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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
Hands are widely regarded as one of the most complex anatomical structures for the artist. The steps that I'm going to show you are going to break down and simplify the hand into the most important shapes first. Many people struggle for days to make good hands, because they haven't established a good base structure for them first. So I wish that you have to do it right and start with a good foundation. So in your scene file, we can see we've got the body and the head. I've put them on a template layer, so that they won't get in the way. We can still see them, but I just don't want them to be in the way.
I want to start out by creating a box over the palm. So let me zoom out in the Top view and the Front view, so we can see where this box is going to go. I'm just going to drag it out roughly over the shape of the palm and I'll just move that into place. So I'm going to zoom in to this box in the Perspective view and see how we can work with this. So we know we're going to have to connect this hand to the wrist at some point. So I'm just going to delete this polygon here towards the wrist. We don't need to deal with that.
Also, we're going to be putting some fingers on here later. So I'm going to just delete that, so we have that opened up too. Now, if we look at where the thumb is going to go, we could make a face right here and extrude the thumb out of this side. But if you look at your own hand, you can see that the thumb isn't actually coming out of the side of the palm, but actually a good one-third of the palm of your hand is made up of the thumb. So let's build the thumb, so it actually comes out of a good chunk of the palm as well as the side of the hand. I want to insert an edge loop, so that we can create faces for extruding the thumb out.
I am going to split it horizontally, and then I'm also going to split it right here. So now you can see if the thumb were to be extruded out of these two polygons. That is pretty good place for the thumb to go. So now I'm going to go up to some Extrude. We'll just pull these faces out. I'm going to go into Move mode in the Side View, so I can see it a little more easily. In a natural resting position, the thumb kind of sticks down at a 45-degree angle and it also moves forward at kind of a 45-degree angle as well.
So I'm just going to shape this and move it into position. See what this looks like. Okay. So we've got the angle established. The tip of this is still kind of weird. So let's work with the shape a little bit and maybe let's say we'll move these vertices up, so we get little bit more of a flat spot and let's round this out a little bit. I am going to go into Face mode and shrink these down a little bit. These are too big. I'm going to tweak this vertex right back here, so we get a little bit more of a natural shape.
So what we have right here is the basic flow zone for the thumb and for the palm. Very, very, bare bones simple. But you see if we hit the Smooth Preview, it looks like a little soft mitten shape. But everything is here that we need. If we want to add more detail, it's very easy to do at this point, because we've established the basic flow zone structure. One more adjustment I want to make to the tip of the thumb here is to angle it so that the tip of the thumb is in line with the angle of the direction of the thumb.
So let's see if I move to a view like this, and just rotate that tip. Okay, so that's now more in line with the overall direction of the thumb. So now if I insert some more edge loops, we can start to shape out this thumb here. So I inserted an Edge Loop and I'm just going to shrink that down a little bit, and see what that looks like. Okay, so that's going good. Now with Smooth Preview turned on, we can see that the thumb with just these very simple edge loops is really starting to take shape.
So the hand is a good example of learning how to break objects down into the shapes that they're made up of. The thumb and the hand are very complex when you first look at them in the real world. But if you break it down into a box that has an extrusion coming out of it at an angle, it's really easy to think about it that way, and if you just model it barebones basic like that, and then just continue to add detail to it. It comes out much better in the end.
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