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Blocking out a character body


Maya 2011 Essential Training

with George Maestri

Video: Blocking out a character body

Now let's go ahead and put some of our knowledge to use and start by modeling the body of a simple character. Now we're going to model that dog character that we've been playing with, and I've actually got a drawing of him already up here. We should have our project set to Chap_ 2 in order to pick up all of the image planes here, and basically what I have is I have two planes, and onto those planes I've mapped a sketch of the dog. Now in order to see this, you want to make sure that you have Hardware Texturing turned on, or you can also hit the number 6 on your keyboard.
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  1. 3m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 34s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. A note on screen resolution
      1m 50s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Overview of the Maya interface
      7m 42s
    2. Working with files and Maya projects
      2m 27s
    3. Navigating viewports
      5m 56s
    4. Reviewing the Viewport menus
      6m 28s
    5. Configuring safe frames and grids
      3m 21s
    6. Selecting objects
      4m 33s
    7. Using the Move tool
      3m 48s
    8. Rotating and scaling
      4m 31s
    9. Manipulating pivots
      3m 59s
    10. Understanding the Channel Box
      5m 36s
    11. Working with the Attribute Editor
      2m 28s
    12. Using the Hotbox
      2m 59s
    13. Working with marking menus
      3m 6s
    14. Customizing the interface
      3m 36s
  3. 59m 25s
    1. Creating polygonal objects
      6m 28s
    2. Working with polygonal components
      4m 42s
    3. Selecting polygonal components
      5m 44s
    4. Working with Soft Select
      7m 3s
    5. Using the Extrude tool
      6m 47s
    6. Keeping faces together
      2m 42s
    7. Extruding along curves
      3m 27s
    8. Using the Polygon Bevel tool
      4m 14s
    9. Smooth and subdivision surfaces
      7m 6s
    10. Blocking out a character body
      11m 12s
  4. 36m 6s
    1. Working with edge loops
      3m 27s
    2. Inserting and offsetting edge loops
      3m 38s
    3. Symmetrical modeling techniques
      5m 53s
    4. Combining objects
      3m 50s
    5. Using the Polygon Bridge tool
      2m 7s
    6. Connecting components and splitting polygons
      2m 48s
    7. Poking and wedging faces
      2m 49s
    8. Working with polygon booleans
      3m 17s
    9. Modeling with nonlinear deformers
      4m 54s
    10. Modeling with lattices
      3m 23s
  5. 1h 18m
    1. Introducing NURBS modeling
      5m 3s
    2. NURBS primitives
      5m 54s
    3. Using the NURBS curve tools
      5m 7s
    4. Creating Bézier curves
      1m 59s
    5. Creating text
      3m 51s
    6. Manipulating NURBS curves
      4m 13s
    7. Refining NURBS curves
      4m 16s
    8. Offsetting NURBS curves
      2m 31s
    9. Editing NURBS surfaces
      7m 3s
    10. Refining NURBS surfaces
      7m 22s
    11. Using NURBS Revolve
      7m 31s
    12. Using NURBS Loft
      4m 11s
    13. Using NURBS Extrude
      6m 0s
    14. Using NURBS Planar
      4m 47s
    15. Stitching NURBS surfaces
      8m 52s
  6. 35m 53s
    1. Extracting NURBS curves from surfaces
      5m 57s
    2. Creating curves on a surface
      3m 53s
    3. Projecting curves on surfaces
      7m 2s
    4. Trimming NURBS surfaces
      3m 42s
    5. Using the NURBS Fillet tool
      5m 31s
    6. Sculpting NURBS and polygonal surfaces
      5m 52s
    7. Converting NURBS to polygons
      3m 56s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Working with the Outliner
      4m 58s
    2. Grouping objects
      4m 2s
    3. Creating hierarchies
      4m 17s
    4. Duplicating objects
      4m 51s
    5. Understanding the Hypergraph
      3m 32s
    6. Working with Hypergraph connections
      2m 31s
    7. Hiding and showing objects
      2m 12s
    8. Creating layers
      4m 2s
    9. Working with selection masks
      2m 57s
  8. 40m 18s
    1. Overview of renderers
      3m 24s
    2. Understand the basics of materials
      6m 15s
    3. Creating and applying maps
      5m 13s
    4. Using bitmaps as texture
      2m 59s
    5. Working with the Hypershade window
      5m 12s
    6. Working with mental ray materials
      6m 57s
    7. Using displacement and bump mapping
      3m 14s
    8. Using the Ramp Shader
      2m 36s
    9. Using the 3D Paint tool
      4m 28s
  9. 30m 14s
    1. Texture-mapping NURBS surfaces
      5m 46s
    2. Projecting textures onto surfaces
      4m 0s
    3. Texture-mapping polygonal surfaces
      7m 0s
    4. Applying UV mapping
      8m 11s
    5. Using the UVW Editor
      5m 17s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Creating joints
      10m 2s
    2. Deforming a mesh using the Skin tool
      5m 2s
    3. Creating IK handles
      6m 48s
    4. Creating blend shapes
      5m 39s
    5. Rigging nonlinear deformers
      2m 36s
    6. Finalizing the character
      4m 45s
    7. Rigging the character to the scooter
      6m 24s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Working with the Timeline
      4m 16s
    2. Creating and adjusting keys (keyframes)
      5m 4s
    3. Editing keys
      3m 13s
    4. Modifying keys in the Graph Editor
      5m 47s
    5. Modifying keys in the Dope Sheet
      2m 51s
    6. Creating breakdown keys
      2m 28s
    7. Animating objects along paths
      5m 54s
    8. Animation playback using Playblast
      3m 10s
    9. Animating with constraints
      6m 16s
    10. Creating animation cycles
      8m 25s
    11. Using set-driven keys
      6m 13s
    12. Adding sound to animations
      2m 24s
    13. Finishing the animation
      9m 45s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. Lights and lighting types in Maya
      7m 29s
    2. Adding depth-map shadows
      4m 13s
    3. Using Raytrace shadows
      3m 28s
    4. Understanding the basics of cameras
      7m 14s
    5. Adding depth of field
      6m 31s
    6. Adding Bokeh using mental ray
      4m 33s
    7. Using motion blur in Maya Software Renderer
      4m 10s
    8. Using motion blur in mental ray
      3m 5s
    9. Raytracing reflections and refractions
      4m 41s
    10. Interactive rendering with IPR
      3m 33s
    11. Lighting a scene
      8m 29s
    12. Batch rendering
      4m 53s
  13. 25s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Maya 2011 Essential Training
9h 8m Beginner Jun 01, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the Maya interface
  • Organizing scenes
  • Creating hierarchies
  • NURBs modeling for solid objects
  • Adding color to models
  • Applying bitmap textures
  • Working with mental ray materials
  • Polygonal modeling for characters and organic objects
  • Deforming with the Skin tool
  • Setting up lights and cameras
  • Creating realistic effects such as depth of field
  • Working with the Timeline
  • Creating animation cycles
  • Batch rendering
  • Rendering with the mental ray engine
3D + Animation
George Maestri

