CS22: 3D Digital Modeling

18S Loeb

A1 Room Tutorial 1 -- Starting the Room Complete tutorials 1 and 2. You will turn in your .ma file. They are due Monday, April 9th by 2 PM.

Building an interior: (Based on a tutorial from Digital Tutors)

Setting up your Project and Scene

The FIRST thing you should do when you open Maya and start to work is to make sure your project and scene are set up correctly. You won't notice that it is wrong until it is too late and it will cost you many hours to correct.

Set up your Project

Make sure you are in the room project you set up for the last tutorial. (File>Set Project)

In the drop down window on the left, under Current Project, be sure the room project is active.

Hit the Set button in the bottom right.

Then set up the scene.

Go to File>Save Scene As

Under File name, use your name_Room (or some other descriptive scene name that starts with your name). Change the Files of Type drop down to Maya ASCII (A binary file only saves the file itself. ASCII also saves the code base, which makes it a bigger file but is the file format we need for this course). Hit Save As.

You should notice that the top light gray bar of your main viewing window says "Autodesk Maya 2018 - Educational Version: /Users/imac/Documents/maya/projects/your project name/scenes/your scene name" This is the path to the files you are creating.

It is critical that you always work with the path set up correctly!

Setting up the UI

You want as much room on your screen for modeling as you can possibly get. The easiest way to set up common UI's for various functions is to change the workspace by choosing from the dropdown window in the upper right corner:

Another way you might have done this is to use the UI Elements options. We are not doing animationo create more room on the monitor. Uncheck Time Slider and Range Slider since we won't be doing animation at this time.

Note: When you change the Settings in the Preferences or some of the other options--such as display options--they will be the same on that computer every time you open a Maya scene. Check the settings before you start working on any new computer to make sure they reflect the options you want!

Building the core architecture of the room.

Before you start modeling, you want to make sure your settings are correct for the work you are doing. In this case, we are working with architecture that maps to real world objects. You need to make sure you scale things appropriately.

Go into Settings and Preferences. (Window>Settings and Preferences>Preferences). The Preferences Window opens. Select "Settings" on the left list.

Make sure the Working Units/Linear is set to Centimeter so that each unit is equal to a centimeter. Working in centimeters is pretty standard in Maya and will ensure some of the work we do later with rendering and modeling characters works correctly.

When modeling an environment, the units you use can be a helpful tool for keeping things in scale relative to the real world and to each other.

Centimeters are very small units. One centimeter is approximately .4 inches, and approximately 32 centimeters equal one foot.

It is much easier to work in meters than centimeters. One way to stick with centimeters but think in meters is to change the grid size which would create a very large model. The other is to simply pretend you are working in meters and convert the scale later in the process.

Note: Each grid line represents one unit (in our case one centimeter). Subdivision lines break each unit into smaller ones for modeling.

To keep things easy, we will change the grid so that each grid line represents one meter and each subdivision line represents one centimeter.

Go to Display>Grid>Options Box.

  • Change the Length and Width from 12 units to 1200
  • Make a Grid Line every 500 units instead of 5 units
  • Set a Subdivision Line every 100 units.

If you are building something very big (an entire building or city, for example) you can set the Length and Width size to a bigger number such as 5000 units. For the living room we will build in this tutorial, 1200 is fine.

Note: If you work with large grids, you may find that the camera cuts off the far end of the model. You fix this by increasing the "far clipping plane" in the camera attribute editor. Ask for help if needed.

I like to change the grid axes colors to make them easier to see and distinguish from each other. You can make them whatever colors you want to. Just don't make the grid too distracting a color. I like a bright blue for the main X and Y axes, and a lighter gray for the grid lines. Hit APPLY and Close.

Set up the Camera:

Go to the Attribute editor for the perspective camera. You can do this several ways:

  1. Select the perspective camera in the Outliner. In the Camera Attribute Editor, or
  2. Go to the Viewport menu and select View>Camera Attribute Editor.

