Course Syllabus


Hard Surface Modeling

University of Utah, Instructor Ryan Bown

Fall 2017


Course Description 

This course advances the theories, tools, and techniques of the Hard Surface Modeling course. Students will learn the theories behind the design of and the advanced tools used in the creation of assets for interactive simulations such as high-polygon modeling, baking, texturing, and creating dynamic levels of detail for in game optimization. Students will take a project from concept to game-ready. Students are expected to be proficient in the tools necessary to complete this theory driven project-based course.


Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

  • To teach production pipeline application for hard surface modeling
  • Assist students in mastering several complex computer graphic production software packages
  • To introduce students to algorithms used in specific modeling techniques including: smoothing, polygon, decimation, vertex merging, edge loops selection and edge loop insets
  • To understand the thought process of creating complex geometry
  • Improve drawing and observational skills and abilities
  • Create exceptionally high-quality assets for baking texture maps to be used in games, machinama, and CG
  • Learn basic lighting, rendering, and image composite using mental ray and Photoshop
  • To help students build their portfolios with rendered beauty shots


Lab Structure

Regular Lab/ class hours are mandatory (during regularly assign class times); whereas, optional lab times will be setup for working on projects with one-on-one time with TAs and/ or instructor.  The lab will have many open hours for students to work independently on their projects.



Each student will also design and develop a hard surface vehicle of his or her choosing with a focus on realism.  The final project can be something from the student’s imagination or something found in the real world.  The instructional examples will typically demonstrate modeling of real world objects, but the techniques and practices will apply to all hard surface assets.  I want you to have passion for the asset you choose or create, because for one reason you’ll be spending roughly half the semester working on it.

Student’s final projects in the past included: mechs, cars, boats, aircrafts, space stations, and armored characters, and steam punk vessels.  Your imagination is the only limit.


Create a game ready, fully textured hard surface asset.

  • High poly model
  • game res
  • UV model
  • bake texture details to game res
  • fully texture model



20% Bi-monthly challenge (4 total)

  • Options: 4 high poly models, 3 high poly and 1 game res with textures, 2 high poly, 2 game res with textures
  • Challenge 1: Jerry Can
  • Challenge 2: Holographic Scope
  • Challenge 3: Wheel set (tire, rim, brake, calliper)
  • Challenge 4: Your choice

40% proposal and milestones

40% final presentation and postmortem 


Graduate students will be required to write a short paper on Mel, Payton in Maya, or create a tool to be used in Maya.



The final presentation of projects will be held during final hours.  All work is turned in on canvas.  Students are also required to render out one beauty shot per project for their portfolios.


Materials Required



Software (provided in labs and free downloads from Autodesk)

  • Maya
  • ZBrush


A few reading, tutorials and references for starting off (no text books to purchase)

pixologic zclassroom


Course Summary:

Date Details