Blocking out a character body

Now let's go ahead and put some of our knowledge to use and start by modeling the body of a simple character. Now we're going to model that dog character that we've been playing with, and I've actually got a drawing of him already up here. We should have our project set to Chap_ 2 in order to pick up all of the image planes here, and basically what I have is I have two planes, and onto those planes I've mapped a sketch of the dog. Now in order to see this, you want to make sure that you have Hardware Texturing turned on, or you can also hit the number 6 on your keyboard.

Now let's go ahead and just start working with the body itself, and I'm just going to model his torso and his legs in this first part. Now you can see that we need to start with some sort of primitive. In this case, I'm actually going to start with a box. Now in order to model accurately, I need to go into one of the Orthographic Viewports, so I'm going to go ahead and hit Spacebar, put my mouse over the front view, and let's go ahead and start there. So I'm going to go ahead and select the box, and then I'm going to take this box and kind of roughly position it around where his torso area is.

And now I need to go into another view to set the height. So let's go ahead into our side view and make sure that the height is about the same to what we have for his body. And now I'm actually going to go into that side view and move the box so that it pretty much surrounds his body. Now again, this isn't going to be perfect. We are going to have a lot of tweaking here, and then I'm going to go back into the front view and make sure that this is centered. So under Translate X I'm just going to type in 0 to make sure that's centered, and then I want to add some subdivisions here.

So I'm going to scroll down until I see my INPUT polyCube, and for Width I'm going to type in 3. In fact, let's go into our perspective here. For Height, I'm going to type in again 3 and for Depth, this can be about 5. So what I'm doing here is I'm just adding in enough detail to give me some room to actually start sculpting and shaping the surface. Now when you start working like this, you really need to only add enough detail to get the effect that you want.

Because remember, all I have to do is hit 3, and I can subdivide that surface to get an actual smooth surface. So we're trying to get this surface blocked out but not without too much detail, because more detail means more stuff that we have to animate. So I want to keep this as simple as possible. Now first thing I want to do is start working on the legs. Now in this case, sometimes this image plane may get in the way. Now one way to get around that is to just work in XRay mode, so you can kind of see through everything.

Another way is to simply hide that layer every once in a while. Now I have actually the image planes set up on a layer called Ref, and all I have to do is hit this Visibility button here, and I can just toggle those on and off, and that actually will make it a little bit easier. So I'm going to start off by making the legs of the character, so I'm going to actually go underneath this box and look for this face and this face. So I'm going to right-click, go into Face components, select this face, hold down the Shift key and select again.

