Hard Surface Modeler should I learn Mel/python or Maxscript first?



Hey Tech artists,

I could use a bit of advice. I’m quite familiar with Maya’s hard surface modeling tools, but recently I’ve also wanted to explore the non-destructive workflows present in Max.

It’s come to my realization that to really leverage max you should be able to script your own small macro scripts/tools, and make them context sensitive so you’re not overloaded with shortcuts. I think this could be a good first step… not too difficult I hope?

Should I learn Max script… or should I learn Python/Mel and possibly create my own “modifier stack” type of workflow in Maya? Is that even possible?

Maybe I’m looking to switch to Max for the wrong reasons, and having a more parametric workflow is available in Maya through python/mel?

The only thing I’ve come across is “duplicate mesh as reference”, change deformer order, mash, these all help, but the modeling tools and community scripts available for Maya doesn’t seem as abundant in my opinion specifically for highly detailed mechanical modleing and design exploration.


I’m a complete novice on the Max side, and honestly haven’t modeled anything more complex than a box in Maya in nearly a decade.

But if you want a fully parametric modeling (really parametric everythig) workflow, Houdini is probably the best for that.


I was looking at it briefly and I think houdini isn’t quite there yet with the direct modeling side? In release 16.5 I mean.

I don’t need full on procedural, I’m thinking max is the ideal mix for stuff like engines, vehicles, aircraft parts that are highly detailed? I can do things just fine in maya but I feel like there could be more to it.


I think Houdini is amazing at modeling, procedural or not, cause you can always take advantage of Houdini’s procedural workflow

I think Anastasia Opara has made it clear that Houdini is just incredible for this.
watch this video https://vimeo.com/228391688



There are also a lot of new boolean and hard-surface tools being released right now.
In no particular order (I haven’t tested 90% of these):

Mesh Boolean plugin in C4D

Blender has some add-ons like Hard-Ops, and some fantastic hotkeys and workflows for modelling in my opinion.

Modo has the new MOP add-on which is a bit different in workflow than Mesh Fusion.

Houdini has Flux (now renamed Modeller I think) https://vimeo.com/211722563

And of course ZBrush has some fantastic new boolean tools too in 4R8. http://pixologic.com/blog/2017/06/zbrush-4r8-beta-testers-gallery/

So… you have a few choices.


No personal experience, but at my studio all our hard surface modelers use Modo, and some script it with Python. Modo seems to have become a standard for hard surfaces in AAA games. (From what I have seen.)


Thanks a bunch for the advice guys, I’ll have to do some research into every suggestion and make a choice from there. I’ve been slowly starting to realize there are advantages to each workflow, with direct, parametric, and procedural. It’s good to hear Modo is more common in games these days, it’s nice that scripting is solely with python :). Such a useful language across nuke, mari, and maya.


Can’t really answer this, it all depends on the pipeline you choose. But Python gives you scriptable access to many more applications than MAXScript.