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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.
Eyes are a crucial part of any character model. The window to the soul needs special attention in order to look its best. It's worth it to make sure that the eyes look right, because they're going to be conveying a lot of the character's emotions. Proper edge flow here is crucial to good deformations and by extension, good animation. Luckily, we've already established a solid flow zone for the eyes. From here, we just need to refine the shapes so we can really bring some personality to them. Before we continue shaping the eyelids, let's get an actual eyeball in place.
Having an actual sphere at this point is very helpful because it will give us an actual shape around which we can line up the eyelids. You have got the head see-through, so that when we make a sphere we can see it through the face. So let's just go to Create and make a sphere and just click and drag one out here. You may be asking yourself how large it should be. For realistic eyes on an anatomically correct character, I make the eyeball just a little bigger than the eyelid opening. Cartoony characters like this one are open to all kinds of stylistic variations on reality.
I am going to make this eyeball even bigger than I would for a realistic character, so that they have an almost plate-like shape. If it's your own design, feel free to make them whatever size you like. If you're working with a team of people, it may be a good idea to ask them what will work best on your production pipeline. I am just going to go into the side view here and go into Move mode and move the eyeball forward. Let's get a closer look, just to make sure we're getting it in right place. All right! That's pretty good. Now, just start editing the head.
First, let's put a Symmetry modifier on here so that any changes we make to the eyelids on one side get mirrored over to the other. I just want to make sure that there are no problems with that symmetry, like accidentally welding more verts than it should have. So I want to go into Object Properties, and turn off See-Through so we can see what's going on here better. Okay, you see some weird things have happened when we put on symmetry. Let me just show you the difference here. So turning Symmetry on and off looks like it's welding more vertices than it should.
So let's bring the Threshold down. Okay. It looks like that fixed all of our problems there. Now to fit the eyelids. The eyeball is kind of poking through the head right now, so let's make the eyeball see-through. This is going to make it easier to select the vertices on the eyelids. All right! Let's go down to Editable Poly and make sure we've got End Result turned on. Let's go in to Vertex mode and just start tweaking these things.
So I am going to click on this and just hit Z to zoom in a little bit closer on it. Now, I could tweak these vertices individually, but Soft Selection is probably going to help us go a little bit faster. So let's turn on Soft Selection, and let's bring it way down; it looks like it was way too big. Something like that, something where the soft-select is kind of reaching maybe halfway around the eye is good for now. I am just going to pick individual vertices and push and pull it so that the brow and the eyelid isn't poking through the eyeball.
It looks like there is a gap right here between the eyeball and the tear duct area, so we can close up that gap as well. It looks like we could bring this part forward a little bit. I just want to shape it around the sphere of that eyeball. All right! That's pretty close. It's good enough for now. I don't need to be super precise at this stage because I'll be messing things up a bit when I add more detail later.
But getting that close now while the geometry is light will make it easier to get precise later when there are more polygons to work with. The next thing I want to do is add some more edge loops to help me form the shape a bit better. I am going to turn off Soft Selection, and let's go up to Edit and pick Swift Loop. Now you see there's some places, like right here on the top of the eye, there is one long edge where there's really no detail at all. So if we add some more edge loops, we can actually increase the amount of detail and make the curve of the eyelid a lot rounder.
Also, here at the corners of the eyes we could get a lot tighter shape, like we could build a tighter corner into the corners of the eyes if we have more edges. There is no exact number of edges that you should add. It's really just about getting a sense for how much shape you need to add and how much geometry you'll need to hold that shape. If you find that you've added too many edges, it's easy to remove edge loops. So I am going to go into Edge mode, and let's make sure we are not in Swift Loop mode. So I am just going to hit W to go into Move mode. And so what you do is you pick one edge and then you Shift+Select an edge next to it, and that's actually going to select an entire Edge Loop.
Now, to get rid of it, it's really easy: go up to the Loops menu, and then click Remove Loop. But I wanted to keep that loop, so I will just hit Ctrl+Z to bring it back. Now, it's time to tweak to get a more appealing eyelid shape. I just want to make the shape nice and clean, working out any weird kinks or angles. So I will go into Vertex mode and turn Soft Selection back on. Let me zoom in here a little bit closer. I want to work out some of these flat spots, like where I added in an edge loop.
