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TOPIC: Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #1

  • probiner
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This thread is a partial replication of the salvage fom subdivisionmodeling.com, found here and here. Not all posts are replicated, this is a selection. The author and number of the post are in the title of each post. This effort was made so that the content has easy acess and can still be discussed today, rather than just observed. So Feel free to comment, discuss and make questions.

Posts' content with forum fomarts and image urls in place can be found in a zipped *.txt file , in the attachement below. Feel free to replicate them anywhere.

Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #2

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Have a careful look at this Triangle image because it holds the key to mastering Sub-D modeling. Triangle is the
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smallest element in a 3d model and by knowing how to solve Triangles you will make a big leap forward as a 3d modeler. In fact, once you're through with this thread you'll be modeling like Bay Raitt! (No kidding!)
But first we must understand poles and before you read on make sure to forget what you have learned about Poles! Here is another way of looking at it.

The (E) and (N)

Poles in general are not good for your Organic models however, you cannot avoid the 5 and 3 edges poles and instead of being afraid of them why not try to understand them? Many beginners cannot advance to the next level because of this blockage (poles) and so they tend to fear them and then Topology becomes difficult and they fear that too. The 5 and 3 edges poles are very special poles, 6 and beyond are not special so you can ignore them completely and since there are only two special poles we're going to give them names.

The E(5) Pole

The E pole is actually an “Extrude Pole” (E for short). When you extrude a Quad you will get 4 Es!

When you extrude for the mouth, eye and ear you'll get 4 Es each. When you extrude for the arm/leg you also get Es.

The N(3) Pole

When you model a nose you'll get this 3 edges pole and there is no way you can remove it because if you do then that nose will not look like a nose and so it was meant to be there (Keep that in mind).

I call this 3 edges pole “The Nose-Pole” (N for short). The Nose is a very special case in that you get “E” and “N” next to each other, I call this the “EN” case. This “EN” situation will surfaces once you get into detailing like the nose here. If you remove this “EN” you will remove the detail for the nose and in the image above I have separated E and N with a Loopcut (more on this later).

Now why is the talk on Poles important? Poles control how things flow in your topology, have a look at the image below and I'll get back later.
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #3

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The talk on poles will helps us to understand flows and smooth/bumpiness of our meshs. So far Flow was brought up so I'm going to continue with flows then later I'll talk about smoothness and bumpiness.


The Es cannot be eliminated but the Ns can be. Since we can't really eliminate poles in general what we can do is hide them and eventually they will be gone and that is the trick.

A good example of this is the NPoles for the forehead and the back (if you started with a Box that is). For the forehead you hide it inside the eye and for the back you hide it inside the Ear. You do it via a method called “UnPole” which I will go in-depth later. Now, just because you can remove NPoles doesn't mean you should do it! Some Npoles are meant to be there like the Nose and when you get into detailing the muscles for the human body you will get a lot of NPoles/EPoles since Poles control flows. A model with complicated flows will have a lot of Poles and vice-versa.

I have argued with a much more experienced modeler about the Npole for the forehead. He told me having the Npole there gives better control for the forehead. Now think about that for a moment.. we all know that Poles make our meshs bumpy. Better control with a price and that price is “Bumpiness” and we all know that the forehead is not 100% smooth! (Underneath is a skull) So yes, you can leave the Npole there for better control of the forehead. Whether you should leave that Npole there or not is up to you. To say “Should I remove it” is the same as saying “Can I use Ngon?” And the answer is always “If that is what you want, then that is what you must do. There are no rules.” The picture will get clearer once I talk about smooth/bump later.


When you extrude a poly you instantly created a circular flow (dark orange in image). In some cases it's good to have a circular flow with Es on the same lane (yellow), however in the case of a human head it's very bad!

(A): According to the screenshots of human head from professional artists in my collection, this Loop for the mouth is important. You cannot achieve this loop with both Es on the same lane so the trick is to move the upper E to the left lane (. The next time you see both Es on the same lane you can be sure that it will form a Circular Loop.. If you remove (shifting it elsewhere) the upper E you will break the circular Loop like you are seeing it here.

Instead of shifting the upper E I shifted the bottom and 404 Not Found this is the result. Pay attention to poles because they are your guide to better flows!

when you extrude a quad you get EN not just E
Nice observation!

There are much more to Poles than I first thought. For example, when you extrude a POLY that has N pole as one of its corners, you will convert that N into nothiing (no pole)!

Note: For the first post in total there are 8 images and for this one there are 5. Just wanted to let you know in case they're not showing.
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #4

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Earlier I said that when you see two Es on the same lane you can be sure that it will form a Circular Loop. Here are two more images (below) to confirm that observation.

Pay attention to the Es because by shifting one back and forth you can achieve “predictable” flows! There are no guesswork here.

