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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
Okay, so we've got our Hank character. As you can see in this version he's not all that detailed. He is actually pretty blocky, there's not a lot of detail going on in him, and we want to give him more detail, more character and make him more interesting. We can do that by adding detail, adding geometry to this character. There is two main ways to do that. There is the Insert Edge Loop tool and there's the Split Polygon tool. So, let me show you how the Split Polygon tool works first. We want to have our character selected and we can go up into the Edit Mesh menu and select Split Polygon tool.
I just want to zoom in a little bit. Let's say we want to give this guy a little bit more collarbone detail. So we can select one of these edges and if we hold down the mouse button and drag, you could see it's got this little dot and this is showing us where the cut is going to start from. So if I release the mouse button here, now we can go and follow the directions on screen and click on these different edges. And it's going to cut across these edges and let's say I want this cut to go right up into this vertex.
So, if you click and drag the mouse and pull it into a vertex, it's going to snap and sort of lock in there. Now that's good. That's what we want because we want to carry this detail back around to the underside of the collarbone. So we'll lift up the mouse here and continue our cut across the chest. When we are done we can either hit Enter or right-click and that's going to lock in those changes that we made. So, now we've got some extra detail that we can use to modify and control the collarbone. If you wanted to, you could select these vertices and pull out the collarbone.
All right, so that's all fine and good. There is this other tool that I use all the time, the Insert Edge Loop tool, and really this is the workhorse of adding detail to your characters. So, let's make sure our character is selected and we'll go into the Edit Mesh menu and select Insert Edge Loop tool. So, let's see how this works really quick. I am going to look here at the chest and when I click on an edge, what it does is it automatically throws this new edge loop all the way around the edge loop.
What it's doing is it's looking at the edge that you select and it's seeing what edges are opposite from that edge and continuing the cut all the way through them. So if you click and hold down the mouse you can see this little preview of what the cut is going to look like. Now, this only works when there is an edge that's opposite the edge that you click on. So, let me look around the backside of this model and you can see that there is a triangle right here. So, if you click this edge it doesn't know where to go past that triangle, because there's no edge on the opposite side of this edge right here so it just stops.
It doesn't know what to do. So you can use that to your advantage or you know, it can be to your disadvantage if you don't know that it's going to do that. But it's just something to keep an eye open for. Now, let's see how we can really use this tool to insert an edge loop to create more geometry and then edit that geometry to really flesh out the shape of this character. So, let's say we want this character to have more definition in the wrist. So, I am going to move here to the wrist and you can select a vertex and hit F and that will focus in on the wrist, so we can see it more clearly.
So, there is not a lot of definition in this wrist. Itt just kind of go straight from arm right into the hand and we want to make a little division there. So, we can just use the Insert Edge Loop tool and click on this edge. Now, the cool thing about this is when you insert an edge loop or cut new faces, those edges that you just created are going to be selected by default. So, if we hit R and go into the Scale tool, we can just immediately go right in and scale that wrist up and now we've got more definition in the wrist. So, adding new detail and form in specific areas is quick and easy with these two tools.
You'll find yourself using it all the time to refine your models.
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