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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
The chest and shoulder of your characters are a particularly tricky area because of all the different movements that a shoulder can make. It can go up and down, and back and forth, and can rotate in so many different directions that it is really hard to create a single topology that can be most effective for all those different types of movements. The approach that I'm going to show you in this video is how to set up an average sort of "one size fits all" way of dealing with the shoulder. It works for vast majority of cases but you might need to adapt it for the specific situations you find yourself working with.
Let's take a look at this Exercise File of sort of in-progress torso and we can look at it and zoom in, and see how the flow zone is going in this looping pattern up and across the chest, up and over the shoulder, and around the back of the body. It's kind of the a collar or cape shape, and this matches the human anatomy pretty nicely because in the real musculature of a real person, the muscles of the deltoid kind of follow in this pattern and they come down and meet up with the pectoral muscles and they go across the chest like this.
So this edge flow pattern really helps mimic the natural muscular patterns of the human body. And I am going to open up the other Exercise File that doesn't have a body in it, bodystart. So to start out, I am going to start with a primitive, just to give us a bulky shape to start out and then we will modify it and adapt it for our needs. I am going to select the Poly Cylinder and just use the X key to snap it to the center of the world and let's see here in this view. We will drag the height.
Something like that is roughly what we want. I am just going to the Channel Box for this object. I am going to Inputs and I am going to change the Subdivision Axis to 12. I just want to simplify it a little bit so we don't have so much detail to work with. I want keep it simpler. Subdivision Caps, I want to change that to zero so that the caps don't have any subdivisions just to make it easier to delete because I just want to go in here and delete half of this, because we only work on half the character at once. So I am just going to move this cylinder up so it's roughly over the body of the character, over the chest.
Let see how that looks in the Front and Side view. Okay. That's pretty good. In the Front view and in the Side view it could be just scaled a little bit smaller. Okay. So we need to get these polygons to go looping up and over the shoulder. It's pretty easy to do that. I am just going to zoom in and grab this one edge right here and turn on Soft Select. So I want to falloff to grab lot of these faces and I just want to rotate this about 90 degrees horizontal.
So I if move this up in the Front view so it's sitting up on top of the deltoid, you can see now we've got this kind of cape-like collar shape that's going across the chest and up and over the shoulder. Now we just simply tweak these vertices so they lineup with my reference. Let me spend some time to clean this up. Just a couple more tweaks here and there. Okay. Now let's extrude an arm out of this structure. We don't quite yet have exactly the topology we need to extrude an arm out.
We need to create first this sort of armpit underneath where the arm would go and then we can have this open space to extrude the arm out. So I just want to create a new face in between the front and the back of this. So I am going to go into Edit Mesh, and do Append to Polygon tool. I am going to click this first edge and I want to attach it back here to the back. So I made a new face for us. I am going to hit Enter to finish that, and then I can just do Insert Edge Loop, and create one edge loop right underneath the armpit. So if I move this down, now we've got this open space right here where we can extrude the arm out from.
I am just going to double-click this and it selects the entire open edge. I hit Extrude, I go into the Move tool and I just pull that out, and we have got an arm started. I am going to bring that out to the elbow. Now the shape of it is a little weird. If I use the Scale tool, I can just flatten that shape a little bit. Scale it to fit the reference a little bit. That looks good. We can extrude it one more time and I will bring out the wrist with a Move tool, and the wrist is even narrower. So I am just going to shrink that up a little. All right, close enough for now.
The next thing I want to do is extrude the torso down the abdomen a little bit. So I am just going to select these edges that are on the underside of our chest right now, and hit Extrude, and we're going to bring these down. I just want to see them closer the reference so I can see what I am doing with this. Okay. So it's a little bit off to the reference. It's pretty easy to just tweak this back into the shape. I see what this looks like from all the way around. All right, cool.
So we've got our rough block-out of the torso finished. It's very loose, very blocky, but you can see we have established the flow zones that we going to need later on. We've got this flow zone for the chest and the shoulder. We have got a flow zone for the arm and we started this flow zone for the abdomen. This approach to modeling a torso is very versatile because it's allows to you create either toony characters or realistic ones. The only difference is the amount of detail that you put into it and how far you push those details to match anatomy or your reference.
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