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Most human ears are almost identical in the real world, but when it comes to cartoony stylization, the ears are one of the most varied parts of the body. They can be complex and detailed, or they can be nothing more than simple nubs that stick out from the head, or they might be done away with altogether. This video will show you one way to make a middle-ground ear--one that's pretty common in cartoony animation. After learning these techniques, you should be able to modify them to make almost any kind of ear you want. I want to start out making the ear as a separate object that I'll then combine to the head when it's done.
Let's start out making a box, and we'll position it over the ear in the reference. Let's go up to the Create panel and click Box. I'll just click and drag in the front view and click again once we got a nice size of that box and then right-click to lock it in. Let's use Rotate and Move to get this looking a little bit more lined up with the reference. It's kind of got an angle to it. I'll use the Move tool here. Let's move it into place. All right! That's pretty close. One thing I want to do is turn on Edged Faces, so I'm just going to right-click here and click Edged Faces.
It's going to make it easier to see what we're doing. So we've already got an opening in the head, so let's make an opening in the ear so both of them can connect together. I am going to convert this box to an editable polygon. Now, let's go ahead and make a little bit of a stalk that's going to connect the ear to the head. So I'm going to select this polygon right here and extrude it out once. It looks like it's a little bit unwieldy.
It's kind of hard to get a nice graceful extrude off of that, so let me just undo that and use the Settings here. Let's kind of dial this back to something that's more manageable. I will just hit R to go into Scale mode and just kind of shrink it a little bit too. Actually, let me lock that in first, and then I'll shrink it. All right! Then I'll just hit Delete to get rid of that. So now we've got an opening in the ear. Now, to put some detail in the ear. Let's select the big front-facing polygon and use Insets to give it some more geometry.
So we're already in Polygon mode. I'll select that one right there, and let's go to Inset with Settings. It's a little bit crazy right now, so let's just dial this back, set it to 0, and just slowly bring it up a little bit more. All right! That's pretty good. I'll apply and continue, do that one more time. Looks like it did it too much there. All right! I'll hit OK to lock that in. So now we've got some more geometry that will give us some vertices and polygons to play with, to make the shape of the inner ear a lot better.
Let's extrude some of these polygons inward, so we get kind of a C shape in the ear. I'm going to go to Move mode and just Ctrl+Click some of these polygons so that we can extrude them inwards. Let's go use the Extrude with Settings and set this to a negative number, because we want kind of an indentation right here. All right! That looks good. Let's lock that in. Now, I want to see what this looks like with a TurboSmooth on it. Let's get out of Polygon mode and then add a TurboSmooth to the stack. All right! That looks pretty interesting.
With the TurboSmooth on, let's go back to Editable Poly and just modify the shape of this a little bit. It's looking a little mechanical, a little cold, so let's put a little bit more interesting shape into it and make sure we turn on End Result. I just want to tweak some of these vertices. So let's make sure we're in Vertex mode, and I'll just select some of these and tweak the shape around a bit. I also might want to use some paint deformation to get the shape looking a little bit smoother.
So I'll go to Freeform > Paint Deform, and I'll turn on Relax and just kind of work out any weird things that might be happening here. Okay, let's get this ear attached to the head. In order to do that, we need to make sure that the opening in the ear has the same number of edges as the opening in the head. Now, with the TurboSmooth the ear has eight edges around the opening. I know that head also has eight edges, but let's lock in the TurboSmooth to make sure those eight edges stay on the ear. So I'll just right-click on it and Convert To > Editable Poly.
To make the head and the ear one object, we need to attach them, so let's click on the head and go down to Attach. Just click Attach and then any other objects that we select will get added to the head object. Now, the ear is part of the head, and we'll just right-click to lock that in. Now, let's sew up the gap between them. It's kind of hard to see what this jumble of lines everywhere, so let's make sure we turn off See-Through. Now, we need to close up the gap between the ear and the head, so let's go into Vertex mode.
In order to close up the gap, let's use Target Weld. Simply click Target Weld and then click and drag from one vertex to another, and it automatically snaps the first vertex to the second. I'm just going to go through the whole gap here and just keep doing that. Let's go into full screen here, so we can see more up close what we're doing. It looks like there is just one more to do. Okay, great! Now that the surface is welded and shut, you can go in and tweak things to make it look better, or use Paint Deform to clean up any weird kinks that there might be in the mesh.
But there is the ear sewn together. That's all done. When doing cartoony modeling, you'll often find that the simplest and easiest approach is the best. Making this ear is bare-bones basic, but it gives a good toony result that can be modified into lots of different ear shapes.
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