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In Modeling a Character in Maya, join author Ryan Kittleson for a thorough demonstration on how to create a professional, realistic 3D character from scratch in Maya 2011. The course illustrates how key concepts and tools such as Soft Select and polygon extrusions apply to character modeling, and provides a simple step-by-step approach to building character anatomy, including the torso, limbs, hands, face, and hair. Also included are tutorials on modeling clothing and shoes, and refining character features to reach the final product. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Maya 2011 Essential Training
Modifying one character into several other similar types of characters can be a huge advantage because modeling a character individually from scratch can take so much time. As long as the basic structure between the two characters doesn't change very much, these techniques can really speed up your workflow. So we have got our Exercise File with Hank here and let's say we want to change him into an older, leaner type of character. The main techniques I am going to use for this is with Soft Select and the Sculpt Geometry tool. So the first thing I would like to do to Hank is make his chest less big, make his shoulders less broad.
So I am going to use the Soft Select tools to do that. I am just going to go into Vertex mode and select some of his arm and actually what I want to do is I want to turn off Reflection so that we can compare at the side of his body that I alter to the side of his body that I leave the same, so you can see what the difference looks like. So I am just going to go into the tool Settings and turn off Reflection. Okay. So I am going to zoom in here. I am going to change the area of influence of this a little bit so that we can have a gradual falloff from that arm across the chest.
Something else I'd like to do is turn on Global Soft Select so that we can get his shirt as well. So going into the Move tool I am just going to move in the chest a little bit. I can just pick different areas that I want to bring in and maybe this area down here needs to come in a little bit. I can also look at it from the front and side and just say the front of the chest can come in, his back doesn't need this thick out quite so far, just thinning up the character a little bit. And I also like to give him longer legs.
So just look at it from the front view. I am just going to select the foot up to the ankle and then I want Soft Select to just gradually select everything from the ankle up to the hips roughly and if we just pull this down, you can see that that Soft Select is just spreading out the vertices in a more natural way. Soft Select can also do fun things to the face. Let me select part of his jaw so we can zoom into it. Ad I just want to change the Falloff mode from Global to Volume and I also want to turn on Reflection just to make it easier to see how this change is affecting the face.
I am going to shrink down the area of influence little here and just bring in the jaw a little bit and just let's see in the Front view. Let's make this jaw little pointier, a little less wide and less protruding. So I am just going to move this back a little bit and up. So you we can see the character has much narrower face now. You can continue to make modifications to this. I am just going to bring in a little bit of the jaw here, and a little bit of the inside of the mouth is protruding through.
So we can also go in and select part of the gums and move those in as well. Another fun way to use Soft Select is to modify the shape of the nose. I am just going to go and select some faces on the side of his nose, make a narrower shape for the nose, and let's also look at from the side and stretch it out. So already we are getting a very different character type here. One last thing I want to do to him is shrink up his arms a little bit.
They are still a little bit bulky arms so let's make them a little bit leaner. The Sculpt Geometry tool is really good for that. If we set the Sculpt Geometry tool to Push mode and then we sculpt on the character, what that's going to do is it's going to push all the vertices closer to each other, which basically is going to shrink it up. I want to turn off Reflections so that we can see a change from one side to the other and now if I just brush with this, you can see it's just really thinning up the character. One thing that Sculpt Geometry tool can't do unfortunately is affect multiple objects at once.
It only works on one object at a time. So if you want to change the body underneath the clothing with this Sculpt Geometry tool, you will have to make any edits to the clothing afterward. But we can shrink up his chest a little bit with this and the clothing will fit more loosely on him then. So let me just get this menu out of the way so we can see the character more up close and see the entire body together. So you can see it's very easy to modify your character into other body shapes very quickly with these two tools. Although there is clearly some cleanup to be done, using the Sculpt Geometry tool and Soft Select is a quick way to build in some different shapes and proportions to your character.
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