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Advanced Modeling and Surfacing Techniques with Autodesk

AliasStudio (Part I)
Uwe Rossbacher - Autodesk
MA115-2P Like the real world, the virtual world too provides different ways to model form. This session takes a
classic geometry representation, NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) and looks at it from the
perspective of a sculptural material. As a technology, there are strengths and weaknesses, but as a
material, the properties of the math become a part of the allure of the medium.

Take a fascinating and intimate look at surface modeling and learn why this material has become an
essential part of shape definition for all the automotive companies and the top product design firms in
the world.








About the Speaker:
Uwe Rossbacher brings 10 years of experience in industrial design and 3D surface modeling in the
automotive industry to his role as Marketing Manager for Modeling/Technical Surfacing at Autodesk,
including more than six years with the Alias Studio Tools product development team.

Uwe has a deep knowledge of automotive concept design and technical surfacing and currently
focuses on creating and delivering demonstrations, technical marketing materials and field education.
Uwe also supports Autodesk product management efforts by identifying and defining market and user
requirements.

During his time with Alias, Uwe focused his efforts on refining the technical surfacing product
specifications according to the needs of customers worldwide, and was a key resource in the
development of many new surfacing tools within AliasStudio. Before joining Alias, Uwe held marketing
and technical positions at ICEM. Most recently Uwe worked at the VW concept studio in Potsdam,
Germany.

Uwe received a Masters Degree in Engineering and Technical design from the University of
Technology in Dresden, Germany.















Like the ieal woilu the viitual woilu too pioviues uiffeient ways to mouel foim This session takes a classic
geometiy iepiesentation N0RBS Non0nifoim Rational BSplines anu looks at it fiom the peispective of a
sculptuial mateiial As a technology theie aie stiengths anu weaknesses but as a mateiial the piopeities of
the math become a pait of the alluie of the meuium
Take a fascinating anu intimate look at suiface moueling anu leain why this mateiial has become an essential
pait of shape uefinition foi all the automotive companies anu the top piouuct uesign fiims in the woilu

Beforecomputercameintothegame
Back in the uays befoie computeis aichitects engineeis anu aitists woulu uiaw theii uesigns foi builuings ioaus
machine paits by using pencil papei anu vaiious uiafting tools These tools incluueu iuleis anu Tsquaies foi uiawing
stiaight lines compasses foi uiawing ciicles anu tiiangles anu piotiactois foi making piecise angles 0f couise a lot of
inteiestingshapeu objects coulunt be uiawn with just these simple tools because they hau cuiveu paits that weient just
ciicles oi ellipses 0ften a cuive was neeueu that went smoothly thiough a numbei of pieueteimineu points






Thisproblemwasparticularlyacuteinshipbuilding:althoughaskilledartistordraftsmancouldreliablyhanddrawsuchcurves
onadraftingtable,shipbuildersoftenneededtomakelifesize(ornearlylifesize)drawings,wherethesheersizeofthe
requiredcurvesmadehanddrawingimpossible.
Becauseoftheirgreatsize,suchdrawingswereoftendoneintheloft
areaofalargebuilding,byaspecialistknownasaloftsman.Theterm
loftingoriginallycamefromtheshipbuildingindustrywhereloftsmen
workedon"barnloft"typestructurestocreatethekeelandbulkhead
formsoutofwood.Thiswasthenpassedontotheaircraftthen
automotiveindustrieswhoalsorequiredstreamlineshapes.

Theresultingcurvesweresmooth,andvariedincurvaturedependingonthepositionoftheducks.
Toaidinthetask,theloftsman wouldemploylong,thin,flexiblestripsofwood,plastic,ormetal,calledsplines.Thesplineswere
heldinplacewithleadweights,calledducksbecauseoftheirresemblancetothefeatheredcreatureofthesamename.







Ascomputerswereintroducedintothedesignprocess,thephysicalpropertiesofsuchsplineswereinvestigatedsothatthey
couldbemodeledmathematicallyonthecomputer.
TheDuckswerereplacedwithsocalledControl
Vertices(CV).

AtfirstNURBSwereonlyusedintheproprietaryCADpackagesofcarcompanies.Latertheybecamepartofstandardcomputer
graphicspackages.
Realtime,interactiverenderingofNURBScurvesandsurfaceswerefirstmadeavailableonSiliconGraphicsworkstationsin
1989.In1993,thefirstinteractiveNURBSmodeller forPCs,calledNRBS,wasdevelopedbyCASBerlin,asmallstartupcompany
cooperatingwiththeTechnicalUniversityofBerlin.
DevelopmentofNURBS(NonUniformRationalBasis,orBzier Spline)beganinthe1950byengineerswhowereinneedofa
mathematicallypreciserepresentationoffreeformsurfaceslikethoseusedforcarbodiesandshiphulls,whichcouldbeexactly
reproducedwhenevertechnicallyneeded.
ThepioneersofthisdevelopmentwerePierreBzier whoworkedasanengineerat
Renault,andPauldeCasteljau whoworkedatCitron,bothinFrance.Bzier worked
nearlyparalleltodeCasteljau,neitherknowingabouttheworkoftheother.But
becauseBzier publishedtheresultsofhiswork,theaveragecomputergraphics
usertodayrecognizessplines(whicharerepresentedwithcontrolpointslyingoff
thecurveitself)asBzier splineswhiledeCasteljaus nameisonlyknownandused
forthealgorithmshedevelopedtoevaluateparametricsurfaces.Inthe1960sit
becameclearthatnonuniform,rationalBsplinesareageneralizationofBzier
splines.







