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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 mouth is one of the parts of the body that undergoes extreme deformation. Muscles all around the mouth push and stretch the lips in a very elastic way. Getting the proper edge flow then becomes crucial to good animation. Luckily, we've already established the flow zone, so we have eliminated any guesswork about where to cut new edges because we can just insert more edge loops inside of our existing edge flow. There are three main things that I want to do to the mouth here. One is tweak the shape to make it more appealing; two is create more edge loops that I can use to increase the level of detail; and third is to create a closed- off mouth cavity on the inside.
So we have got the head here. I have already got a Symmetry modifier on the stack, so anything I do at one side of it's going to happen to the other. Now let's start tweaking out the shape. There are a few tools that I like to use here a lot when doing this type of work. One is Soft Selection. I want to push around some parts of the model to make the shape more appealing and to match the reference better. Just be careful of using this near the center line of the model. If you push or pull center vertices left or right it will cause problems with the symmetry. Let's go onto Editable Poly mode.
I am just going to go and pick Vertex. So the way Soft Selection works is down here in your Modify palette, and let's just click on this to open it up. I am going to turn on Use Soft Selection, and so I am just going to turn this down because it's kind of hard to see right now. When the Falloff is set really high, you can't really see the gradients. But what it's doing is any vertex you select, there is kind of a rainbow of gradual falloff of the effect that is going to happen when you start moving these vertices. So if I go into Move mode and just move some of this, you can see what I am talking about.
So I just had one vertex selected, but this soft falloff is making the vertices around it affected less and less the farther away they are. So you can set this Falloff to whatever you want; 0.8 seems to be working pretty good right now. Let's make sure we can see the end results of the symmetry. Okay, so let's just start tweaking some of these vertices around the mouth. I am going to go into my different views, maybe my side view, and see if we can get this lining up to the reference better.
So this is a lot easier than tweaking individual vertices at a time. I want to be able to see my reference better, actually. Let's go into Object Properties and make sure this is set to See-Through. Okay, this part might be a little tedious, but it's really important to make sure that this stuff is lining up with the reference, so I am just going to come in and start moving stuff around. Some of these changes are going to be fine-tuned enough where I might not want to use the soft selection and actually just pick individual vertices at a time.
And I'll just keep refining this. And I am just adjusting the Falloff so that I get a little tighter control over this. I don't want to affect quite so many vertices as it was selecting before. Okay, that's one thing you can do. Something else that helps here is Paint Deform. So I am going to get out of Vertex mode, and let's go into Freeform and select Paint Deform.
I am just going to grab Push and Pull, and the setting is way too high by default. I am just going to bring this down to a much more manageable number. No, it's still pretty huge. Let's try 0.38, maybe a little bit bigger, 0.6. Okay, that's good! And let's bring the Strength way down, because that looked way too strong. I am also going to turn off Edged Faces because it's kind of hard to see what I was doing before, and I'll hit Alt+W to go into full screen.
So now what I can do is just kind of push and pull on different parts. Actually, as it is with See-Through, you kind of have to go and turn it on and off, depending on what you're doing, because now as I'm sculpting it, it's kind of hard to see how the shape changes if See-Through is turned on. So I am just going to get a very gradual falloff on this, and just see if I can't get the shape of this rounding out a little bit better. You can kind of see there is a--kind of the centerline has kind of a sharp edge to it.
I want to kind of pull that out a little bit so that it's not quite so sharp, so that there is more round shape to the forehead and to the mouth especially. So between tweaking individual verts and using Soft Selection and Sculpt Deform, you can get the shape looking a lot better. Now I would really spend probably an hour or two tweaking this to get it just look just right, but I am going to go ahead and skip forward ahead right now.
On your own time you should probably spend a lot more time making this look nicer, but it's just kind of a process of tweaking individual vertices and using these different tools to get the shape looking better. I probably wouldn't want to invest the time to make it totally perfect right now, because as the rest of the model develops, the mouth will likely be affected by various things and I would have to go and redo some fine-tuning anyway. Now it's time to increase the detail level in a few places. I like to Swift Loop for this. Let's just make sure we are in Edge subobject mode, and I also want to go to Move mode so I get out of Paint Deform. And we can go up to the Graphite modeling tools, and I am just going to go and pick Edit > Swift Loop.
