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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
A good head and neck structure will set the stage for the ear as well as create good anatomy in the neck. Sure this section doesn't deal with parts of the body that are as exciting as eyes and mouths, but it's an important step. So in this exercise file I've got the face that we started in the previous video. And what I want to do to it, if I zoom out here in the side view, is I want to create some more some extrusions that go from the forehead. They're going to wrap around the back of the head and down the back of the neck. But I want to leave a gap for the ear. I want to leave an opening right here.
So what I need to do is split this edge in half, so that I've got a face above the ear that I can extrude from. So I just want to do that with the Insert Edge Loop tool. I want to select the model and pick the Insert Edge Loop tool. I just want to throw one in right here. Now I can take these edges on the side of the head and on the forehead and extrude them back. Let me go into Perspective view, so I can select this more easily. All right, so I'm Shift+Selecting these different edges up here and let's go into Extrude and then just go right in the Move mode.
I want to move these new edges back. I can also rotate them, so that they kind of rotate as they're turning their way back around the back of the head. And I'll just do another extrude. I want to move that down and rotate it again. And that's a little bit wide. We don't have that much space between the back of the ear and the back of head. So I'm just going to scale that in a little bit and move it into place. And let's just do one more extrude down the back of the neck. Okay, so if I look in the Perspective view you can see this is really blocky and simple.
There is not a whole lot going on here, but it set up the basic flow zone, edge flow for the back of the head, so that when I go in insert more geometry, and insert edge loops, and cut this and add more detail the structure is already set up. Now it's good that we have this open space for the ear right here. We want that to be open so I can insert the ear later, but I do want to close off this gap right here. An easy way to do that is with the Append Polygon tool. So I'll open the Edit Mesh menu, there is the Append Polygon tool, and what this wants to do is create a polygon that gaps between two edges.
And so we just need to select the two edges that it's going to span across. So you just click on one and then you click on the second one and it creates a new face right in-between the two edges. And I'm just going to hit Enter to finish the operation. The next thing we need to do is create the neck. So let's look in a Perspective view and go to Edge mode and I just want to select these edges around the base of the neck. Now that we've got those selected we can just extrude them down. I'm going to go right into Move mode and I'm just move them down.
Scale them out a little bit so they fit the size of the neck a little bit better. Let's see in the Front view. Okay, its look like we need to tweak this up so it's fits the shape of the neck a little bit better. All right, well, close enough for now. We can always tweak it more later. So the next thing I want to do is mirror half of this mesh over so we get a full face so we can see what the whole head looks like. So let's select the mesh and what I want to do is make sure that the vertices in the center are all lined up with the center of the heads.
So I'm going to double-click that open edge and we can see what we have here. All right, there are extra selected edges that we don't want. So I'm just going to Ctrl and select those to get rid of that selection and let's just snap these so that we get a very clean centerline. All right good. And let's mirror that over. And you can see it accidentally merged more vertices than I wanted.
So I'm just going to go into the mirror in the inputs of the Channel Box and change the Merge Threshold to 0.01. And let's turn on the Smooth Preview and see what that looks like. All right, so we got a face going. There is you know some weird things. You can tweak that to fix that, but what I want to do is create some more geometry to work with. And instead of just inserting edge loops by hand manually, one way that I can very quickly add more geometry to this very basic mesh is use the actual subdivision Smooth.
So I want to go up here on the shelf and just smooth this. So you see what the result is, is it just subdivided this mesh for us, just created an extra edge loop in-between every edge loop. So this saves us some of the work of doing all that inserting of edge loops manually. It just automatically subdivided everything for us. Now would probably be a good time to go in and tweak vert-by-vert to make sure that this lines up with reference. The head and neck might not be the most exciting parts of the body to model, but when done well they really support good modeling in the parts of they connect to, mainly the ears, chest, and face.
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