Alias, how to learn? (1 MB image weight)

'Lo. First time poster. Studied mechanical engineering with ID focus for 3 years, studying a master for engineers who want to focus on “the ID toolbox”.

I have used alias a few times for school projects, both in bachelor and master, but never really had a teacher who -knows- the program. Current one is unable to help me so I’ve realized that I have to pick up the knowledge on my own.

I have been watching a lot of movie clips on autodesks homepage and youtube, and read a “noob book” from Autodesk, “Learning Studiotools” or something, its a few years old and very basic. I have been googling for resources on this topic for a while but the best forum I can find discussing Alias is this forum… ( Graphic Design Tutorials … ) The Autodesk student forum seems to have failed in creating a good discussion, it seems dead.

What would you do in my situation? I want to learn the software and I am willing to spend time doing it, but where do I find the information?

I’m going to add some pics of the physical model I’m currently trying to model in Alias, I think that my biggest problem at the moment is “patch layout” or whatever youd call it. How to know how to design the curves in space, and how to know what kind of surface tools to use in a given situation. Please note that I’d love to have my first question asked, most important for me is a good source of information, second is help with the helicopter model if anyone has time to dig into it.

What I’ve done so far is to use 3 canvas image planes to build a “skeleton” of straight curves. From this skeleton I’ve created square surfaces and added extra curves where needed. My main issue is to create the front side surface. Lets look at some pictures:

Here’s the heli, as you can see its quite influenced by “stealth aircraft”. Lots of flat surfaces. I dont want it look too military tho so I want the surfaces to be a little bit curved, or at least rounded where two flat surfaces meet. I have been trying to model the front side surfaces for some time now but I just cant get it right and it annoys me this the closest shot so far but its still miles away from satisfying:

The “patch layout” looks like this:

Does anyone have any guidelines for how I should model this in alias? Should i start over using another method? Help would be greatly appreciated but as noted above, most of all I’m looking for a way of learning this software properly, if anyone knows a forum where students upload pictures like this and have a debate about the modeling process I would love love love to study that material


Have you looked on the Alias Design site? There are a lot of tutorials on there (some good, some bad).

I can already see theres a LOT going on on those surfaces that doesn’t need to be there. A good rule of thumb (and I’ll elaborate more when I’m not about to fall asleep) is to always try to build things as simple as possible. If you look at those nose surfaces you have about 10 rows of CV’s where you should be able to get the same shape with a 3 degree, 1 span surface.

Usually if you build off of a surface edge that is complex (trimmed edge) you will wind up with a more complex surface. If you do that mupltiple times, you wind up with even more complexity. It looks like you started in the middle and as you moved out your surfaces got more complex.

Try starting with the simplest curves you can and then pull the CV’s to get your desired shape.

Try taking a look through the Alias design site and see if that helps you at all. Surfacing theory gets very complex very quickly but we can try to help out.

Thanks for the hints! Its 2 am in sweden at the moment and im gonna sleep for a while but I’ll look for more movie clips, and upload stuff as my work (hopefully) progresses tomorrow.

I have played around a bit, lets see what I have:

The selected surface in this picture was a trimmed surface in the images in my first post, I simply deleted the trimmed surface and made a new one that has pretty much the same shape but without trimming involved.

This surface (same as above) is made up by a 1x3 degree square. I have seen videos telling me both that I should keep the number of CVs to a minimum, but also that the CVs should be evenly spread out along a curve or a surface. Since i want the top of this surface to have a curvature relation to the top of the helicopter i need to put 2 CVs in a straight line in the top.

Question 1 Should I make the curve into a 5 degree curve and put 2 CVs like this? Would that make any difference at all? Would it make it easier or harder to align other surfaces to this surface?

I managed to create these 3 surfaces with a lot less CVs/hulls, like you said.

The curvature is there and this is good enough i guess

However, I cant connect the surface properly in the top here…

I have been trying to move around the CVs gently with the Move CV tool but i either end up breaking the Position up here,

or this surface looses its curvature.

Seen from above I can see that the hull or what you would call it, looks very messy. So my thought was to add a curve as in the picture above and remake the squares with this as a border instead, to make it flow better together. Like this:

However that didnt solve the problem, I still ended up with the same problems as above, so I started over with another patch layout. Question 2 How do I learn to plan a patch layout? Trial and error until I develop a feeling for it? Is there anywhere I can find wire files to analyze?

I tried this and it worked pretty well, all surfaces are 3x3CV and I have curvature where I want it. However the Fixed Position failed as you can see to the left. I choose to go with this and simply try to connect the unconnected surfaces later when I create rounds all around the model. Question 3 Was this a stupid choice? Will I encounter lots of problems sewing together those Fixed Position failures?

This is where I ended up, if you look at the photos in my first post you’ll see its not very accurate compared to the physical model but I’ve tried shitloads of different patch layouts before I started this thread and I cant understand how to build it.

I did 3 versions of the top surface here. 3x3 5x5 and 7x7 CVs. Same “borders”. The 7x7 seems to give me better curvature where the arrow is, and I like that. (Or well, not “better” curvature… all 3 surfaces gives me curvature but the 7x7 one simply feels a bit better, it follows the surface I want it to have curvature with, a bit better) On the other hand I want to round the surface together with the 2 surfaces below with a fillet or something. Question 4 Should I always use the 3x3 surface in a situation like this, to make it easier to do the round/fillet later, or should I stick with the 7x7 surface if it looks slightly better?

Very grateful for answers