I want to increase the detail in several places so that when the model is animated there will be enough vertices to create smooth deformation. I also want to make sure that there's enough detail to create the shape of the lips that I want. So one thing that might be a problem if we were to animate this model right now is there's just not a lot of edges running vertically out of the mouth, or like, running radially away from the mouth. So let's go and add some more vertices here, and some more edges. I also want to add some more loops going around the mouth so that we can shape the lips a little bit more.
And then, as always, you will probably want to tweak things. So I will go back into Vertex mode and I am actually going to turn off Soft Selection for this. I just want to go in and tweak the shape of some of these things to just make it look a little bit more detailed, or anatomically precise. You might want to bulge out the shape of the upper lip a little bit more so that it's not just flat edge.
Again, this is something that you would spend a lot more time on, but I know it's not very exciting to watch tweaking individual vertices for hours, so I will just go ahead and skip forward at this point. All right! Let's put a TurboSmooth modifier on the stack, so we can see what that looks like. I am going to get out of Vertex mode and click on Symmetry so that the TurboSmooth is added above the Symmetry. And I'll just zoom out and see what this looks like. Okay, so there are some issues. When we added those extra edge loops things started to get a little bit crinkly, so we can use Paint Deform again to clean up some of those areas.
So let's go into Freeform here. Make sure we have got it in Editable Poly mode actually, and go into Paint Deform, and I want to use Relax and Soften here. So what this is going to do is kind of work out some of those kinks, those crinkly parts. I probably still want to do some tweaking on the individual vertices as well, but this can give me a really nice head start on fixing some of those problem areas. Kind of a subtle effect.
You might not be able to see really clearly what it's doing, but you might be able to tell that some of those weird creases are out of there now. All right! Finally, let's close off the inner mouth. And for this I want to turn off TurboSmooth. I want to turn off Symmetry. With Symmetry off actually, we can delete half of the model, so that one side of the mouth will be out of the way, and we won't be able to see it. So actually let's go into Polygon mode here and just select half of the face and just get rid of it. So let's go into the front view.
I am just going to drag a selection over half of the face and hit Delete. Let's go back into Perspective. Okay, so now it's going to be a lot easier to work on the inside of the mouth with the half a mouth gone. Go up and turn on Edged Faces. To make the inside of the mouth, I am going to select these edges around the inside of the mouth and extrude them back. So we'll just go into Edge mode, and I will zoom in here and just start picking these edges.
I am going to hit Q to go into Selection mode, and I will just hold down Ctrl as I select all these edges. All right! Let's extrude this back. Actually, first I will scale it up a little bit so that the lips will curl around a little bit. All right! I am holding down Shift and I am just going to push these back. Now the inside of the mouth isn't going to have any detail, and you're not really going to see on the inside, so it's not really important that it looks all that nice.
All right! Let's just make this a little bit bigger so we have room to put the teeth in later. And I will just extrude it back one more time, just so we have a nice big mouth opening. All right! To close off the opening, I am going to use the Bridge tool. We have used Bridge before, but I am just going to go over it once more. I am going to pick one edge on one side and then another edge, Ctrl+Click on the other side, and let's go up to the Graphite modeling tools and go to Edges and Bridge.
And then you can just keep doing that: select another one, then another one on this side, go to Edges and Bridge. And just keep doing that all the way till you closed off the entire inside of the mouth. Now at the very end here we have just got three edges all the way around here, and Bridge won't work if there is two edges touching each other. So what we want do is go into Border Edge mode here and just select that whole border edge around this last little opening right here. I am going to go up to Geometry and Cap Poly, and that just puts a new polygon just filling that hole right there. All right! Let's zoom out and see what this looks like.
So there we have a mouth. If you are going a realistic human character, you would use the exact same steps, except you would probably need to add a little bit more detail and tweak it some more to make it anatomically accurate. However, you would use the same simple flow zones and add detail the same way. By keeping the geometry around the mouth simple and straightforward, we avoid hassles later on. When the topology is simple concentric rings it's easy to add more edge loops and to achieve nice clean deformation when the riggers and animators get a hold of your model.
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