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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
Sadly we are close to the end of this course. I just want to recap the things that are most important to take away while it's still fresh in our minds. Before you start modeling, you should look at your reference images and understand what it is that the character is supposed to be able do when it's animated. You want to talk to the animators, to the setup artist, and the director to find out how the character is going to move. This will inform the level of detail, topology, flow zones, and complexity that you are going to have to build into the character. Next, break the character down into flow zones.
You are going to want to establish which parts of a character need a cylindrical edge flow pattern and which parts need a circular edge flow pattern. In Maya, block out those flow zones with basic proportions as simply as possible. You don't want to get too much geometry at this point. You just want to establish the basic proportions and the flow zones. If you have too much geometry, you are going to bog yourself down with lots of unnecessary detail at this point. Then add edge loops to flush out the form while tweaking it to follow the reference.
Continue adding geometry by whatever means necessary to create the proper detail level, surface quality, and any additional objects and accessories the character might have. Step back and evaluate the model, ask other people for their critiques, and then rework the model as needed. If you want to take this character beyond the scope of this course, check out many of the other great lynda titles. There is Maya 2011 Essential Training. That course will teach you how to prepare the model for texturing by laying out the UVs. Then you can look at its rigging section to learn how to set up your model for animation.
If you want to know how to show off your model with professional looking lights and shading, check out the Maya 2011: Lighting and Rendering in mental ray. That will show you how to make the model look like it's in a realistic space. It will really give the model some weight and it will look really sharp. So as you become more experienced with character modeling, you will certainly find your own shortcuts and discover your own ways of doing things and get faster and faster. Character modeling is a rewarding and challenging discipline that always leaves me wanting more. So good luck on your character modeling journeys.
It's been a pleasure to create this course, and I hope it has given you many insights into character modeling and that by following it you will be able to model faster and better.
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