Thelayoutofthepatchesisthebasicknowledge
0ften suiface moueling is uesciibeu as a magic thing The mouelei community mostly keep the seciet of how to mouel the
highest quality level calleu Class A Theie is a lot of myths about it aiounu Following aie uesciibeu some techniques to
finu anu tiain patch layout This knowleuge is inuepenuent fiom the softwaie that will be useu anu fits most of the time
even tiauitional clay moueling techniques

1Howwouldyoumakeitinfoam?
Tofindthefirststepsinbuildingasurfacemodelithelpstoimaginehowthisprocesswouldbe,whenusingablockoffoam and
asawtoworkouttheshape.
Similartothemostpreferredsketchingview,theNURBSmodelerstartstodevelopthecenterline.Thisisthesectionofthe
modelthatlaysinthemiddleofitdefiningthesideview.Buildingthecurvesofthecenterlinethemodelergetsanideaofhow
manycurvesheneedstodescribetheshapeoftheobject.







Centerlinesurfaces
1
Allsurfacescrossingthecenterlineshouldbebuildasone
Beziersurface.Thishelpstoavoiddiscontinuitiesofthe
surfacesatthecenterline.Lotsofdesignsrequireastrict
radiusbehaviorofthesurfacesinacertainareaclosetothe
centerline.Theonesurfaceacrossthecenterline
approachhasthedisadvantagethatwhenCVmodification
onthesurfaceisrequired,alwaysthecorrespondingCVhas
tobepickedaswell,tomaintainthesymmetry.Thiscosta
bitmoretime,butthepriceis,thatthesurfaceisalways
100%smoothacrossthecenterline.

Widthofthecar
2
Differenttoaclassicalapproach(atfirstlayoutsomecurves
todescribethesurfacesbuildingthewidthofthecar)often
theuseofsimplesurfaceplanes,theirpositioningandsome
directmodelingisthefastermethodthatfulfillstheideaof
modeling.Inclaythedesigneralwaysseesthematerial,the
volume.Itcanbesaidhatthereisalwaysphysicalproperty.
Thesamewouldcomewithusingshadeable propertyin
softwareprocess.Thatswhyitisgoodtoshowinvirtual
worldassoonaspossiblesurfacesthatcanbeshaded.
Amodelingworkflowbasedonsimpleplanesrequiresafastreparameterizationofthoseplanes.Whentheformer
planesalreadyareshapedandwithcertaindegree,itisoftentootimeconsumingtochangethepositionofeachCV
individually.Areapproximationtechniqueismuchfaster.Thesurfacewillbetrimmedandthenregardingthistrimedge
recalculated.Theresultisacompletelyreshapedsurfacedonebytheinternalreapproximationalgorithm.







Marrytheparts
3
Withthisstepitbecomesclearifthepartsdefiningthewidth
ofthemodelfittogether.Forcarsitisimportant,thatthe
crowningofthesidewindowandthebodysidefittogether.
Thiscanbeverifiedbuildingtheshouldersurfaceswith
correctangleconditionstobothsidesurfaces.
SeetangentangleexamplethatwillcomeinPart2!
RockerandFillets
5
connectionandmuscles
4

2Detectthefeaturelinesandbuildtheslabsfirst
Sometimesthemodelerjustgetsascanofaphysicalmodel.ForfurtherdesigniterationsthisscanhastoremodeledinNURBS
(ReverseEngineering).UsingGaussianShaderthemoldercandetecttheareasofcurvaturechangeonthemodel.Thisgivesa
goodhintregardingthelayoutofthesurfaceboundaries.
Scandata(polygons)ofaphysicalmodel
Thecolorizedareasgivesaprettygoodhintaboutthemajorslabsurfacesthathavetobebuildfirst.Itsimportanttosaythat
thosephysicalmodelsusuallyarefilletedandwithalltransitionsurfaces.Thereforeslabswillnotappearanymorewiththeirreal
sizebutpartialhiddenortrimmed.Themodelermustextendthecolorizedareastocreatetheslabsintheiroriginalsize.
Itsagoodmethodtofittheslabsfirstonthesmallerportion(liketheyappearonthefilletedphysicalmodel)toextendthem
afterfitting.Whenthefitiswithsmoothandlowdegreesurfaces,theextendwillprovidereasonableresults.
InAliasSudio Blendcurvescanbecreateddirectlyon
topofthepolygons(Mesh).







Stilltherearecaseswherejustasectionmodelis
available.Herethemodelerfindstheslabsby
interpretingsectionlines.
Oneapproachistoisolatesmainsectionlines.Then
theywillberebuildwithNURBScurves.Thiscanbe
donewithallthemainsectionlinesandisasave
methodtofindtheareaswhereaSlabcharacterturns
intoaTransitioncharacter.
?
?
Thesectionlinestillisonecontinuesline.
Thebluesectionintheimagebesideis
withthreeparts,twomainpiecesand
onetransitionpiece(fillet).
Themodelerneedstofindthepoints
wherethefilletgoesintothemain
curves.
Sectiondata(curves,rawdata)ofaphysicalmodel

Thenthemodelerbuildthetransition
curve.Itishelpful,whenthecurvehas
somekindofhistorysothatthemodeler
canmovetheendpointsofthetransition
curvealongthemaincurvetofindtheright
point,wherethetransitionstarts.In
AliasStudiotheBlendcurvetypeisidealfor
thisjob.
Thecurvatureplotscalculatedonthe
createdcurvesalsocangiveagoodhint
aboutthetransitionpoint.
Firstthemodelercreatesthetwomain
curves.Heoverbuildsthesectionline.Itis
withthemodelersskilltointerpret,where
themaincurvesleavesthesectionline.







