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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.
In 3D modeling the end result is often smoothed to remove the blocky nature of polygons. This benefits the modeler by removing the need to create very dense complicated models. Instead you can make a less detailed model and then let TurboSmooth make it all soft and clean. I've got the exercise file open, and you can see it's pretty blocky. A polygonal model is never truly round or soft. It's always made up of flat polygons. The only way to make a model appear smooth is to have so many tiny polygons that you can't see the flat faces anymore.
There's two ways you can do this. You can make your models with tons of polygons, or you can use TurboSmooth. The problem with really high poly counts is that it becomes hard for the computer to deal with so much data, and it becomes challenging to work with really dense models. The advantage of TurboSmooth is that you can work with lighter models that get automatically subdivided only when you want it to. So let's select Hank and go to our Modifiers, and I am just going to click the dropdown and click the dropdown and go to TurboSmooth.
What this is doing is dividing every polygon into four smaller polygons. The result is more polygons and therefore less blockiness. Let's turn on Edged Faces to see this more clearly. I'm going to right-click up here and then click Edged Faces, and then I'll just turn off the effect of TurboSmooth really quick. So you can see there are four times as many polygons. Down here you can increase the iterations. So instead of just subdividing once, you can also make it subdivide twice, or more.
I rarely go higher than two iterations, because not only is it way more smoothness than I need, but it could also be too much for my computer to handle. One cool feature is Isoline Display. Let's just turn this on. This mode makes it so that it only shows the original edges from the model before it was subdivided. This can make things easier to work with, because it can be hard to see what's going on when the model is showing every single edge. Now with this mode on, let's go back down to editable poly, and let's make sure we turn on End Results so that we can see the effect of TurboSmooth.
I'll just go into Vertex mode here, and let's make some edits to the model. Let's zoom in, and I'll just move some vertices around. So now you can see we edit the simple low-poly version, but we see the smoothed high-poly version. This can be a big advantage, because it's easy to work on a low poly model, yet you get to see what the high-poly version will look like. There's actually one way other than TurboSmooth to make a model look smoother than it actually is.
That's called Normal Smoothing. Let's try it out. I want to undo these changes here, and let's also get rid of the TurboSmooth. So I'll just click on that and then click on the Trash. Let's pick a different modifier. This time I am going to pick just Smooth, and let's click Auto Smooth. Normal smoothing keeps the number of polygons exactly the same, but it simply draws them on screen with smooth gradients between them, rather than flat hard shading. It looks at the angle between two faces and sees if it's more or less than the threshold.
So you see we can change the threshold and if we bring it down really low, it's going to keep hard edges between everything. If we increase that really high, it's going to smooth out between all of the different edges. So actually it can be easier to see if we go and turn off Edged Faces. I'll just zoom out, so we can see the whole character. So in the Threshold here, if we just bring this down, it's going to draw harder edges, depending on the angle between faces. I usually want to crank this all the way up so that the model is just completely smooth.
Now with the threshold at the highest, you can see that the model appears smoother, yet if you look at silhouette, you can see that it still has the same blocky edges. So I'll just zoom in, so we can see this more clearly. Along the edge of the model you can see it's still very angular and blocky, although it seems to appear more smooth. So when do you use TurboSmooth, and when is Normal Smoothing good enough? For models that will be rendered out, I like to use TurboSmooth because it's higher quality. However, if I am going to do something for real-time games, I'll go with normal smoothing, because with games you need to keep your polygon counts low, and normal smoothing is a quick-and-dirty way to make something look smoother than it really is.
You'll be using TurboSmooth a lot in character modeling because it allows you to work out on a simpler model while at the same time getting an interactive view of what a more subdivided model looks like.
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