Mastering Hard Surface by Grant Warwick – my initial review


(get a discount coupon at the end!)

A few people asked me what I think of Grant’s new course… So here goes :)

If you’ve been following my site, you know that I’m a pretty decent modeller.
I’ve been doing it day-in and day-out for years.
However, for some reason I do not like to teach poly modeling. I think I lack the meticulous attention to detail and patience for thorough explanation of why I’m doing everything I’m doing.
That’s why I prefer to focus on advanced techniques/tricks/unorthodox methods in my tuts.

However, I can only do those things because I have a solid understanding of fundamental old-school poly modeling. I mean that I can see the damn wireframe on every object as I look around the room :) And I can figure out a way to model it in the quickest way possible.

When someone asks me to teach them poly modeling, I usually send them a link to this video – Hard Surface Essentials
For years now, this 1.5 hour short video has been the best reference for getting started with poly modeling on the web.
The author of that video is Grant Warwick.
So as you can see, his modeling style has had my stamp of approval long before this course.

However, that short video is old, too compact and it explains only some basics, and that’s too bad… (but hey, free is free!)

Fortunately for you, Grant has taken up teaching full-time recently and has launched a new course:

Mastering Hard Surface

The course has only recently started, so there’s still a lot of new content to come.
I’ll share my impressions about it so far.

He starts out with the basics, keyboard shortcuts, workspace setup, etc. Although it might not seem like a big thing, he also gives some tips on how to avoid wrist pain (RSI, a source of countless hours of suffering for myself). So listen to his advice and you will be thankful after a few years of intense modeling.

The main modeling method he uses is ‘edge extrusion’ – a 3ds max specific subdivision modeling approach.
Coincidentally, it is also the method that I use the most.
It’s simply the fastest, most efficient way to make a high quality 3d object… of any shape. And this is coming from someone that has *tried them all*, seriously, I’ve tried spline modeling in max, nurbs in rhino and alias, subdivision modeling in wings, maya, softimage, lightwave, and even frickin mirai (no holes in the mesh allowed, really?), and so on…

Grant does a pretty good job of explaining how’s and why’s of this method, and he does so by explaining everything he does as he does it. There’s no awkward silences for minutes and a little comment at the end “OK, i just modeled the large hadron collider” (I must admit, I’m sometimes guilty of this).

Next up he shows how to work with blueprints. Don’t be misled by the name of the lesson, it also contains valuable info on how to simplify objects and visualize the main edgeflow of the mesh.
Remember what i said about *seeing the wireframe even before starting the model? Well this is the first step.

And that’s where we are at the moment, as the course progresses I’ll update this post with my impressions of the lessons.

So far I’m pretty impressed and like the logical progression he is taking from simple to more and more complex concepts, I’m really looking forward to how this turns out.

Should you enroll in this course?

– If you are not an experienced ‘old-school’ modeller, I believe this course has a lot to offer. Even if you think you are an ok modeller, there’s always room for improvement. The price is steep, but the value for a beginner-intermediate level 3d artist is HUGE. No more hunting around for hours/days on 3d model sites to find that ‘specific’ piece of furniture or whatever. I see this quite often on forums, people desperately looking for some model that I would just whip up in 30 minutes or so.

I believe that in the arch-viz industry there is a huge amount of artists lacking solid knowledge of modeling. Sure, many have a good eye for color/composition/light/etc. But you will not be always able to put together a scene with models from turbosquid, evermotion or designconected. Inevitably there will be a time when the client wants a specific model that is difficult to model, and at that time, you will shell out the big bucks for some freelancer, who can model. I bet that after one or two times like that the course would seem pretty cheap in comparison.

And guess what, once again I’ve managed to negotiate a special discount for you guys! Just use a coupon code VISCORBEL50 to get 50$ off the price. The coupon is only valid for 48 hours and 50 customers, so act fast if you want to save a few bucks!

– If you do have a very good and solid knowledge of poly modeling, feel free to skip the course, but check out the free video as a refresher.

Using VrayLightMeter to Estimate the Exposure

This is a guest post by Pablo Conca Bosch from Spain

I think his technique is quite interesting, you can use the vray light meter as a real hand-held incident lightmeter. I must admit, I tried it some time ago, but upon finding out it gives lux values instead of something more usable, I quickly gave up and went back to guessing/using my eyes to determine exposure. After this tutorial, however, I can see that it is not that difficult to interpret the results and I already have a couple of ideas how to use this for fine tuning scenes.


VRay Physical Camera Exposure (initial point to work) using VRay

Due to other reasons…. (money mainly, lol) I don´t have manual camera and how it´s normal I
never use manual cameras, but I try to learn in depth all the theories that I can about
photography, to understand better how to use the VRay Physical Cameras (and a manual when
somebody leave me one).
And for this at first (years ago) I adjusted the VRay Physical Camera settings (F‐number, Shutter
Speed and ISO) with empirical method, one probe…another probe… and like this to find the
correct adjust… Work!.
Then I studied the exposure theory and the behavior of the manual cameras on photography,
and what are the most common settings for photography in different scene situations, and this
gave me an idea that how i could begin to look for a correct exposure on different scene
In this tutorial we have assumed that you have clear the exposure theory, if isn’t in this way
you can consult this great tutorial from Austris:

Vray Physical Camera Tutorial

But at the end I had no a correct number based on the intensity of the light sources on the
scene, units that could be real or unitless…The units used on your light sources no matter
because due to the first measurement we do in this technique you adapt your camera settings
to the light you have at the scene, but I normally use real values for my light sources.
And a Saturday I went to the bed  thinking about exposure theory and other stuff about real
cameras and too my last freelance work on mind (as always I had not satisfied), and on Sunday
morning  when I woke up I thought… yes! I could do this to try to adjust…
The idea is find an initial point of exposure to begin the work in the scene with your VRay
Physical Camera using a Helper included on VRay Renderer (Vray Light Meter) and transform
the data given by this helper (iluminance/luxes/lumen x square meter) to F‐number and
Shutter Speed values, using this formula to obtain an Exposure Value (Ev):
lux=(2^Ev) x 2.5 x100 /ISO
Ev= Log (Lux/2.5)/Log (2)
An this other formula to obtain the final values:
Ev=Log N2/t
Where N is the F‐Number and t is Shutter Speed
but… i think is better use the web… you will see on the tutorial.
In this tutorial you could see two cases, but it will be useful to find this initial point to work in
all the situations you could be immerse.

Here is the tutorial video:

The links shown in the video are:

Equivalent Exposure Value Chart

Exposure Triangle cheat sheet

Lux to Exposure Value (EV) and EV to Lux Converter

Watts / Energy Used vs. Lumens