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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.
The fingers are a fun chance to do some stylization on toony characters. It's also a good way to learn some timesaving techniques, by modeling just one finger and then copying it for the rest. Let's start out by freezing the hand so that it doesn't get in the way of the fingers for now. I am just going to select it, right- click, Object Properties, and Freeze. Let's start by making just one finger. Then we'll duplicate it. This is going to save time, so that we only really have to work on one finger. Let's make a box and drag it over the reference and right-click to lock it in.
Let's look at this in the Perspective view. I am just going to hit Z to zoom in. We want to convert this to an editable poly so we can make some changes to it. Let's go into Polygon mode. I want to delete this face here that's closest to the palm so that we can connect it to the hand later. I'm also going to put a TurboSmooth on this, just to make it easier to see what this is eventually going to look like. So let's get out of Polygon mode and go put on a TurboSmooth. Let's give it Isoline Display and two iterations.
This is a good opportunity to see the effect that smoothing has on different types of topology. Notice how the finger is tapering a lot at the tip of the finger. This is because there's just one edge running the entire length of the finger right now. As I add Edge Loops to define the knuckles, watch what happens. So I am going to go back to Editable Poly, and let's turn on Show End Result, and let's just go up to Edit > Swift Loop. So now watch what happens as I make some new edge loops for the knuckles.
Adding more detail to the low-res mesh restrains the effect of the smooth. For this character, I want him to have stubby flat fingertips. I can do this by placing a final edge loop very close to the tip of the finger. This kind of edge loop is known as a holding edge. You can use it whenever you want a corner to be slightly rounded but mostly sharp. It's useful for making bevels. Most corners in the real world have at least a very slight roundness to them. Placing an edge loop close to a corner like this and then using TurboSmooth is a great way to replicate such corners in 3D.
The closer the holding edge is to the corner edge, the tighter the bevel. We can actually see that effect in real time. If we go into Vertex mode--I am just going to rotate this so we see it more easily-- I am going to go into Move mode, and just watch what happens as we move this holding edge closer to that corner. We get a tighter bevel--there's really close-- or a little looser one if it's farther away. Let's go ahead and add one more edge loop to the base of the finger.
The surface doesn't change at all here because the model is already open at this side. There's no polygon at the base for the TurboSmooth to curve towards. Now, let's make the other fingers. I am going to go into Move mode, and I'll just hold down Shift while I move this finger over. Actually, at first, I am going to move the whole finger a little bit more towards the end of the palm. Then I will hold down Shift as I move it. Now it is asking me what type of copy I want to make. I am going to make little bits of changes to each individual finger, so I don't want it to be an instance, because changing one would change all of them.
So I'll just leave it on Copy, and let's do that one more time. Now let's unfreeze the hand and get the fingers attached to it. Go ahead and click anywhere you want and then go up to Unfreeze All. Before we move on, let's delete the TurboSmooth from the fingers. TurboSmooth will cause problems if you attach an object that doesn't have TurboSmooth to an object that does.
Let's see if the size of the palm is roughly about the size of the fingers. Okay, yeah. It looks pretty good all the way around. There might be a little bit of adjustments that we need to make, but it's not too far off. Let's select the hand. It looks like I moved it a little bit. I am just going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo that. Now what we want to do is go down to Attach, and now we can just select each finger, click once, twice, three times and right-click to lock it in. We need to create some edge loops on the hand so that the fingers have somewhere to connect to.
I am going to use Swift Loop to make two more edges down the back of the hand and one more down the palm. Let's go into Edit > Swift Loop. Let's see, about one right here that will go in between the middle and index finger and then one right here between the pinky and the middle finger. Let's see. On the palm side-- Let's see. I think I am going to scoot this vertex over to here, so I'll just add one more edge right here and right-click to lock it in. Go into Vertex mode so I can make that change I was talking about.
There, now this vertex could be welded to these up here on the finger. Now, it's time to weld these verts. I am going to hit Alt+W so I can see this more clearly. I am going to use Target Weld. So I will just simply click and drag from a vertex that you want to weld and then the vertex that you want to weld it to. Okay, let's put a TurboSmooth on to see what it's going to look like. I am going to get out of Vertex mode.
A lot of times TurboSmooth can help you spot problems. For example, if two verts didn't weld properly but still happen to be on top of each other, you might be able to see it now. If that's a problem, TurboSmooth will make a hole in the model, and you will see a gap. Looks like everything's okay here. I am just going to make a few more edits before I call this hand done for now. Let's add a few more edges around the thumb. Right now there are not enough edges to hold any movement that this thumb would make, so I need to add some more loops to hold those joints.
Let's go back down to Editable Poly, and I am just going to insert some more loops with Swift Loop. And right-click to lock it in. Finally, I'll space the fingers out a little bit so that they're not so close together. There is a little trick I have for this. I am going to select a polygon at the tip of one of the fingers, and then I am going to click Grow. This increases the size of the selection to include adjacent polygons.
Now, let me just look at this from the top. I want to rotate this out just a little bit and then move it a little bit, just so we have a little bit more of a gap between the two fingers. And let me do the same thing with the pinky. I'm just going to rotate it out a bit and move it a bit. One last thing I want to do to the middle finger: make it just a little bit longer than the others. So I am going to do the same thing here. I am going to grow the selection. Then I will go into Scale mode by hitting R, and I'll just scale it a little bit in this direction and then move it forward just a bit too. All right! Let's step back for a second and evaluate what we have.
Looking pretty good. Now we have all the flow zones and proportions established for the hand and fingers. This method of duplicating fingers can come in handy for all types of situations where a character may have a series of similar parts, where modeling all of them separately would be time consuming. Toes can also be done this way. For realistic anatomy, you can also refine each finger individually in order to avoid the effect that all the fingers look unnaturally identical.
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