How to reduce edge loops etc.?

Hi folks,

I’ve been working on a model of a Dean ML for the last two weeks, trying all sorts of ways of approaching this. I’m struggling to get good topology, and this is my best attempt so far. I’ve probably remade the model about 5 different times, with various levels of success. I did watch a few guitar tutorials but they either avoided modelling any holes or the guitars themselves were symmetrical, which seemed a lot easier.

I know some might approach this with bevels/auto smoothing instead of subdivision surfaces, but honestly I find my results with bevels even worse.

The model is >99% quads, with only a few ngons that I couldn’t see ways of avoiding. The main things I want to achieve are:

  1. Good edge loops around top and bottom of guitar so that I can simulate binding (or not) by simply changing material properties. I seem to have achieved this.

  2. Good quads around light catching edges. I believe I have this, although some do have issues of excessive edge loops from trying to creat quads elsewhere.

  3. Try and get away from these spiral edge loops that spin around the entire guitar body, if possible.

Can this be fixed? I had a look at remeshing modifiers, but I seem to be missing something in their use (you either end up with millions of vertices or it looks minecraft style). I almost wonder if separating out parts of the mesh and then remeshing them might work, then stitching them back together.

if you send me the model i can fix it for you and send you a little video explain the process…

Hi @MichaelBenDavid,

Thanks for the kind offer of help.

Sure - I’ve atttached a .blend of the body and neck/headstock. The neck and headstock I managed to resolve without major issue, but included it in case it would be useful when improving the body. Eventually I intend to attach the neck and sort out the heel joint between the neck and body.

DeanML Problematic.blend (2.1 MB)

You really shouldn’t avoid triangles that much, especially when doing hard surface. If the surface is flat you really won’t get any artifacts, unlike the pinching you’ll see when you have 10 loops in the same place. Having 99% quads is really unnecessary and is more trouble than it’s worth. Just make sure to know where to place the triangles and ngons so they won’t be visible in the end.
Here’s an example where i used triangles to reduce edge loops.
After subsurf:
And this is yours after subsurf:

As you can see there is no real difference and you don’t have to deal with a 1000 unnecessary edge loops. Just make sure to use triangles on flat surfaces as they will produce artifacts otherwise.
Also here are some other ways of terminating edge loops:


here is the new model, also i re uvmapped it btw… also uploading in a few hours the timelapse video (these took me 3 hours but it could have been a bit less X"D) DeanML Problematic.blend (1.7 MB)

PD: redownload the file i just edited something…

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Wow! That’s an incredible difference. I’ll look forward to seeing the timelapse on how you tackled this!

@LG_787 I always have bad luck with triangles, but in your example they look great. I’ve got a lot still to learn…

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also btw sorry that has no audio, also btw a weird bug appeared when trying to use the knife tool but i got some work around with other tool (that delayed me a while X"D), also i was using miratools addon for the curve deformer, set flow tool addon and the pie menu you see there is from the pie menu editor addon

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I think you’ve already gotten a lot of help, but for future reference I would say:

  1. Look into shrinkwrapping. Shrinkwrapping is a great way to cut holes into surfaces without ruining the smoothness. It might’ve helped here.

  2. Consider breaking up models as they would be in real life. For example, the Dean MCs that I’ve seen have a two-piece inlay on the top. If you modeled that separately, you could cut holes in the inlay, and then not have to worry about the edges looping around the back of the body. Just keep them as separate pieces.

  3. Unless you are going for ultra-realism, an assembly animation, or a cutaway, can you even see the holes cut in the body once the hardware is installed? Consider not even bothering to cut the holes if you will never ever see them.

Hope you’re well on your way - good luck!

@MichaelBenDavid That’s awesome, I’m just looking at the video now. I think I’ll try to work on my original model using yours as a reference to practice these techniques. Thanks again very much for the help!

@sizzler Yes, far more than I expected too :slight_smile:

I did have a go on an earlier model with shrinkwrap, but I couldn’t find a way of ensuring equal spacing bettween loops in some areas without manually adjusting each vertex proprty.

I.e. When I made the original body I created the outer shape, then used an applied solidify modifier to create the inner edge loop exactly 5mm inset. When I tried to retopo using shrinkwrap, I found it difficult to get edges to remain as precisely spaced. Maybe there is a way to do this, but I don’t know.

I wanted to add the holes and cutaways partly for realism (and to open up options for “in progress” build shots) but also as practice for difficult objects later. I’ve not had a lot of experience putting holes into square-ish objects, so this seemed a good excuse.

I’m modelling this particular guitar after my own, a USA custom shop ML from around '98. Sort of - my own guitar only has inlay around the neck, but I wanted to make a versatile model where I could explore different finishes without extensively remodelling each one.

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Haha, watching it maybe this is for the best. I imagine there were a lot of “WTF?!” moments when you were examining those initial loops… :smiley:

I’ll look into that set flow addon too, it seems really useful. I’ve encountered issues before where this featture would have saved a bit of hassle.

For the Shrinkwrap idea, it would be mostly for making sure the top and bottom faces stay perfectly flat even when you cut holes. You’d probably have to do the solidification once the shrinkwrapped surfaces were the way you wanted them. Idk. Either way it’s a good thing to learn about for hard-surface modeling. Especially if you try to cut a hole in a curved surface - shrinkwrap is your best friend for that.

The rest of that all makes sense.

I’m kind of curious how you ended up with so many extra loops in the first place, btw. You could get away with WAY fewer as you see from the version MichaelBenDavid did for you. In general you should use as few loops as possible and let the Subdivision modifier do the work. You can always add more to various areas to refine.

One other tip that might come in handy as you progress is MatCaps - you can set a ‘fake’ material on your object right in the viewport, and then you can rotate it around to see if there are any odd reflections:

Even if you plan to keep your guitar matte instead of shiny, it’ll help find surface irregularities.

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Well, it all started off fine enough, not too many edge loops. I did the bottom of the guitar first and it looked pretty OK. The difficulty for me arose trying to marry up the loops on the top and bottom of the guitar, and towards the “end” of filling the top face (around the pickup holes), things got out of hand.

I also think at one point I was adding edge loops but not realising they were spiraling all the way twice around at an angle and adding more vertexes to exactly what I was trying to connect… At that point I’d been working on it for a long time, so I tried to just power through and have something that I could perhaps fix later. Of course, when I did “finish” I realised that I really didn’t know where to start fixing it!