Withthismethodallpoints,whereaslab
partgoesintoatransitionpart,canbe
marked,likeintheimagebeside.This
knowledgeisthebaseforbuildingmain
surfaces(slabs)andtransitionsurfaces.
Forexampleasimpledraftsurfacewillbe
created.Thisfirstsurfacedoesnthaveto
fullyfitthesectionsyet.
Interpretingeveryorlotsofscanlinesseemsabittimeconsuming.Thatswhythereisasecondapproachusingsurfacesto
interpretmanysectionlinesinonestep.Forthat,theuserworkswithsimplesurfacesandvisualsections,cutthroughthese
surfaces.Thesurfaceshastostayrelativelysimple(movinghullsinsteadofmovingeverysingleCV)andthevisualsections givea
permanentfeedbackabouttheleveloffitting.

Basedonthefirstdraftsurfacesanotherdraftwillbecreated.Itisveryhelpfulwhenthisseconddrafthasahistorical
connectiontothefirstdraft.Inthiscasethesecondsurfaceshouldjustfitthesectionlinesintermsoftherightangle(being
parallel).
Fittingthefirstdrafttothesections,theseconddraftalwayswillfollow.Theseconddraftwillbefitmodifyingthefirstone
only.Withthismethodthetheoreticallinecanbedefinedveryfast.
Calculatevisualsections!
Adjustthedraftangletofollow
thesectionlines!
FitthissurfacebymovingCVs!







Finishingasurfacemodeloftenitcomestoareasthataredifficulttoproceedwith.Typicallytheseareareaswheremorethan
tworadiicometogether,orwheretransitionsurfacesarewashingout.
3Closetheentiremodelfirstintheory

Agoodmethodforthosecasesistoclosethemodelfirstjustusingsharpedges.Allfilletsshouldbeavoided.Oftensurfaces
mustbebuildthatwontevenappearafterfilletingandthatusuallywontbeconsideredfindingtherightpatchlayout.
Thenextstepistobuildthefilletsaslongastheyreachwithoutgettingcomplicatedorwashedout.Thisstepisrelativelyeasyto
do.Justareaswithaclearlydefinedfilletsituationwillbeworkedon.
Theleftoverregionsarewashoutsormagiccornerswheremanyradiicometogetherandhavetobeblended.Tofilltheseblend
regionsfirsttheentrylinesfortheblendshavetobemarked.Asageneraladvicethenaturalflowofthefilletedgesshouldbe
continued.Itsobviousthatthesurfacesbetweenthesecontinuedfilletedgesactasablendandisnotafilletanymore.Withthis
methodmostofthosesituationscanbemanaged.







1
2
3
4
Thenaturalflowofthefilletedgeswillbemaintainedand
blendedintothenaturalflowofthewheel.

But!
Thismethodhastheadvantagethatthesoftwarecontrolstheinternalcontinuitybyitselfandthedigitalsculptorhasthe
freedomtoconcentratejustontheformheisworkingon.Itseemsthattheabilityofmodifyingtheshapeofthoseonesurface
objectsareendlessbutwhenitcomestoconcreteengineeringorpackagerequirementsoftenthismethodhaslimitations.The
modelerchecksthetechnicalrequirementsusinganalysestoolsandadaptsthesurfacemodelviamovingCVs.Hecannotuse
thetechnicalinputdirectlyasabaseforhismodellikehecoulddoitusingatraditionalpatchlayout.
Sometimesestablishingaclassicalpatchlayoutcanbecometootimeconsuming.Thereareshapeswhereitisbettertojust
sculpttheentiremodeloutofonesurfacebyinsertingsegments(raisingitsmathematicalcomplexity).Itiscomparableto
craftsmanshipwherethesculptorcutstheformoutofoneblockoffoam.







Thedesignoftheshowerheadwasdefinedbasedonthesplittinglinealongtheentiremodel.
Theengineerhaddifficultiestoestablishthepatchlayoutbasedonthisline.Themostcriticalareaisonthetipoftheshower
headwheretheclassicallayoutjustoffersaretrianglepatch.Ontheotherhand,theengineerfoundtoomanysurfaces.That can
bedifficultbecausethehighernumberofsurfacesmakesitmoredifficulttocontrolthehighlightflowthroughtheentiresurface
set.

Adigitalsculptor usedtheonesurface
approach.Healmostmatchedthesplitline
thatwasgivenasatechnicalrequirement.
Literallyhecamecloserandcloserby
adjustingtheCVs.Savingpatcheshecould
easilycontrolthehighlightofhispatch.
Thismethodisnotasaccurateasbuilding
surfacesbasedonthesplitlinebutithelps
tosculptorganicsurfaces.







