Model a hard-surface bike in Maya & ZBrush


Making this bike was a challenge, since I had to use more than 5 programs to achieve this result. The ideal way to model hard surface from my point of view is knowing how to use NURBS and quads, in ZBrush, Maya, and Fusion 360.

The ideal thing before starting is to try to have all the possible references, as well as many of the parts and components of it, to achieve the highest level of realism possible. Then divide into sections and start modeling the bike.

bike render orange colouring detailing modeling render vehicle

Understanding topology of hard surface modeling

Before starting modeling with topology, we must understand this simple concept, of maintaining quads in an orderly way so that when we apply a subdivision to the model it maintains a beautiful curve. The edges or tension lines serve to strengthen your model, but however we must try to keep only those necessary, to have a low and optimized topology.


Before starting with the modeling, it is best to look for all the possible references, from the motorcycle, engine, brakes, and lights, to everything else. Having more references will help achieve a better luxury of detail, and the best thing is to use Pureref, to have all the references open at the same time, a free program that is quite useful when it comes to modeling.

pureref research bike detailing references imagery
The ideal after this is to divide the bike into sections to achieve the greatest possible detail

Start modeling

The fun part begins. For this part, in Maya, I decided to first make some guides in Maya, then a super-basic blocking of the pieces that I believe govern the base shape of the motorcycle.

modeling basic maya guides set up blocking pieces 3d
Remember to try to adapt the camera to the perspective of the bike to have better shapes.

Modeling the initial base

Following this form, I try to give a basic modeling detail to the initial form, in order to start working on different sections of the bike.

initial base form shape bike render model 3d
Modeling in both views to achieve the desired result

Seat step 1

Now I take the seat to ZBrush, and start a basic sculpting on the base shape. Then we add subdivisions to add sewing details to give it a more realistic touch.


Now we start with the engine part. In Maya, I’m looking to create the base shape, then I send it to ZBrush and using Dynamesh and boolean, I create the final shape, and then return it to Maya, and make a retopology of it.


Using Fusion 360, it is an equally fast way to create parts of the bike, exporting in triangles, and then in Maya, making a retopology of the part.

bike parts Fusion 360 handlebar model boxing triangle exporting
I recommend learning this program to create fast and detailed hard surface shapes


This piece was created using primary and boolean objects within ZBrush, and then sent to Maya for retopology. As you can see, ZBrush is great for creating pieces with a high level of detail.

speedometer boolean objects  ZBrush Maya  retopology 3d

Gasoline base

Following the previous steps, I start the basic form in Maya, then I send it to ZBrush to give it this final detail, keeping a low topology, using Move in ZBrush.

gasoline base low topology Move in ZBrush 3d render

Final steps

Following the previous chronology, we are doing each piece by piece in each section until we have every part ready, to finally unite everything. Always remember to export everything in FBX so that the object remains in the same place in each program that you exchange it. As they can work using ZBrush, Maya, and Fusion we achieve an incredible result. The idea of this is to reduce the work time, to model each piece of the motorcycle with greater speed and quality. We continue using these steps until we create the whole bike.

Top tip - Modeling recommendations

When a piece of hard surface is difficult to model, what I recommend is to see in which programs you can achieve the best forms, with greater ease, since in the end, everything is retopologized in Maya, therefore I recommend using the programs that best suit each piece.

final base modeling bike motorcycle render detailing colour

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