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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 Extrude tool in Maya is a quick and powerful way to create new shapes, structures, and edge flow patterns in your models. The cool thing about Extrude is that it automatically creates the right edge flow for all kinds of body parts. There are several ways to use it and a few things to be careful of, that I'll go over with you. So let's make a very quick, very basic character with Extrude in just a few minutes. I'm going to go up and grab a polygon cube off the shelf. I'm just going to drag just a rough rectangular shape out here on the grid.
If I hit 5, it'll go into Shaded mode. Extrude can work on faces, edges, and even whole objects. Let's select a face to extrude from. So I'm going to right-click on this object and go down to Face. Now I want this character to have two sides to him. So I'm going to zoom in and select this one face right here and go up to Extrude. Now, what we see here is this gizmo is popped up. There are lots of different things to it. It's more complicated than it has to be really. What I usually do is I just pull new faces directly straight out with the blue arrow right here.
Now you could pull it in other directions, but to tell you the truth, I don't really use these other functions so much. I usually just want to pull a new face directly straight out. You can also click on this circle here to go into Rotate mode, or you can click on these cubes to go into Scale mode and scale the new face you've created. But really, for the most part, I just want to pull a new face straight out. If I hit W, it goes out of Extrude mode, and it's back into normal Move mode. So let's say that this is the chest of our new character. We want to create a neck and a head. So what I want to do is select these two faces right here and hit Extrude.
I can use the blue arrow to pull it directly up. Now what I want to do is make the neck a little bit narrower than the chest. So I'm going to go into one of these Scale tools and just scale the size of the neck in a little bit. We just want it to be narrower. I'm going to look at it from the top to see it better. Okay, that's pretty good. Now, I can hit Extrude again to extrude up and continue up the head. I want the head to be a little wider than the neck. So I'm just going to pull this out a little bit. Let's extrude again to continue up the head.
I want to show you how to extrude some very quick eyes out of this character. What we can do is extrude from these two faces in the front and make some eyes. So let's select one and Shift+Select the other. Now if I do extrude right now and let's say I go into Scale mode and I shrink these up, these two faces are going to shrink together. I don't want that. I want these two to shrink separately as two different eyes. So let's undo this extrude and try again. The way we change it so that these two faces extrude separately is in the Edit Mesh menu.
If we open this up, we see up here there is Keep Faces Together. What this tells Maya when this is on, is that any new faces that are extruded should be stuck together. If we turn this off, the faces are going to grow out separately. So, our faces are selected. Let's hit Extrude again and see what happens. If I go into the Scale mode and scale these in, now you can see that they're scaling separately. Now I can just hit Delete on the keyboard and that deletes those faces and makes the hole for the eyes. You can use Extrude on edges as well as faces.
Let me zoom in and show you how that works. If I hold down the right mouse button and go into Edge mode, I can double-click on any edge and it's going to select the entire edge loop. In this case, it's going to select the open edges that are right here where there is no face. With these selected, I can go to Extrude and also extrude in these edges. This will create a little bit of an inside of an eye. So let's continue with the rest of the body of this very simple character. I want to extrude out some arms. So let's zoom out a little bit and go into Face mode.
I'm going to select the polygons on either side of the body here and let's go to Extrude. Now we've got two faces on different sides of the body selected. While I'm still in the Extrude tool and I pull on the blue handle, each one is going to pull out in its own direction away from the body. I just want to make the arms a little bit smaller than the chest. So I'm going to scale these in. Let's just extrude it out one more time for good measure. You're just going to have stumpy little hands here. So we're not going to bother to do fingers for this one. Okay, let's extrude out the rest of the body.
Looking at the underside, we can grab these two faces here. Now, up in the Edit Mesh menu, we turned off Keep Faces Together. But we want his abdomen to be stuck together. We don't want two separate parts to his abdomen. So let's go up to Edit Mesh and make sure we've got Keep Faces Together turned on. Let's hit Extrude and pull it down. Let's just shrink this up a little bit right here, getting a little bit narrower waist. Okay, so I want to extrude two legs out of this as well. If I extrude these two polygons right now, remember we've got Keep Faces Together turned on.
That's going to have his legs stuck together. We want his legs to be separate. So we go up to Edit Mesh menu and turn Keep Faces Together off again. Now when I go back into Extrude and pull this down, we can see the legs are coming out separately. But sometimes you might not necessarily see the legs being separate, you might have to go in and manually move them to see that they're separate. So I'm just going to extrude this down one more time. We'll make some space for the feet. Let's extrude the feet forward from these faces right here. I'm going to look at it from the side to get a better angle on this.
Okay, so you can see in a matter of minutes, you can create a very simple character. I'm going to go back into Object mode and zoom out, so we can see the whole thing. Hitting 3 on the keyboard, you can also get a Smooth Preview of what this guy looks like. So you get a very simple gingerbread mankind of character, in just a few minutes with the power of the Extrude tool. You can see it's a very easy way to create new geometry in an intuitive and fast way. You'll find yourself using it all the time to create limbs, cavities, bulges, horns, anything you can think of.
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