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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 mouth is one of the parts of the body that undergoes extreme deformation. Muscles all around the mouth push and stretch the lips in a very elastic way. Getting the proper edge flow then becomes crucial to good animation. Luckily we've already established the flow zone for the mouth, so we've eliminated any guesswork about where to cut new edges, because we can just insert new edge loops inside of our existing edge flow. So in our exercise file here, we've got our head from the last video and I've tweaked it out so it fits the reference a little bit better.
What we want to do is just delete half of this mesh so we can get it out of the way and just work with a half face again. Let me go under the top view and make that a little easier to see. I am just going to select that and kill it. Back into the Perspective view. So few parts of this mouth are a little bit blocky still. Let's insert some edge loops so we can break up some of these really long faces, make things a little bit more square. We're probably also going to need a few more edge loops around the corner of the mouth to help define that shape.
I'm just going to go into the Edit Mesh menu and Insert Edge Loop tool. Actually I'm going to turn off Soft Select so that it doesn't get in our way. You can see it's breaking up those long faces. We get some more even topology now that we've inserted some edge loops. So I just want to zoom in on lips and tweak out the shape a little bit more so it's not quite so soft. Right now if I turn on the Smooth Preview, you can see it's just very soft and mushy. There's not a lot of definition, and it doesn't really have a lot of character to it. So I'm just going to zoom in and start tweaking things around.
There're a lots of different ways to tweak. You can go over vertex by vertex. We can move the view around to get a better view on it every time you make a movement. It's usually what I like to do. I'll just go in and just move things around so that they space out a little bit better. Sometimes you can switch back and forth between the Smooth Preview and the regular view to help you see things a little bit better. Then I'll just look around to see how it's looking. I just want to move things to get things having a little bit more round shape to them.
Something else you can use at this point is the Sculpt Geometry tool. So I'm just going to go into the object mode here. Turn on Sculpt Geometry. Let's see the tool settings. So you can use the Sculpt Geometry tool to fatten up the lip a little bit or you could go into the Relaxed mode. Actually, I want to turn on the wireframe, so I can see what it's doing here. So you can go into the Relaxed mode and just space things out a little bit, move some of the roughness. This is really about your artistic decisions at this point.
It's how you as an artist want to interpret that shape, how you want to make things look more appealing. It's not really so much about technically setting anything up at this point. It's really just about what looks good to you and how you would like to achieve it best. Do you like to tweak things one vertex at a time, do you like pull out the Sculpt Geometry tool and shape things out? It's really up to you how you want to do it. Tweaking like this can take hours really, to really make a nice looking mesh.
You can spend a really long time working on it and so I don't really have time for that in this video. But I just want to tell you about the different techniques you can go about tweaking. The last major thing I want to do the mouth is close off the inside. Let me get a better look at the inside of the mouth here. So you can see it's open right now. If this character were to be talking, you could probably see to the inside of the mouth and we don't want that. We just want to close it off so that you can't see back there. So I'm going to use the Append Polygon tool like we did before and just close off that gap.
I'm just going to do it couple of times here until it's closed off. So I've closed off the inside of the mouth. If we turn on the Smooth Preview, you can see how that rounds up, gets all soft. This is kind of a weird pinch, but it's the inside of the mouth and nobody is ever going to see it. So I don't worry about that too much. So now we can evaluate what we created. I would definitely want to take this further and refine the shape of the mouth some more, but that just takes a lot of tedious tweaking.
It's not all that fun to watch. It's really just up to you at this point how you want to shape out that mouth. By keeping the geometry around the mouth simple and straightforward, we avoid hassles later on. When the topology is simple, concentric rings, it's easy to add more edge loops and to achieve nice clean deformation when the riggers and animators get ahold of your model.
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