How to progress with this model?

Firstly, no prizes for guessing what it’s supposed to be. I’m relatively happy with how it’s coming along, but there are two main areas i’ve come to that i’m not sure how i’m going to tackle. Basically, the two areas are the vents at the top of the console and the ridged area at the side (also, the entire back but i’m probably going to skip it).

Technically, since these details are pretty square they should be easy to do, but I don’t know how they are going to work in conjunction with my subsurf modifier. It’s actually a problem I find myself having with most models, the more edge loops i’m going to need to add in order to square off the small details, the more likely I am to deform some of the shapes on the other areas of the model. Is the best solution simply to apply the subsurf? Or just put in the extra effort to fix up the deformed areas after the detail has been added? I also know there’s the crease tool, but i’ve never really been a fan of it.

Anyway, here are screens of my topology in both areas for you to take a look at and advise the best method.

A way to keep loop cuts for details from propagating across your entire mesh and messing up your topology is to use extrude and scale.

Let’s suppose this section of the grid needs a depression. Delete three vertices to make a hole.

Select the edge of the hole, extrude, then scale inward (adjust to make an even border by scaling separately on the x and y axes.) Move the second or third extrusion down to make the depression.

You can sharpen up the bends by adding loop cuts or by sharpening selected edges.

The grid outside the area of this detail is not affected by any of this work.

Now lets suppose you need some more geometry in there that you can’t get with a loop cut going around the depression.

Do not make a loop cut crossways: this will make geometry outside your detail area.

Instead, delete a face and extrude its outside edge inward, and make a couple of loop cuts to the interior faces

Fill in the holes and you have a bunch of new quad based geometry inside the detail area to play with.

Thanks for the help. Isn’t that what can be done with the inset faces tool though? I actually used that technique for some of the depressed areas on my current mesh, I was referring more to what can be done to fix the curves on the depressions. I can see you use a crease in your example to sharpen the corner, but I was hoping to avoid using them. They always seem to leave an element of pinching, unless there is something I’m doing wrong?

Learn to get rid of loops you don’t need.

There are whole tables for loop reduction out there, though I don’t have the time to look for them right now. Good luck.

Yes, that’s more or less an inset. When you make a crease, you can adjust the amount of creasing from 0 to 1, 1 being the most creased. Perhaps if you used a slightly smaller amount your pinching wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t know for sure, I don’t do that much hard surface modeling. But it’s worth a try. I don’t notice any pinching on my mesh (albeit a very simple example) but I did extend the crease a couple of verts beyond the actual edge I wanted to sharpen. Maybe that would help?

Have you got an example that shows pinching with the crease tool?

Thanks for the feedback. I’m still struggling a little. I think one thing that is causing a problem is those two large polygons on each corner. Obviously I’m restricted from adding geometry here as it will deform the shape that I am trying to keep. I’ve began to retopologise for two reasons, firstly so that I can block out the shape of those corners as opposed to rely on that one polygon, and secondly so that I can clean up my geometry in order to add the details a little easier.

Would it be good practice in future not to add my holding edges (and essentially rely on my subsurface) until I’ve adding all the details that could be affected? I do like to add the holding edges to preview my work as I go, but I guess I maybe just have my workflow all over the place currently.