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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
Hair is one of those things that can be done in so many different ways. In the real world there is an infinite variety of hair styles to choose from and then the way you interpret those hair styles in 3D can also be done in so many different ways. There is dynamic hair, there is textured planes, there is fur dynamics. The way I want to focus in this course is modeling and with polygons. So I am not going to really try to get into any dynamic things. That's kind of straying away from what I want to do with modeling. Also it's a cartoony character.
So if I make hair out of these clumps it kind of maintains a sort of very clay cartoony feel to it and so I think that's very appealing for this type of character and it's also a way of working that can be adapted into many different hairstyles. One way to create this type of hair is to create each one of these clumps as a separate polygon cube and then you could tweak that cube into shape, but that would be tedious. I want to show you how to do it in a more fun way, in a more direct way, and it's probably going to go faster too. So I just want to delete all this hair that I made so we can start fresh. I'm going to select everything and then Ctrl+Select the head and Ctrl+Select the eye to get that out of the way and just hit Delete, so we can start fresh.
The way I want to start this hair is by creating NURBS curves on the surface of the character's scalp and one way you can do that is to make the surface live. Now what does that mean? If we go into the Modify menu you can select Make Live. That takes any selected object and it now makes it like the grid. So if you are drawing any NURBS curves they by default get stuck to the grid. This makes anything that you create, any NURBS curves, any polygon primitives, it creates them on the surface of the object that you have made live.
So in order to draw some NURBS curves I am going go into the Curves palette right here on the shelf and just pick this EP Curve tool. Let me rotate around to get a better view of the top of this guy's head. So I just want to draw out some curves on the surface of the head. You can draw five or six, however many that you think it's going to take. When you finish drawing out a curve you can hit the Enter key and it will finish that curve. You just want to hit G and start another curve. Really you can put these curves wherever you want to. It just matters whatever the style is. So I am just going to skip to the same file that where I have already created all these curves, but first I want to show you how to make this surface not live so that your actions won't snap to the surface anymore.
So with nothing selected, I want to go into Modify and now this is called Make Not Live. It basically says now the grid is the default for creating anything instead of that object we have selected before. So when you are done laying out all your curves, make your surface not live. Okay, let me zoom in on the hair so we can see what this looks like. So we have got all these different curves made. They are sort of laid out in this pattern on the head that roughly matches the hairstyle that we are going for. So I want to be able to work on these hair curves without the body getting in the way.
So I just want to select the body and the eye. I am going to go ahead into the Layers palette here on the Channel Box and go Create Layer from Selected. So now we have got a layer with the eye and the body on it. I just want to make it reference so I can see it but I can't click on it. I don't want it to get in the way. So at this point you can edit these curves and kind of style them, lift them up off the head, make them flair out a little bit. If you right-click on a curve you can go and edit its control vertices. So you can use the Soft Select just like you would on a polygon object and I just want to edit the shape of these curves a little bit. So you can use a move, rotate and scale.
I just want to get a better view on this and make some of these curves fly-up away from that head a little bit. You can do this one at a time on these different curves, but you can also work on multiple curves at once, by changing the Soft Select settings to Global. So I am just going to go to the tool Settings and change Soft Selection mode to Global. So you can see that selecting vertices on all the different curves. So if I go in here and pick Control Vertex, the Soft Select is affecting vertices on all the curves.
So now if I want to pull this up off the scalp-- let me get a different better view on this. So you can very quickly make edits to lots of different hair curves at once. You can rotate them around. Really get a style that you are going for. So now that you know how to make edits to the hair curves I am just going to open up another same file where I have already made all the edits that I want. I just want to close the tool settings for now and let me zoom in on the hair.
Turn off Soft Select and I just might change this from Template mode to Reference. Okay, so we have got these different hair curves and I have already made these edits to have the hair lifting off the head a little bit. I have these little extra sprouting clumps at the crown of the head that are kind of doing their own thing. The next step in creating this hair is to extrude a circle along these hair curves in order to create polygon tubes. Now Extrude works a little bit differently with NURBS curves than they do with polygons. Let me show you how it works. What you want to do is have a separate NURBS curve object like this circle, for example. You want to draw it on the grid.
This circle is going to be an object that gets pulled along the hair curved to create a tube. So we have got a circle here on the ground. I just want to move it up closer to the action so you don't have two things too far apart that we are trying to work with. So we have got a circle up here. I do want to make one little change to the circle. So I would zoom in on this circle and hold down the right mouse button on it and go to Control Vertex. So by default this circle is set to have 8 sections to it. There is 8 control vertices.
If I just change the Sections to 4 you can see that it simplifies the object. It just means that there is going to be less cumbersome detail to work with at first. Okay, so let's go to the Object mode of this circle and let's select it and then we want to Shift+Select one of these hair curves. So when we go up into the Surfaces menu here, pick Surfaces and then Surfaces menu within that. What Extrude is going to do is it's going to sweep this circle along this path and create a tube for us.
Let's go into Extrude with options. And there are lots of different options to choose from here. I am going to reset this so that it's in the default, the way you are most likely going to see it yourself. So what do we want to do here? Well it would take too long to really explain what all of this does. I just want to show you what the most predictable stable result you are going to get and how to set that up. So let's change this to at path, change this to Component. 99% of the time when I'm doing extrudes I am going to set it up this way. It just creates a very predictable result.
Something I also want to change is Output geometry. I want to work with Polygons instead of NURBS and we've got a whole bunch more options down here. I do want the output result to be Quads, so squares rather than triangles, and I also want to change this to control points. That just makes things very simple. Instead of giving you all these extra options, it just simplifies things. We'll see how that works. So let's hit Extrude and see what happens. Okay, so as we look around this we can see that it's created this kind of boxy tube shape along the hair curve.
Now why is it a box rather than a circle? Well it's because we have created polygons. So polygons are going to be defined by how many control vertices are in this path object. So if we go to Control Vertex we can see that there is 4 control vertices. It's four sided basically. The resulting polygon extrusion is going to have four sides because of that, and that's good because it keeps things simple. We don't want to have too much geometry to work with at first. Something else that's cool about this is that you can change any of these NURBS curves after you have created the extrude and the extruded surface will update automatically.
So you can change the size of this path. You could go and edit the control vertices on the hair curve and it would move around the extruded object in real-time. I just want to turn on Smooth Preview here on this curve here. Okay, so I've made this kind of small just so that this extrusion doesn't get in the way. So once I've extruded this shape along all of these curves, I can go and scale up the size of this again so it's something that's a little bit more natural. So go ahead and select your circle on then Shift+Select the different hair curves and repeat the Extrude option until you have got them all done.
So you can see that this way of making hair is very powerful and it works very quickly. It's also a good way to make all kinds of different things, like tentacles or grass or anything that needs a roughly tubular shape.
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