Subdivision Surface Modeling#

00:00 Subdivision Surface Modifier Basics#

The Subdivision Surface Modifier makes geometry smooth by adding extra vertices (subdividing the mesh) and smoothing (averaging) the positions of the new vertices.

Little Blue Wrench icon -> Add Modifier -> Subdivision Surface

02:06 Subdivision Surface Modeling Techniques#

Add a Reference Image of a chess piece.
Align it to front view.
Adjust the transparency so that you can see your model behind the image.

Add a circle.
Add a subdivision surface modifier to your circle.
Extrude and transform to start modeling the chess piece.

Notice how the subdivided geometry pulls away from your actual geometry and is smoother.
Toggle edit mode preview on and off to get a better sense of the difference between your subdivided geometry and your actual geometry.

Notice how the geometry doesn't perfectly match the reference image. This is normal. It is rare to find a reference image that can be perfectly align with your 3D mesh. It's up to you as the modeler to develop a tolerance for the imperfections and to make decisions about which imperfections matter.

Leave the top and bottom of the mesh open for the time being.

06:38 Add Edge Loops to Define Creases#

Control R to add 2 edge loops and slide them so that they are very close to a loop where you want a crease.

08:15 Add Edge Loops to Control the Shape of your Smooth Curves#

Think of the edge loops as interpolation points that a smooth curve will bend around.

10:22 Practice Defining Creases and Control Curve Shapes#

Pick an object that could be modeled by extruding a series of circles (plate, vase, wine glass, baseball bat, candle stick holder, etc.) and model it from a reference image.

11:33 Non-Destructive Modeling#

Modeling with a Subdivision Surface Modifier is a kind of non-destructive modeling technique.

This just means that you have a dynamic link between your simple, actual geometry that you can manipulate in edit mode and your generated geometry that is the result of the subdivision surface modifier.

Moving a vertex in edit mode will cause the subdivision surface modifier to re-generate your entire mesh which means that you can safely edit your vertices however you like without destroying the resulting mesh.

If you click the Apply button on the Subdivision Surface Modifier you will break the dynamic link. All of your generated geometry will become actual geometry. You'll be able to transform ALL of the vertices of the mesh in edit mode. But your manipulations will no longer trigger the regeneration of an always smooth mesh. Applying the modifier isn't bad, it's just profound.

14:14 Closing Holes in Subdivided Geometry#

Be careful to avoid triangles on meshes using the Subdivision Surface Modifier. Triangles will make wrinkly shading artifacts.

You can keep these artifacts from becoming visible by making sure that all of your triangles only exist on flat portions of the mesh.

16:55 Wrap Up and Overview#

Back to Intro Course#

Click here to head back to where we were in the 3D Computer Animation intro course.