Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Topology is the way that polygons make up the surface of a model. Let's go up the exercise file to understand this better. I am going to bring in the pretopo.ZTL, and let's just click and drag, bring it into the canvas. I'm going to go into Edit mode. Let's get rid of the Light Box. That's just in the way. I am going to hit F to show it full screen, and let's hit D a few times to go up to the highest subdivision level. And let's turn on polyframe by hitting Shift+F. As you can see, the topology has nothing to do with the actual structure of the face or the way it would deform if animated.
What re-topology allows you to do is maintain the same shapes and anatomy but change the way the polygons are structured, so that they complement the anatomy. Before we create the new topology, we need to understand where it should go. We are going to draw some guidelines on the face to help us understand what a good topology would look like. We are just going to set up polypainting, so that we can draw these lines on. Go ahead and open the Polypaint submenu and turn on Colorize. We are also going to shrink the brush size down to two pixels.
We are just going to make really fine lines. In order to paint with color, we need to turn RGB on and Zadd off, so that we're not sculpting. Right now, the model is white, so we are just seeing the base material color, but we want to paint with a different color, so I am just going to switch to black. And let's get the existing topology to disappear, so it is not getting in the way, just hitting Shift+F. Now are ready to paint. So where should our new topology go? In character animation, setup artists and modelers use a principle called edge flow to determine where the polygons should go.
Edge flow is a way of relating the topology to the anatomy. For additional information on edge flow, check out my lynda course on modeling a character in Maya 2011. Now some things to take into consideration are where creases form. So let's look a little bit closer here on the model. There are some pretty obvious places where we can decide where the new edge flow should go. For example, there's a nice sharp crease right here in the laugh line. So I just want to draw out a line over the laugh line.
I am using a mouse, so it is kind of hard to get a nice quick clean line. I usually use a Wacom tablet here. Having the edge flow follow creases will help maintain their shape. So I am just going to pick out a few other places where creases are forming. Pretty obvious one there. Around the lips it is pretty easy to see, and it doesn't have to be perfect. This is just kind of a guide to help us lay out the edge flow in the later video. I am just picking up everywhere that obvious creases are forming. See the bags under the eyes.
The lower eyelid is pretty clear to see. It's a nice deep crease right here where the brow hangs over the upper eyelid. It looks like there is a nice strong crease right here. All right, so that's looking for creases. Another thing you want to look for is the directional movement of flesh and muscle. When the body moves, the skin pulls in various directions.
Understanding what direction the skin moves will help you place your edge flow. So, for example, if this character is going to smile, the flesh around the mouth and the cheeks is going to pull upwards and out. So you want to draw lines in the direction that flesh will move. A lot of times these lines are going to be perpendicular to the crease lines. So if you smile, the flesh is going to move out like this. Let's say you squint. The eye bag and the lower eye-lid is going to move up. If you raise the brow up, this flesh right up here is going to move up as well.
Or if you furrow your brow, the flesh is going to move downwards. And let's look around the mouth. Of course, if you purse your lips or you open the mouth, that flesh is going to move up and away.
And creases are going to form on the forehead. It is also a direction that a lot of flesh moves, so it is pretty to assume that we are going to have edges going directly across this way. And the brow will raise up, so I guess we can continue these lines up across the brow and the forehead. Something else to look for is obvious structures. Anatomy often has a clear direction to it. Bones, limbs, and muscles can be indicators of where to place edge flow. So if we are just going to follow obvious structures, you can see the brow.
It is pretty clear. It is easy to see. Another place is the nose. It is nice clear direction to the nose. The jaws on this model particularly, it is nice sharp jawline, it is really easy to see where this should go. There is a thing called the zygomatic arch. It is kind of the cheekbone. You see that it is a nice feature to follow.
Obvious loops, like around the nostrils, are a really good place to put edge flow. All right, let's zoom out and take a look at this. Something else you want to do is play Connect the Dots. Some parts of the anatomy will be harder to figure out than others. Do the more obvious parts first and then see if you can bridge across the less obvious spaces between them. So we have got some open spaces where not a lot is going on. It is easy to see that a lot of these lines are going to connect up with each other. So let's see. Maybe this line from the mouth is going to go up into the eye, and you could either maybe connect it up with this one that's existing already.
So let's say maybe we will just make this edge into one single edge. Then you could go into SwitchColor and erase this part that we don't want anymore. It is okay if it is a little bit messy, just as long as you can tell where things are supposed to go. I'm just going to connect up a few more of these. Another way to fill in gaps is to see where edges are parallel to each other. It's probably a good indication that there's going to be more edges in between them. We can also continue loops around. They are called edge loops for a reason, because they usually loop and connect up on another area of the model.
Also, another good thing to do is just continue edges. If you're not sure what to do, you can just take an edge and continue drawing it out in the same direction. Probably a good chance that there should be an edge right here. You know, there is this one here and this one, so another edge in between is probably a good idea. I am just going to take a few minutes to continue some of these other edges. Another good thing to do is get ideas from looking at other people's models. There is lots of professionals who post their work online with edge flow visible.
They are called wireframes. Study what they do, but understand that there's not just one right way to do it. As you get more experienced with edge flow and re-topology, you might skip this step. I still like to do it myself sometimes when the model is particularly complicated. It is faster and easier to make changes at this stage than it will be later on when we actually build a new topology.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
100 Video lessons · 8556 Viewers
107 Video lessons · 37414 Viewers
94 Video lessons · 26749 Viewers
147 Video lessons · 6187 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
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.