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Subdivision Modeling in LightWave: Controlling Boundaries

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Date Added: 6th August 2013
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In this tutorial, we'll be looking at modeling part of a watch, and looking at the specific considerations of subdivision modeling.


This project is going to look at modeling an element of a wrist watch using subdivision surfaces, and will look at the techniques used to both hold and control the shape of our model. Beyond that, we will also deal with the requirements for surfacing and UV mapping. Controlling where the boundary comes to rest between one material and another is critical when creating subdivision models.

Step 01: Basic Control

The first aspect of subdivision modeling is control. The very nature of SubD modeling means everything wants to be smooth and very rounded. This is its strength, but also the way in which it tries to undo you! When you look in the real world, not everything is smooth and softly rounded. We overcome this by adding in extra edges, or edge loops. The effect of this is that when you activate SubD's, the span on a given polygon can be reduced, decreasing the radius created by the SubD process.

The curve on the edge reduced with edge loops

Step 02: The Machined Notches

The bezel of many watches have what look like machined notches, and in much the same way such a thing might be machined from a real bezel, I'm using the Boolean tool to create the base cut-out.

For LightWave subpatches you can only have three or four sided polygons. Catmull Clark SubD's afford the use of nGons, but for reasons that escape me, Newtek have failed to fix UVs issues with Catmull Clark, so they are quite useless. So here I select points for the Split Polygon tool to divide the polygons with more than four sides so I don't have any with more than four sides.

Boolean and Split Poly tool to make the geometry SubD-friendly, three- and four-sided polygons only

continued on next page >

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