SurfaceEvaluation
Softwaie ienueis suifaces using shauei enviionments anu shauow calculation to become close to the ieality But in suiface
moueling the stakeholueis just neeu to evaluate the shape of a sculptuie Colois anu similai effects aie tiouble Theiefoie in the
mouel shop mouels will be coateu just in white ieuuceu to the necessaiy to get the puie shape avoiuing any uistiaction by
visualization gaugets 0nly shauows play a iole to evaluate foim
N0RBS technology offeis anothei methou of suiface evaluation Skilleu softwaie moueleis aie able to juuge suifaces in accoiuance
the Cv spacing anu theii flow In competition to shaueu evaluation techniques the Cv pictuie becomes an ieasonable instiument
foi suiface evaluation

1Shading
ToevaluateSurfacesinClay,themolderworkswithfoil,calledDynoc.Alittlebitofwaterontopofthesmoothclaysurfacesucks
theDynocontoit.Nowtheenvironmentreflectsonthefoilandanyinconsistenciesofthesurfaceshapewillbevisible.Ifthe
shapeoftheclayshouldbeimproved,theDynochastoberemoved.
UsingDynocinclayprocessthemodelercannotwatchthereflectionswhileheisscrapingtheClay.Insoftwareprocessthe
modelercanmodifythesurfaceswhilethereflections(diagnostics)areon.Thisisahugeadvantagetoreachsurfacequality much
faster.







Itisimportanttoknowhowtheevaluationtool
calculatesthereflectionlines.Additionaltothatitis
goodwhenthelightsourcecreatingthereflectionlines
canbemovedabovethemodel.
InAliasStudio theIso AngleToolisthemostaccurate
evaluationregardinghighlightsonthesurfaceset,even
whenthesehighlightsarenotcomparablewith
reflectionsintherealworld.
MostsoftwareforNURBSmodelingoffershadingtoolsthatvisualizetheselectedsurfaces.Butoftentheusercalculatezebra
stripes,whichareoftensphericalenvironment.Thisevaluationisnotgoodenoughtojudgehighendsurfacequality.

ReasoningbehindIsoangleanalyses
Isoangleliterallymeans"alineofconstantangle"ona
surface.Hereisananalogy:onamapoftheworld,
sometimesyoucanseewhatarecalled"isotherms"
thesearelinesofconstant temperature.Similarly,"iso
bars"arelinesofconstantbarometricpressure.These
lineareusedtoindicatetemperatureandpressure
trendsontheglobe.
Isoangle,thetool, bydefault,showsyouthelineof
zeroanglebetweenthesurfacenormals ofthesurface
andaninfinite"lightsourcedirection".Infact,you
shouldstopthinkingofthisasalightingkindof
calculation,butasananalysisofthesurfaceproperties
purely.Thepointedarrowintheinterfaceisthereto
justindicatethedirectionwithwhichthezeroangleis
beingevaluated.
Isoanglethereforeprovidesaverytightandaccuratewayofevaluatingthepropertiesofasurface.Itwillindicatesurface
properties(liketrends,continuityacrossboundariesetc.)waymoreaccuratelythansphericalmapsofzebrastripes.
Whenusedinthemultipleband(thecoloredbands)mode,eachcoloredbandisindicatingalineofconstantanglewiththe
directionofthevector forexample,thewhitebandcouldbethezeroangle,theredonenexttoitcouldbethelineofconstant
5degreeangle,
thegreenonenexttoitthe10degreeangleetc.Thiskindofevaluationiscalledisophotes actually,andisusedinmathematical
analysisofsurfaces.







2CVpicture
Theanalogybetweenducksusedbyloftsman andCVsinNURBStechnologyisaperfectwaytounderstandtheimportanceof
agoodCVflowtogetgoodsurfaces.
NURBSmodelingsoftwareoftenoffersvariousUserInterface
capabilitiesforsurfacescreationandmanipulation.Butallthisis
justamask.ThecommongroundisalwaysthepositionoftheCVs.
Foraloftsman theduckplacementwastheonlypossibilitytogeta
nicecurvewithaestheticaccelerationandsoistheCVplacement
foraNURBSmodeler.Sothesecretofwellshapedsurfacemodelsis
withtheirCVlayout.ChoosingaNURBSmodelingsoftwareit
shouldbetakencare,thatCVscanbevisualizedandmodeled
directly.

CommonrulesaboutCVspacing
Asafirstruleitcanbesaid,thattheCVshastolookniceandtheyshouldflowbeautifully(thereareseveralexceptions whenit
comestotheCVflow).ExperiencedNURBSmodelerscanreadtheshapeofaNURBSmodelbyinvestigatingtheCVsonly.
Butwasisniceandwhatisbeautiful?Somepeoplesay:Beautyisthephenomenonoftheexperienceofpleasure,throughthe
perceptionofbalanceandproportionofstimulus.Itinvolvesthecognitionofabalancedformandstructurethatelicitsattraction
andappealtowardsaperson,animal,inanimateobject,scene,music,idea,etc.







EvenwhenthejudgmentofCVstructureisrelativetherearesomerulesintroducingtwoparameters.
A lengthofthelinethatconnectstwoCVswitheachother CVspacing
B lengthoftheNormalthatisbetweenaCVandtheunderlyingcurve/surface
A
B
Judgingbeautyisalwaysdependedontheaudienceandrelative.ToillustratethisthereisanicequotefromFrancisBacon.
Thereisnoexcellentbeautythathasnotsomestrangenessintheproportion.
TechnicalsurfacingexistsbetweencreativityofdesignandrequirementsofEngineering.AnydefinitionofBeautyseemstobe
relativeanddoesntfitinstrictengineeringrequirements.ButtheSurfacemodelerneedstoputagoodunderstandingofa
beautifulsenseinhisworktocreategoodsurfacesetsandthereforealotofinspirationisavailable.

