Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Proper edge flow

From: Modeling a Character in Maya

Video: Proper edge flow

The structure of your polygon mesh can be thought of like the structure of a bridge or a tower. In both, you want to get the most use out of the fewest pieces. The arrangement of the polygons in a model, like the arrangement of beams in the Eiffel Tower, needs to relate to the shapes and forms that they're contributing to. The way in which edges relates to anatomy and to each other is called edge flow, and it's a crucial concept for making characters that bend and move in correct ways. So we're at this picture of the Eiffel Tower here and we can see how the different structural members contribute to the overall shape of the tower.

Proper edge flow

The structure of your polygon mesh can be thought of like the structure of a bridge or a tower. In both, you want to get the most use out of the fewest pieces. The arrangement of the polygons in a model, like the arrangement of beams in the Eiffel Tower, needs to relate to the shapes and forms that they're contributing to. The way in which edges relates to anatomy and to each other is called edge flow, and it's a crucial concept for making characters that bend and move in correct ways. So we're at this picture of the Eiffel Tower here and we can see how the different structural members contribute to the overall shape of the tower.

There are these large curving shapes that they are made up of these little struts, and all the struts are in a structure that's directionally related to the overall direction of the tower. There's a similar thing that's going on with our character here in Maya. We can see that there's an edge flow pattern and it matches the overall direction and structure of the body. So we can see I've got these color-coded zones here on this model and this is what I call flow zones.

They are different parts of the body that have the same edge flow pattern to them. So if I click on the body here and I zoom in on the arm for example, you can see that all of these different edge loops are parallel to each other. They're all flowing in the same pattern, almost like a checkerboard grid. That's why I call it a flow zone, is because this particular part of the body is really in essence just a cylinder. It's kind of been molded into the shape of an arm, but it's really just a cylinder.

Other parts of the body can also be thought of as flow zones. For example, we've got the pec, the chest area. It's almost like this cape that's been wrapped around and it follows the anatomy and helps keep things simple. There are other flow zones, for example, down here on the abdomen. It's really just this ring of faces all the way around the body and that also takes the shape of a cylinder. There are certain parts of the body that don't really need to have their own flow zones. They just kind of take what's left over from other parts.

So this is little part under the armpit here. It's really just kind of filling in the gap of other more important areas, so not every part of the body needs to have its own specially worked out flow zones, but the important parts of the body do, the major overall structures. And there are two major types of flow zones; there's cylindrical flow zones or tubular flows and there is also circular flow zones. We already saw some tubular flow zones like on the arm and the abdomen. Now let's look at a circular flow zone. Usually you find those on the face.

So you've got the face here, and there's this edge loops are going around in a very circular pattern around the mouth and also around the eyes, and that's very useful, because when a setup artist goes to set this up for animation, these edge loops are already configured to match the direction of the muscles and a natural body that pull and stretch on the skin. And so when this character frown its brow or when it smiles and frowns, these edge loops are already set up to take the shape of those different anatomical shapes that form, when the character moves around in those different shapes.

There is a few other aspects of the way I've setup this edge flow that are very important. Let me zoom out and get a better look at this. So, thus looking generally at the body overall, you can see that the way these polygons are laid out, it's a very even pattern. It's very predictable. It's just following the anatomy. It's not getting over complicated. There's also something else about it that's very useful, is that it's mostly square. There's not very many long faces. You know, they mostly maintain a very square like proportion.

Another important thing is that they follow the anatomy. So if you have a major anatomical structure, like let me take a better look under the pectoral muscle, you can see there is a major anatomical structure, and so why not make your edge flow follow those major anatomical structures. Something else that good edge flow does is it follows where creases will form and where joints will bend. So if I look here on the crotch, you can see that the edge flow is following a very diagonal pattern from the crotch up to the hip.

Now if you notice you can see how the crease will form on the natural person in this diagonal pattern, and so when the animator goes to move this leg around, it's a good idea to have the edge flow following that same pattern. So that when the crease forms, it's forming along where you've already got the edges set up. If the edges were very horizontal here, but the crease forms diagonally, then they would crinkle and you'll have all kinds of weird artifacts forming in the mesh. So we talked about some of the different properties that good edge flow has.

It's mostly square. It's evenly spaced. It follows the anatomy. It follows where the crease and different bends will form and it's impossible to perfectly satisfy all of those principles. You want to try a strike a balance between them, because if you try to make every polygon exactly square and exactly the same size and follow the anatomy, you're just going to pull your hair out because it's impossible. But working out a good edge flow is kind of like solving a logic puzzle. It's fun, but it can also be a headache when there's a deadline.

So, that's why this course is going to focus on the most straightforward aspects of edge flow, to help you get you on your way and avoid the hassles. As you get better at character modeling, you will certainly discover your own techniques, tricks, and ways to improve on the basics. You'll also work with setup artists and the animators to find out exactly what it is that this model needs to be able to do, so you can more effectively tailor the edge flow and the flow zones to accomplish those needs.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Modeling a Character in Maya
Modeling a Character in Maya

36 video lessons · 13828 viewers

Ryan Kittleson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 6s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the exercise files
      39s
  2. 31m 38s
    1. Navigation and views
      3m 7s
    2. Using Smooth Preview
      1m 34s
    3. Using the Extrude tool
      5m 58s
    4. Using the power of Soft Select
      3m 54s
    5. Adding new detail to an existing model
      3m 52s
    6. Using the Sculpt Geometry tool
      4m 35s
    7. Working symmetrically
      5m 17s
    8. Setting up the image planes in Maya
      3m 21s
  3. 18m 43s
    1. Proper edge flow
      6m 4s
    2. Attaching separately modeled body parts
      7m 6s
    3. Managing your scene
      5m 33s
  4. 45m 43s
    1. Beginning the basic facial structure
      6m 40s
    2. Making the head and neck
      5m 13s
    3. Refining the mouth
      4m 47s
    4. Forming the eyes
      7m 20s
    5. Building the nose
      3m 1s
    6. Crafting the ears
      6m 18s
    7. Making the teeth and gums
      8m 14s
    8. Modeling the tongue and eyebrow
      4m 10s
  5. 26m 28s
    1. Modeling the upper torso
      5m 33s
    2. Working from the waist down to the feet
      4m 55s
    3. Constructing the palm and thumb
      4m 18s
    4. Making fingers and finishing the hand
      4m 54s
    5. Applying artistic principles to the body
      6m 48s
  6. 13m 28s
    1. Drawing the NURBS curves for hair
      8m 57s
    2. Sculpting the polygonal hair clumps
      4m 31s
  7. 20m 43s
    1. Modeling the pants
      6m 16s
    2. Creating the shirt
      8m 7s
    3. Making the shoes
      6m 20s
  8. 22m 16s
    1. Creases and hard edges
      7m 22s
    2. Cleaning up problem areas
      5m 0s
    3. Putting on the finishing touches
      4m 58s
    4. Adapting one model for many characters
      4m 56s
  9. 2m 19s
    1. Recap and further recommendations
      2m 19s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Modeling a Character in Maya.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.