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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
Making the teeth and gum is a good opportunity to learn about the power of instances, where multiple objects are updated whenever you change just one of them. There is also a bunch of little modeling tips and tricks sprinkled throughout this that will help you in all kinds of ways, not just when modeling these specific body parts. So in this Exercise File, I have got the teeth and gums already built to show you an example of what we are going to end up with at the end of this. Let me zoom in on this, so we have got these teeth and gums, and what I mean by instance is that these objects are all a copy of each other and they all automatically update when you change one of them.
So if you make any edits to it, all of the others get the same update. The gums also are instances. So if you move any part of the gums, the other one will move as well. So let's delete these and start making them from scratch. I am going to move down to the grid here. It's easy to construct these things. If we have got the girds, so we can make sure everything is precise and lined up. Let me go up to Polygon Pipe up on-the- shelf, and I am going to hold down X so we can snap it to the grid as we pull this out, and just roughly there, we can always resize it later, and then I am also going to drag it down a little bit so that we can get some size to it.
I am going to hit Enter. Now this shape is going to be the base for the gums but we don't need all these faces on the backside. I am just going to go into face mode and delete these. We also don't need a lot of these faces on the underside of the object either. So I am going to try to zoom in here and select all these. Okay, so you can see if we do the Smooth Preview on this, get a nice soft round gummy shape. Now I am going to start a tooth. I am just going to go into the Top view and build this tooth based off of where the gums are.
I want to create a polygon that sits right here over this part of the gums. So let's go up to the Mesh menu and pick the Create Polygon tool. I just want to click out a shape that's roughly in the shape of one of these polygons on the gums, and just hit Enter. So let's look at this in the Perspective View. We can see we have got this polygon floating in space right here over the gums. If I just go up to the Extrude on the shelf and move this up, it extrudes out a box shape.
So this is going to be the start of one of the teeth. Now if we go onto Object mode on this tooth and pick like the Move tool, we can see that the pivot point of this is actually right in the middle of the world. So if we rotate this object, we can see it's rotating from the middle. When we go to duplicate this tooth, it's going to duplicate in this perfect curve that fits the curve of the gums. So this is very useful. So the way I am going to make multiple duplicates of this tooth is by going to the Edit menu and Duplicate Special with Options.
So these are few different settings in here. If I set it to Copy, all of the teeth that get duplicated are going to be separate objects. If I set it to Instance, they are going to be instances, which means if you opted one of them they all get updated. So this is what we want. We want the duplicates to rotate by a certain degree and now I have done the math and I have calculated out that I need 18 degrees to rotate so that each new tooth is spaced out appropriately, and I want it on the Y axis. So -18, I actually don't want to rotate it anymore in any other axis and I want 10 teeth. I have already got one, so we'll do nine duplicates.
So 10 in total and let's see what happens if this works. Okay, great. So I hit Apply, now you can see we have got all these duplicated teeth filling out the gums here. Now let's click on one and edit it a little bit so that we can get a nicer tooth shape. If you can see if we hit the Smooth Preview, a cube will simply smooth out into this really round soft spherical shape, but I don't want that. I want it to be a little bit boxy, kind of like a rounded corner box.
So if we insert some edge loops around this box, it's going to help hold a more boxy shape. So now with Smooth Preview turned on, you can see we get a rounded corner box. I also want to edit some of these vertices, so that we can get a little bit more of an even shape here. That is just a little bit off. The teeth are looking just a little bit jagged. See what that looks like from above, okay so we have this much more evenly space now. Now we need to make the gums fit the teeth.
You might have noticed that gums have this wave pattern where they go up higher in between each tooth and then in the middle of the tooth they drop down and then they go up higher. So the way we are going to create that is we need to create some more geometry in here. We need to actually have some vertices in the middle of each tooth so they can pull those vertices down to create that shape. Quick way to do that is by using a Smooth up here. That's just going to subdivide everything. Now we have got the geometry that we need to edit this into shape.
So what I want to do is pull the gums down in the middle of each tooth and raise them up in between each tooth. So I am just going to double- click every other edge loop. Holding down the Shift key, so we'll pull these down. I want to move out the gums just up a little bit more and actually you can scale up the gums a little bit, because they were a little bit small. All right, cool, so something like that.
We actually have the gums with the teeth sitting inside them and it kind of feels natural the way they undulating like this. So what we want to do now is make the teeth parented to the gums. What that means is when something is parented, there is a child and a parent relationship, and where you move the parent, the child is going to follow along. So if we select all of these teeth and then select the gums last, whatever is selected last is going to be in green. If you hit P, that parents.
So all of these teeth are now children of the gums. If we click on the gums, everything gets selected. If you move the gums around, everything goes with it. From this point it's very easy to create the upper teeth as well. They are just going to be an instance of the lower teeth. So we have got our lower gum selected with all of the teeth parented along with it. We'll go up to Edit and Duplicate Special again and this time we want to rotate on the Z-axis. But we want to rotate halfway around, so 180 degrees.
We don't want to rotate any more in the Y-axis and we only want one copy. Let's see if this works. Okay, cool, kind of overlapping each other. Let me move this up a little bit. Okay, so we have got our two sets of teeth. Let's see how we can fit these into the head. Let me zoom out a little bit. Okay, so they are really big. We need to shrink this down which is pretty easy to do. We just go under Scale and we'll shrink it down and because the teeth are parented, the teeth get shrunk down right along with the gums. Let's move these closer into place, and select just the bottom teeth now and move these up. Give them a little bit of an under bite.
Since he's got such a big jaw. Let's see how this fits in. Just a little bit big still. Now that's pretty close. So this method of making teeth works really well for clean, regular, cartoony teeth. It's also a solid foundation upon which you can build realistic teeth. From here, all you do is tweak and add complexity to create all kinds of different teeth.
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