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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.
Before we start modeling the character, we will need to set up image planes. These are pictures of the character design that we can use as reference guides to help us model accurately. So here we see the concept art for Hank that I created. One of the most important things you are going to want to have before you start modeling is something called orthographic views. That's just simply a neutral pose of the character looking straight at you and also one directly from the side. So I made these drawings, and then I scanned them into the computer and I used an image editing program, like Photoshop, to make sure that they were the exact same size and that they were lined up perfectly.
So I drew guidelines to make sure that the nose, for example, is on the exact same level on both of these, the eyes on the same level, and so on and so forth, so that there's no inconsistency between these. Something that is nice, but not really necessary, is kind of a pose or a personality drawing of the characters, to kind of help you visualize what this thing should look like in a more three- quarter view or perspective view to help you model things more artistically, as well as technically accurate. Let's start with a brand-new scene. What we need to do is create some planes and then map the reference image onto them.
Let's go into the Create panel and click Plane, and what I want to do is drag this into the front viewport. Now how do I know how big it should be? Well, we want to have the exact proportions of the reference image and make those as the proportions of the plane. So let's look at the file in the Windows Explorer. We've got hank_reference here, and it's telling us that the dimensions of the image is 1,800 pixels wide by 851 pixels tall. And now let's go back to Max and make we sure type those numbers into here so that we get the right proportions for this.
So we'll go into the Modify panel here and change the Length and Width of this. So actually, Length is going to be how tall it is, so I am going to type in 851 and then Width is going to 1,800. Okay, let's zoom out to see what this looks like. That is pretty huge. So what I want to do is just scale it down to make it more manageable. I will just make sure I am hitting R to go in the Scale mode, and we will just scale this in, and it is going to scale proportionally, so it doesn't really matter what exact sizes it is, just as long as it's proportional.
Now to get a reference image placed on the plane. Hit M to bring up the Material Editor. I will just make this a little bit larger, so we can see everything better. And I will just create a standard material, so I will just double-click on this. We want to put the reference image in the diffuse color, so just double-click on the little circle here next to Diffuse Color, and we want to select a bitmap. So I am selecting Bitmap and OK. Now we can just go and find that reference image.
Now the reference image is connected to color. Let's drag one more connection to self-illumination. This will make sure that the image is visible on the plane, no matter what kind of lighting might be set up in the scene. I will just zoom out with the scroll wheel here, and so we have got Bitmap. What we can do is click and drag a connection from here to Self-Illumination.
Now to put the texture on the plane. You need to make sure that the plane is selected. Then we just come here to Material and right-click. In this pop-up menu you just click Assign Material to Selection. Okay, let's look in the viewport here. I am going to zoom in. The plane has turned gray now, but we still don't see the reference image on it. We need to set the material so that it shows up in the viewport. So let's make sure we have got the material selected, and just go up and click this little button with a checkerboard and the light bulb, Show Shaded Material in viewport.
Okay, great, now the image has popped up on the plane here. Let me just close this and make sure everything is looking okay. All right, looks good. Depending on your computer, this image might come in at a very low resolution. If that's the case, go back and watch the exercise movie where I explained how to set the resolution of the image. Okay, now we need to position this plane in the front viewport. Right now it's just set to Wireframe mode, so we can't see the image.
We are going to right-click here and set it to Shaded. One thing we need to do is move this image plane out of the way of our modeling. So let me just zoom out here in the Perspective view. We are going to be building the character in the center of the grid, so if we have the image plane right here, it's going to get in the way. So I am just going to put it in Move mode and just send it way back, so it's out of the way. I also want the character to be centered on the vertical axis. So we see here in the front view, here is the vertical axis and our characters is just a little bit off of that, so let's move it over so that it's all nice and centered.
So let's go and do full screen view by hitting Alt+W, so we can see this better. And I will just zoom in, make sure that the eyes are centered. That's pretty good. And I also want to have this feet sitting right on the horizontal axis. Great, this plane is done for now. Let's get the other one created. Let's go back to our four different views by hitting Alt+W. By default, Max has one of the viewports set to Left; however, I prefer to model with the right-hand camera rather than the left one.
So let's just click on the word Left here, and we will select Right from the pop-up menu. Now we need to make a copy of the front image plane, so how you can do that is by selecting it, and let's make sure we can see it here in our Perspective view. Okay, you just have to zoom out a bit. You can simply copy objects by holding down Shift while you move them. So now we have got a second version of the image plane here, and when we let go off the Shift button it gives us options for copping. So I want to set to Copy.
I just want to make 1. We can change the name here. Let's set it to sideplane. Now we need to rotate this so it can be seen from the right viewport. I am going to hit E to go into Rotate mode. And let's see. I probably want to rotate it--actually I want to rotate it -90 degrees. So I will just undo that, and I want to get a perfect rotation, rather than doing it by hand, so that it comes out exactly. I figured out beforehand I want it -90 degrees. Let's also set the Right viewport to be shaded rather than wireframe, so that we can actually see the reference image.
I think I might have messed something up; the image still isn't showing up. What I think might have happened, I think I needed to type in 90 instead of -90 here. Let's see what happens. Okay, yeah, it was flipped around that wrong way, and we were seeing the image plane from the back side, and polygons are by default transparent when seen from the back side. All right, let adjust the placement of this image as well. So I am going to go into Move mode and just scoot this way back, so it's not in the way of our modeling. Let's also make sure in the right viewport that we've got this image lined up.
I am going to hit Alt+W to go into full screen, and we are working from the side view on this, so let's get our character roughly centered with the vertical axis. This one doesn't need to be like precisely lined up with any part of the anatomy, just roughly in the center. The last thing we need to do is lock down the image planes so that we don't accidentally select them while remodeling. So let's go back to our Prospective view, hitting Alt+W, and I am just going to select both of these. Now we right-click and select Object Properties. What we need to do is turn on Freeze.
This makes the objects unselectable. You will also want to turn off Show Frozen in Gray. By default, Max turns any frozen objects gray, but if that happens, it's going to get rid of the Reference image, so by turning this off, it will stay frozen, but we can still see the reference image on top of it. All right, let's click OK. So now you can click on this image planes all day long and nothing will happen to them. With the image planes set up, we will have the design on screen to help us as we model. Having the image planes set up accurately will make things a lot easier when we get down to modeling.
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