Fusion 360/SubD Modeling is NOT Sculpting...

Maybe I’m just splitting hairs here, but I kind of really feel like there needs to be a clear difference made here when talking about SubD modeling, NURBS and the term “Sculpting”. While in comparison to each other SubD modeling vs traditional CAD/NURBS modeling… SubD is much more fluent in terms of model creation. But calling it “sculpting” when compared to zBrush, Modo, FreeForm Modeling, MudBox, or 3D Coat does a disservice to the community as a whole.

It may seem trivial to make this distinction, but especially in this day in age of digital software becoming more and more robust, it becomes that much more important to draw lines in the sand to help distinguish these different modeling techniques. Maybe this is just my person pet peeve of mine and I’m the only one that this bothers… but for any software like Fusion 360 to say they have a “Sculpting” environment when it’s really just T-Spines/SubD makes a difference when compared to zBrush.

Why make such a big deal that there be a better understanding of drawing a line in the sand…? Because the terminology is confusing enough when using these multiple software platforms. (Let’s not even talk about the non-uniform 3D View navigation aspect, that’s a challenge that will never be solved). One softwars “Loft” is another softwares Bi-Rail or even better one programs fillet is another programs bevel. Just mind boggling madness!!!

Now lets tack on the fact that I’m think I know what sculpting is and that I’m great at it, even put it on my resume, because that is what I’ve been using for the past 5 years. Then I go for a job interview and am asked if I can do digital sculpting… granted I’m exaggerating here but I think most of you can see where I am going with this…even if it comes down to the fact that a new term has to be created (though in this case it doesn’t) at the very least stop creating layers of confusion.

This isn’t limited to “traditional” CAD/NURBS software companies… the term “Hard Surface” modeling is another such term that almost works in reverse of the whole sculpting term. Most CAD/NURBS users haven’t ever called what they do hard surface modeling, it’s just modeling (it would be like going to Brazil and asking for Brazilian Nuts…)

Last point… I feel like the major reason why none of this is really brought up as an issue is that, though crossing over more and more, the two sides of the software industries still continue to be worlds apart. Most people using VFX/Gaming/Movie type software rarely have use for full on CAD engineering packages and vice versa. 25 years in industry and have not met anyone that knows both Soft Image and Catia or zbrush and Solidworks. Fusion 360 maybe a Solidworks clone but it’s not bringing 3D Coat’s voxel based sculpting to the table. One could argue that it’d be a rare occasion where anyone would need both a CAD software and a sculpting based software but I personally see value is a lot of these different softwares being leveraged like tools in your wood/metal shop.

SubD modeling has in my experience always called by a separate term from sculpting - box modeling.
I also wouldn’t recommend any professional to be both a box and NURBS modeler since they are such different approaches.
Another class of modeling is A-class surfacing which requires a specialized workflow only highly trained professionals master. Often employers ask for surface modelers while they actually want A-class surfacers - this is something to keep in mind in a world where more and more self-trained people are stepping into 3D modeling.

Personally I’ve never seen modelling ALA T-Splines, Power Surfacing for SolidWorks. CATIA, NX, etc, referred to as sculpting. I think “freeform NURBS modelling” is probably the most appropriate term that could be used for it. Or just freeform modelling or freeform surfacing or something.
That said, what do you find the benefits of SUB-D or ZBrush/Mudbox compared to T-Splines? Unless you’re doing extremely descriptive modelling of faces or something I can’t see the benefits of knowing it as a product designer. It would be easy to outsource such modelling to 3-D artists.

@ralphzoontjens: In this we would have to disagree, I can definitely say that learning how use these different tools can only help your skills set. I look at software as different tools and there is no one tool that covers it all. Rightfully so because it’d be boring if one software tried to be everything…that would fail so hard. I do conceed that being in a specific industry might not warrant the use of a specific style of modeling but there are definitely some capabilities in SubD modeling that NURBS aren’t build for and vice versa.

Class A surfacing is really one of those topics that has quite a bit of subjectivity around and about it. That said, IMO, it really comes down to a surfaces transitions and curvature continuity. I’m oversimplifying the explanation but I think you get the point.

@MK19: I do agree that most CAD packages have not called it sculpting but do refer to it as you mentioned, free form…etc. Which is why it’s probably that much more perplexing that Fusion 360 would call it sculpting.

I think that is almost a topic for another thread but the methods used in SubD and T-Splines aren’t all that different. What you get from a modeling standpoint in zBrush/Mudbox/3D Coat is really something much closer to digital clay. You could use a wacom style tablet with pressure sensitivity with zBrush or Modo to sculpt. Some do have a hybrid approach, Modo, for instance have both SubD and Sculpting.

Nope, box modelling is a flavor of sub-D modelling. A term used mostly back in the days when there was still “solid poly software” (meaning things were always watertight and closed, no open faces. Wings 3D was probably the most well known box modeller). Back then the only option was to literally cut your model from a box. On the other hand you had software like Maya that was able to do something like “poly by poly” modelling. But both are poly- or SubD modelling. Nowadays classic box modelling as a technique nearly died out, though, because a workflow like that is unnecessary with today’s tools.
That you wouldn’t “recommend” to be able to do nurbs and polys at the same time is pretty ridiculous. That’s like saying: “I don’t recommend people who sketch to also get into painting because the approach is just so different…” what is that even supposed to mean??