You can use this dot/curve image as guide.


Earlier in the “Form” thread I mentioned the Key and Fill concept and how you can use it in anything that you do. Key-XXX/Fill-XXX, where XXX can be anything and in this case they are Key-Loop/Fill-Loop. When you look at Edgeloop references out there what you are seeing is a bunch of Key-Loops for you to Fill in.

In a KeyLoop stage Poles are close to each other and when you add in the Fill(s) they start to fall apart after the tweak (It's difficult to keep them together after the Fill(s)). During the fill stage you can increase the resolution for the KeyLoop that you're working on and while doing so you can move a specific pole away to a place where you think it belongs. If you have been collecting wireframe references now is a good time to open them and observe. Immediately you'll learn that all modelers are different in the way they place Poles.

There is no right or wrong but the general rule is: Don't put them in areas that deform and in the image above (cyan dot) I put it there because I want it there. When I get into deformation and that area doesn't deform well then I will do something about it but for now I will leave it there. I leave it there because I have looked through many wireframes and I see that pole there... somewhere there and it doesn't have to be exactly where.

If you're still afraid of POLES then have a look at this thread by Glen: BREAK THE SYMMETRY

In that thread Glen explains to us that the human faces are not 100% perfect. Why are we forgetting this fact? The human faces have dimple, crack, holes and it's never perfect. Now just imagine that poles can be used to represent these features. Hey, if someone say why you have a lot of Poles in your model, just make up a story and say that this character had a car accident!
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #5

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Man... I would be honored to have you as a neighbour. Your analisys of topology is better then whatever I've
encountered out there.

If I learned something is to take a step back and analyse too what the basics are of edge loops and

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what the functions are of the poles in addition to what you already explained. So permit me to present my findings (and please don't hold back any critiques)

I found that there are 4 ways in which poles are produced on the mesh:
1) extrusion
2) spin quad/ spin edge
3) rip (help me out here, by lack of a better term. It is wath the V key does in Blender.. but I explain more in detail later)
4) Knife tool

I also found out also that edgeloops may overlap on different ways without interfering with eachother


After you invoke the extrude command, you may pull a 'limb' out the mesh, or confirming the command right away, leaving an edgeloop on the mesh.

Something was said in the affect that a pole can not be elliminated? Well..you could do it like this:

After the cuts, you are left with 3 pairs of triangles that can be merged into 3 quads. The result looks a little funky, but if you elliminate another ADJECENT E pole, you are left with a C-loop

Edgeloops can coexist. So in this way you don't have to be afraid that there might be some dire consecuenses that edgeloops you create might disrupt edgeloops that are already present:

As you can see, loops can touch eachother, intersect or be a part of each outer loop, which is cool. So this means that you can form your eyes loop, mouth loop and pull a nose loop that intersect the mouth (or mouth-nosetip loop) without a hassle. The nose loop could be converted in a C-loop with the technique I mentioned above.
That's it for today...I will pick it up tomorow
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #6

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Since C-Loop was brought up.

This incomplete head was modeled entirely in Blender from a BOX and it used the CLoop topology. If you're a beginner I highly recommend that you start with this Loop because it's easy and can save you a lot of stress since you're learning best of all you can create amazing result! As you can see from the image above, I have gone far and still using that Loop. Now that I understand Topology after using the Cloop I can branch to other Loops or even invent my own. Here is the Key:

When I look at a wireframe I look for Poles because I can copy the topology using Poles as guide since Pole(s) define a Topology, just look for the Poles. Last, do not be too obsessed with Topologies just read the SUB-D Primer and you'll learn that having a clean/kick-arse Topology doesn't mean it will deform correctly during animation. However for still images/Zbrush sculpting a CLEAN MESH is best. When you get into deformation and things doesn't work out just use the knowledge here to change/adapt which is better than trying to learn all the topologies that exist out there.


This model is now 100% Poleless thanks to shahar2k at Wings3Ds forum who have shown me the trick and here's the direct quote (for Wings3D):
shahar2k wrote:
a little experiment to try,
1 - take a model made out of 100% quads (any model that is smoothed once already for example)
2 - set all the edges to "hard"
3 - smooth the entire model once,
4 - select all "hard" edges and delete them,
5 - select all "isolated vertices" and delete those too

The Key idea is to subdivide your mesh and

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keep the subdivided version while deleting everything else. All the EPoles will be converted into Ngons and all the NPoles will be converted into Triangles! To move Ngons around is to move Epoles around and to move Triangles around is to move Npoles around which is one way or you can do it directly after you subdivided. Once you have a poleless model you can start your Poleless quest, Bay Raitt anyone?