Now, you've got three vertices directly in a row, so that might create some flat spots. So let me just go and tweak the shape some more. I probably also want to bring in the vertices around the tear ducts in the corners of the eyes a little bit closer, because as it is, it's kind of round and soft, and I want a kind of a sharp corner to the tear ducts. I could go on for a long time, but you get the idea. I also need to add some edge loops that circle around the eye, so that I can define the brow and the eye bags a little bit.
So let's go back into Edit and pick Swift Loop. Now, I can just add some edge loop to go around the eyeball and maybe up around the brow as well. Again, there's no exact number that I'm picking. It's really up to you and how much geometry you need to hold the detail that you want to create. Now that we've added some geometry, it's a really good time to go in and tweak. So I'll get out of Swift Loop mode, and let's go in and create a little bit more of a bag underneath the eyes.
It looks like it's flattening out a little bit right here. So I am just going to zoom in and pick some of these vertices, and we'll go ahead and turn Soft Select back on, maybe drop the Falloff a little bit more. It looks like it's selecting a little bit more than we need at this point. You can just kind of pull out the bag underneath the eye. You could use Paint Deform at this point. Soft Select is working great for me right now. It's really just about how you like to work and getting the shapes that look appealing at this point.
Something that can help you evaluate how the model looks at this point is turning on TurboSmooth. Let's go ahead and do that right now. Let me get out of our Text mode, and let's put on TurboSmooth. Also, let's turn off Edged Faces and zoom out and just evaluate. I like to do this a lot, just stepping back from the model and getting a sense of how everything is working together. If I was really going to make a finished model at this point, I could spend a long time getting everything shaped perfectly.
I would spend probably several hours just tweaking vertices and making sure there were no kinks, or weird things happening in the model. But for the sake of this movie and not boring everybody with endless tweaking, I will end it here. Feel free to take as long as you need to get the model looking the way you like. The main idea here is to get the shape looking appealing and work out any weird lumpiness. You will want to work on the spacing of the vertices, so that there are not any harsh angles or overly stretched polygons and make sure that there's enough edges for animators to use for deformations.
Finally, let's duplicate the eye. There is many ways you can do it, but one way that I like to use is with the Mirror modifier. So let's just click on that eyeball. I am going to go up to the modifiers and let's pick Mirror. Now, what I want to do is create a copy of the eyeball, so let's click on Copy. And you don't really see a new eyeball right now because it's sort of mirroring it right on top of the old one. Actually, to make this easier to see, let's go to the Object Properties and turn off See-Through.
The next thing we need to do is to move the mirror axis to the center of the character so that it actually mirrors across to the other side. So let's go down to the Mirror Center and let's move this to the side. You can see as we move the mirror to center, the other eyeball is going to get mirrored across. In order to make it precise, let's go into the top view. So I am going to hit Alt+W and Alt+W again to go into the top view, and let's make sure we line this up with the center of the grid. So I am going to zoom out a little bit and turn on Snaps and then just move this till it snaps the center.
Now, we know that the eyeballs are precisely even. Now let's lock in that mirror. I am going to convert the eyeballs to an editable poly object, so right-click Convert To > Editable Poly. It's still one object with two different elements, so if we go into Element mode, we can break one off. So one eyeball is already selected as a separate element, and I am just going to go down until I find Detach. All right! Detach right there. This is going to break it off into a separate object, and we can name it right here, and let's call it eyeRight and click OK.
You can also change the name of the original eyeball. Up here it's originally called just Sphere001. Let's call it eyeLeft. And there is just one last thing to do. The second eye that we created still maintains the pivot point of the original eyeball. So let's get out of Element mode. We had Element mode on, so let's make sure we turn that off. And then I am just going to select on the second eyeball, and you see that its pivot point is right here at the first eyeball.
So we'll go up to Hierarchy > Affect Pivot Only > Center to Object. We will turn off Affect Pivot Only, and we are done. And let's just go back to our Perspective view and check out the great work we did in this video. With attention to detail, patience, and a lot of tweaking, the eyes that you model can truly show personality and emotion. The great thing about this method is that it's easy to adapt to almost all cartoony and realistic eyes; just line up your model with whatever reference you're using and then keep tweaking until it looks right.
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