Constructing the palm and thumb
Video: Constructing the palm and thumbHands are widely regarded as one of the most complex anatomical structures for the artist. The following steps, however, show you how to simplify it and focus on the most important shapes first. Many modelers struggle for days to make good hands because they don't establish a solid base structure. This video will show you how to start off right, so that the details have a good foundation. Let's start making the hand with a new object, rather than building off of the arm. You could extrude from the arm, but my preference is to start it separately, because I can insert edge loops without worrying about those loops shooting down the arm and body without my control.
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Modeling a Character in 3ds Max with Ryan Kittleson covers the process of designing and building a 3D human character that can be used for feature film, broadcast, and games. The course begins with an overview of the 3ds Max tools and techniques used in character modeling, and how human anatomy is represented using 3D geometry. Once this foundation is in place, the rest of the course goes step by step through the actual process used to model a simple human character from the ground up, including facial features, musculature, and details such as hair and clothing.
- Extruding edges and faces
- Working symmetrically
- Setting up the image planes
- Creating the basic facial structure and features
- Modeling and fleshing out the body
- Creating the hair with extruded NURBS curves
- Modeling clothes
- Putting on finishing touches
- Understanding UVW maps and seams
- Dealing with UVW maps across multiple objects
Constructing the palm and thumb
Hands are widely regarded as one of the most complex anatomical structures for the artist. The following steps, however, show you how to simplify it and focus on the most important shapes first. Many modelers struggle for days to make good hands because they don't establish a solid base structure. This video will show you how to start off right, so that the details have a good foundation. Let's start making the hand with a new object, rather than building off of the arm. You could extrude from the arm, but my preference is to start it separately, because I can insert edge loops without worrying about those loops shooting down the arm and body without my control.
I find it easier to make the hand first and then think about how I'm going to attach it to the body. Let's freeze the body so it stays out of the way for now. Right-click, Object Properties, and Freeze. Let's start off by making a box and positioning it over the palm in the reference image. Let's go to Create > Box. I am just going to click and drag the box roughly over the palm and then look at the size--we can reposition that later-- and click again and right-click to lock it in.
Let's make sure that we can see all our edged faces. So I am actually going to change this up here, all of these, to edged faces and set it to Shaded. Same thing here, okay, Shaded, Edged Faces, good. Then I am also going to change the Perspective view to Shaded instead of Realistic. Okay, let's go and change some of the parameters of this box. It's got a few too many edge loops to begin with. So I'll click on it and go to Width Segments.
I am going to change that to just 1 and also 1 Height Segment. It looks like I might need to move this box over a little bit in the right-hand view. Let's move this over here. Okay, that's pretty well lined up. One thing I want to do is make a wrist. We've got the palm right now, but I want to create a little extra edge loop for the wrist. So let's convert this to an editable poly so we can make those changes. I am going to select the polygon that's closest to the wrist and we'll just extrude it out.
And I am actually going to hit Delete because we want to have an open edge to be able to connect it to the wrist later. I'm actually going to go into Vertex and scoot some of these vertices a little bit closer up here. Okay, now we want to insert some edge loops into this box so that we can start giving it some shape. Let's get out of Vertex mode, and I want to go and get the Swift Loop tool.
And what I want to do is make a loop that goes around the palm. And it's going to kind of form that crease that happens when you bend your fingers and the top part of the palm bends along with the fingers. So let's make a loop there, and I also want to make a loop down the length of the palm. Let's kind of divide the palm into the half where the thumb is and the half where the thumb is not, and just right-click to lock that in. Something else I want to do is delete these polygons at the tip. This will leave an opening where we can put the fingers in later.
And right now the hand is looking a little too thick. Let's just widen it out a little bit. I am just going to select some of these polygons and move them around. Maybe scoot these down too. Okay. Now to make the thumb. We are going to make the thumb coming out of this side of the hand, but one common mistake that a lot of people make is to extrude the thumb directly out of the side of the palm, out of this polygon right here.
However, if you take a look at your own hand and move your thumb around, you will see that about a third of your palm is really the base of your thumb joint. So let's include that part of the palm in the thumb when we extrude it. So I am going to Shift+Select this polygon here as well, and let's go down to Extrude. Okay, and now we can just tweak this. We'll use Move and Rotate and Scale to make something that gets a little bit narrower at the tip. And let's scoot it forward a little bit, so it kind of has an angle to it.
I might use Rotate at this point. I think I might need to tweak some individual vertices as well. And I'll keep making a few adjustments. I am going to tweak this a little bit more. Let's see if I can get this a little bit rounder, go into Edge mode and scale some of these edges down. And let's try moving a few more vertices. I'm just tweaking it to make it line up with the reference better.
I am going to go ahead in full screen mode and show just one more adjustment I want to make. There is an edge at the very tip of the thumb that I want to remove and re-cut at a different angle. This is because one poly here is going to be the top of the thumb. I am going to go full screen in Perspective view. There is one extra adjustment I want to make. The top of the thumb is going to be out of this polygon right here, but there is this edge right here at the tip of the thumb, it's kind of going at this angle that's not very complementary to that.
If I have an edge actually going at this angle, it's going to be more parallel with the angle of the top of the thumb. So what I am going to do is go into Edge mode and pick this edge right here and delete it. Now I can go into Border Edge mode, and let's go up to Geometry and Cap Poly. All I want to do is cut a new edge that goes in this angle. I will going to go up to Edit > Cut, and we'll just click from this vertex down to this one and right-click to lock it in.
It's not really a big deal, but it helps me visualize how the model relates to the anatomy at this early stage of the modeling. So let's just take a look all the way around the hand to see what we've got. I might just want to make one little change right here. There is this one vertex, and I just want to scoot if forward a little bit so we don't have a weird depression there at the base of the thumb. So that's the basic edge flow for a hand. Adding joints and details will be easy because the underlying edge flow has been established.
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