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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
Modeling clothing based on the body can be quick and easy, but what if the article of clothing doesn't match the geometry of the body? I want to show you some ways of modifying the initial clothing for other styles. So we could extract this shirt off of the body and if we wanted to make a T-shirt, we could cut off at this edge up here and we can cut off the neck of the shirt up here. But what if we want to make a tank top where the sleeves are going to be cut off right here? You can see that the topology of the body doesn't match where we would want to cut off the sleeves for a tank top.
I'll show you how to take a T-shirt that we've extracted from the body and modify it into a tank top. So the first thing I want to do is create a duplicate of the body so that we can cut away a T-shirt from that without messing up the body that we've already got. I'm going to hit Ctrl+D to duplicate this body, Command+D on a Mac, and we just want to get this body out of the way. So, I'm going to go to Display and Hide > Hide Selection. So the body is hidden right now. We've just got this thing that we're going to turn into a shirt. So, let's go into the Face mode and zoom in and decide where we want the top of the neck of the shirt to cut off.
So I'm just going to click one of these faces and just turn off Soft Select and then Shift+double-click a face next to it so we get a ring of faces and let's just delete that. I also want to delete some of these faces so we get the sleeve cut off. So let's click one and Shift+double- click the next and over here on the other side let's do the same thing and in the same way. So, let's Shift+click one of these and Shift+double-click one next to it and delete it. Let's go down to the waist and decide where we want the shirt to cut off here.
We can do just the same thing and cut it off. So let's go back into Object mode and see we've got the shirt separated from the body. So let's actually break this up into separate objects with Mesh > Separate. So, these are separate objects. Now we can delete these things that we don't need in the way anymore. Let me zoom out and let's take stock of the situation. So, we've got sleeves on his T-shirt and this would be fine if all we want to do is make a T-shirt.
Let's figure out how we can get a cut right here to make this a tank top. In the Edit Mesh menu, Maya has a tool called the Cut Faces tool and let's just see how this works. If we click and drag anywhere out here, Maya creates this line and whenever I release the mouse button, Maya is just going to go ahead and cut through whatever faces are cut by this line. If I just release it here, we can see that Maya just go and cut this for us.
Let's take a look around and see what this looks like. So, basically there's a circle cut out and now we just need to delete all of these faces that are on the other side of this line. I'm going to go into Face mode and start selecting some of these faces. So quick timesaving tip right here. You can grow the selection. So you can select all of the adjacent faces to this one by hitting Shift and period, and you can just keep hitting that as many times as you need to and it'll keep growing out the selection.
We just want to find a quick way to delete all these faces. The selection has actually grown out past beyond where I wanted it to, so I can hold down Control and click and delete some of these faces that I don't want to be deleted. And I'll just hit the Delete key to get rid of these, and let me continue to go around and see what faces I can get rid of. I just want to get a better view on some of these. I'm going to zoom in closer and some of these I just need to delete one at a time.
It's just a little bit of busywork to go in and clean all these up. So let me take a look around here. We've got some more to delete on the back. Let me see if we've got them all. Okay, so that's good. We've established the cutoff point for the tank top. The next thing that we need to do is clean up a little bit of this geometry. Let's see what I mean by that. In a few of these places where it cut it off, it didn't make such a clean break. What we want to do is clean up some of this extra mess that it made.
So we can merge some of these vertices together and make this a little bit more clean. Go to Edit Mesh and Merge. We just want to look around and see what other places things might have got messed up a little bit, a few more tweaks here and there. You want to find any places where 5-sided faces have been created and merge together any straight vertices. I'm just looking for any places where there is a lot of vertices close together and it's not really doing much to contribute to the shape.
So going back into Object mode, I can see that that edge has been cleaned up a lot. Now, it's okay that there are some triangles around here. Clothing actually doesn't need to be as clean as anatomy. You can get away with a little bit more messy things. You can get away with triangles more often. Clothing doesn't need to bend in as quite a precise way as anatomy does. So, after cutting off one of the sleeves, we can delete the other side of the shirt and then mirror it over. So, I just want to go into the Front View and make this a little bit more easy to select these faces.
I just want to select half of this and delete it. Now in the Perspective view, I can go into Mesh and Mirror Geometry, and let's see what we got. So that looks pretty clean. Let's do a little bit of cleanup done here at the bottom and make the shirt tuck into the pants a little bit more neatly. First I want to make the body come back, so that we can see where we're positioning the shirt relative to the body. Let's go to Show > All, and let's go down here to the bottom of the shirt and I want to select this edge drip at the bottom and turn on Soft Select, so that we can move the shirt altogether and position it and tuck it inside the pants.
You can use a combination of Move, Rotate and Scale to get this positioned correctly. So that's looking pretty good. Just like the pants, I want to expand the shirt out a little bit. So, I want to go into the Sculpt Geometry tool, turn on the settings, just make sure we've got the Pull operation selected, and just flood this a little bit so it'll pull the shirt out away from the body. Let me zoom in and see. Okay, that did pretty well, and we can also give the shirt thickness.
So, let's go out of the Sculpt Geometry tool and extrude the shirt. With the whole shirt selected, hit Extrude and we can see we've got the standard Extrude gizmo here and we just want to pull out on the blue arrow so that we can give the entire shirt thickness. Let's go out and let's see what this looks like with the Smooth Preview turned on. So we get a nice clean edge here. The thickness looks good, the smoothing looks good, and it looks that the shirt is penetrating with the pants just a little bit.
Let me do a little clean up here to get the shirt tucking inside the pants a little bit more nicely. Just make sure Soft Select is turned on, go to Scale, let's shrink that up making sure it fits inside the pants. Let's smooth the pants. Okay, so that's looking pretty good. So this is a good way to see that instead of modeling something from scratch, see if there's a way to duplicate it and modify it from something that you've already made. This saves a lot of time and effort.
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