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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.
Paint Deform is a powerful character modeling tool that can make modifications to your models quickly and smoothly. You'll want to use this to make artistic organic changes to your models, because it behaves in a very intuitive artist-friendly way. It differs from stand-alone sculpting programs like Zbrush or Mudbox in one major way, in that it doesn't subdivide your mesh in order to create fine details. It only works with the mesh that you give it. If the mesh isn't dense enough to create fine detail, Paint Deform will not be able to do it.
So we have got our exercise file open here. Let's just click on Hank's body. To use paint deform, we will go up to the FreeFrom menu and then click Paint Deform. There are lots of options to choose from, but basically they all deform the surface of models in a sculptural way. The brushes are fairly straightforward, as their names indicate. However, there is a few special ways that they can be used for character modeling that I will go over with you. Before I get into any of the specific brushes, there are some settings common to all of them that we should look at first.
Click on any one of the brushes and notice that there's a second palette that pops up. This gives you the basic size and strength settings, but there's even more options if you open up the Paint Options menu and then click Brush Options. I know there are windows and palettes popping up all over the place. It can get a little cluttered. Hopefully, the next version of Max will make this interface cleaner. In this Brush Options window you can get lots of control over how the brush works. To be honest, I rarely have a need to use anything but the basic Size and Strength controls.
However, there is one very useful feature in this palette. It's the Mirror option. So down here I will just turn on Mirror. This makes us so that any painting you do to one side of the model automatically happens to the other side as well. So right now you can see we have got this big brush and it is mirrored on both sides, so anywhere I move the mouse on one side of the model, we see the same thing happening on the other side. If it's not quite giving you the result that you expect, you might need to change the Mirror Axis. Right now, it's on X, but if we change it to Y, now it's like mirroring from front to back. Or if we go into Z, now it's mirroring from top to bottom.
However, this character is mirrored on the X axis, so that's what makes sense for us here. Now, let's close this palette and just use the Size and Strength controls for now. By default, the Size and Strength settings are way too high for the Hank model we are using. So if you see if we try to use it now, the effect is just really strong. That's just crazy, so let's undo that, Ctrl+Z, and change some of these Size and Strength settings. So the Size, let's bring this way down. You can just click and drag and keep scrolling and see what a Size that 1 does.
Okay, this is a little bit more manageable. Also the Strength, that was way too strong, so let's bring that down as well, .05. And also you see that there this little line that's coming off of the brush. That kind of gives you an indication of how strong the brush is going to be. Right now, it's a very short line. If we crank this up, it will be higher to see. Now that line is really long. So just bring it back down. Now let's see what happens. Okay, that's a much more subtle effect.
You can see it's bulging out the character's muscles, making them a little bit bigger. So it's easier to manage when the Strength settings aren't so high. I will just undo that. Now let's get into some of the individual brushes and how they can do some really cool things for character modeling. Okay, let's click on Paint Deform here. The Push/Pull brush is probably the most basic. You see we get this big pop-up that teaches us how to use it. It's the most basic brush. We already played with this brush a little bit, but let's zoom in on the model and see what it's doing in a little bit more detail.
So it basically just pulls up and away from the model. Wherever you stroke it, it's making things bulge out bigger. Holding down the Alt key while you brush pushes in. So now everything is shrinking inwards. This can be useful for sculpting bigger muscles or simply shaping a model more to your liking. This brush is moving individual vertices of the model relative to the surface direction. The result is that those vertices get pulled outwards or pushed inwards.
This brush therefore can be a quick tool for making the limbs of a character fatter or skinnier. So I will just unto this and show a very cool trick you can do with this. So we will make the size of the brush a lot higher and then click and drag, you can see it's kind of just beefing up the overall size of individual limbs. So that can come in very handy. If I hold down Alt, now you can see it's shrinking up everything, making him much skinnier.
This method sure beats tweaking individual vertices by hand to change the shape of things. And I will just hit Ctrl+Z to undo this. Next, let's look at the Relax brush. For this brush you may want to turn on Edged Faces mode so that you can see the effect more clearly. So to change that, let's make sure that menu goes away so we can right-click on Shaded and bring up Edged Faces.
So make sure we've got the Relax selected and go in here, and you can see that it's kind of spacing out all of the verts. It's kind of spreading them out or bringing them closer together, so they get more even. Relax causes all affected vertices to move closer to verts next of them. The result is that details get smoothed out. It also tends to shrink things, because it's moving verts closer to other verts that are on the other side of the model. Let's just undo that. You can also set the brush to not shrink.
If you hold down the Alt key while using this brush, now it spreads out things without shrinking the overall shape. That can come in very handy if the overall shape is just the way you wanted, but you want to spread out these vertices so that they get more even. All right, we will just undo that with Ctrl+Z. Moving on to the Shift brush. This brush simply grabs all of the vertices within the brush size and moves, or shifts them, to wherever you drag them. Let's try it out.
So you just click and drag, and it pulls everything within that radius of the brush wherever you want it to go. So this might be a little bit more intuitive way to reposition things on your model. All right, we'll just undo that. The last brush I want to give special attention to is the Revert brush. It's just like a selective undo.
It lets you paint the model back to the way it was before you went in and messed it all up with Paint Deform. So let's make some changes for the Revert brush to work on. I'll go up into Paint Deform and select Revert. Now when we brush, let's see what happens. Okay, everything is going back to where it was before we went and used the Shift tool on it. It's going kind of slow. If we increase the Strength, we will get there faster.
You can also just instantly undo all paint-deformation changes with the X button. So I just want to show you one more thing like this. Let's go to Paint Deform and pick the Push brush and just make some more changes. So now that I've made some changes to the model, one thing I can do is commit to them. If I like the changes that I've made, pressing this check box will lock in all the changes that I've made so far. So the way the model is now is the way it will revert to if I make any more changes. Go back up to Paint Deform and cancel all that.
It's going to go back to where it was when I pressed the Commit button. This is good for experimenting on a model, so that you can sculpt without worrying that you'll permanently damage the model. Then, when you have a result that you will like, you can lock it in and then continue experimenting without risk of ruining all the great work you've done up to that point. There are several other brushes here, but they're fairly self-explanatory, and I just don't use them much for character modeling anyway, so I will leave them to you to play with on your own. Paint Deform is a great FreeForm tool for artistically modifying your models.
Be careful, however, because it's best from minor tweaking. Pushing things too far will make the polygons all stretched out and not look very good when animated.
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