Slide the Angle of View in the Camera Attributes section and see what happens to the view through the persp camera. You will see the field of view get narrower and wider. For this kind of scene, a wide view is better.

Change the Angle of View to 60 Degrees to get a nice wide view without distortion.

Close the Attribute Editor to make more space on the screen for the viewport.

Starting to Model

Whenever you start a modeling project, you should consider what you are going to make. A good thing to do is to find a photograph (best would be several photos from various angles) or image of your finished project. In this case, we will build the start of a living room (based on a model from PluralSight):

The living room you will build will have a large curved window, a large stone fireplace with a mantle, large beams a couch, chair and rug.

Next, think up a plan of attack for modeling. Never start modeling without first thinking through how you will approach the model process to get clean lines, quads throughout, and the shapes you want. Usually you begin with a polygon primitive, adding detail and extruding to create the shape you want. Look for a poly primitive shape (square, sphere, cylinder, etc.) that is similar to the model you are building

A room is basically a cube. You could build the room with several planes, but, again, it is a good idea to find the primitive that is closest to the shape of the final object. In this case, a cube makes the most sense.

The cube will seem tiny on this huge grid.

We will make a living room that is approximately 440 square feet and 10 feet high. In the INPUT node for the cube (in the Channel Box), set the Width to 620 (centimenters) and the height to 300 and the depth to 660.

Rename the cube roomSurfaces (generally, it is a good idea to use a lower case first work and upper case second word in your naming convention).

Go into the side orthographic view by tapping the space bar, putting your mouse over the side view panel and tapping the space bar again to make the side view window. Zoom the camera out so you can see the entire cube.

Select the cube.

Hit the w key to activate the move tool.

Move the cube using just the Green arrow to limit the translation to the Y direction. If you cannot select the green arrow easily, remember you can use the + key to make tool handles bigger or the - key to make them smaller.

Translate (move) the cube so it is resting on the Y axis (or change the Y attribute value to 150).

Normals and Double Sided Viewing:

Every polygon has what is called surface normals. Surface normals indicate the direction that the object is meant to be seen from. These can be changed.

By default the normals are pointing towards the outside of the cube. We are interested in working with the INSIDE of the cube in this instance because you are modeling the inside of the room---we need to reverse the surface normals so they point inward. To see the normals, go to Display>Polygons>FaceNormals.

Since your cube is so large it is hard to see the Normals direction indicators. Change the size of the normal display by going into Display>Polygons>Normals Size. Type a bigger number in, something between 50 and 100. Now, go into the Main Menu to Display>Polygons>Face Normals, you will see lines pointing outward to indicate the direction of the normals.

Now that you can see the normals indicators, you can see they are pointint outward. To change that so the surface normals are pointing inward...

...in the Main Menu, Mesh Display>Normals>Reverse and now the Surface Normals face inward. (Remember you can get to the Main Menu from the HOTBOX to save time and mouse motions---it is just hard for me to do a screen capture of that action.)

The cube changes color. If you go to wireframe mode, you will see that the normal point inwards now.

It would help if you didn't need to go into wireframe mode to work with the inside of the cube. You want to be able to see through the cube while modeling. You can do that.

Go back to shaded view. Select the cube and hit CTRL + A to bring up the Attribute Window (or select Attribute Editor from the tab on the far right of the main view window).

Under Render Stats, uncheck the Double Sided so the geometry is see through and we only see where the face normals are facing towards the camera.

From outside the cube we don't see the walls. When you move inside the cube you can see all the walls in shaded mode because they face towards you. Try it. Scroll inside the cube and the walls will be solid from the inside, even though they are transparent from the outside.

Turn off the Face Normals Display--Like many of the menu items, it is a toggle---either on or off.

Deleting History

Maya will remember all the steps you went through to build a model. The information is stored in the INPUT nodes for the model. If you look in the Channel Box, in the INPUTS node, you will see polyNormal1 and polyCube1 (and any other nodes for the various commands you used along the way). The history allows you to use the undo command or to change the model by changing the values of attributes in any the INPUT nodes. While this is handy, it also makes the model heavy because it means there are lots of nodes attached to the model. I will get into the Maya node-based architecture in more detail in a few weeks. For now, just know that if you are happy with the model and are certain youi don't want to change the attributes, you can clean up the model by deleting the history to clear out the INPUT nodes.

