Understanding the correct way to create your 3D structures is vital to the later parts of the production process, such as UV mapping, texturing and animation. In these series of tutorials you will learn about hard surface modelling




By the end of the series of tutorials you should be able to:

  1. Understand the difference between hard surface models and organic models

  2. Understand the importance of Quad modelling

  3. Be able to create a hard surface model in Maya

  4. Be able to research IFUs, marketing material etc and create a hard surface model of a surgical tool

  5. Be able to take reference photos of a tool and create a hard surface model of a surgical tool

  6. Be able to rig a hard surface model so that it’s animation ready



What is hard surface modelling?

“When it comes to 3D modeling, your models will fall under one of these two categories: organic and hard surface. No matter what you’re creating in your 3D application, it’s either going to be a hard surface or organic mesh. This sounds pretty straightforward, right? Just two different categories. However, these two classes of models bring with it countless different explanations and distinctions...” 



Skills for hard surface modelling is a must have for our industry as it can apply to a variety of uses and product offerings:

  • Medical devices (see Vascutek stent projects)

  • Surgical tools (either as product showcases or as elements to use within a 3D animation)

  • Scientific products (like microscopes such as the ONI Nanoimager project)



Quads vs Triangles

We should always aim to create our polygonal models with quads rather than triangles. There are many reasons for this. Read the following articles:

  1. https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/ngons-triangles-bad

  2. https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/modeling-using-quad-polygons



Assignment 01

I want you to find two more articles or youtube videos to add to the above reading list.

Please add them below here (you’ll need to log onto Squarespace and edit this page)

  1. https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-modeling/training/modeling/tris-quads-n-gons/

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYphmSKzK6s


Maya Hard Surface Modelling Part 1

Yone Santana is a great teacher and his Youtube channel has a lot of fantastic Maya tutorials. For each tutorial, Yone has provided the working files to help you work along with him. I’ve included the files below.

Download the start file from here:



You should probably have a break now

That was a pretty long tutorial!



Low Poly Modeling

It’s always useful to try and build your model with as little polycount as possible and still obtain an organic look and feel. High polycounts increase render times and can bog down, or even crash, your computer. Below are two tutorials that show how you can successfully model a low poly model without it “looking” low-poly.

>> Also take note on how they use image planes to help create the model. This methodology is extremely useful for modelling figures as well as instruments.


How do you model dem shapes?

Low poly modeling can be challenging. Thankfully there are some useful cheat sheets to help you create difficult shapes and still retain a good model when you apply a smooth mesh preview to the model.

The company has collated a bunch of these cheat sheets on our pinterest board. Have this open as a reference whenever you are creating models.




Assignment 03
Modeling a Hemostat

You’ll have handy a hemostat to model. Your goal is to create a 3D model of this hemostat.

By the end of this assignment you will have:

  • Successfully set up a project file

  • Implemented a good workflow and saved out file versions of your Maya scene files

  • Taken appropriate photos of the model to help you create an accurate 3D representation

  • Successfully created a lot poly model of the hemostat that can be opened and closed



Oh my glob, you’ve finished!

Phteven is very happy for you!



Additional material

Below are some read more materials that you can watch at your own leisure. Please do add more videos or articles to this section that you think might help others.