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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.
3ds Max's Peel tools are great leap forward over the older methods of creating UVW maps. It's much faster and easier to use, especially for character models. I will show you how to use it, along with some UV editing tools, to get really clean and efficient UV maps. Now that we've got all of the seams cut on our Hank model, we can click on the Quick Peel button. So we will select Hank here. We've got Unwrap UVW open, and Quick Peel is this little icon with the lightning bolt. And just click on that. The Peel tool has popped open the UV Editor to show us the result.
There is lots of buttons here, but only a few that we really need to work with. Peel has flattened out the model and broken it up into different sections based on where we cut the seams. Right now some of the sections are overlapping each other. The UV Editor has a quick way to space them all out more neatly. Go down to the Arrange Element section of this palette and click the button Pack Normalize. Basically, this button is going to position and size all of these sections, or UV Elements as Max calls them, so that they don't overlap and so that they have a size that is proportional to the size of the geometry that they represent.
In the UV Editor we can select individual vertices, edges, and polygons to move, rotate, or scale them. For now I just want to deal with entire elements as a whole. So let's move this a little bit so we can see all of the buttons. Down here is a button called Select By Element UV Toggle. Let's turn this on. Now when we click in the editor it's going to select entire elements, rather than individual vertices or edges. Peel and Pack Normalize have done a pretty good job of laying out the UVs, but we can manually make it even better.
You can see that there is a good chunk of space in our texture that's not being used--all of this space around each element. Let's move, rotate, and scale to get the elements using the space better. I like to get the biggest piece first and then work my way down to the smallest elements, so I am going to hit R to go into Scale mode and I am just going to scale this up so that we can fill the space little bit better. If we hold down Ctrl while you're scaling, it'll scale proportionally so it doesn't stretch it out in an extra dimension up or down. And I will just hit W to go into Move mode and we will just make sure this fits nicely inside this texture space.
I actually enjoy this part of the process a lot. It's like playing Tetris or packing a suitcase. Okay, maybe it's not that much fun. Either way it can take some experimenting and rearranging to get the most out of the UV space. Let's see, this one is a little bit smaller than the head. I will get these two out of the way. And let's move the head and see if we can fill in the space with it. Using the space efficiently is important, especially for real-time 3D applications like games.
That's because every pixel of your textures takes a precious memory, and that should be contributing to the look of the character. Every bit of space that's wasted is just dead weight. Let me arrange these a little bit more. You can scale some of them up a little bit, but you probably don't want to scale them too much, because then some parts of the texture will have more space than others. There's one thing to keep in mind is that you don't want these different elements to be overlapping each other, and you also don't want to have them go over the edge.
This is good enough for now. In the next movie I will show you how to fine-tune things and fix issues in specific parts of the elements. Laying out the UVW maps is something that almost always needs to be done on any model in 3D. If it's going to be textured, rigs, or animated, chances are that you as the modeler are going to have to create these layouts before passing the model any further down the animation pipeline. A good layout goes a long way towards making a model look its best.
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