First, be sure to save your scene (Command s)

Go to Edit>Delete All by Type>History Note: Delete by Type>History deletes the history on a selected object. Delete All by Type>History deletes the history on all objects in the scene.

Add this command to the custom shelf. (Command + Shift + Click)

You will notice that the INPUTS node is gone from the roomSurfaces object, along with all the other nodes that were connected to INPUTS. As you start making other changes to the cube, new nodes will appear. You will continue deleting the history as you work, to keep the model manageable.

It is a good idea to save your file before deleting the history so you have a version with the history attached and can go back to it in your Incremental Saves Folder.

Delete History. You don't need to select any particular objects if you are using Delete All By Type.

Separating the floor and ceiling

Let's separate the ceiling and floor from the walls so we can work with them as individual objects.

**Right Click on the cube, Select faces as the component type. Select the face that would be the ceiling then shift select the floor face so both are selected.

Shift + RMB click to bring up the Marking Menu for the faces and select Extract.

The cube turns black and a PolyChipOff Node window appears in the viewport

Open the Outliner (Window>Outliner) You will see that there are three PolySurfaces parented under the roomSurface group.

polySurface1 are the walls polySurface 2 is the ceiling polySurface3 is the floor

Rename the walls, floor and ceiling to "floor" and "ceiling".

Select the floor and ceiling and hit Shift + p, so they are unparented from the rest of the cube.

Also Unparent "walls" so they are all separate objects.

Delete the History and delete the roomSurfaces transform node.

Hide the ceiling by selecting it and hitting "Control + h"

You may find that doing these actions has resulted in Double Sided being reactivated. Select the objects and uncheck Double Sided if that is the case.

Make a fireplace. **

Move to the inside of the room.

You could Insert two edge loops along one wall to create the face where the fireplace will be or you can be more precise. Let's be precise.

In the Options Box for the Insert Edge Loop Tool, Change Maintain Position to Multiple Edge Loops and move the slider to 2. Make sure Use equal Multiplier is ON.

Now when you select the Insert Edge Loop Tool and click on the top edge of the face where you want the fireplace, two edges appear, equally spaced on the face.

Be sure to reset the Insert Edge Loop tool so it does what you expect the next time you use it! In the tool Settings Window hit Reset Tool

Clicking Reset Tool is a good habit to get into when you start making changes to the tool settings.

Select the face where the fireplace is and Extrude the face backwards to create the alcove that is the fireplace.

Delete the face at the top.

And delete the face at the bottom of the fireplace, too.

Create a hallway

This will be a somewhat sunken living room with steps down to it from the hallway.

Go back to Object Mode. Shift RMB click to bring up the Marking Menu. Insert an edge loop horizontally along the wall to the left of the fireplace wall, about the distance from the floor of a couple of steps.

Select the face above the edge loop along the wall perpendicular to the wall with the fireplace.

Extrude and translate it back the distance of a hallway in proportion to the room. You can do a bit of research to find out how wide a hallways is and convert it to centimeters.

Note: Until the History is deleted, you can go into the polyExtrudeFace2 node (ExtrudeFace1 was the fireplace) and change the Local Translate value to adjust the distance you push the wall back for both. Again--you should use real world scale for this tutorial.

Delete the face on top.

To create a sense of the hallway continuing beyond the living room, select the two faces on either side and extrude them backwards.

Note: You can shift select both faces and extrude back in local Z. In Local Space, the Z axis is always perpendicular to the selected face regardless of the World Space directions. *The Extrude tool starts in Local Space. You can toggle between Local and World Space by clicking on the little blue icon above the tool handles.*

Delete the ceiling of those new extruded areas.

By creating the hallway, it gives us a sense of a space beyond our model, this is very important in environment modeling.

