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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
It's often easier to model some body parts separately without the rest of the body to get in the way and then combine them later. However, usually there's more detail in one body part than in the other. How do you make it work then? Well, I'll show you. The reason that I'm showing you how to do it at this stage rather than as I model each body part is because the exact configuration of edge loops and topology is not going to be the same from one model to the next. Every model is different. But if you learn these four techniques, you'll be set to handle any attaching situation that you come across, rather than just the specific scenarios that we will handle in this course.
So we have got our Exercise File open, and here's Hank, and you can see his body is cut into several different pieces. So there's several different ways that we can combine different body parts together. Most of them involve either adding edges to one side or subtracting edges from the other. So let's zoom in on the hand and see what I'm talking about here. I've already counted and on the hand we have 14 different vertices around the wrist, but on the arm side we have only 12.
So, one approach that we can take to this is add edges to the arm side or subtract edges from the hand side. Now if I were to go and insert an edge loop with the Insert Edge Loop tool on the arm side, we would create an edge that goes all the way up into the neck or all the way down the body. I don't want to add all that many more edges to the arm. We've already got enough and I don't really want to subtract any edge loops from the hand either, because I've already got things looking pretty much the way I want here and so I don't really want to mess up what I have going on here.
So there's a way that I can add edge loops to the arm, but not carry them all the way down into the rest of the body and that's what I'm going to show you how to do here. So let me zoom in on the wrist and let's evaluate what we can do. So there's a technique that we can do called reducing edges, where you have a certain amount of edge loops coming from the wrist but then you can tie them off. So they don't run all the way down the rest of the body. And to do that I'm going to grab the Split Polygon tool and I'm just going to add two more edges on the top and on the bottom.
So that we'll have 14 edges on both sides, on hand side and also on the wrist side. Now there's a way to tie this off and that's what I'm going to show you. What I'm going to do is make a little cut from this vertex here up to this vertex here and then I'm also going to go back to the underside and I can cut like that. So we've got a triangle here and a triangle up here. Now all we have to do is connect these two triangles. So we use the Split Polygon tool to just cut from one of the triangles down to the other.
The result we end up with is that this is four sided now. It's all four sided and we've effectively tied off the new edges that we had to cut it here. So now there're 14 edges on this side and 14 edges on this side. So if we combine them together and then go into Vertex mode, we can select two vertices, go to the Merge Vertex tool, in the Edit Mesh menu, Merge, and you can see that the edges will merge together. When I hit G it'll repeat the last tool used and we could go all the way around and close that off of.
It'll be pretty straightforward and simple. So you get two contiguous surfaces, from one to the other. Let's look at another case, down at the foot. So I'm just going to zoom down in here and I already know that there are 12 edges around the foot, but there's 13 around the leg. So I've got one more on the leg that I need to get rid of. We can do this by deleting an edge loop. So let me back out and see where could I take an edge loop out of this? Well, I could take out one of these edge loops, but then it would also take out an edge loop that goes all the way up to chest, or up into the arm or up into the back.
I don't want to get rid of one of those. But if I look at the inner thigh, we can see that there is an edge loop that runs up here and it just dies of at the crotch. If we get rid of this one, it's not really going to mess up with the rest of the body. So the way to get rid of an edge loop is you go to Edge mode, pick one of the edges that's part of the edge loop, hold down Ctrl on a PC or Command on a Mac, and then while that's held down hold on the Right Mouse button, and this little menu is going to pop up and you can mouse over to Edge Loop Utilities and then go up to Edge Loop and hit Delete, and it's gone. We don't have to worry about it any more.
So we've got now 12 edge loops here and 12 on the foot. So those are going to be merged up. Let's take a look at the head and see what's going on there. So, I've already counted this out. On the head we have 14 edge loops and on the body there're 15. There is one too many on the body, or one too few on the head. We can use the Insert Edge Loop tool to add an edge loop. Now it's up to you where you would want to put it. Just keep in mind that it could run up in the places where it just makes things more complicated.
So you can try out different places to see where you like it the best. Where it's going to be less obtrusive. I just want to stick one right there in the mouth. So that the new edge loop just goes up into the mouth and it dies off there and nobody really cares what happens deep down inside the mouth because you will never see it anyway. So now there're 15 edge loops on the body and 15 on the head, so that problem is solved. Now, our last case is the ear. The ear has 8 edge loops around here and the head has 10.
So you've got to find some way to turn 10 edge loops into 8, and for that we can use a reduction, so it's called reducing edge loops. So what I'll do is I'll select these two edges here and go up to this shelf and click Collapse. So now what was before one, two, three edge loops coming into the ear, there's now just one. If I pick this edge and delete it, now you can see we've got a four-sided polygon, which is exactly what we want, and then 10 minus 2 is 8.
So it's now 8 and 8, so these two will also match up nicely if you go and merge all the vertices around it. So making different body parts flows smoothly into each other is a task that character modelers are constantly faced with. But if you're armed with these skills, you'll be ready to take it on with the least amount of stress possible.
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