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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've got the UVWs roughly placed, it's time to work out any problems. We need to make sure that there aren't any overlapping polygons. There also shouldn't be any polygons that extend past the checkered area. We'll use several different tools within the UVW Editor, such as soft selections and the Relax tool. So we've got Hank here. Let's go in and select all of his anatomical objects. I am going to select these things one by one, because we actually don't need to select things that are instances.
So the teeth are instances of each other, so I am just going to select one tooth; the gums are instances, so just one gum; and let's see if I can sneak in here and grab that tongue. Okay, it selected the tongue. Let's also get the eyeballs and the eyebrows. Now if we ever deselect all these and want to come back to them, it might be tedious to go and select them all individually again, so what we can do is create a selection preset. So if we go up here and click in this box, you can type in a name-- let's call this anatomy--and just hit Enter.
Now if you deselect it, you can go up here and click the dropdown and click anatomy and it's going to go back and select everything that you had selected when you created that preset. Okay, let's open up the UV Editor. Here is all of our work from before. I've got all the elements packed into the same UVW space. However, there are still a few things to work on before I'd call it finished. Let's zoom in on the face.
Notice how the eyes, mouth, and nostrils are overlapping. Quick Peel does a great job in most places, but it has trouble getting the highly detailed areas around holes to flatten correctly. This used to be a tedious job to fix all of these polygons by hand. Thankfully, Max has a feature called Relax that will straighten this all out. Let's go ahead and maximize this so we can see as much as possible. And let's make sure that we turn off Select By Element because we want to drag a selection over individual polygons. And let's go in and just select this part of this eye right here where things are kind of getting all tangled up.
Now we go up to the Tool menu and click Relax. There are several settings to control the underlying math of what Relax can do, but there's really only one setting that I use for the most part. By all means play around with the different controls to get a sense for how they work, but I tend to just ticked with Relax By Centers. So if you click this dropdown, there is a Relax By Centers option. Also, the effect is usually way too strong, so I usually bring down Iterations to just one and I also like to set the amount of relax to 0.01.
Depending on how fast your computer is, you might have to set this a little bit higher or lower, but let's click Relax and see what happens. This Relax type can get out of hand if you're not careful, but it looks like it's doing a pretty good job. When it looks like everything is untangled, go ahead and click Stop Relax. Let me zoom in and make sure it did a good job.
Okay, it looks like nothing is overlapping. That's great! Sometimes things will still be tangled. In that case, I'll just drag a selection over whatever is still giving me problems and run Relax again. Go ahead and do the same for the other parts of the face. Then we'll move on to fixing other problems. The UV Editor has a Soft Select feature that works a lot like Soft Select in regular 3D mode. Let's use it to fix this little overlapping issue that we have between two of these elements.
You see that one of these elements is overlapping the other. Let's click on one of these vertices that's overlapping, and we'll go down here and turn on Soft Selection. Then we also need to increase the tolerance of this Soft Selection. Now I am just going to go into the Move mode by clicking W, and let's move this off of here. You could just move that one vertex without Soft Selection, but the problem with that is that it would be deforming just one polygon while leaving all of the others around it untouched.
That can cause any textures applied to be stretched in a weird way right there. By softening the selection, we make any edits less noticeable by spreading them out over more polygons. Another way to use Soft Selection is to help use up more UV space. Right now, there are gaps between a lot of the elements, and that's just wasted space. We can tug around of the UVs to make better use of all our texture space. So let's see, there is some open space right here. You might just select some of these vertices. And I am going to drag this over to fill up this space a little bit better.
Don't worry about filling 100% of the gaps. There should be a least a little space between elements. You also don't want to drastically warp the elements because that can cause the textures to get distorted. Just a casual pushing and pulling to get back some of this open space is what we need. One of the last things to look out for is any polygons that are crossing over the checkered space. Let's see if there's any. Okay, there is one right here.
I am just going to use Soft Select to nudge this back into place. Let's decrease the effect here so that we are not moving quite so many vertices at once. See, I am going to type in 0 and then change this just a little bit at a time, because it looks like the effect was happening way too drastically. All right, let's go into Move mode and nudge these up.
And maybe I might move some of these vertices individually without soft selection as well, just because they need to move just a little bit. When you are done with this, go ahead and practice the same thing with the clothing UVs. There is a lot more buttons here that you could push when it comes to laying out UVs, but I rarely have a need to use them. What I've shown in this chapter is all you need to do for 98% of UV layout work. From here, a texture artist could paint color and bump maps. Having the UVs laid out officially goes a long way towards making textures look good.
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