Make the floor fit inside the main living room (not the hall) including the fireplace. To do that: Scale the floor out in Z (or whatever direction is correct for your model - limiting the scale to one direction. You'll scale and translate so the floor is perfectly fitting to the room size with a bit of floor sticking out on either side of the fireplace, but nowhere else. Take your time. Be precise.

We will do the same with the ceiling, scaling it to fit over both the fireplace and the hallway.

Unhide the ceiling by selecting it in the Outliner and then hitting Shift + h

Center the Pivot (Modify>Center Pivot)

Note: this is another command worth putting on your custom shelf!)

Then scale and translate the ceiling into place being precise.

Make sure the ceiling is laying flush on top of the walls and take your time to line up the ceiling so it doesn't hang over the walls but isn't short of them.

Tip: You can use orthographic views to help line things up.

Tip: You can make the ceiling bigger than the room and then Insert Edge loops into the ceiling where it needs to be trimmed to meet the wall. Select and delete faces that reach beyond the walls.

  • Hide the grid for a bit.
  • Hide the ceiling again.
  • Save.

Picture Window

The living room we are making has a big curved picture window on the wall opposite the hallway.

In the Insert Edge Loop Tool Settings, choose Multiple edge loops and make it 6 edge loops.

Put the edge loops vertically along the wall where the window will go as shown.

Reset the Edge Loop Tool.

Insert an edge horizontally around the top of the room where the top of the window will be, as shown below.

Notice that the picture window starts fairly close to the ground. You can use the same edge loop you used when you started the hallway, but you probably need to move the edges down a bit.

Be sure you are selecton mode (hit q to get out of the Insert Edge Loop tool). Select the five bottom edges (leaving one face on either side)--where the window will go--and move them down a bit.

Select the vertices (verts) at the two top corners of where the window will go, and move them down to begin to create the curvature at the top as shown. Moving both together ensures they are evenly placed on the wall.

Shape the arch as you'd like by moving the vertices of the window area.

Then select the faces of the window.

And extract them.

In the polyChip window in the View Port, Keep Faces Together and use the LMB to make a virtual slider and translate the window faces in the negative Z direction as shown. (Remember, this is Local Space so the Z axis is perpendicular to the face.)

This move the faces out of the way temporarily as you do the rest of the window shaping and trim.

In the outliner, move the extracted faces (polySurface2)out of the hierarchy (Shift p) for the rest of the room

Rename polySurface2 to windowPane


Delete History. Rename the window (windowPane) and Hide it. (Ctrl+h)


The living room is lower than the hallway (it is a sunken living room).

Use a cube to begin creating the steps.

Change the INPUTS node to increase the Width, Height, and Depth. You want to make it the correct width for a nice wide staircase and the height of about one step (there will be three - if your hallway is too low or high, you can adjust that now).

Be sure you are in polygon mode (1)

Then insert 3 edge loops evenly spaced using the Insert Edge Loop tool settings (as you did before).

Extrude upward to create three steps as shown, first extruding three faces, then two to create the steps.

Translate and scale them to get them the right scale for your room and make sure they are lined up perfectly with the back of the wall and the floor.

Next select the faces of the back wall of the hallway and extract the back wall so that you can hide it easily later for getting a good picture into the room (a wall you move to get a good shot is called a Wild Wall on a movie set).

Select the faces and Extract.

After extracting, pull the geometry out of the hierarchy in the Outliner (unparent).

Rename the wall to wildWall.


Delete the history

Creating Layers

To make your scene easier to work with, we use layers. Select the wildWall.

Under the Channel Box is the Layer Window. LMB click on Layer and choose "Create Layer from Selected"

Double click on Layer1 to bring up the Edit Layers Window. Call the layer WildWall_Layer and hit Save.

Now you can turn off the visibility in the Layer Editor by clicking on the V to hide the objects in that layer.

You have the basic room modeled out now but you need to add detail to the architecture.

Look around you. Rooms have trim around windows, doors and between the floor and walls to hide the edges between materials and surfaces and make them softer.

