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Jonathan Lampel (jlampel)

17 replies · posted

What do you want to know about HardOps and Machine Tools?

In the next couple weeks I'll be looking at the addons HardOps, BoxCutter, MESHmachine, and DECALmachine during these two live events:

https://cgcookie.com/live_streams/exploring-hard-surface-modeling-with-hardops-and-boxcutter

https://cgcookie.com/live_streams/exploring-hard-surface-modeling-with-decalmachine-and-meshmachine

In addition, the first live stream will feature Jerry Perkins a.k.a. MasterXeon1001 himself, the lead creator of HardOps. 


To prepare, I'd like to know the following from you:

1. Have you used any of these addons before? 

2. If so, how was your experience with them? 

3. If not, what specifically do you think they do?

4. What do you find to be the most difficult part of hard surface modeling? 

5. Is there anything in particular that you'd like to know about using them?

  • 1. No not yet, I'm just a beginner so I first want to learn how to do all the techniques myself. Though I see myself using several add-ons later on to make some tasks easier and faster.

    2. N/A

    3. HardOps is a boolean tool I believe, so I presume they make using those faster and easier. BoxCutter is sort of alike, but I think it's more focused on cutting holes in meshes. MESHmachine I don't know exactly what is does... (I could look it up but I feel like that's cheating :-p ) DECALmachine can restore beveled edges with one click, you mentioned this in another post, very curious to see that!

    4. Problems I ran into (up until now, just starting out): creating clean topology, cutting holes in curved surfaces, how to not make a mess with too many holding edges...

    5. I mostly just want to see a demonstration on how these addons fix common problems with hard surface modeling, hopefully easy and fast. I'm also curious about the first two addons, being fast boolean tools, will they mess up the topology or not?

    Though I have to watch that first stream later, because I won't be home from work in time.. But I'll be there for the second one!

    Thanks for showing these addons this month, It's very interesting to see how much they can help improve your work and speed up your work-flow :-)

  • 1. No.

    2. N/A

    3. One is a quick boolean tool, one has an "unbevel" tool, and one cuts rectangular holes in objects.

    4. Avoiding pinching!  I have a lot of trouble with that, and the fact that the smallest amount of it drives me crazy doesn't help any.

    5. Do they make creating complex mechanical details without pinching easier?

  • 1. No, I've never used them.

    3. I've seen random stuff around. One of those do cool booleans for tricky hard-surface modeling and I think there is one that does textures and stickers quite nice? 

    4. Avoiding pinching and surface wobbliness. 

    5. Only to try and come out of the live stream feeling those tools can really help my workflow and I must get them. 

  • 1. Hardops daily, decal machine briefly(need to revisit for game workflow), mesh machine no

    2. hardops is great creating game assets, and basically make everything faster than using modifiers manually. a great thing to have. Decal machine was going to be used in our game project pipeline, but few things let to another and the project headed another way with materials and details, so didn't get to use it. however, have meant to revisit the workflow again, since it does bring good detail.

    mesh machine, thats slipped under my radar, seen the name few time.

    3. mesh machine, propably optimizing the mesh?

    4. when boolean operator doesn't want to cooperate no matter what you do. :D

    5.decal machine game workflow to unity/ue4 

  • 1. Have you used any of these addons before?

    Only HardOps so far, on a daily basis.

    2. If so, how was your experience with them? 

    Took some time to "get" the HardOps workflow, now I feel more confident. Still many tricks that I have to learn I guess in order to model even smarter.

    3. If not, what specifically do you think they do?

    A friend showed me how to use DecalMachine, love the idea of kit bashing via weighted normal maps. BoxCutter is used for cutting panels simply using a box select like tool (and probably more). Mesh machine is also a hard surface workflow optimiser as HardOps, well know for debevelling edges in edit mode (same, it must have many more options).

    4. What do you find to be the most difficult part of hard surface modeling?

    Cutting nice holes in curved surfaces. So far the best workaround I found is adding more vertices (applied subsurf), or getting the hand dirty and fixing vertices by vertices.