Poleless conversion
Epole --> Ngon
Npole --> Triangle

I don't know why anyone would want to do this and I guess the only way for me to find out is to get into deformation later. The good thing about a Poleless model is that you can select an Edge's EdgeLoop and it will run all the way from start to finish, nothing will be in its way (No poles).

Note: Don't try this in Blender

A Demonstration

Here is a very short and powerful demonstration before I get to the actual Technique (next post).
Take a look at (A) and what you'll see is the Loop I created on purpose. I want that Loop there but I also want another one, look at (-Yellow Highlight. From what we know, 2 Es on the same lane will create a circular flow and so I put a pole as pointed by the White Arrow.

Now I have it! BUT there is a problem. Look closely and

Additionally, a 404 Not Found you'll see that the original flow got broken (green) so the question is: How do I create a secondary( flow while keeping the Primary(A)? The trick is to think one step ahead.

One flow cannot go in both directions! You cannot have one flow that go LEFT AND RIGHT. To do that you must split the main flow into two.

So that one is reserved for the main flow while the second one is for, whatever you want.

Instead of splitting it into two I made 2 fills which gave me 3 flow.

As you can see, there are no guesswork here.
Any chance of a look back there?

modeling the nose is easy with Poly-by-Poly and for a box I still haven't figured out a logical way yet. If you're looking
for the best
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #7

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I feel like I'm Hijacking this thread
Someartist, you're explaination is gold!
I was also looking at the workings of edge loops and pole at more atomic level and I like to explain what I found about using the "spin edge" or "spin quad" command.

I don't know if Spin Edge is available for all packages. I know for a fact that you can perform a spin edge in Blender and Lightwave.

If you have a grid and you perform a spinedge somewhere, 2 N poles and 2 E poles will be produced. It seems that in normal circumstances the number of E-poles is equal to the number of N-poles.

As you can see, after a spin, you are left with 2 loops like railroad tracks opposing eachother. I maybe wrong here, but I found that you can follow the loops better if you look at the N-poles instead of the E-poles. You see in the picture above
that the edge loops get bent at the N-poles.

The cool thing about the spin egde command is that you can bend the loops anyway you like. One major drawback is that each spin edge spawns a new loop.

As you can see that if you intent to use spin edge to create loops, you will get this rather nasty side effect.

But you can use spinquands in situations to eleminate poles (just reverse the procedure above by spinning the edge in the oppisite direction) or to correct edge flow, which I will explain in a later stadium.

Remember the simple extrusion that leads to a closed loop? Well, you can make a closed loop too with edge spin and judge for yourself how much it differs from the extrusion method:

Here you have a closed edgeloop, but with side loops bordering its corners.

On a final note, you can collapse those side loops thus elliminating one N- and E-pole also like this:

I deleted the edgeloop in the lower right corner by collapsing it. In Blender you should be able to delete this loop, but I get an error saying that it is intersecting itself (must be a bug, because it clearly does not intersect itself). So I merged
the verts one at a time. Maybe it is possible to elleminate poles in general by collapsing (unwanted) edgeloops? I'll have to experiment a little to find out if this is true for all situations.

I guess the moral of the story is: Beware of spin edge.... for now.
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #8

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I feel like I'm Hijacking this thread

Hijack means "Contribution” and you have just turned yourself into a 3d Organic Scientist, good for this thread. I'll get
back to the topic later.

we really should stop refering to face loops as edge loops... face loops are edge rings converted to faces

Somehow we (as a whole) need to come up with a clearer explanation for those that are starting out.

Which one is really edgeloop? A, B or C. The majority believe that B is a better example of EdgeLoop.

Redefining Edgeloop can be tricky because of the context. For example, a passionate Organic modeler might say that Edgeloop is “MuscleLoop”! If this organic modeler spread this idea then it will be a problem when you start to model trees or Machines since they are not Organic so you can't really say “MuscleLoop” when you're modeling a Building since buildings don't have muscle.

Now if you use SUBD algo that gives no pole then (A) in the image above would be a true Edgeloop since edgeloop in a poleless model would run from start to finish but when you use SUBD algo that gives Pole then (A) would not be a true edgeloop anymore since a pole would stop it completely. To pass the pole is to use the Ring as Loop and Pole would not stop it as seen in (. The problem with ( then is Ngon, having Ngon in ( would stop that PolyLoop whereas having a Pole in (A) would stop that EdgeLoop. So to go pass all the Ngons/Poles is to go with ( C ) which is inside a PolyLoop(.

Since the Edgeloop inside ( C) is actually inside a PolyLoop does that not make ( a better definition of an EdgeLoop?
I know that an Ngon would stop that Loop but we all know that Ngons are bad when it comes to PolyLoop modeling so ( fits the concept perfectly. By choosing B as the concept we can make this concept even better with the Key and Fill. If we choose to go with A or C then the Key/FIll would be gone and learning modeling would be difficult.

