Published: 26 June, 2017
By Ali Ismail
Hard surface modeling is a loose term, you can easily get into a debate whether an object is organic or hard.
Whatever definitions you encounter, it's a good idea to remember that these words are only symbolic, indeed some of the forms we model can be better described as organic-hard-surfaces, I like to refer to hard surfaces as anything that does not deform, which can even include a sculpture of a head!
You can model hard surfaces in polygons, NURBS or by sculpting. ZBrush live booleans or Fusion 360 tools can really come in handy for 3D modeling hard surfaces which usually demand a lot of intersecting and boolean operations.
Whatever tools we have out there, the basic skill of 3D modeling hard surfaces in polygons is essential, depending on the result and quality you are after, you are bound to use polygon modeling at one time or another.
Modeling in polygons can also be done in practical techniques, the efficiency of the method could determine if one object takes 20 minutes to model or 10 hours!
You can watch these two videos below, one which quickly goes over some basic guidelines which we use in modeling hard surfaces in polygons, and the other showing you a timelapse of the process in action with commentary.
You can download a free kitbash which includes the models you see in the timelapse video from our Gumroad page.
A car body in my opinion represents one of the "hardest" hard surface you can encounter, it has organic forms and hard edges that blends back into the surface, and it needs to be extremely accurate. And it can be an excellent practice for modeling anything.
I have an advanced article on modeling cars here: "Modeling Cars in Polygons"