2.ConcentrateCVswherethegeometryshowsmorecurvatureinitsshape.Agoodanalogyistoimaginethespeedofthehand
whendrawingacurvewithapencil.Wherethespeedisslow,theartisttriestocreatecurvedshape,theCVsshouldbe
concentrated.Wherethespeedgetsfaster,lessCVsareneededtodescribethisportion.
1.BothParametersshouldchangesmoothlyandwithinsymmetryifappropriate.DrawingthechangeofAandBinagraph,the
resultingcurves,mustbenice,smoothandnotwavy.Thereisnoengineeringruleaboutthesecurves.Theusermustconsider
hisownsenseofbeauty,symmetryandproportion.
!
!
A/B
CV#1 CV#2 CV#3
#ofCV







PositionG0
3SurfaceContinuity
Thiscontinuityspecifiesiftheedgeoftwosurfaces(naturaledgeortrimmededge)fitwithinagiventolerance.Ifthegeometry
edgeorendpointfitswithinatolerancetheresultisgoodintermsofG0continuity.Thismeasurementcanbequalifiedasa
digitalcheck.
Whendefiningaform,animportantfactoristhecontinuitybetweensurfaces howsmoothlytheyconnecttooneanother.
Oneexampleofwheresurfacingexcelsisautomotivebodypanels.Iftwocurvedareasofthepanelhavedifferentradiiof
curvatureandareblendedtogether,maintainingtangentialcontinuity(meaningthattheblendedsurfacedoesn'tchange
directionsuddenly,butsmoothly)won'tbeenough.Theyneedtohaveacontinuousrateofcurvaturechangebetweenthetwo
sections,orelsetheirreflectionswillappeardisconnected.
Thecontinuityisdefinedusingtheterms G0 position(touching)
G1 tangent(angle)
G2 curvature(radius)
G3 acceleration(rateofchangeofcurvature)

Tangency G1
Thiscontinuityspecifiestheanglebetweencorrespondingnormal'sthatstandsontheedgesofthereferenceandthegeometry.
IfthisangleiswithinatolerancethemeasurementisgoodintermsofG1continuity.Thismeasurementcanbequalifiedasa
digitalcheck.
Additionallytothemeasurementofthesurfacenormal'sthereisacheckintermsofcolinearityofthetangents(linesconnecting
theCVs).Thiscriterionisinterestingjustforcontinuitymeasurementsbetweentwonaturaledges.NoteveryNURBSmodeling
systemoffersthischeck(AliasStudio)butitshouldbeinvestigatedbyeveryuser.






CurvatureG2(radius) AccelerationG3(rateofchangeofcurvature)
Thecontinuitymeasurementintermsofcurvatureshouldnotbejudgedasadigitalcheckanymore.Inhereitismoreimportant
toevaluatetheflowandthesmoothnessofthecurvatureacceleration.Aperfectcurvatureresultjustcanbeevaluatedusing
curvatureplots.
CurvatureG2/G3

4Curvatureplots
WhenitcomestocurvaturemeasurementlotsofsystemsofferlocatorsthatmeasureG2continuityonthepatchbordersand
thesetypicalzebrastripestoevaluatehighlights.
Thesetwosurfacesobviouslylooksfinetogether,butthisisnottrue.The
evaluationtoolsarejustnottherightones.
TheG2locatorsimplycomparesthevalueofcurvatureonbothsurface
edgeswithinacertaintolerance.Thisinformationisnotenoughintermsof
judginghighlightquality.Eventhezebrastripesoftenarejustaspherical
maponthesurfacesetanddoesntgiveausefulfeedbackaboutthe
smoothnessoftheentiresurfaceset.Theydontshowaccelerationof
curvaturewithintheshape.
ThatswhyitmakesnosensetojudgethehighlightqualityofasurfacesetjustusingG2checker.Thesurfacesetmustbecutand
curvaturecombsmustbecalculatedonthesections.
C
Justacurvatureplotonasectioncutthroughthesurfacesetshowsthatthe
accelerationofthecurvatureofbothsurfacesdoesntmatch.SureG2
continuityisachieved,butitsisnotagoodresultregardingtheflowofthe
highlights.







Thiscurvaturecombshowawell
balancedG3result. Thisjudgmentis
withtheskillleveloftheoperatorand
canbequalifiedasanalog,because
thereisnotacertaintolerancethat
wouldmakesenseallthetime.
Thisresultiswellbalancedtoo.The
smallstepinthecurvatureplot(G2
break)doesnthaveanoticeable
impactonthefinalhighlightpicture.In
fact,thissurfacesethasonlyG1
continuitybutitisstillgood.
Itisveryhelpfultoseethetwosurfacesbesidemilledout.OftenitbecomesclearthatastrictG2achievementisnotnecessaryto
reachhighendsurfacequalityintermsofvisualhighlights.