    5. Is there anything in particular that you'd like to know about using them?

    How to improve my issue on the previous question? How to add my own kit bash library on hardops? Is there any requirement ? Maybe it's on the wiki, in may have skipped that :o

  • 1. Have you used any of these addons before? 
    No I have not. I always thought I had to become a descent modeler before referring to addons.

    2. If so, how was your experience with them? 
    No experience whatsoever.

    3. If not, what specifically do you think they do?
    Only what I learned from the previous posts. Something about making hardsurface modeling easier by giving tools for Boolean operations, and cutting holes and stuff.

    4. What do you find to be the most difficult part of hard surface modeling?
    Avoiding pinching and surface wobbliness (Like Omar said)
    And also making the best topology for the object.

    5. Is there anything in particular that you'd like to know about using them?
    Prices and stuff. And what would be the best addon to begin with. I cant buy  and learn them all at once, I think.

    • Have you used any of these addons before? 
    • Yes, all four, with emphasis on HardOps, BoxCutter and MeshMachine.
    • Decal Machine I haven’t had a chance to dive into yet.

    • If so, how was your experience with them? 
    • After learning the workflow, I’ve had a great
    • time quickly getting through a project.

    • What do you find to be the most difficult part of hard surface modeling? 
    • The cleaning up or keeping the topology clean.

    • Is there anything in particular that you'd like to know about using them?
    • Yes.  How does this work with Asset Management, and how do we make the
    • red inserts?   Is there something on the web that we can look at to find out
    • about making the red inserts?
  • 1.  Nope!

    2. N/A

    3. My impression is they are mostly boolean-like tools for cutting geometry into surfaces, or combining multiple objects closely to look like a single contiguous object; i.e., kitbashing.

    4. For me the most difficult part is adding fine details in confined areas of a mesh without creating over-dense geometry problems in other areas of the mesh where things need to stay smooth and regular, in a way that doesn't result in subsurf shading irregularities.  Right now the best way I have of doing that is through liberal use of the shrinkwrap modifier, but I'd like to learn how to do it without shrinkwrap where possible.

    5.  Mostly how they can help with the above problems!  I don't have MUCH trouble modeling the small-scale details themselves; it's integrating them into the larger model that I need to work on.

  • I was surprised by how many tools Hardops and Box Cutter have.  They should be their own 3d modeling software!

  • jlampel Do HardOps and BoxCutter work best when you have them both or with one is enough? I mean, do they complement each other? If I only have one of them, am I at a disadvantage? 

    • crew


      dostovel They definitely compliment each other, but one thing to remember is that neither of them add totally new functionality to Blender. Instead, they greatly speed up processes that you already have available. So if you find yourself beveling, mirroring, marking sharp, etc... then I would recommend HardOps, and if you constantly use cubes to cut things out with booleans, BoxCutter is great. If you want to only get one, I'd go for HardOps since it has more things you can do with it. 


    • jlampel Thanks for the reply. I want to get them both, I just don't know how useful they'll be to me since my workflow is very box modeling and SubD. I've never worked with destructive topology. When I see the boolean/sharp/bevel method, I cringe knowing that the topology is a mess and I have the urge to do some retopo. But it doesn't seem like it is worth it to retopo one of those very intricate meshes with lots of little details that would surely be a pain to get a good edge flow and SubD it, there'll probably be lots of pinching. 


    • dostovel it certainly can be lot of frustration at times. however, it comes down to what is the end product, because that in itself defines most of the workflow. i'm still working on the car from the course, and some parts i'm using just box modeling and some i just boolean like hell. :) 

      on the other hand, when i'm doing concepts for a game and know that the end model will be stripped to the minimum lowpoly mesh, i only care how the shading look, if its ok i know the normal bake is going to be allright too and don't worry about the "hard surface sculpture".

  • Team C now sells both of them together for $38.

  • Finished watching the video, sadly couldnt watch it live. Thank you for doing this and thanks for Jerry coming to demostrate hardops. Good stuff, and few things that i had missed also even though i've used hardops quite some time now. but i guess it comes to what you find working for the current projects and haven't been experimenting too much. 

  • I've never used any of them.

    A dedicated tutorial that shows us how to create a game-ready asset using these tools from start to finish would be great!