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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.
Now that we have the basic flow zones established for all the major body parts, it's time to add detail. Fleshing out the character is relatively easy at this point, because most of the thinking has already been done. Because we planned ahead, we avoid having to tediously rework the geometry. Although we have a lot of tweaking to do, it will be mostly based on artistic decisions, rather than struggling with the technology. In order to flesh out the body, we will be using a combination of TurboSmooth, Swift Loop, Paint Deform, and good old-fashioned tweaking.
Let's get down to it. Let me zoom out in these different views so that we can compare the body to the model. There are still some big ways that the model is falling short of the shapes in the reference. Let's address that by inserting some edge loops and tweaking them to fit the reference better. I'm going to select the body, and then we'll just go up to Edit and pick Swift Loop. So it looks like the chest is one of the biggest areas. There is a lot of volume here in the back and the front of the chest that we were missing out on, so I am just going to insert some edge loops so we have some more geometry to work with.
We are also going to need a lot more geometry around the shoulder for deformations to happen there, so let's insert some more loops here and here, and also down the arm. We are going to need some more loops here around the ribcage underneath the armpit. He is going to need to bend a lot more here at the waist and at the hips. And let's see about the legs here too.
Now I will just go in and use good old-fashioned tweaking to position these closer to what the reference is showing us. So let's just go into Vertex mode, and I also want to turn on TurboSmooth. So actually, let me get out of Vertex mode, and we'll put on the TurboSmooth first. And we will give it Iterations of 2 and use Isoline Display. Back to Editable Poly, and let's make sure we can see the end result. So with the TurboSmooth done, we are going to get a much closer approximation of what this model is going to look like when it has a lot more geometry. And as we were tweaking these shapes, we can actually line up the TurboSmooth version with the reference, rather than the low-poly version, and it's actually going to give us a more accurate result.
It looks like there are big changes to be made here in the shoulders and arms. And the back of the character definitely need some adjustments to be made. Let's also see what this looks like when we have Symmetry applied. So I am going to get out of Vertex mode and put a Symmetry on. And it looks like we are going to have to move that axis of symmetry, so let's go into its Mirror mode and move it over.
I'll hit S to turn on Snaps so we can make sure that that's snapped right to the center. It looks good, and I'll just hit S to turn Snaps off. I just want to make sure that that symmetry isn't accidentally welding anything that we don't want to get welded. So it looks like we might have a little bit of a problem here in the back. Let me zoom in here. I want to turn off TurboSmooth just for now, so that we can see a little bit more accurately what's going on. Okay, it looks like something strange has happened right here. So let's turn down the Threshold and see if that helps anything. Okay, that's good.
That fixed that problem. Let me see if there are any issues down in here. No, that looks good all the way through the rest of it. Let's just make more tweaks to get the shape we want on some more specific parts of the anatomy. For example, I want to get more definition under the buttocks. So let's come in here. And it looks like I am going to need to add some more edge loops, so let's go back to Editable Poly and turn on End result. Go to Edit > Swift Loop, and we'll just add another loop or two so that we can define the shape underneath there.
Okay, so I am just going on under Vertex mode and just pick a few of the verts and push them around a little bit so we get a little bit of crease underneath the buttocks. Also, let's look at the chest some more. I want there to be kind of a crease underneath the pec muscles, so let's tweak this a little bit so that we get kind of a bulge in the chest. I am just going to Ctrl+Click a few of these vertices and push them forward. You can even grab some of these vertices underneath the crease and push them upwards.
Let's also add some edge loops going down the arms. It looks like it's a little too blocky right now. If we have some more loops, we could really define that area a little bit better. So let's get out of Vertex mode and go get Swift Loop. I will just throw in a loop there and one on this back side. You might want to turn off See-Through if it's getting in your way. Then you just go into Move mode and grab those edges that you just made and you can just push them around a little bit so that you can get a little bit more round shape out of it.
So by tweaking this, I kind of work a little bit more roundness and softness into the shape. I'm going to turn off See-Through mode so I can see things more clearly. And I just want to take a step back and evaluate things for a second. It's always good to step back and just make sure there is not any big major problems, like this happening right here in the back where there's a giant collapse happening.
I will just go in and tweak this and fix this, pull these back. Also, you want to be on the lookout for any polygons that get really long. So let's see if there are any unusually long polygons. Actually, right here in the middle, we could probably space these out a little bit more so that there's not these edges really close together. Now there are sometimes where you're going to want some edges closer together, but that's only for specific reasons, like where you want to hold a crease, like, for example, underneath the pecs. Now these edges are going to have to get a little bit closer underneath the crotch, because they just have to get close together there.
This phase of modeling where you work out all the anatomical details can be boring to watch. There's not really anything to say about it other than just keep tweaking and using everything you've learned so far about edge loops and modeling to keep shaping it out. I would probably spend several hours tweaking and sculpting to get this just right, but we'll skip ahead now to the last few steps. Let's use the power of TurboSmooth to do some of this work for us. So let's get out of Vertex mode, and we are going to up to the TurboSmooth that we made and turn it on, and also I want to turn off Isoline Display and just make one iteration.
So let's see the difference between this TurboSmooth version and the way it was originally. Okay, so TurboSmooth is adding a lot of geometry for us, and it's also helping to smooth things out. What I want to do is convert it to editable poly so we can lock in that TurboSmooth. With this extra geometry, you can tweak in even more detail. If there's too much geometry in some areas, you can simply select an edge and go to Loops and Remove Loop. So let's experiment with that right now. Let's say that you've got too many edges going around the waist.
I actually kind of like it right now, but let's just do this as an example. Pick one loop and then Shift+Click an edge next to it. Then you just simply go up to Edges and Remove. And I will just undo that, because I actually like that loop there. Now you use everything you've learned up to this point to flesh out the body. It's simply a matter of inserting edge loops where needed and tweaking the geometry until it looks good. This part of the process relies more on your artistic ability than your technical skill.
Fleshing out character models can be both rewarding and frustrating. It's easy in a sense that there are not a lot of technical issues to deal with. It's more about being an artist and a craftsperson. It's about looking at the shapes and making artistic decisions about how to edit it. By the same token, it can be hard, because there's no step-by-step guide for making any specific character--well, except this one. Every model's anatomy will be different and require you to think on your feet about how best to shape it. Hopefully, with this course you'll be able to practice the concepts and refine your artistic skill so that when you do your own character models you'll be able to apply what you learned here to any modeling project you have.
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