Also notice that there are very few hard right angles in a room. Beveling is your new best friend.

Select the vertical edges around the room itself (corners of the room, where the room and hallway meet and by the fireplace). You don't need to select the vertical edges inside the fireplace because those will be hidden, or the edges at the far ends of the halls as those also don't show.

You will be selecting 6 corners in all, but be sure to select all the edges along each corner.

Shift RMB and choose Bevel Edge

You'll notice that the bevel is way too big. Change that with the fraction attribute. Make it a nice small number like .02

Turn the number of segments up, too. Perhaps to 3 to smooth the corner out and create some rounding.

Finishing the Stairs

Almost finished with tutorial 2. Just two more parts--finishing the stairs and doing trim around the window.

Select the stairs and hit the 3 key and you'll see that it looks bad.

Hit the 1 key to go back to polygon view.

Remember that the subdivision smoothing is taking every right angle and making it perfectly rounded. You need more edges there to hold the shape. Insert edge loops horizontally around the stairs as shown

Insert an edge just below the step itself, at all three steps. Go back and forth between 3 (smoothed) and 1 (poly) modes. You will add edge loops as needed to make edges sharper.

Select the face at the top of every step at the front of each step, as shown, and extrude.

Pull the faces forward to create a bit of a lip at each step.

left side of the steps to hold that shape better

Insert edges under each overhead, horizontally as shown, moving the edge up very close to the edge above it.

And then add more edge loops in just in front of the vertical edges as show below. Put these on all three steps, including the top step.

Insert and edge loop at the bottom of each vertical piece, too.

We want the bottom of each step lip to be sharp and the top to be rounded, so insert an edge loop along the bottom edge of each step lip as shown.

Hit the 3 key and see how it looks. Add edges where the rounding is too much.

If you delete the faces on the underside of the steps, it will help with that rounding. You probably have to hide the floor first, to make it easier to select those faces.

Also delete the faces at the back of these steps, where the steps are up against the wall/hallway.

Then add an edge along the vertical line where the riser for each step is.

Hit 3 to smooth again.

Creating the Window Frame and Sill

Before you create any objects, think of a primitive shape that is close to the shape you want to model.For the window sill, a cube is, again, a good place to begin.

Create a polygon cube.

Move it over to the bottom of the window opening and increase the size.

It will be at the bottom edge of the window opening. Increase the width or depth and decrease the height so it is the shape of a window sill.

And then scale it out to fit the bottom edge of the window sill, extending a bit beyond the window opening on both sides.

Rename the sill.

To make the window sill more realistic you can insert edges around all the sides to make the sill look better when you hit the 3 key to smooth it (help it hold its shape). Hit the 3 key to test and make sure there are no edges that get overly rounded.

But we want this to be a somewhat rustic and realistic looking sill, which means it can't be a perfectly flat and smooth shape. It is supposed to be wooden. To do that, add some divisions in the sill itself.

Set the Insert Edge Loop Tool to multiple edge loops and set it to around 8, then click on the sill, to evenly spaced edge loop divisions running vertically along the length of the window sill. Of course, if you don't want to be so exact, you can just insert multiple edge loops along the sill.

Be sure to reset the Edge Loop tool.

Hit Command + d to duplicate the sill and move it up to the top edge of the window opening.

Working again with the lower sill, select some vertices along the front edges of the sill and translate them just a bit up or down. Not much, just a bit to create some uneven-ness. Do this in several spots along the sill. Small moves in verts can add more character to objects and the room.

The frame along the top of the window needs to be curved and a bit thicker. If you just scale the whole cube, you would stretch the distance between the edges you inserted. You can insert an edge or two to if you want to, and then translate the upper window frame up to the top of the window opening.

As you did with the bottom frame, play with the window sill verts until you like the shape. Look at a sill for reference. You might want to add a bevel in the front, too.

To create the bend to match the window shape, let's use a Bend Deformer. Those of you who have taken animation may know all about non-linear deformers.

Go into the Animation Module.