ClassA
Foi ieaching the top theie must be always a bai a measuiement a level In fieefoim suifacing such a top level can be founu
in the automotive inuustiy Beie is enough potential to builu suifaces as goou as possible anu to accumulate knowleuge
anu skills to cieate those high enu suifaces calleu Class A







ClassAsurfacesisatermusedinautomotivedesigntodescribeasetoffreeformsurfacesofhighquality.Although,strictly, itis
nothingmorethansayingthesurfaceshavecurvatureandtangencyalignmenttonearperfectaestheticalreflectionquality.
ThepointwhenClassAqualityforthefirsttimeisrequiredisnotfixed.Asmoreasthedesignbecomesfinal,asmore
engineeringandfeasibilityrequirementshavetoberecognized.Acleanandlightsurfacestructureisthebasetoincorporate
theserequirementsinadigitalmodel.ThefinalresultisasurfacesetthatwillbegiventotoolingortofurtherCADdepartments
anditsfinalqualityleveliscalledClassA.
Inautomotivedesign,thefirstvirtualsurfacemodelsappearattheconceptstagealready.Afastvisualizationofshapeand
proportionisvalid.Basedonsketches,packagesandscannedquarterscalemodels,thedigitalsculptorcreatesthefirstsurface
model.Atthisstagetechnicalrequirementsdoesntplaysucharole.Theinterpretationofthestylingideaisthemainapproach.
ItscalledConceptModeling.
1WhatisClassA?

2TwodifferentaspectsofClassA
Curvaturecombs
G3
Accelerationofhighlights
kneeratio
Tolerances
Splitlines
Firstflange
Panelgap
Fullyfilleted
ThechallengeforClassAmodelingistocombinetheaestheticsuperioritywithhardrequirementsfromengineering.Asurface
setthatappearsjustbeautifulbutwithoutmeetingengineeringrequirementswillnotbeconsideredasClassA.
AsthedigitaldesignprocessgetsmaturelessDataControlModelsgetmilledoutbutthequalitylevelremains.TheStudiostry to
pushthepointofdesignfreezemoreandmorebackwardstogaintimetoimprovethestyling.ForClassAmodelingthismeans,
thatithastobeestablishsometimesalongtheprocesstobereadywhentheprojectisdone.
HighlightQuality Engineeringrequirements







ClassAmodelingmeansalotofinvestmentintime.Duringextensivedesigniterationsoftenitmakesnosensetorequirethe
highestqualitylevelofsurfaces.InthepastClassAqualityoftenwasrequiredjustafterthedesignfreeze.Thispointwas
reachedwithasocalledDataControlModeldoneandavailableonlyinclay.Thismodelhadthefinaldesignfeaturesincluded. It
wasscannedandthenthemodelhadtoberecapturedasNURBSinClassAqualitytoservethefollowingCADprocesses.Sothe
ClassAmodelingwasmainlyusingscandataasinputandacertaindeviationtolerancewasgiventothemolder.Itwascalled as
reverseengineering.
Thoserequirementswereidealforoutsourcing
thework.ThatiswhytodaymostoftheClassA
modelingworkisdonewithTearOneSuppliers
aroundthebigautomotivecompaniesandso
mostoftheknowledgeandskillsaboutit.Itsan
interestingphenomenonthatthebestClassA
modelersareworkingascontractorsforthose
suppliersandcannotbefoundasemployees.
3ReverseEngineering

Tomakethedesignprocessmoreeffective,thestudiosengageengineersearlyonlookatengineeringrequirements
togetguidancefromit.Anotherpointtomaketheprocessmoreeffectiveistoimprovethesurfacequalityofthe
firstmodelstomakethemreuseableforthenextdesignsteps.Someautomotivecompaniesevendontspeak
aboutconceptualdesignanymore.Theyestablishedaprocesswherethedesignmodelingflowsmeaninglessinto
engineeringandtooling.
4AndwherecouldClassAgointhefuture?
AcommunityofmodelershasestablishedgeneralcriteriafordatatobeconsideredclassA. Priortocheckingedgecontinuity,
curvature,highlights,orshapesitisthesurfacestructurethathastobewellestablished. InpresentationsregardingclassA
surfacingItrytomakeitclear:ThestructureofthesurfacedataisthebasisofClassAsurfacing.
DigitalDesigner BarryKimball NissanDesignAmerica,FarmingtonHills,Michigan







SurfaceModelingParadigms
In compaiison with tiauitional moueling viitual moueling is still veiy young It heavily uepenus on the mathematical
piogiess The tiemenuous uevelopment speeu of technology eveiy yeai opens new kinu of woikflows Especially moueling
techniques fiom the Enteitainment inuustiy aie influencing woikflows in the Automotive inuustiy Polygon moueling anu
Subuivision Suifaces aie just a few topic coming fiom theie Regaiuing N0RBS moueling thiee paiauigms will be toucheu
on the following pages

Theimageshowstwocurveshavingthesameshape.
Theuppercurvehas6CVsand3segments(4editpoints).ItsaNURBScurve
Thecurvebelowhas6CVsandjust1segment(2editpoints).ItsaBeziercurve.
1NURBSversusBeziermathematic
MostsurfacemodelingsystemshaveacommonmathematicalfoundationcalledBSplines.SomeofthemcreatesNURBS
geometryandsomecreatesBeziergeometry.MathematicallyasinglesegmentNURBSsurfaceisequivalenttoasingleBezier
surfacepatch.MathematicallyBeziersurfacesareasubsetofNURBS.AliasStudio iscapableofcreatingNURBSandBezier
surfaces.







