Archive for November, 2010

How To : Using Zbrush and Maya to Model a Hover Car

Posted in 3D, Design, Maya, Pictures, scifi, zbrush on November 8, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

I’ve been working on building vehicle models for a while. Using polygons in the past, I’ve had a lot of problems and ahave frequently abandoned models bacuse too much work was required to ammend things, or the poly count just got too high. The challenge is to keep surfaces/ body panels flowing smoothly and into one another without sudden unwanted changes in angles, whilst keeping the poly count at a high enough level to allow smooth curves, but low enough so that the model doesn’t become unwieldy; particularly if the model is then being exported into other programs.

I’ve found quite a few good tutorials on poly modelling, but they don’t always suit my workflow. There’s a good argument to say that I should simply change my workflow, but it doesn’t always give me the results that I want. I know this is partly due to me being over ambitious in my models before I’ve got the workflow and my abilities up to scratch, but Maya in particular can sometimes do some strange things that make progression of a model very hard; if only I’d known about the issues before it got too hard to correct them. So I lost patience, learnt from my mistakes, started another model, progressed and then hit another obstacle that means more frustration.

I came across a great tutorial (sorry, the link is now lost) that advised sketching the vehicle in each of the three projections, then using that as the basis to build cutves in Maya that will be the outline for the body. This got me to finally start looking at NURBS surfaces for construction and, after some work, I think I’ve got a pretty good workflow going.

This set of images is meant as a ‘How To’ guide rather than a full on tutorial. It will hopefully give some guidance and advice that other people might find useful- but it does presume some knowledge of Zbrush and Maya. I’ve tried to give clarification and pointers to things which I’ve found are trouble spots, and some solutions too. Everyone has their own way of working, but hopefully there will be something here that you can use or that will give you ideas.

It will begin with some concept sculpting in Zbrush, then taking that sculpt into Maya to build a smoother, more developed and useful model. I don’t use other modelling programs very often at the moment, but I’m sure the general principles can be transfered to other programs, especially Max.

The overall process is actually pretty simple, which is why I like it. If there’s anything that you think needs clarifying, please let me know and I’ll add it when I can, but I’m not going to give a huge wealth of extra information.

Note: I apologise for the odd spelling mistake… As a writer I normally check things through a couple of times, but I didn’t have long to prepare this guide, so I’ve just published the images as they are.

So, here we start in Zbrush.

Clicking on any of the images will open the full resolution versions in another browser tab or window.

Now we’re moving over to Maya. Either export a low polygon version of your Zbrush sculpt, or use GoZ to transfer the low polygon model across.


Oriental Cooking: Ingredients Cheat Sheet

Posted in Cooking on November 7, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

click on the above image to open the full sized version in a new tab/window

Meal Idea: Chicken and Prawn Nasi Goreng

Posted in Cooking on November 7, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

This is a really quick and simple meal to cook – minimal preparation and only ten minutes stood at the cooker. It’s a nice and spicy dish, and you can easily vary the spiciness.

‘Nasi goreng’ simply means fried rice in Indonesian and Malay, so rice is obviously the main ingredient to the dish, and it’s traditionally a left-overs dish. There’s aren’t many ingredients, but it’s pretty healthy and tasty too – and there’s an alternative to the recipe that I use discussed below, depending on just how easy you want this to be.

It’s a really tasty dish, with lots of protein, carbs and around 2 of your 5-a-day.

Serves 2.


  • 3/4 mug of rice – long grain or basmati
  • 1 white onion – diced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped (optional, but adds a bit more to the taste and texture)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed (either uncooked or cooked)
  • 14 prawns – enough for 7 each, depending on how hungry you are
  • 1 pepper – chopped as fine as you like, use yellow or red if green peppers are a bit too bitter for you
  • 1 desert spoon of red chilli paste from a jar

Or, make your own paste. A good mix for a sauce with a bit of kick and depth is:

  • 2 level tsp pre-chopped chilli paste from a jar
  • 1 tsp chopped lemon grass from a jar
  • 1 desert spoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 desert spoon of fish sauce
  • 1 good squirt of garlic puree (2 or 3 inches worth)
  • 1 heaped tsp of chilli and shrimp powder (local supermarkets in ethnically diverse areas are your best bet for this)

Mix the above together for your sauce and don’t be afraid to dip your finger in to taste-test… but wash your fingers afterwards. You don’t want to get accidental chilli eyes.

Also, the rice will absorb some of the spiciness, so having it a little too spicy at this point is not necessarily a bad thing.


  • Rice: Pop the rice in a saucepan and put a lot of hot water in – this isn’t like cooking rice for a curry. In that situation you’d want 2 parts water for 1 part rice, then cover and simmer; this allows all the starch that covers the rice to sink to the bottom of the pan as the rice is cooking, and you don’t end up with stiky rice. For fried rice, however, just fill up the pan and cook for around 13-15 minutes.
  • When the rice is cooked, drain using a strainer, then sit the strainer on top of the pan for stability and leave under a running cold tap as you prep the veg. This will rinse the starch from the rice. Empty the saucepan of water every minute or so if you like, this will speed up the rinsing.
  • Leave the rice, drained, to one side until you’re ready for it.
  • Heat up a little oil in the bottom of a large frying pan; the rice is going in there eventually, so you need to make sure your pan is big enough.
  • Fry off the onions until they’re soft, then add the chopped pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until the pepper softens.
  • Add the sauce and mix it the contents of the pan together; give it 30 – 60 seconds to cook through.
  • Un-cooked chicken – add this now and cook till it looks done. The chicken is cubed, so won’t take long to cook. It will continue to cook as you add the other ingredients, but if you want to make sure just cut open a piece in the pan and see if it’s cooked through.
  • Add the prawns and cook till both sides look pink.
  • Pre-cooked chicken – add this as soon as the prawns look pink. You’re only reheating the chicken if it’s pre-cooked, and you don’t want to over cook the prawns.
  • Add the drained rice and stir through till the rice is hot.
  • Serve!