Digital Tutors: Modeling Architectural Destruction in Maya

A lot of the ideas we discussed for our sci-fi scene contained destroyed objects. This tutorial has a lot of helpful pointers for what you should be thinking of when modeling destruction. One of the most useful methods I took away from this was that an area should be extracted from its surroundings first if a lot of resolution is going to be added e.g. if you’re going to splinter the end of a piece of wood.

This is the tutorial:

My notes:

Modeling Architectural Destruction in Maya

Look at reference to see how different materials respond to stress. Wood splinters, concrete breaks in a particular way, glass etc.

Select faces of section you want to modify and extract. Cut a jagged line with the edgeloop tool and extract the cut area. Fill the missing geometry around the areas that have been extracted.

Re-use pieces that are broken off as rubble for later. Focus on the type of material you are cutting up and think of what tools you can use to do this. What kind of damage do you want to do? From where/to what extent.

Use ‘fill hole’ or ‘bridge’ etc. to fill gaps that are made from cutting away jagged geometry. Insert multiple edgeloops where extra resolution is needed for detail. Where on the model has the stress been applied to? – only destroy these areas e.g. above or below. Is the stress damage on the front face or has the object been broken on the side?

By destroying the model you are exposing areas that would not normally be seen e.g. under floors and between walls.

Metal framework bends under stress. Metal will probably not have little chunks cut out of it the same way that concrete does. Wood will have sharp snaps that splinter and therefore require higher resolution. Electrics will be pulled out from their settings and will have trailing wires. Some wires will be connected and some disconnected. Use the cv curve tool. Displace and move the created curves out of the same plane. Resize the nurbs curve to adjust the radius of the extrusion. When modelling destruction, try to maintain the ratio of volume between missing sections and the amount of rubble. Buckle areas e.g. the floor. You can add more resolution to nurbs by using ‘rebuild surfaces’ (or by individually adding isoparms). Look for sharp versus rounded edges in your geometry.

Inspiration for Modeling Concept Art

I wanted to develop what the mid/fore-ground could look like in our scene and create a challenge for myself to learn more about modeling. We agreed that a platform of some sorts might suit this area.

I felt that clean drawings that describe the form well would be particularly useful for modeling from. With this in mind I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and put extra time into developing my drawing skills. I’ve been trying to make progress on Scott Robertson’s book How to Draw (2013) and the accompanying video series which are online here:


The book, which has so far focused on drawing shapes and volumes in perspective, also has a lot of sci-fi vehicles, mechs and environments for inspiration.

I came across Feng Zhu’s designs for Star Wars in my bookazine The Art of Film: Volume Two (2015). I like how clear his forms come across with his strong line drawings in perspective and the clear sense of space. I thought that his concept of a ship landing area built into a cave could be applicable to our scene also maybe…? It would give us the opportunity to model organic rock forms along with man-made hard surfaces.


I looked at this drawing from the Dear JJ Abrams website quite a bit also. I like the sense of wear and brokenness that the lines convey:


Ruan Jia also has a lot of appealing forms in his concepts that we could use for inspiration. I love how this guy paints and his application of light and colour too.

Images from:

Abigail showed this image from Steve Burgh to me also. We liked the circular designs on the ground which made me think of trying a circular platform instead of Zhu’s more rectangular shapes.


Image from: