling is still faster.
    As an example, I recently took about as long retopologizing a sword as I had spent sculpting it in ZBrush.
  • Unknown_Target
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    Unknown_Target polycounter lvl 3
    Hm. For very complex models I usually retopo as I go - block stuff in, get it about right, retopo that area, and so on. It's a little more mental work to keep track of the topology but I just think better with box modeling.

    That being said I need to give sculpting more of a shake. Seems like it definitely is growing in popularity.
  • kanga
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    kanga polycounter
    What is the benefit of sculpting for hard surface models? Is it the boolean operations?
    For me its the other sculpting tools, in combination with the newer box modelling tools that make modelling very flexible in zBrush. Also booleans, but not as much as you might think.
  • melviso
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    melviso polycounter lvl 8
    What would solve all this issue is AI, Is there some research with it on retopology? Because lets be frank, retopology is like making your model twice whereas box modeling is making your model once but with topology in check. I wonder whether those who used to box model characters in the past still stick with it. I just wish retopology was faster.
  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt greentooth
    melviso said:
    What would solve all this issue is AI, Is there some research with it on retopology? Because lets be frank, retopology is like making your model twice whereas box modeling is making your model once but with topology in check. I wonder whether those who used to box model characters in the past still stick with it. I just wish retopology was faster.
    There's always been some research into auto retopology.  It has come a long way with tools like zRemesher in zBrush. 
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