Adding detail to a solid geometry

Hey guys,
however lame the following question is, I decided to ask coz it’s been making my sleep hard for some time now…

Okay, I’ve got a pretty basic model of an Antonov airplane (extruded cylinder with attached wings and subsurf applied) and now I would like to actually subtract some of the material of the body to create ridges that can be seen on an actual acft. When I do attempt to add such detail while stubbornly insisting on keeping my edge loops clean, I do get some ridges on the acft’s geometry but definitely not where I want them to be (edge loops close to each other create these undesired nasty ridges. Please see illustration for better understanding.

So, my question is… is this the way to go or is it totally off? I’ve thought of using maybe bump maps instead of real geometry changes but didn’t feel like faking it was right… Is there a way to cut into the real mesh data without screwing up the whole model with messy edge loops?

Sorry for being such a noob, will explain the issue in more detail if needed.

Thanks in advance for any info.


There are tons of information about that problem. Adding detail locally to a subsurfed mesh is one of the hard things to learn and master. I’m still doing it myself.

One way is to add new geometry, but not in form of an edge loop. Loops are great, but sometimes you can’t afford the global geometry change, as in this case. You need to make some cuts where you want to add the detail (really, just follow the line and clean up later) and then try to get rid of any triangle produced by this process (although some triangles are allowed, especially if you model something inorganic like a plane - it doesn’t need to transform and animate, so triangles can be used in certain places where only little smoothing is done by subsurf). Topology for such objects is, of course, not unimportant but not as crucial as for organic models like bodies or similar stuff. So, don’t worry and try some cutting with the Knife tool.
Another way might be to try the Edge split modifier. Place the edges along the line where you want to add detail and then mark them as sharp. It’s not really that helpful for inward details, though.
And another thing: bump mapping these things is not faking, but really a good way to do add small details. I like to model it myself but things like screws or bolts or very thin lines are a lot of work if you add geometry yet the effect they have on the rendering is not as big. Therefore it is probably better to just add them with a map - and getting a good map done is not that easy either.

Thanks a lot Mykee,
nice to soak up some of your experience. Yes, I suspected this was going to be a little trickier than it seemed at first and edge loops wouldn’t be the solution. You’re prolly right about the bump maps. I’ll try to play around with the knife and see if I can handle it that way.

TY again.