With the top window frame selected, go to Deform >Non Linear >Bend

A green deformer is created perpendicular to the sill itself

To make the bend flow horizontally, rotate the deformer handle 90 degrees in whatever direction you need to make it run along the sill. I show the rotation using the rotate tool, but recommend doing it by inputting 90 in the Channel Box.

In the INPUTS node, you will see bend1. Open those attributes. Changing the Curvature value adds curve to the frame. Use the virtual slider (select curvature, MMB click and drag in the viewport and you'll see the sill curve up or down. If the curve isn't going up and down, you may need to rotate the bend deformer 90 degrees in Z.

Curve it to fit the shape of the window opening.

Select the frame and move it up into place. Scale the frame as needed to get a frame size you like.

Check from the side to make sure there isn't a space between the frame and the wall. You can keep adjusting the curvature to make it fit nicely.

Hit 3 to see that it looks good.

Again, select a few front vertices sets and move them to give some interesting shape to the frame.


To lock the shape into place, delete the history and the relationship between the deformer and the cube is gone.

For the frame on the sides, duplicate the bottom sill and move it up and rotate it 90 degrees.

Scale it to make it shorter and about the same shape as the top sill---closer to the length of the window height.

Duplicate the vertical frame and move it to the center of the window.

You can adjust the frame on the left to fit the window, and then duplicate it for the right side.

Scale the vertical frame for the left side of the window a bit so it is thicker and more of a cube shape. Better to make the frame fit perfectly on the bottom frame and extend beyond the top frame a bit.

To shorten the top edge and match the angle of the top window frame, select the edges that are above the window opening and delete them hitting Control + delete to delete both the edge and the vertices.

Then scale the top down to fit nicely.

With the top vertices selected, rotate them so they match the angle of the top frame.

Straighten the frame.

Duplicate the left frame.

Freeze transformations by selecting the duplicated cube, and, in the Channel Box, go to Channels>Freeze>All

You will notice that all the Attribute values for the cube have become 0 or 1 (for scale).

Freezing transformations is a good way to make the origin for an object at the place you want it to be.

Select the cube and Scale it to -1 in X or Z (depending on how you set up the room) to flip the cube around and make the top edge match the top sill shape.

Move it over to the other side and set into place.

For the center window frames, scale the frame you moved to the middle, and move it into a few places to make the window, as shown. Using wireframe on shaded (in the shading menu in the viewport) makes it easier to see what you are doing with the edges. Duplicate each side frame, scale them and translate them to create the panes as shown below.

These two center frames shouldn't extend out as much as the outer frames. Scale them down a bit to make them thinner (sticking out a bit less from the window pane itself).

Be sure your frames and sill are named correctly.


Delete history and make a windowFrame group with all your window frame and sill objects.

To do that, select all the window frame and sill objects and hit Command + g.

You will see that group1 is created in the outliner. Rename it windowFrameGroup and Center the Pivot for the group (by default a group's pivot is at 0,0,0).

In general, whenever you have lots of objects that are all part of one thing, it is good to organize them in the Outliner in groups. I won't keep telling you that, but expect you will rename objects and organize the Outliner throughout.

Your window should look something like this:

Adding trim

Look around. There is always some kind of trim to hide the seam between the flooring and the wall. In Sudikoff it is ugly vinyl. In homes, it is usually wood trim of various shapes.

Create a poly cube and set the height to around 12. Move it over to the edge of where a wall meets the floor.

Increase the width and depth a bit (around 2 or 3, to make it easier to see).

We'll define the top bevelled edge. Select the top front edgef and bevel it.

Change the fraction, number of segments and roundness to get the look

Then insert edge loops horizontally along the trim front. You will notice it only goes across the front side because of the way the bevel changes the geometry. That is fine. Push the edge in to create some additional shaping

Continue adding edge loops and shaping. Look at photos of edge trim for inspiration.

Remember: hitting the "g" key repeats the last command. This is a super handy keyboard command!

Delete the side faces of the trim as well as the back and bottom. You just need the front edge.

Make sure your bottom verts line up nicely with the floor.