I think you got that wrong. SubD basically IS T-Splines. The T-Spline system is more or less an adaption of SubD modelling for the CAD World. Before I got into industrial design I worked in entertainment for a while… so actually I am one of those rare people who can do subD, Zbrush and at the same time SolidWorks :wink: To clear things up and simplify them:

  1. CAD Software
    e.g. SolidWorks

1.5 A blend of both - e.g. Fusion 360

  1. SubD Software
    e.g. Maya

2.5 A blend of both - e.g. Modo

  1. Sculpting Software
    e.g. Zbrush

So I do understand that one might find it strange of Fusion to call it sculpting because in industry terms it simply IS NO SCULPTING (which indeed is really like digital clay) but SubD/T-Spline modelling (which is almost identical) modelling.
I think Fusion is also not helping it’s users to understand the modelling tools they provide by that weird terminology. There are only a handful of tutorials on “Fusion sculpting” but there are literally a million tutorials on SubD modelling. People need to realize that in order to use SubD/T-Splines the right way you have to learn how to properly do it and that is best done with classic SubD tutorials. Then again I am even shocked how little the Fusion guys themselves know about SubD because whenever they show some “sculpting tutorials” on their YouTube channel I get a headache and want to scream at them “this is not how you f******ing do it!”.

By the way I know for a FACT that some big German car manufacturers are using SubD for their concept cars and digital explorations. The data SubD is providing can be easily used for things like CNC milling and it is much much much faster and more intuitiv than software like Alias. The software of the car industrie’s choice is Maya for now. This is a fairly recent trend and I am sure we are also going to see a lot more SubD modelling in the industrial design industry.

[/quote] the Fusion guys themselves know about SubD because whenever they show some “sculpting tutorials” on their YouTube channel I get a headache and want to scream at them “this is not how you f******ing do it!”.[/quote]

Here Here!!! I thought I was the only one that saw through their lack of understanding… to the untrained eye it’s all flashy and like “OHHHHHH Look at them Sculpt” and I’m like you in thinking “Well that’s not how you go about using SubD”…

Alias has had a version with T-Splines built in since 2016 version though. I am sure sub-D will replace a lot of surface modelling usage too.

I don’t know why cadjunkie didn’t mention SolidWorks with PowerSurfacing in his list. Creo has also had freeform box modelling for years. Fusion 360 is not unique or even new for combining the two.

Mud box from alias is another sculpting pkg.



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freaking hey, thought i had this whole embedded video thing figured out :frowning:

[/quote] Alias has had a version with T-Splines built in since 2016 version though. I am sure sub-D will replace a lot of surface modelling usage too.

I don’t know why cadjunkie didn’t mention SolidWorks with PowerSurfacing in his list. Creo has also had freeform box modelling for years. Fusion 360 is not unique or even new for combining the two.[/quote]

Yes PowerSurfacing from SW is SubD modeling, but it’s REALLY clunky as well much like Fusion. I didn’t forget it as much as it was about the distinction of the terminology.

You really can tell the difference between a CAD company that implements SubD modeling vs a company that is a SubD modeling package at heart. Not saying that all of these software should behave the same, but the intuitive nature of switching between Vertex, Edge, and Polygons is one of the core aspects of SubD modeling not an after thought. I’d 100% endorse Powersurfacing over the Solidworks Industrial designer tool any day of the week. The fact that it’s IN Solidworks and not separate module makes a world of difference. PowerSurfacing and Fusion 360 are better than nothing but they still has a ways to go when compared to software that focuses on it solely.

I think these CAD companies don’t have the mind set of VFX minded people. It’s like an engineer with a tool shop trying to be an artist making an oil painting…:slight_smile:

I have never used sub-d modellers to date and have barely tinkered with power surfacing but watching their videos I don’t follow you here. They do seem to use all of the tools and selections as they model.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s there but it’s clunky that’s all. It’s not fluid. When I first started SubD modeling i didn’t initially understand how vital it is to have access to the different levels was. Take Modo for example, access to the different modes is as simple as pressing the spacebar not some menu or icon or several steps to get to it. Not saying Modo is without it’s challenging areas but I’ll definitely say that making models in their system is by far a software that should be benched marked against. Let’s not even talk about action centers or falloffs…:wink:

Again this just comes down to two things that is like them either acknowledge or understand… Fusion 360 is not sculpting it’s SubD modeling. It’s like whenever I hear a Solidworks Demo jockey say “look I’m making swoopy lofty shapes” thinking he’s “with it” and speaking to what industrial Designers want.

[quote=“cwatkinson”]Mud box from alias is another sculpting pkg.


Sub D


After you preview it adds a stupid URL code which you then have to remove to post. It’s a bug.