WhenmovingthemarkedCVsitbecomesobviousthataBezierCVinfluencestheentirecurveandaNURBSCVjusthas
influencewithinitssegment.Thispartialinfluenceincreasestheriskofwavycurvatureplotandwiththistheriskofabad
highlightpicturewhenitcomestosurfaces.Thatswhyoftenitisrecommendedtoworkwithsinglesegmentedgeometryknow
asBEZIERmathematic.Ithasthedisadvantageofmoreworktakingcareforthesurfaceconnections,butalmostguaranteesgood
highlights.

Usingmultisegmentgeometrycanbeanadvantageinseveralsurfacemodelingsituations.ButsoftwareisunabletoprovideG3
continuitybetweenthesegmentswhenthereisnotenoughmathematicalfreedom.
ToavoidinternalG3breaks(likeshownbelow)thegeometryshouldalwayshaveaminimumdegreeof5.Thedegreevalidation
usedinhereisforAliasStudio.Othersoftwarehavedifferentrulestospecifythedegreeofasurface.Basicallythegeometry
musthavesixControlVerticestoavoidinternalG3breaks.
Asolutionwherethedegreeofthegeometrydoesntcountiswhenusingstrictlysinglesegmentationapproach.Thisisknown
asusingBezierSurfaces.







CADsoftwarepackagesusetwobasicmethodsforthecreationofsurfaces.
Thefirstbeginswithconstructioncurves(splines)fromwhichthe3Dsurfaceisthenswept(sectionalongguiderail)ormeshed
(lofted)through.
Thesecondmethodisdirectcreationofthesurfacewithmanipulationofthesurfacepoles/controlpoints.
Bothmethodshavetheirstrength.Theirusedependsonthemodelingsituation.
2Modelingmethod

Curvenetworkapproach:
Fitsdesignerswhothinkinfeaturelines.
Givesafast3Dinterpretationoftheintendedshape.
traditionalpatchlayoutbasedoncurves:
LacksincontrollingtheinnerCVs
Requiresahugeeffortofplanningtokeephistoryof
edgecurvesandsurface.
Thesurfaceisaresultofcurvemodificationandcannot
beshapeddirectly.
Surfacesruledbyparameters:
Additionallytocurvessurfacescanbedefinedby
parameterslikeradii,vectors,length.
Servesengineeringapproach
Proceduralmodeling







Withthistechnique,NURBSbecomesthefirstlegitvirtualmaterial.
Directmodeling
Directmodelinglivesofof CVmanipulation.Todoso,itisneededtoholdtheoverallnumberofCVsdown.Toaligntwosurface
witheachother,aspecialalignormatchingcommandisneeded.Thisimpliesmassagingeverysurfacematchindividually.
Currentlyitisthebestwaytoensureatophighlightqualityoftheentiresurfaceset,butitrequiresagentlesurfacelayoutthatis
basedonprimarysurfacesandsecondarysurfacesthataredependentonthis.
ItmaysoundthreateningtomanipulateallCVsindividually.Butaslongaspossible,thedigitalsculptormanipulatesentireCV
rowsorusestoolsthatallowamodificationofmanyCVsbasedonarulehowtheinfluenceoneachCVgraduallybecomeless.

PracticalModelingTechniques
0ne helpful appioach to unueistanu anu mastei uigital suiface moueling is to base uesign woikflows on pioven methous fiom the
tiauitional ciaftsmanship anu tianslate them into the woilu of computeis softwaie anu N0RBS







1Surfacesmightbebiggerthantheyappearonafinalmodel
Thebasicsurfaces(oftentheyarecalledslabs)appearonthefinalmodelalwaystrimmed.Agoodanalogyisthecraftsmanshipofclay
modelingwherethemodelermovesafixedtemplatealongaguide.Thetemplatecutsclaywhereittouchesthevolumeanditcutair
to.Theentiresurfacethetemplateiscuttingisexactlythesurfacethathastobemodeledinsoftware,evenwhenthetemplatecuts
airandthecorrespondingdigitalsurfacestandsout.Thedigitalsurfacewillbetrimmedlater,butitsbasicshapemustbemodeledfirst.

Thisdependsonthestageof
thedesignprocess.Production
carsthathasbeenmodeled
afterdesignfreezehavea
differentlayoutthatnot
necessarilyfollowingthisrule.
Thecolorizedwheellipshould
getacertainhighlightflow.To
achievethis,theunderlying
trimmedsurfacesmustbe
shapedtosupportthefinal
sculpturingofthewheellip
surface.







Thebluefilletsurfacesetmusthaveanice
highlightflow.Butbecauseoftheholeinthe
bumperitlookslikethereisnosurfacethe
twomiddlefilletpiecescanbealignedto.
Thesurfacesaroundtheholeinthe
bumpershowsareactuallybiggerandthey
areconnectedestablishinganicehighlight
flow,evenwhentheyaretrimmedlateron
describingthehole.
Butonlythiscurvatureconnectionallowsto
alignthebluefilletsallwaylong,eventhere
wheretheyappearashangingintheair
(whenthemodelfinallyistrimmed).
Thisisanexamplehowsurfacesthatevenwontbeseeninthefinalmodelholdafeature(bluefillet)together.