Now just scale the trim out in X to make the trim sections.

We will stop here for this tutorial, but if you were doing this on your own room, you'd need to carefully fit your trim along all edges that show, making sure the trim doesn't stick through the walls and making clean corners.

Build out the fireplace.

Create a cube and move it into place so it fits nicely into the alcove, with the front of the cube flush with the front of the vertical beams and the height about the height that the base of the fireplace will be.

Select the front face and Extrude into the room a bit as shown.

Extrude the upper face of the first cube and extrude straight up.

Pull it up into the ceiling and then scale in Z to make it narrower at the top as shown.

It is a tapered fireplace to replicate a ski chalet.

Next create the opening.

Insert the edge loop (reset the tool to default settings) And insert an edge where the top of the opening will be.

And then set the Insert Edge Loop Tool to multi edge 2 and create two vertical edges. Use the select tool and shift double click on each edge (to select both edges all the way up the chimney. Use the scale tool to separate the edges as shown below.

Select the two vertices at the top corners of where the opening will be and scale them a bit to make that face more of a square.

Select the opening front face and Extrude.

Push it back to create the opening

Looking good. Be sure to rename everything in the scene!

We are going to put brick blocks around the fireplace to make it look good. Most of the detail will be added through texturing and by adding a bump map. You just want to get the basic shape for now.

Create a cube and make it about half the height of the hearth and extend it out as shown into a large brick shape (these are more like stones than bricks.

In the INPUT node increase the subdivisions in the width to 5, Height to 2 and depth to 2, so it looks like the cube below (you may need to make the depth 5 and the width 2, depending on your room orientation). Insert some edge loops around the outer edges so it holds its shape.

This time, we'll smooth the cube a different way. Select the cube in object mode and, in the Modeling Toolkit select Mesh>Smooth

This adds additional subdivisions between each edge, making a higher res object. The default number of divisions is fine.

In Vertex Component mode, Turn on Soft Select in the Modeling Toolkit or double click on the selection icon and change it in the tool settings.

You can increase the area selected by holding the b key and dragging your mouse. You can also change it in the Falloff radius. Increase that to 10.0

Select areas around the brick and move them slightly to make the over-all shape a cube, but with some imperfections.

Having the extra geometry from Smoothing, allows you to get more detailing as you add irregularity. Consider all the sides, because as you place the brick around the fireplace, you can rotate this block to make it look like many different bricks.

It starts to look more irregular, but to make it look more like a rock, it needs some actual geometry to add cuts and other imperfections into it.

We'll use the Multi-Cut tool. With the Move tool selected and in component mode, Shift Right Click on the Polygon and choose Multi Cut Start at a vertex splitting the polygons across the surface as shown

Go across the corner and end it back at a vertex.

Hit Enter.

Use Insert Edge Loop Tool to insert an edge loop in the center. You won't be able to insert and edge loop from the edges, just in the center as shown. (be sure soft select is off).

Use the Move tool and Push that edge inward to make it look like a cut in the stone.

Adjust the vertices until you get a shape you like.

Select some faces and extrude them out.

You can rotate the shape a bit to make it uneven, and you can merge a few verts, too.

Keep playing with the shape to make it interesting to the eye. Remember bumps will be added later, this is for the bigger, more coarse shaping.

Now you can put the blocks onto the fireplace.

Move the block over to one corner on the floor as shown below

Make sure it is sitting on top of the floor (not through it). Make sure you've named the poly cube to stone or some other descriptive name.

Duplicate the block and rotate it so you see a different side or rotate it so they are flipped one to the other.

Scale them down a bit to fit (group them first, center the pivot and scale the whole row)

Keep going. Duplicate the group and push them back behind this row (towards the wall). offset them, rotate them to avoid evenness. Push one faces and delete them to make a half sized block, rotate the brick so the filled edge is pointing outward, and scale a bit.

You can stop after you get the bottom part of the fireplace done, but in the past, students built the entire fireplace - so you are lucky!

Save. Delete History

Next we'll make some furniture (see Tutorial 2).