Blog

A collection of articles and design explorations I’ve created since 2013. Visit the archive for the most popular articles.

In addition to my portfolio and gallery, I sometimes feel inspired to share the process of learning new software or techniques. Here you'll find a combination of tutorials, news and image/scene breakdowns. 

First Day Using MODO

As a user of SolidWorks, I've been looking for a program that will allow me to cut to the chase and translate my ideas into a 3d form. I think I've found it. I've used Rhino in the past and played with MoI3d. Both have their perks for sure, but I simply enjoy MODO. I've done a couple of beginner tutorials in the past and the workflow, though extremely different from SolidWorks, has been fun to learn. The UI is easy on the eyes and the program seems to be like an onion with layers of complexity that can be accessed depending on your level of experience.

Early on, I'm going to be following many tutorials to get my level of proficiency up. I think it's one of the fastest ways to learn. I (mostly) followed this Digital Tutors tutorial to build the scifi solar panel device. 

Modeling the solar panel in MODO 701

Above is what you see when working in the perspective view port while modeling in MODO 701. The version I'm on is a couple versions old, but it's the one that's on my computer, so until I can justify paying for the upgrade, I'll be rocking this version like a comfortably worn in pair of Chuck Taylors complete with grass stains and fraying laces. 

At first glance, it can seem a bit overwhelming with many buttons and menus. I'm a visual person and I'd rather have too much to look at than not knowing where to find buried tools and menus. For me, the large selection of tools, menus and overall UI is very comfortable. I don't find myself wasting (too) much time looking for what I need. In time, I will certainly speed up. 

Another major difference I'm getting used to is being okay without my beloved SolidWorks history tree. Direct vs. feature-based modelling is the main difference I've picked up on when jumping into MODO. Just like most programs, once you understand how to think like the program, things get infinitely easier. This will just take time and a bit of reading. Sometimes the boring reading about a program's rules will speed up the learning process. I'm not sure of any MODO resources in this vein, but should I find any, I'll share and link them up. 

The finished solar panel in KeyShot 6 Beta

Above is what's sometimes called a 'clay'. Think of it as the raw 3d geometry with a white or light gray primer spray paint. This is sometimes shared or documented to make the geometry easy to 'read' without opening it in a 3d program. I opened the finished panel in my favorite rendering program, KeyShot. One reason people love MODO is that it's got pretty nice rendering capabilities built-in. I'll get to using that eventually, but currently, I'm a KeyShot loyalist.

Final rendered PNG with transparency KeyShot output

In KeyShot, I applied materials and lighting to get a dramatic result. Being a lover of scifi films, I like to bring some drama and darkness into my renderings whenever I can. This was no exception. Above is the final rendering I created with KeyShot. I chose to render it out with transparency because of the post-production editing I wanted to do in Photoshop afterwords. 

Final image, post-render edits done using Photoshop CC

Above is my final image. Nothing too crazy, but a bit moody. I began by creating a background gradient for the environment. This meant allowing the shadow to be visible, but still being dark enough to allow the product to pop off the page. Next, I did some combination of duplication, exposure adjustment and blur to achieve a glowing effect. This is called 'bloom' and can be created 'in camera' within KeyShot, but I wanted a bit more control over the result, which is why I did so in Photoshop. I also added a red light source and subtle lens flair to accentuate the light source. Final touches included adding some grain and setting the horizon at an angle to build the drama. 

This was a fun little project. I managed to do the whole thing during my Sunday despite the beautiful weather that was begging to pull me outside. I'm hoping to continue with this regularly building on my experience within MODO. The goal is to be able to model faster than I can in SolidWorks as well as to model items I'd have trouble with in SolidWorks. MODO will allow me to model more organic structures and items along with allowing me to learn how to use scripts and generators, which aren't options within SolidWorks. 

I would love to eventually be able to create short animations and visual effects similar to those seen in commercials. Below is an example from a company called Dmax Imaging. This brings my interests together (photography, cinematography, rendering, modeling, marketing and visual communications) and allows me to create something useful. 

If you happen to have any questions, just comment below and I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities! Have a great week!