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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 shoulder area is a particularly tricky part of the anatomy to model because of the wide variety of movements that shoulders must be able to make. Shoulders can move, rotate, and twist in so many different ways that there is no one single topology that will work perfectly for all animation needs. The approach that we will take in this video is for an average setup that should work well for most character designs. As you get better at modeling, and as you work with setup artists, you should be able to adapt what you learn here to a variety of situations.
Before getting into the body, let's do one thing: I am going to make the head objects frozen so that they don't get in the way of what I am doing with the body. I'm just going to select everything and right- click. Go to Object Properties and Freeze. The first thing I want to do with the body is establish the flow zone for the shoulder and chest. This part of the body has very specific ways that the muscles and joints move. We want the edge flow to complement those deformations. So let's take a better look at the reference. I am going to go out to the front view here.
Looking at Hank, notice how there's a line underneath the pectoral muscles and it goes up to the division between the shoulder and the arm. This is a common feature in real humans as well. Start with a plane in the front view. So we'll go up to the Create palette and click Plane. I also want to make sure it snapped to the center. So I am going to hit S, turn that on, and we'll just draw this plane out, roughly over the chest, and right-click to lock that in. Let's go up and turn on Edged Faces so we can see better what's happening. So we want to get rid of some of these extra edges that were created, so let's go up to Modify and just set Length Segs to 1 and Width to 1 as well.
Okay, let's convert this to an editable poly. And we can also turn off Snaps now. And I just want to tweak the vertices of this plane so it fits a little bit better over the chest. So let's go into our Multiple views and go into Vertex mode. I am going to zoom out here. I just want to move some of these verts so that they line up better with the reference, and I will just keep refining this.
It doesn't have to be terribly precise at this point. Now we want to continue building off of this, so let's go into Edge mode and select this edge right here on the outside edge of this plane, and we'll Shift+Move it out. So this is basically going to extrude that edge so we get more geometry to work with. And let's just tweak this shape. I will go back into Vertex mode, and I want to make it go roughly from top of the clavicle and then, let's see, from, roughly from the top of the clavicle to the armpit.
And we might want to tweak this from the front view a little bit too. Okay, let's do that same thing but move it again up to the top of the shoulder. So I am Shift+Moving up, and we'll just rotate this and tweak it into place. And I will keep making a few adjustments.
Let's see, Perspective view might be easier to see what's going on here. Let's adjust some other things. All right! Let's do the same thing again. I am just going to keep extruding this back, now this time to the back of the shoulder. Shift and move it back.
And this time I am going to make the object see-through because I want to be able to see what's going on in the backside of it. And click OK. It doesn't have to be terribly precise. We're going to be making major changes to this later, so just something basic to get it to blocked in. Let's do that extrude a couple of more times: holding down Shift and just move it down, and then lining it up with the reference.
Now for one final extrude. I can use Scale here to make sure it flattens out. I can just scale it in one axis and that all gets straight. Okay. So there is the basic flow zone for the chest and shoulder. It's blocky and unrefined right now, but any edge loops that you add will automatically follow the right edge flow. So you don't have to do any tricky re-cutting or welding vertices or any of that kind of thing.
This shape that we have right now is what's called a cowl, named after the piece of clothing that's kind of like a scarf that goes around your neck and hangs over your chest and shoulders. Let's continue building the upper body. We want to close off this ribcage area underneath the armpit. So what I will do is I will grab this edge right here--it kind of goes between the chest and the armpit--and we're just going to extrude that back. So holding down Shift and move. I will just move that back, and I'll just rotate it and move it into place. I'll just get it a little bit more down below the arm. And let's see if it lines up in this view too, just a little tweak. And let's just move that one more time.
Shift and move and rotate. We'll use Target Weld to connect this piece to the back of the cowl. So let's go into Vertex mode and go find Target Weld. With that on, we'll just click and drag from one vertex to the one we want to weld it to. And right-click to lock it in. Now with the upper torso done, we have a hole right here from which we can extrude the arm. I just want to tweak this a little bit to get it looking a little bit more square.
We can select this entire opening at once if we go into the Border Sub-Object mode. And now let's go in the front view and just Shift+Move this out and extrude it down to the wrist. I want to use Scale here just to get this a little bit flatter and also scale it down so it matches the size of the wrist better. Let's move this into place. Now we need to add some more subdivisions along the length of the arm for the elbow and the muscles and stuff like that. So let's go up into Graphite modeling tools and Edit and add a Swift Loop, right about here at the elbow. And then I will just go into Scale mode and kind of scale this so it's a little bit more flat, maybe make it a little bit larger.
Let's move that over the elbow. Let's go back and select this loop around the wrist. What I want to do here is rotate a little bit. I want to rotate it for two reasons. There is a natural twist to the bones and muscles of the forearm when the palm is facing down like this. It's also so that the hole where the hand connects to the wrist is rectangular rather than diamond-shaped. So let's rotate this. I am going to go into Rotate mode with E and just twist this a little bit.
The wrist is a little bit wider than it is tall, so I am going to scale that out a little bit. It will be easier to attach the hand when the wrist is at this angle. Now to do the lower torso. Let's go into Edge mode and select all the edges around the bottom of the torso that we've created. So I am just going to hold down Ctrl. Let me change this actually so it's not see-through anymore. It's kind of hard to see. Okay, we've got all those edges selected.
I will just go into Move mode and Shift+Move down. I will bring them roughly down to the waist. I am actually going to go make it see-through again so we can see the reference through it and just tweak so it fits. Let's see what this looks like from Perspective view.
Sometimes it's hard to tell from the front and side views what's going on. I want to just round out the shape a little bit more. Okay, and there is a rough block-out for the upper body. This approach to modeling a torso is a nice balance of simplicity and functionality. It can be used for most character designs, with little or no alteration. Even highly detailed anatomically correct bodies can be done this way. All you do is add more edge loops and tweak them to fit the anatomy.
We'll work more on fleshing out the detail in the body in a later movie. For now, we have the flow zones established, so adding more edge loops will be a snap.
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