2Angleconditionsalongsurfaceboundaries
Finalsurfacesetsarealwaysfilleted.Thosefiletsoftenplayasignificantroleexpressingfeatures.Inthekneeofafillettheremight
beanultrashinyhighlightgloss.Thetangentlinesofafillet(thelineswhereafilletstarts)marktheregionwhereaflatandslow
highlightfromthebigslabsurfacesstartstospeedupintothemuchmorecurvyfillet.
Soitisclearthattheshapeofsuchfilletsareimportantforthedesignexpressionintwoways:
NiceanddeterminedRadiusentrylines
Constant orsmoothchangeofkneeradiitoensureanicehighlight.
Theshouldersurfaceusuallywillbebuildwith
positioncontinuity(FIXED).
Buildingthefilletjustwiththissimplepositioncontinuityisthereasonoftheproblemwiththefilletdescribedfollowing.







Fillettobedone
Theresultingfilletoftenhasproblemsregardingtheentrylinesorthehighlightalongthefilletknee.
Thisfilletisaconstantfillet.Theradiusentrylinesshowan
unevenandbadbehavior.
Thisfilletisachordalfillet.Thethicknessofthehighlightat
thekneevariesunevenly.

Thereasonforthisbadfilletbehavioristheunevenchangeoftheanglebetweenbothsurfaces.Inthiscasetheanglebetween
thetwosurfacesbecomessmallerandattheenditbecomesbiggeragain.Thetangentcheckershowsaninflectionoftheangle
change(inthemiddle).
Thissimpleexampleillustrateshowarolling
ballwouldmarkunevenradiusentrylineon
bothreferencesurfaceswhentheirangleto
eachotherisnotcontrolled.







Controllingtheanglechangingfromoneendtotheothergivesamuchsmootherandcontrolledresultforthequalityofthefinal
fillet.ThetangentcheckershowsjustthemaximumandtheMinimumoftheangleexactlyatStartandEndofthefillet.
InAliasthiscanbecontrolledusingtheTANGENTANGLEoptioninthesurfacecreationtools.
Thisfilletisaconstantfillet.Theradiusentrylinesareeven
(linearinterpolationbetweenthetwoends).
Thisfilletisachordalfillet.Thethicknessofthehighlightat
thekneevariesevenly(inaccordancealinearinterpolation).

1
2
BothSlabsurfaceswillbecutfirst,usingalong
blade.Thecuttingedgeofthebladecouldbe
imitatedinSoftwarebyaprofilecurve.
ThemodelerhastobalancethecrownofbothSlabs
toeachother.Hecandothatbyexaminationof
bothsurfacesfromthesideandthetopview.
Thefinalindicationisthesharpedgebetweenboth
Slabs.Itsshapeshowsifbothcrownsfittoeach
other.
Todefinethetransition(oftenitsaradius)the
modelertapesthetwoentrylines(Tangentoffset)
onthesmoothslabs.Themodelerexamsbothlines
bycheckingthemfromtheappropriateview.
3TheoryModeling







4
Usingarake,themodelercutstheclaybetweenthe
tapes.Afterheroughlyachievedtheshapeofthe
transition,heusesatemplatebladewithacutting
edgethatwasmadeaftertheprofilethetransitional
surfaceshouldhaveorafterthespecificradius.
Themodelerslidesthebladealongbothtapesto
nottouchingthealreadyfinishedslabs.
Thelaststepistoremovethetapesandtocarefully
smooththeentiresurfaceset.
Whenthetransitionshouldbearadius,themodeler
usesadrawingcircletogettherightdistancefor
eachtapefromthesharpedge.
3

Afinishedsurfacemodelalmosthasnosharplines.Everythingiswithfilletsandtransitionsurfaces.Butrecognizingmodeling step1
theremusthavebeenasharptheoreticallinebeneaththosefillets.Regardingthisitisaninterestingexperimenttoinspect thehood
ofacarlikeshownbelow.Theinspectormovesalongthefrontofacarandnoticestherethreevitalpoints(ABC)wherethefeatureof
thehoodappearsinthreedifferentways.
C
B
A
Thereisoneposition(B),wherethevirtualtheoretical
line,andwiththiseventhefilletthatisbuildontop,
appearsstraight.OnPositionAitappearsconcave,on
positionCitappearsconvex.SoinBthetheoretical
lineMUSTbestraight,meansplanar.
A
B
C







A
C
B

Hereisanexamplefromindustrialdesignwherethetheoreticallineisnotcrispandcausesirritationwiththefinaldesign where
filletsareincorporated.
flat Curved(convex) Curved(concave)
Thiseffectisabasicruleintechnicalsurfacingtomakemajorfeaturesappearcrispandstrongfromalldifferentviews.Software
productsoffertoolsthatcanplanarizeacurveorasurfaceedgetogetthiseffect.Theplanethatisthebaseforsuchcurves
rarelyappearsparalleltothethreemainviews(side,frontandtop).Soitisneededtobeabletomodifyacurvesetwhilethe
curvestillmaintainsitsplanarcharacterin3D.







N0RBS moueling is a fascinating moueling technique only existing in the viitual woilu When we unueistanu it
as tool among otheis useu in the uesign piocess inteiacting with the ieal woilu via milling anu scanning it can
become a poweiful next geneiation element in Besign anu Styling
Auvanceu moueling anu suifacing techniques
with Autouesk Alias Stuuio