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Modeling a Character in 3ds Max
Illustration by John Hersey

Working symmetrically


From:

Modeling a Character in 3ds Max

with Ryan Kittleson

Video: Working symmetrically

Most characters that you model will probably be symmetrical. By modeling one side of the model and having Max automatically do the same thing to the other side, you save time and effort. It sure would be a lot more work to manually model both sides of the character. As you can see, Hank is just half a man at this point. Symmetry can be used to turn a half a model into a fully symmetrical model. Let's select Hank and then go to the Modifier stack. We want to do is add a Symmetry Modifier, so let's scroll down to Symmetry.
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  1. 7m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. What you need to know before watching this course
      52s
    3. Overview of the design process
      3m 26s
    4. Using the exercise files
      2m 16s
  2. 40m 7s
    1. Extruding edges and faces
      7m 42s
    2. Using Paint Deform
      8m 58s
    3. Working symmetrically
      5m 32s
    4. Using TurboSmooth
      4m 39s
    5. Setting up the image planes
      8m 28s
    6. Exploring edge flow
      4m 48s
  3. 1h 15m
    1. Creating the basic facial structure
      5m 26s
    2. Creating the basic facial features
      8m 51s
    3. Making the head and neck
      7m 55s
    4. Refining the mouth
      11m 24s
    5. Shaping the eyes
      10m 53s
    6. Building the nose
      6m 45s
    7. Crafting the ears
      6m 9s
    8. Making the teeth and gums
      10m 4s
    9. Modeling the tongue and eyebrows
      7m 43s
  4. 44m 38s
    1. Modeling the upper body
      9m 45s
    2. Building the hips, legs, and feet
      5m 8s
    3. Constructing the palm and thumb
      7m 14s
    4. Making fingers and finishing the hand
      7m 53s
    5. Fleshing out the body
      9m 22s
    6. Attaching body parts with different numbers of edges
      5m 16s
  5. 13m 39s
    1. Drawing the NURBS curves for hair
      4m 11s
    2. Sweeping the NURBS curves into polygon objects
      3m 32s
    3. Sculpting the polygon hair clumps
      5m 56s
  6. 49m 54s
    1. Modeling the pants
      7m 16s
    2. Making wrinkles in the pants
      9m 0s
    3. Modeling the belt
      5m 30s
    4. Making the belt loops
      6m 35s
    5. Creating the shirt
      9m 33s
    6. Making the shoes
      12m 0s
  7. 12m 7s
    1. Putting on the finishing touches
      6m 7s
    2. Thinking about artistic appeal
      3m 59s
    3. Recapping the most important concepts
      2m 1s
  8. 27m 24s
    1. Understanding UVW maps and seams
      6m 28s
    2. Using Peel to flatten the UVW maps
      3m 50s
    3. Dealing with UVW maps across multiple objects
      10m 5s
    4. Refining the UVW layout
      7m 1s
  9. 51s
    1. What's next
      51s

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Modeling a Character in 3ds Max
4h 31m Intermediate Aug 30, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Extruding edges and faces
  • Working symmetrically
  • Setting up the image planes
  • Creating the basic facial structure and features
  • Modeling and fleshing out the body
  • Creating the hair with extruded NURBS curves
  • Modeling clothes
  • Putting on finishing touches
  • Understanding UVW maps and seams
  • Dealing with UVW maps across multiple objects
Subjects:
3D + Animation Modeling Character Animation
Software:
3ds Max
Author:
Ryan Kittleson

Working symmetrically

Most characters that you model will probably be symmetrical. By modeling one side of the model and having Max automatically do the same thing to the other side, you save time and effort. It sure would be a lot more work to manually model both sides of the character. As you can see, Hank is just half a man at this point. Symmetry can be used to turn a half a model into a fully symmetrical model. Let's select Hank and then go to the Modifier stack. We want to do is add a Symmetry Modifier, so let's scroll down to Symmetry.

Now there is a problem to deal with right from the start. You see this modifier bases the axis of symmetry on the pivot point of the model. We can either delete the Symmetry Modifier and then move the pivot point or we can move the axis of the symmetry independently of the pivot point. Let's do the latter. Let's open up the Symmetry subobject and click on Mirror, so now we can edit the object's mirror point. This gives us direct access to the axis. Now we can just move this tool to position the mirror point to our liking.

It's kind of a fun effect. I want to snap the axis to the center of the grid so that I know the symmetry is perfect. Let's go up here and turn on Snaps. Also, let's right-click on this to make sure it's snapping to grid points. Grid Points is active, so that's good. So now when we move it we you can see that it's snapping to individual grid points. You can see it highlighting as it snaps to these. So if we get it right here in the center, we know we've got it exactly in the right place. Let's just turn off snaps before we continue.

There are a few other controls that you should know about. In the Symmetry Modifier you can set which direction you want to mirror and also flip the symmetry to the other side. So let's go over here in Mirror Axis. So now this is mirroring front to back or top to bottom, and you can also set it to Flip. So if the result you're getting isn't quite what you're expecting, you might want to mess with some of these settings to make sure that everything is correct. I like to work on a character's left side and then mirror over the right side.

That's just my preference. So the default works great for me. Another thing to notice is the Weld Seam and Threshold controls. This makes it so that the two halves get welded into one whole and the threshold controls how close individual vertices should be so that they get welded. Let's see what happens if we crank up the Threshold. At higher values, this setting can cause unintended welding of verts. It's always a good idea to make sure that you set this low enough so that you don't accidentally weld things that shouldn't be welded.

So let's just bring this way down. I like to zoom in on areas where the mesh is more dense, so let's go and look here at the face where things are close together. And I'll just go up to the Threshold and just move this up just high enough so that we don't get any unintended verts getting welded. Let's look around the model to make sure it's all okay. That looks pretty good. When using the Symmetry Modifier you want to make sure that all of your vertices down the centerline of the model are all perfectly centered, so let's go back to the Editable Poly and actually change some of this.

We also want to click Show end result so that we can edit the model with symmetry showing up. So I'll just go into the Vertex mode and pick one of these vertices here on the center line. Now if any of your vertices aren't quite perfect in the center line, you can get weird things starting to happen. There can be, like, strange gaps, or strange things can happen, so you want to make sure when you're modeling and you use symmetry that you get everything right in the center. Let's check how symmetry is working on other parts of the model. I'll just move a random vertex.

Let's pick this one here on the cheek and see if it's working. Any change we make to one side of the model is going to happen to the other. Note that a character doesn't have to be just half of a model to use this. You can put a Symmetry Modifier on a whole character as well. Let's see how that works. I'm just going to get out of the Vertex subobject mode and we'll just collapse this down to in Editable Poly. Now the model is a whole character, and it's removed the Symmetry Modifier. So now if we make any changes, symmetry has been removed.

You can see it's not making the same change on the other side. So I'll just undo that, and I just want to show you what happens if you put symmetry on a whole character, rather than a half one. We'll just move that pivot point again. So you can put symmetry on a whole character just like with a half character, and it kind of erases the other half and replaces it with the mirror. Now if I go back to Editable Poly mode and move any of these vertices--oops! One thing I forgot.

This is one thing that always happens. The Show end result toggle always gets turned off, so I usually have to go and make sure I turn that back on before the change happens. So you can see now we have symmetry on a model that was a whole character to which we added the Symmetry Modifier. You'll use symmetry often. It's very helpful to edit the character as a whole while only having to work on one side of it. Just be careful that all of the vertices at the center line of the character are perfectly lined up so that you won't leave any gaps or cause any problems.

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