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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
In the real world, most ears are almost identical, but when it comes to cartoony stylization, ears can range from simple nubs that stick out of the side of the head, all the way to very complex and stylized forms. They might be done away with altogether. I'll show you one way to make an ear that kind of falls into the middle ground, one that's relatively common in 3D toony animation. After you learn these techniques you should be able to modify them into creating any sort of ear you want. So we have got the Exercise File open. This is the head that we have created up to this point, and what I want to do is create a separate object to start out the ear and then we'll attach it later.
I don't want this head to get in the way, so actually I am going to put it on a layer and make it so I can't interact with it. So let's just select this head, and I have got a layer already created. I am just going to hold down the right mouse button on it and go to Add Selected Object. So now the head is part of this layer, I can go ahead and put it on T mode, kind of get it out of the way for now. Okay, I am going to open up my four views here and I want to start out making this ear with a poly cube. So I am just going to pick my Poly Cube up off the shelf and just drag it roughly over where I want that ear to be, in the Side view or in the Perspective view you can kind of drag out the height of it, just roughly we can edit it later to make it to fit more exactly, and now I'll just move it into place.
I think I am going to rotate it a little bit too because the ear kind of sticks out at an angle from the side of the head. Okay, let me look at this in the Perspective just see if everything lines up all right. Okay, that looks pretty good. Now the ear is attached to the head by kind of a stem shape. So I am going to create that stem by extruding it out. I am going to zoom in on the ear here. I want to select this face that's closest to the head and just extrude it out closest to the head, and then I'll insert an Edge Loop in between here that I'll shrink down to create a stem shape.
Now if I go into the Scale tool and just scale this edge loop down, you can see that we are creating a stem shape. Now I am just going to delete this face on the inside and if we turn on Smooth Preview, we can see that there is kind of interesting shape here now. The next part of this ear that I want to create is the pattern on the inside. Just kind of a looping, sweeping pattern that goes on in the inside and I'll just create it really quick to show you how this works.
So I am just going to select this face and go to Extrude and switch to Scale and just bring that in a little bit and I am going to do that a second time as well, just hitting G, go into Scale mode and bring the size of this down. This is just giving me some geometry to work with, so that I have more edges and faces to work with inside of this area that I can then manipulate to create the shape that I want. The next thing that I want to do is extrude some of these faces inwards, to create kind of a cavity inside the ear. So I want to select these faces right here.
Go to Extrude and just push them in. Now if we turn on the Smooth Preview, you can see that the ear is starting to take a shape that looks a little bit more like a cartoony stylization of an ear. I want to edit it a little bit though. It's kind of symmetrical. So I want this kind of C shape to have a little bit more character to it. So I am going to just edit some of these points. If I move these down a little bit, now you can see we are getting a little bit more of an interesting shape.
So if I turn off the Smooth Preview on this object, you can see that the basic polygon shape is extremely blocky and simple. There is almost no relation between the smoothed version and the unsmoothed version. And we can stand to make this a little bit more dense. Instead of doing that by hand, a really quick way to do that is to simply just use the Smooth tool and you see that this has subdivided the objects. So now we have a lot more detail and it actually looks closer to the smoothed end result, which is what we want. Now it's time to attach the ear to the head.
Let me get the head and turn it off of the Template mode. Put it back into Editable mode and let's select both of these and combine them into the same mesh. What I want to do now is move the edges of the head, so they are little bit more in line with where the ear is. You can see that I have accidentally put the ear a little bit too far for but that's okay. We'll just move his holes forward to kind of line up better. So I just double-clicked on one of those edges and it selected the entire border edge.
So we'll move him a little bit closer forward. Now you can just simply select two vertices that you want to merge together. So these two, and then you can go up to Edit Mesh and Merge and they will snap together. So you can go ahead and go and do this all the way around, until you have snapped up the entire head. So there we've got a finished ear and it's combined to the head. One thing you might notice is that these two parts, the ear and the head, have two different material types.
one is shiny and the other is more of a matte material. That's because I put a shader on the head that has more shiny quality to it. That makes it easier to see the forms that have more highlight on it. Whenever you create an object by default, it has a more matte material on it. So let's give this whole body the same shiny material. If you just hold down the right mouse button on the object and you go down to Assign Existing Material and let go over the mouse when it's over blinn, then the whole objects is going to get the same shiny material.
Blinn is shiny and so that's the effect we get. And now you see that the ear has the same material as the head. You could go ahead and clean this up a little bit with the Sculpt Geometry tool, kind of smooth out the transition, but there is how you put the ear on the head. So when you do a cartoony modeling, you will often find that the simplest and easiest approach is the best. Modeling this ear is bare-bones basic. But it gives a good toony result that can be modified into lots of different ear shapes.
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