Alias modeling question

Hi !!!

So much time without posting something… Didn´t know if this is the right thread for this question. Years tryin’ to learn how to model in Alias. Can´t do it: during my career I needed to learn other 3d modeling packages.

I’ve noticed in the past years that some car companies are introducing more sub-d modeling for the conceptual stage.

Some 3d artists out there are modeling an entire concept in less than 30 hours (without interior) and getting very clean surfaces with hard surfacing techniques (specially in 3ds max & Maya). So… the question is

How long does it take to model the exterior of a car in alias in the car industry?

So i think you need to narrow the comparison down a little -

  1. Are the SUB-D models A-class surfaces or are they more form studies
  2. Are the SUB-D models able to be handed off for B-side modeling?

Also it is a matter of the right tool for the right task and who is using the tool (lets say all is equal) - Sub-D modeling will allow you to get complex forms and shapes easier - But i have watched Alias masters work and they make the software sign! And the surfaces can be used down stream which in the larger picture is faster.

Answering your questions…

1.-Yes. Sub-D models are just for form studies.
2.- Nop. Sub-D models are not used to B-side modeling.

I’ve seen people able to get a form study in less than a day in Sub-d modeling. Because of my current work I don’t have problem for trying more and more this sub-d technique. What I want to do is to take few minutes and do some excercises in alias. But I would like to know industry standars so that it’s going to serve both as reference and inspiration.

Nowadays maybe I will need months just for a side surface of a car in Alias. I remember someone saying 2 weeks it’s ok for an entire Alias modeling, but don`t know if that it’s true…

For the postscript… I love Alias, but still searching for all the conditions to take enough time to learn it.

I wouldn’t have a hard or fast answer, and it also depends on the stage. If you asked what it takes to get to a final CAD database for a car in the industry the answer is probably on the order of magnitudes of months->years.

If you were trying to build your first model out (not including the entire clay workflow or detailed design), I could see getting to a fairly clean initial model in 2 weeks. Would probably depend a lot more on the design itself. My old boss told the story of modeling an entire truck cab in a mad blitz weekend contract, but that was years ago and with different surfacing expectations than today.

A huge amount of the work that professional CAD sculptors have to put in is in the back and forth between clay & CAD. So doing the surfacing is one piece, doing mesh cleanup and back and forth with designers is another story.

It also will vary based on your expectations of the surfaces. There are techniques that will get you surfaces that are not truly Class A but would still look great for a model, concept or render. If you want to explore form that’s completely adequate, vs production ready 7 degree 1 span surfaces.

Yes, there are people who are good with Alias, but no matter how good you are, Sub-D is always a magnitude or two faster! Always. Most 3D models that get built in the car DESIGN area are in fact form studies. It is incredibly wasteful to let a highly paid Alias guy work on a model for a week that gets cnc milled in clay once and then goes to the trash. In that time you can literally model 5 Sub-D car concepts that are just as good for cnc milling. That’s also why in the concept stage (at least with the German car manufacturers I know about) nowadays they almost completely rely on Sub-D modelling. Also that the surfaces can’t be used down stream is only correct from an engineering mass manufacturing standpoint. For example there are certain manufacturers that use Sub-Ds exclusively for some of their concept cars that get shown at IAA. The amount of designs that actually need to be prepared for mass production and therefore completely redone as “proper” class A surfaces are not that many as one might think.

I think it is definitely true that Sub-D is gaining relevance in industrial design in general and that class A modelers like Alias are more and more shifting down towards the engineering side of the development process. I don’t think it is necessary for an “ordinary” designer to learn Alias nowadays, unless you really want to specialize in the CAD side of design. For everybody else there are more exciting and effective things to come.

I’ve still been waiting to see case studies of Sub-D parts winding up in actual production workflows. Ex a part that gets built, imported into an engineering tool like ProE/SW, and shipped off to tooling for something standard like injection molding.

I agree that Sub-D modeling is a much faster workflow for concept. But surfacing workflows can still be very fast for a large amount of forms, even if the learning curve is steeper. And the question brought up earlier is “Once it’s no longer a concept, then what?” - the last thing you want to do is enable someone to design a form that can’t actually have draft applied, split lines controlled, thickness added, etc.

Not saying it can’t be done, but I’m out of the game and haven’t seen those types of workflows showcased past 3D printing.

Many car class-A surfaces that get modeled for production are already based on 3d scanned clay models (basically reverse engineering the shapes by hand in the software). The workflow of converting “dirty geometry” to nice Alias surfaces is nothing new. If you create your new surfaces on top of a scanned mesh or on top of a sub-D mesh is no big difference. At the end of the day you will need your clean NURBS surfaces either way for the reasons you mentioned. But there is no need to built those earlier than really necessary.

It also seems that every day surfacing is relying much more in engineering teams than design ones. Even softwares like CATIA are having new features to encourage “fast models”, “3d sketching” for developing “concept models”.

Then mudbox & zbrush are on a track to be used not only in CGI environments for Entertainment but also in product development.

And Holographic technologies are just here around the corner…

Gotta say that zBrush and Modo are right now some of the most accessible and powerful SubD modelers out right now add in GoZ and the two softwares talk to each other so designs update. zBrush definitely has some vooodooo magic under the under hood that requires keeping track of high polygon geometries that need to brought down to something reasonable for conversion to CAD (Pro/e, SW, IV…etc). Also, and this is pretty unique in industry, Modo’s plug in Power SubD allows for pre-processing of the geometry so that edges can be set up when converting to NURBS. Normally a mesh, be it composed of tri’s or quads, can get a quilted NURBS patch that is very “disorganized” which really creates challenges for say creating parting lines for molds or adding draft.