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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 hips of our character is another area that requires special attention. I'm going to zoom-in on this half formed character, and see what the hips are doing, and why there is something so special about them. You can see that the edge flow pattern from the crotch up to the hip is going in this diagonal direction. This is important because when characters move their hips around, very often a crease forms in the diagonal right here. If your edge flow isn't following that diagonal and the character bends, a crease is not going to form in a nice diagonal shape.
It's going to be kid of crunched up. It's not quite going to form right. It's going to look bad in animation. So what you want to do is figure out how your character is going to move. If it's a realistic person or if it's sort of realistic, it's probably going to bend in the same way. If it's a really extremely toony character like Gumby, then it is kind of open to interpretation how that's going to bend. But this is a semi-realistic cartoony character. So we want it to move in a realistic way. So I've got this diagonal angle here. I'll show you how to create that, if we just open up our Exercise File.
Okay. Let's take our Exercise File where we left off from the torso before. I just want to select these edges around the bottom of the waist. We can extrude these down to the crotch. I'm going to go up to Extrude. It's easy to see in the Front view. So I'm just going to go to the Move tool, and in the Front view bring these down. I just want to create a diagonal. So I'm going to go into Vertex and just tweak these edges up into a diagonal shape. The next thing I want to do is extrude some legs out from this. If we look in the Perspective view, you can see that there is this one big open shape right here.
We can't really extrude legs out of this. So what I want to do is I want to insert some edge loops. So we can create a polygon that spans this shape across the crotch a little bit better. So let's go to Insert Edge Loop tool, and throw-in an edge loop right about there and on the back side right about over there. So now we can use the Append to Polygon tool to connect these two new edges that we've created. I'll click on one and then click on the other. Oops! I put it in wrong place.
So I am going to do a reface. So I just want to go up to the Append to Polygon tool in the Edit Mesh menu. Let me zoom in so I can see this better. I want to click on one of these edges, and then the second one, and it spans a new polygon across the two. I'm going to hit Enter to lock that in. So now we've got this open edge right here that we can extrude the legs down from. I'm just going to double- click that and hit Extrude. Let's go into the Front view, so you can see more easily where we're going to put this.
Now go into the Move tool, and just pull this down. It's still at a diagonal. But I want the knee to be horizontal again. So let's just go into the Scale, and we can scale this down, flatten it out. See what that looks like in Side view. It's a little bit big in the Side view. Let's scale that, and move it over the knee. We want to extrude it again down to the ankle. It's a little bit big. We'll scale it in. We can extrude it one more time down to the heel. All right! Let's see what this looks like in the Perspective view. Okay.
So we've got this flow zone for the leg going down. It's pretty good. We've got an open space right here at the bottom. We need to close that off. So while we've got these edges selected, we can just go up to the Mesh menu and hit Fill Hole. What that's going to do is going to look for any edges that you've got selected and if it's bordering on an open hole, it just caps it off with a polygon. From this point, we can continue building out a foot. We go into Face mode, and select this face right here where a foot will grow out of. We'll go to Extrude, and just extrude that forward.
Now, this character is going to be wearing shoes. So he is not going to have his toes visible. I'm not going to go ahead and bother to model the toes, because it'd just be more work that we're never going to see. If you want to know how to model toes, you can watch the video on modeling fingers, because toes and fingers are pretty much the exact same thing. So if you modify the techniques I show in finger modeling to toes and just make them a little bit shorter and stubbier, you'll end up with something that will work perfectly well. So let's take one final look at what we've done here in this video.
We've created a flow zone for the leg, and we've created this diagonal edge flow for the hips. You always want to keep in mind that the edge flow is there to support the anatomy and the movements that the character is going to make. If any creases are going to form in your character, you want the edge flow to follow those creases, so that it animates in a natural way.
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