Some people prefer to listen to Programmers because they are the one that coded the code but we must keep in mind that programmers are not artists and vice-versa. It's all in the context and error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

we should pick one that makes learning easy! Muscles are not thin lines, they are thick and ( would be the concept I go with.

If we choose to leave everything the way they are then we can use clever concepts when we are referring to them. For example, if I were referring to ( I would say: PolyLoop. (C) would be EdgeLoop and (A) would be EdgeCurve.
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #9

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SomeArtist wrote:
If we choose to leave everything the way they are then we can use clever concepts when we are referring to them. For example, if I were referring to ( I would say: PolyLoop. (C) would be EdgeLoop and (A) would be EdgeCurve.

your absolutly right, we need a unified nameing scheme, otherwise everyone is just going to get confused.
faceloops sound better to me than polyloops, as we already talk about faces, vertices and edges in all modeling apps to describe the three basic elements.
But maybe we need new words to help us describe what we are talking about?
say maybe instead of ( being a faceloop (cause some might argue that it doesn't loop back and close itself) maybe we could instead have the name reffer to the edge that runs the faces.
maybe O loop
like this:

i say "O" because if you look at the edges around the faces they form a closed (in this case bent) O shape...seems to me that this sort of visual naming makes sense as its clear why its called that, and even a newcomer can see it and undersand.
as for the edgecurves...that name makes little sense to me, i see its an edge but nothing to make it more a curve than say a Cloop. its just not imediatly logical.
however it seems to me that its main feature is that it's adjacent to Poles, or is connected/stoped by poles, so it'd make sense if the name invoked this nature..say poled edge, edge pole, pole curve?

however (c) makes sense, its an edge..and it loops, all or part of the mesh. this sort of logical naming scheme is what we need.
just look at exsisting names, box modeling..reffers to a modeling style usualy started with a box...poly modeling, a style that involves building the mesh poly by poly...all easy to undersatnd cause the name is linked to the concept.

of course making new words can be tricky, but if they make sense then people will use them, for example Epole and Npole makes sense and i use them all the time now to describe what i'm talking about.
not saying my names are the best or anything, just putting forward some suggestions.
though for the record faceloop and edgeloop work for me.
Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.

Subdivisionmodeling.com: THE POLE 2 years, 8 months ago #10

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Today I'll be talking about mesh ripping. I don't know what the command should be called, or if there is a similar command in another package than Blender. If anyone has a better name for it, I'm interested.

So, what's up? The tools that I'm explaining here are tools that have an effect on the topology because they produce poles. I didn't quiete master the ins and out of this technique, but let me present to you what I found out so far.

What is mesh ripping? With this tool (Vkey for Blender), you rip the mesh open by pulling at a vertex. In Blender you should fill the hole it produces yourself.

The mesh above was ripped open at the upper N-pole. After that you may want to fill the resulting hole. In these scenarios I will fill the hole.
So, like spin edge, rip mesh produces a pair of N-poles and E-poles. Like I said before, the direction of the faceloop (I agree on the terminology too) is determend by the N-pole.

The resulting hole stands out like a diamond in the mesh. If you encounter such situations, and you a meaning to eliminate poles, just merge those N-poles together to get rid of all the neighbourhing poles (thus effectively reversing the mesh rip).

After a spin edge, you are left with pair of poles opposing eachother diagonaly. With mesh rip the poles are opposing verticaly or horizontaly.
So far I have found these uses for mesh rip (topology wise that is):

1) Moving E-poles around (YES )
2) Creating C-loops

Because of the lack of Ngons support in Blender, you have to manualy complement the mesh ripping operation by using the cut tool and
merge triangles into quads. But nevertheless, mesh rip is a very powerful tool.

First, Creating C-loops:

The rip mesh tool is very flexible in conjuction with the knife tool. Depending on the method, you are left with a single C-loop, or with a mirror pair of C-loops.

Creating a single loop:

And after the cut:

This was a very minimalistic loop because I ripped at only one vertex.


If you want to make a much wider loop, you must rip all the vertices in a row. You need to use the knife tool to obtain the face loop. Depending of how you cut the mesh, the results will vary.
To obtain a single broader face loop:

Here I'll cut before I fill the hole, else there will be triangles in the corners

And then after filling the holes and cutting (and smoothing) you are left with one C-loop (by the way: I assume that C-loop means C shaped loop and not closed loop).

There is a number of ways to make a number of wacky face loops/ edge loops with this method, but i suggest to keep it simple because simplicity and predictability is the name of the game here.

Lets try to make a a closed loop like in a extrusion:

Last Edit: 2 years, 8 months ago by probiner.
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