Course Title: Virtual Modeling
Course Number:
Arts Col 7001, 3 credits



This course explores computer-generated 3D modeling concepts and techniques. It addresses form aesthetics and efficiency, modeling for various platforms.

Course Resources - reading and viewing materials, project folders and example files are located in Y:\Courses\2017-2018/AC7001_VitaAU17

Course Objectives:

• Learn basic computer modeling vocabulary and become familiar with the general methods of graphics investigation.
• Build a balanced modeling skill set, addressing technical, aesthetic and conceptual aspects of cg form.
• Establish methodology for model analysis and problem solving as related to high-end computer-generated form.
• Learn to discuss his/her own work and peer projects with sensitivity and depth.
• Encourage application of visualization principles to student’s own research.

Course Methodology:

1. Classes will include lectures, assigned readings and video tutorials, demonstations, studio work, discussions and critiques of student work.
2. This course will heavily rely on classroom experience. Please attend each and every class.
3. Developing troubleshooting skills is as important as learning modeling techniques. Be prepared to consult help menu, online cg forums, as well as collaborate and help each other in solving technical and conceptual problems.
4. Participation is required in all critique sessions. Aesthetic feedback and technical solutions to problems are valuable for any project. Please plan on being present to both deliver your work and to speak during the critique.
5. Work in ACCAD labs is highly encouraged. Students choosing to use “at home” hardware and software must have their current working files on the class system and available for review by the beginning of each and every class. Problems with home systems and/or incompatibility will not be an acceptable excuse for missed goals. Students must make their own arrangements for overcoming these difficulties and submitting their work on time. Unless there is a complete ACCAD computer system failure, technical difficulties are never an acceptable excuse for not meeting a deadline. Students should plan their time and work so as to anticipate the technical hurdles that are a part of this profession.

Grading Policy:

1. Project grades

Project 1 = 33%
Project 2 = 33%
Project 3 = 34%

Adherence to deadlines is expected. It is the individual student's responsibility to keep track of the goals and deadlines and to present the work to the class and instructor on the specified dates.

2. Attendance

All students are expected to be on time and in attendance for each and every class. Two absences will lower a final grade by 1/2 a letter, three absences will lower a final grade by 1 letter and four absences will result in failure of the course.

Grading scale will be A-E:

A 93-100

B- 80-82.9

D+ 67-69.9

A- 90-92

C+ 77-79.9

D 60-66.9

B+ 87-89.0

C 73-76.9

E 0-59 

B 83-86.9

C- 70-72.9


Additional Materials:

Sketch Book, Markers, Pencils


Academic Misconduct (rule 3335-31-02) is defined as any activity which tends to compromise the academic integrity of the institution, or subvert the educational process. Please refer to rule 3335-31-02 in the student code of conduct for examples of academic misconduct. 

To register a documented disability, please call the Office of Disability Services (located in 150 Pomerene Hall) at 292-3307; or 292-0901 TDD, and notify the instructor on the first day of the class. 

If you work at ACCAD in the evening, student escort service is available via 292-3322.

(Look for more in Weekly Notes. Schedule will be subject to change, depending on class progress.)

Week 1: Introduction

  • Maya intro
  • definition of a model
  • surface, solid, and volume modeling
  • types of models in Maya
  • polygonal anatomy (vertex, edge, faces, face normals)

Week 2 and 3: Simplified Form/ Low Polygonal Modeling.

  • polygonal modeling tools and modeling toolkit
  • boolean operations
  • troubleshooting polygon models
  • cross contour drawing as a tool for model analysis and planning

Week 4: Enhancing Form Through Texture Maps

  • UV mapping
  • UV manipulation
  • types of texture maps
  • editing color map (texture) in Photoshop
  • applying color map (texture) to a model

Week 5,7: Adding Surface Complexity

  • principles of form practiced in fields of design, drawing and scultpture
  • methods and tools for adding surface details in Maya
  • creases, wrinkles, bumps and other surface details
    topology and edge flow considerations

Week 6: Work in class, Project 1 is due on 09/21

Week 7,8,9: Digital Sculpting with Mudbox

  • preparing the base level models
  • brushes, stencils and stamps
  • subdivision levels and layers
  • workflows and best practices for sculpting
  • creating normal and displacement maps
  • transferring and setting up sculpted models in Maya

Week 9: Reality Capture Based Modeling

  • photogrammetry approach with Autodesk Remake, Zephyr, Agisoft Photoscanner*
  • depth sensor scanning with Scanect
  • methodology and best practices for acquiring object photos
  • troubleshooting and optimizing captured models

Week 10: Work in class, Project 2 due on 10/31

Week 11 and 12: Retopology

  • comparing retopology approaches in Maya and Mudbox
  • color map transfer methods
  • normal and displacement maps

Week 13: NURBS Surfaces

  • NURBS curves
  • NURBS basics (control vertices, curves (isoparms), hulls and patches)
  • NURBS modeling tools
  • planning a NURBS model
  • model analysis
  • NURBS modeling for polygon output
  • patch modeling and surface continuity principles
  • texturing NURBS

Week 14: Complex NURBS Surfaces, Surface Deformation, Other Topics

  • modeling with deformers
  • smooth and rigid binding


Final Project due on Monday, December 12, 2pm (OSU Finals Schedule)


Recommended Books

McCullough, Malcolm, Abstracting craft : the practiced digital hand, 1996
Pallasmaa,Juhani, The thinking hand : existential and embodied wisdom in architecture

Safari Books online, access while enrolled at OSU

Web: - Maya Learning Channel available through ACCAD while enrolled at OSU, otherwise via paid membership, some tutorials are free, some can be found on youtube - forums, free tutorials, free shaders and scripts - forums and more - lots of great DVDs for sale, some free tutorials - inexpensive short tutorials available through the Digital Union while enrolled at OSU, otherwise via paid membership

Free Online Modeling Tools

Autodesk Character Generator- free realistic human modeling and rigging online tool from Autodesk

Free Downloadable Models (some with textures)

* Agisoft Photoscanner is not available on all computers