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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.
Unwrapping UVWs for a single object is easy enough, but how do you deal with a character that's made up of many objects, like our Hank here? There are many different things to take into account when creating UVW maps for a character like this. It can often be a good idea to place multiple objects into a single UVW space so that you don't have to deal with a different texture map for each object. On the other hand, sometimes a character will have a variety of clothing or props that should each have their own textures, making it a necessity to give each object their own UVW space and textures.
For Hank, we'll combine all of the anatomical objects, like the body, eyes, teeth, and hair, into one UVW map and then put all the clothing into a different UVW map. So we've got Hank here with all of his parts. One obstacle to using Quick Peel is that some objects might already have UV seams. When an object is made from a cube for example, it keeps the automatically generated seams that come with the cube primitive. We need to get rid of those seams before we can make our own.
Let's click on one of the eyebrows and give it a UV Unwrap Modifier. And I'm just going to hit Z to zoom in on this eyebrow. It might be hard to see in this video, but you can see what these green lines on some of these edges that there are already seams on this object, and they're running in places where I really don't want them to be. Let's delete this Unwrap UVW Modifier.
Before we go any further, we're going to put a UVW Map Modifier on it. With this modifier, we can create very simple UVWs based on a planar projection. It also eliminates existing seams. So it's just set to Planar and there's really nothing else we need to do, because we're going to cut our own seams later. But basically we want to eliminate existing seams, and that's what this is going to do. Now we can go back and add the Unwrap UVW Modifier.
Now let's select some edges along the back side of the brow and convert those to seams. So let's go into Edge mode, and I'm just going to select some of these edges that are hard to see along the back side. So I just clicked one-- let's convert that to a loop--and then I'll go down and convert that Edge Selection to Seams. Now click Quick Peel. Cool! Quick and easy UVs. Moving on, let's learn how to transfer UVWs from one object to another. It's very easy.
Let's close out of the Edit UVWs for right now, and let's get a view so we can see both eyebrows. Now I want to transfer the UVWs that I made for one eyebrow onto the other. All you do is go up to your modifier that you want to transfer and click and drag it onto another object that has the same polygons. Usually this only works if one object is a duplicate of the other. That way you know they have the exact same polygons. Just to make sure it worked, let's open up the UVW Editor on the right-hand brow. All right! It looks like it's got the same UVs that the other brow has.
Now let's look at another case. The teeth were created to be instances so that anything you do to one of them happens to the others. Let's put an Unwrap UVW Modifier on one of the teeth and do a quick-peel. Let's get out of the Unwrap UVW for the brow really quick and click on a tooth. The teeth are so simply shaped that I don't even need to cut seams or anything like that first; Quick Peel will just flatten them right out.
Let me zoom in a little bit on this so we can see it better. All right! There is the tooth. I'll close out of UV Editor right now, and let's click on a different tooth. I'll make sure we get out of Vertex mode for that first tooth. We can select another tooth, and we see that it's got the exact same Unwrap UVW Modifier.
That's because it's an instance. So what I'll do is look at its UV Editor and see that it's got the exact same layout. Let's look at the hair now. The hair is all one object, but each clump was created independently, so we can't just unwrap one clump and copy it to all the others. To save time, I already cut seams down the length of each clump so that I can unwrap it flat. Let's take a look at this.
So these blue lines are seams where I've already cut. Notice I tried to hide them in places where it's not easy to see. There's just one clump left to do. So let's go into Edge mode in the Unwrap UVW Modifier and click on the one edge of this clump right here. So Edge mode. And let's find an edge that's difficult to see from the front. This one is nicely hidden back here.
Let me select the entire loop, and I'll go down to Convert Edge Selection to Seams. Now let's run Quick Peel. Now all of these hair clumps are kind of overlapping right now, so let's use that Pack Normalize button to space them out. Looking great! Now let's learn how to combine all of the anatomical objects into one single UVW map. If we combined all of these elements into one UVW space right now, these hair clumps will be overlapping the body clumps and they'll just get in the way of each other, so I want to just select all of these UVW elements right now and get them out of the way.
I'm just going to Drag+Select over everything and just kind of move them off to the side. One last thing before we bring it all together: let's put a simple UVW projection on the eyeballs. Let's get out of Edge mode for the hair and take a look at the eyes. We won't ever see the back side of the eyeballs, so we can just simply project the UVs. And I want to give it a UVW Map Modifier.
If we change the display mode to Wireframe, it might be easier to see. So there is the little brown box. That's a planar projection in the Z axis, and that's going to work great. Let's switch this back to Shaded mode. Go ahead and use what you've learned about cutting seams and Quick Peel to unwrap UVWs for the gums and the tongue. So let's get all of these anatomical objects together in one map. I'm going to zoom out and select everything that's part of his body. It looks like everything else that's not selected is clothing, so that's good.
Now with everything selected we just add an Unwrap UVW Modifier. Notice that this title of the modifier is italicized. That means that it's going onto multiple objects at once. Now let's just open up the UV Editor. Wow! It looks like a big jumble. Let's use the Move, Scale, and Rotate tools to arrange all of these elements into place. So I'm going to move this window so I can see things better.
Let's click by Select By Elements, and I'm just going to move some of these things out of the way so they're not all overlapping each other. Now we just need to get all of these elements fitting into that checkerboard space. Now a lot of these can be scaled down. For example, this is the eyes, and that's a lot bigger than the eyes are relative to the other pieces of geometry, so I'm just going to go into Scale mode and hold Ctrl and just scale this down.
Then we just move this into place. It doesn't really matter where you place it; it usually works better if you put things in the smallest place where they can fit. So if I just zoom in here, you see maybe there's even a better place to put it right here. Then individual hair clumps can go into place. If you're not sure what one of these elements corresponds to--like this thing right here, if you can't remember what that is--if you slide the viewport over, anything that you select in the UVs will highlight here on your model.
So you can see, okay, that's the brows. So I'm just going to scale the brows in because they're not as big as everything else. I'll just keep refining this. I'm going to go ahead and stop it there, because from here on out it's just a matter of scaling things and moving them around to find the best position for everything.
Go ahead and do the same process for all the clothing pieces as well, giving them their own separate UVW space. You can cut seams, use Quick Peel, and then combine and arrange. Laying out UVs is actually an enjoyable task for me. You get to just move pieces around and fit them together like Legos. Fit the big objects in the UVW space first and then fit medium-sized pieces next. Finally, the small pieces can go and fill in the little gaps.
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