Modeling with spline cages and the Surface Modifier in 3ds Max

Posted by chrismmurray, 6 December 2012 6:06 pm

Those that have been around 3ds Max for awhile know this technique and although its still a viable modeling method it doesn't get used as much (at least thats my perception). This technique isn't new buts very effective to certain types of organic or unusually shaped hard surface models. 

Its called "Spline Modeling" or "Spline Cage Modeling". When it was introduced years ago it was called "Surface Tools". What ever you call it, its a great set of modeling tools in the 3ds Max quiver of arrows and deserves another look.

Before we jump into the videos, here is a quick before and after from a previous project  I once worked on. 

The image on the top shows the "cage-work" in progress.  The image in the middle shows the preliminary surface applied. The last image is the final model. Yes, there were tons of steps in between, but the point is to show what a real deal spline cage looks like and what it can do for you model-wise. 


Here is the completed model after additional poly editing.

Its important to understand the different ways this approach to modeling can work. For me, it's a starting point. I rarely use this method all the way through to completion.  It usually gets me to a jump off point and then I commit the surface to polys and finish the model with other methods. 

So here are a couple of tutorial videos that break down this method. Video number 1 is the basic how to. Video number 2 is the technique applied to a simple organic object.

Enjoy. (By the way, are you following me on twitter? I will tweet other new vids as I make them. @chrismmurray)


3D Druid

Posted 7 December 2012 9:53 am

Hi Chris, Looking forward to watching the video's, video's are not accessible ATM, just 2 black boxes.


Posted 7 December 2012 5:55 pm

Can you see them now? I can see them ok...

Erik López

Posted 7 December 2012 10:55 pm

Can't watch the videos, only two black squares but I'm able to access to this two you tube video links.


Posted 10 December 2012 2:40 am

The videos work fine for me.


Posted 10 December 2012 12:33 pm

I model everything with either nurbs spline or patch. your videos are overly technical and are not very inviting. if I was a new user with no knowledge about spline modeling. and I wanted to learn spline modeling. I would be discouraged after your videos. you dont seem to enjoy spline modeling. maybe I missed it but I dont think you pointed out that spline and patch modeling or the same thing. and far easier than poly modeling


Posted 25 January 2013 3:30 pm

@Tyree, sorry my video didn't meet your expectations! Thanks for the feedback.

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