Now we're going to go ahead and extrude the character's legs. So I'm going to go Edit Mesh > Extrude. I'm going to grab this blue arrow and pull it down. In fact, I'm going to pull all the way down to the ground, which is that kind of dark line here, and we're actually going to pull it down to right about there or so. In fact, if we turn on our reference, I want to pull it down right about where the top of the shoe starts. And now let's go ahead and do another Extrude and pull it down again until it hits the ground.

Now what I've done here is I've actually created some additional geometry. You can look here from the front. I've created enough room to pull out the front of his foot. Let's go ahead and select those faces. Actually I've got two legs here, so I'm going to select this face and again Shift+Select this face, and again ,I'm going to do Extrude. I'm going to Extrude that foot to right about here or so, and again we want to try and get this curve.

So one thing I can do is I can go back into Vertex mode and start pulling these up and then go back into Face mode and reselect these and then go Extrude again, and then maybe one more. Now that I have this, I can start shaping that foot a little bit more.

Now in order to actually see, this we may have to go into XRay mode so you can kind of see how this works, and then select these Vertices and start sculpting. So I'm really just pushing and pulling these around to match my drawing. Okay, so I'm not going to do this all too much. We're really just going to be roughing this in. Now one thing you can do is also is as you start to work with this, you can hit the 2 or the 3 button to see exactly how this is smoothing.

So if I hit the number 2 button, you can see how I've got my feet, but they are way too skinny on the left and right side. So one thing I can do with that is I can again go back into Face mode, select the outside of the feet and again, do another Extrude. You can see now I'm extruding his feet out a little bit, and I can squash it down, and then from the front, I can again adjust these, so again, I'm going to go into Vertex mode, select these and move them down.

You kind of get where I'm going with this, adding enough geometry to make my character and checking how it smoothes and then matching that to my drawing. So you can see I've got kind of that foot roughed out a little bit. So let's go ahead and work a little bit more on the character's upper torso and body and see if we can get that into shape as well. Let's go and turn off this reference here. The first thing I notice is that it's still kind of boxy. I really want it to be a little bit more round, viewed from the top.

So let's go back into our top view. I'm going to hit F to Frame All, and then I'm going to go ahead and select the vertices in the corners of this box. You can see what I have selected here. And then I'm going to scale. But if I just scale from the middle, notice how it also scales going up and down this way, and I don't really want to do that. So what I want to do is scale just in the Z direction and then again in the X, and what that does is it kind of smoothes it out and makes it a little bit more cylindrical.

Then I can also select these vertices in the middle and just translate those up - oops I selected a vertices on the side there you can see how I made a little mistake there, so let's go ahead and make this - In fact, probably the easier way to do this is just select this one face and pull that up, and now what I've got is I'm kind of getting a little bit of a shoulder here. And now once I have this I can basically go back in and match it up to the reference and just work with it from one view or the other.

So, for example, here I want to make sure that this matches the beltline of the character. So again, I'm just going to start playing with these vertices, and really all I'm going to do is just pull vertices around. And again, here with his rear end, I'm going to go ahead and kind of clip off this corner a little bit and again, all I'm doing is trying to match his geometry to the drawing.

It's simple as that. So these are some of the basics of how to model against a reference drawing. Now the better the reference drawing you have, the better your modeling will be. It's always good idea to have great reference when you model like this, and again I'm just using things like Scale and Rotate to move the vertices globally, and then I go in one at a time and I tweak it. And again, what I'm trying to do here is I'm trying to create loops of edges that are actually pretty much in line.

So you don't want geometry that's all over the place. You want things to be regular and smooth and to kind of match what you're doing. So now I've got this kind of blocked out from the side. Let's go back into the front and do it again. And again, I'm going to turn on XRay right here, so I can start playing with this. I'm going to go ahead and take this, and another way you can do this is by using Edge Loops. So if I go into Edge and I double-click on this edge, remember, it'll select the whole loop, and then I can go ahead and start scaling this.

And if I select this one I can double- click that, maybe scale it up a little bit because he is a little bit wider. Notice here's the curve, so he is actually a little bit wider here than I've got him, so a little bit wider. And again, remember I've already shaped him from front to back, so I'm really only working left to right here, so I don't want to just globally scale because then I'll get him out of proportion. Anyways I'm going to stop here, and as you can see, I've already got this body kind of blocked down, and you can see I've got some of the basic shape.

You can see I already have the character. It's already starting to look a little bit like the character. Now we will do more tweaking on this, but for right now, let's go ahead and just leave this, and we'll pick it up and refine it a little bit in the next couple of lessons.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Maya 2011 Essential Training .

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Q: The Chapter 2 exercise file dog_reference.mb appears blank when opened in Maya. I can't see the dog image. What do I do?
A: Make sure you are working with the most current version of the exercise files for this course from the site. Try downloading the files again. If the image still doesn't appear, make sure the project folder is set to the matching (Chap02) folder in the exercise files.
Also check to make sure you have "hardware texturing" enabled under the viewport's Shading menu.
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