Asee peer logo

Concept Modeling With Nurbs, Polygon, And Subdivision Surfaces

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovative Techniques in Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.347.1 - 11.347.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Wronecki East Tennessee State University

visit author page

James A. Wronecki is a designer/educator with diverse experience in design and digital media. He is an Assistant Professor at East Tennessee State University in the Technology Department's Digital Media Program. He received his Masters of Industrial Design from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. He has also served as an Instructor at The Art Institute of Atlanta, and as an Adjunct Professor at both The University of the Arts and Philadelphia University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Concept Modeling with NURBS, Polygons, and Subdivision Surfaces


Computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided industrial design (CAID) software programs provide effective NURBS based solid and surface modeling methods for engineers and designers. In the manufacturing pipeline, engineers use CAD for precision solid modeling, while industrial designers use CAID programs for technical surface modeling. Both solid and surface models and their corresponding methods can be complex and time consuming. In parallel, design visualization programs such as Alias Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max are used in entertainment industries to create animated films and digital games. These programs feature 3D modeling, photorealistic rendering, and animation tools that are useful for concept visualization and presentation. Design visualization programs typically have limited NURBS surface modeling tools derived from CAD and CAID programs. They also feature easy to use Polygon and Subdivision surface modeling tools and methods that are similar to sculpting with “digital clay”. In the engineering design process, design visualization programs can be used to quickly create concept models, render models, and produce animations for presentation.

By researching and applying Maya’s NURBS, Polygon, and Subdivision modeling methods, the author presents an overview of each geometry type. The author also proposes a way to synergistically apply all three methods to rapidly create a 3D concept model. This tri part modeling methodology endeavors to intelligently use the specialized characteristics and capabilities of each method’s geometries. This tri part method is thought to be: simple as it can be easy to learn and use in both education and professional practice, straightforward as it goes from the general form to the specific details, and seamless as generated models can be imported without data loss into CAID programs.

The main goal of this three part method is to achieve form generation and shape exploration with greater ease, efficiency, and excellence. Using the methodology, the first concept model can be generated in a few hours by an experienced modeler. Variations on the first model can also be quickly made to create alternative concept study models.

This paper outlines three modeling methods by leading the audience through the workflow process of modeling a concept automobile. The paper is organized in three parts or stages called Phase 0: Concept Design, Phase I: NURBS, Phase II: Polygons, and Phase III: Subdivisions.

Wronecki, J. (2006, June), Concept Modeling With Nurbs, Polygon, And Subdivision Surfaces Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--731

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015