What's your low poly modeling workflow? (Maya LT/Blender)


I’ve just subscribed to Maya LT (all I can afford), and tried to do some asset modeling. I’m mainly a developer, so before I have only done a bit of modeling with Blender and GMax (back in the days). My workflow with GMax was to have a mirror copy of the model, then create cuts and extrude as needed. With Blender I have done the same, using the mirror modifier and then mostly creating loop cuts, extrusions, and occasionally creating new geometry by filling vertices or edges (with F).

So with Maya I try to do the same, using the modeling toolkit with symmetry enabled. Then I use Quad Draw to make loop cuts (with CTRL) and extrude. But frequently this breaks Symmetry for some reason. As soon as I create the cut, the Symmetry button becomes grayed out and trying to re-enable it doesn’t work. So it seems I either can’t do loop cuts or not use symmetry, both of which is rather frustrating. Trying to find some information about this, all I’ve found is some Steam discussion about Maya LT’s symmetry features being horrible, with known issues which aren’t fixed yet.

I’ve also noticed that many are now saying that Blender has very good modeling tools. So what I am wondering is, should I just stick with Blender and then export models to Maya for rigging? This seems easy enough, but before I do so I want to find out if I’m not just lacking some basic information about Maya. If it’s worth it, I would much rather spend the time to learn Maya properly and do it all in one tool.

So my question basically is (assuming you ultimately work with Maya LT), what is your essential modeling workflow? Do you use Blender (or another cheap modeling app), or Maya? And if you use Maya, did you manage to make the Symmetry/loop cut workflow work reliably for you, or is there perhaps a better way? E.g. do you simply not use Symmetry and just try to keep the model symmetrical manually? My demands are not very advanced, so if you frequently create models with no issues, then your workflow would certainly be good enough for me.

Also if you know some video tutorials showing an efficient workflow that I may not be aware of yet, that would be very appreciated.

Just to clarify, why are you using the mirror/symmetry tool?
Are you creating a copy of a base mesh and then putting details on the copy?

As for the workflow I mainly use 3ds Max and Maya.

I create the entirety of the mesh I want to make in 3ds Max then export it to Maya for rigging/animating. Then I either export it back to Max for a touch-up or I go straight to UE4.

I never effectively worked with the newer versions of Blender, but I see many like it as a free alternative to programs like Max.

If you have any questions feel free to ask.

~ Jason

yep maya sucks at symmetry, max is far better at that workflow.

What I do in maya is use the duplicate special tool. This works far better! So Edit > Duplicate Special > select Instance (so it replicates the changes you make) > depending on the axis you are working with, put a - in front of it so it reverses the model.

Then when you are done combine them both, merge the vertices on the edge and smooth the normals.


Yeah I definitely can’t afford Max. I liked GMax a lot though.

I am now trying out the MODO trial since I heard good things about its modeling capabilities and I noticed that they also got an indie license now. So far I absolutely love it, the modeling workflow seems really elegant and well thought out. I just hope that it will work as well with UE4 as Maya does, otherwise I’ll probably use MODO for modeling and Maya for the rest. I just can’t see myself going back from this to modeling with Maya or Blender.

I just in love with MODO modeling workflow, it’s a huge step forward from old school 3dsMax/Maya way of doing things! For me it’s was like jump from Mudbox to Zbrush, but in modeling area

I think I’m going to have to try out modo then! I saw it on steam and it looked interesting. Is it just modelling or does it do rigging too? From what I’ve been told the UV mapping system is actually useful in modo too. I can’t get to grips with maya unwrapping at all, I use either 3d coat, UV layout or max for that. Much better.

Yeah it does rigging and all that stuff, no idea how good it is. I found this though, looks promising: Modo to Unreal Engine 4 Episode 1 - Rigging the Model - YouTube

My guess is that its animation capabilities aren’t nearly as refined as its modeling toolkit though, since there must be some reason why not everybody is using it. :wink:

Curious, why did you feel the need to move to Maya, or more specifically, how was Blender holding you back?

Silo 2 is very simplified and it’s UI is very minimal but it also has everything you need. I use Maya LT and I am pretty ‘fluent’ with it now. I still learn new things though but I feel comfortable in it. Silo 2 is very cheap though and it has been dormant for awhile but developers now are slowly pushing updates out for it.

It is a subdivision box modeller pretty much the same as Maya LT but it has no animation capabilities. I cannot however get my head around how the unwrapping works, the system they use is similar to Maya but for some reason I just cannot seem to make sense of it haha. If you want more info and advice on Silo 2 then you can head over at CGSociety forums where there are tons of Silo 2 users. Silo 2 is very cheap on Steam as well there is no subscription for it. I would recommend it if you are new to modelling because the UI is so streamlined and not overwhelming unlike Blender or Maya and even Modo.

Silo 2 on Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/app/100400

Silo 2 forums: http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=175

As I say updates are now suddenly coming out for Silo 2 after it being off the radar for awhile but nonetheless it is still a very great and powerful modelling tool :slight_smile:

Since I’m not a dedicated artist but just want to be able to create fairly simple game assets quickly, I am looking for the path of least resistance. And as much as I respect it, I don’t think Blender is that. Maya seemed more tested with regards to UE4 integration (as in requiring less fiddling and better documentation), and since I’d switch a lot between the tools it also helps that UE4’s controls are much more similar in spirit to Maya than to Blender. These are also arguments against MODO (although its interaction style is also more similar to UE4), but so far it seems much easier to get into and the superior modeling workflow may well be worth dealing with the minor issues it may have. Also I have a feeling that MODO may become very popular with Unreal devs soon, so hopefully any remaining kinks will be worked out swiftly.

What exactly do you have against modo?
I’ve just switched recently from 3dsMax and I have not bumped into serious troubles

To be honest my opinion on all of this is if you are new to something and interested in it then you will put the hours in to learn it. I would go with what you actually think is the best. Hearing from us will only confuse you because we all have our own tastes and everyone’s workflow is pretty different (there is really no standard to this type of thing). If you feel MODO is the way to go then go for it, if you really want to learn this then I am sure you will put the hours into it, sure it won’t be easy but if it was everyone would be doing it.

Maya LT is good, there are a few ‘bells and whistles’ with it as well such as the new ‘Send To Unreal’ export option, plus the package offers animation, it’s an all in one pretty much. MODO is also good, I haven’t really played with it myself but I have seen videos and it looks like a nice package, it also has animation features as well. I suggested Silo 2 above mainly because they have this whole ‘Zen’ thing where they feel that a cluttered workspace doesn’t help with your workflow or creativity so it is just you and your geometry and only the tools you need. I have to say for someone who is learning, Silo 2 is a good place to start.

When I was learning (I still am) I jumped straight in the deep end and messed with tons of packages eventually I stuck with Maya LT after playing with a handful of others so I know a few 3D packages but Maya LT seems the best for me as I feel the most comfortable in it, mainly because I use it everyday.

My advice is go for what you think is right for you. Take our opinions with a ‘pinch of salt’, it isn’t going to be us who will be using the software you pick :wink:

Nothing yet, just that it’s pretty much untested waters with regards to UE4 so there is always the chance to run into unexpected issues, and the official documentation doesn’t cover it yet. I really love it though so I have a lot of motivation to make it work in any case (I did not have that motivation with Blender). I will see at the end of the month whether I will still have to keep my Maya LT subscription just in case.

Yeah absolutely. I was just seriously wondering how people work with Maya, since it seemed to simply fail with my workflow. So either people found a way to make it work, or they were using a different workflow than me, which was essentially what my question was about. But with MODO I have no more questions, it just clicks. :slight_smile: