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By Duffy, Caitlin , published on March 12, Introduction Character modeling is the process of creating a character within the 3D space of computer programs. The techniques for character modeling are essential for third - and first - person experiences within film, animation, games, and VR training programs.
In this article, I explain how to design with intent, how to make a design model - ready, and the process of creating your model.
In later lessons, we will continue to finish the model using retopologizing techniques. Design and Drawing The first step to designing a character is to understand its purpose in the application or scene. For example, if this character is to be created for a first-person training program, you may only need to model floating hands. This could be how your character is designed for a training application. The design must fit into the world and also visually describe their personality. If they wear one sock higher than the other, they might be quirky or stressed.
Let their design tell a story about what kind of person they are. Simple Design Breakdown Round shapes indicate that the character is nice and friendly; you want the audience to like this character. Big eyes show youth and make the character cute; also very expressive. This will determine how your go about creating your blueprints for your character model. These blueprints are called orthographic drawings. Orthographic drawings are front, side, and top drawings of your model.
You may see these types of drawings for 2D animation or concept art. However, orthographic drawings for 3D character models are different. Below I will explain the different requirements for static and animated orthographic drawings. Animated An animated model must be set up properly for rigging.
The following requirements are necessary for a character to be bound to a rig: The drawings must be done in a T pose or A pose They must have a slight bend at the knees and arms Fingers and legs must be spread apart They must have a blank expression Skipping any of these steps will make it difficult to achieve clean results with rigging and animation.
Static A static model, like a statue or action figure for instance, will hold the same pose. Rather, it just needs to be modeled in the pose and expression the design calls for.
The only requirement for your orthographic views is the drawings must be representative of the pose and expression of the finished character model, for all orthographic angles. Notice, for both of the animated and static drawings the side and front views of the body line up correspondingly.
This is important to ensure that the model will be proportionally correct when these blueprints guide you through the modeling process.
To continue forward, save each orthographic view as its own. However, I believe once you are able to understand how to model the head, creating the rest of the character will come easily. Additionally, the same techniques will apply, and I will continue to guide you with step-by-step processes and images.
Modeling Setup Now that your orthographic drawings are done you can bring them into your 3D program of choice. As you can see by the images below, the drawings on the image planes line up accordingly with one another. This is essential. Once you have your planes in place, we are officially ready to begin modeling. Tips Before You Start The three keys to character modeling are symmetry, simplicity, and toggling.
Simplicity: Never start with a dense mesh. Starting with a low polygon count will allow you to easily shape the mesh. For instance, in the video I start with a cube, three subdivisions across the depth, width, and height. Often, messy geometry will appear clean while the mesh is smoothed. I do all three of these processes throughout the head modeling video. Watching it will help you understand how these techniques fit into the workflow.
Modeling The Head For modeling the head, we are going to go through four stages. These stages will apply to creating the head and the rest of the body. Low Poly-Stage: shaping a low-poly primitive object a cube for instance to the piece of the body you are creating. Pre-planning Stage: increase the polygon count and continue to shape the mesh. Planning Stage: plan a space for the details, like the facial features on a head model, for instance. Refinement stage: tweak and add topology as you see fit so you are able to match your design.
I like using insert edge loop when I need more topology in a particular area. On the other hand, the Smooth button helps when I like to increase the topology on the entire mesh while maintaining the smooth-mesh shape.
Extrude to build a space for the eye sockets, mouth and nose. Continue to form shape without adding more topology. Slowly add or extrude polygons.
Use sculpt tools or soft-selection to match the mesh and orthographic drawings as best as possible. Repeat steps three and four a few times until your topology matches your drawings. During this stage, I like using the Edgeslide tool, so that when I translate the vertices the head shape will not be altered.
Next, you can move onto the refinement stage. Modeling the Eyes The next step is to make eyeballs that fit inside the head, and for the sockets to fit around them. The process is as follows: Make a sphere. Move and uniformly scale the sphere to fit roughly inside the socket.
Rotate the sphere 90 degrees so that the pole is facing outward. Adjust the socket as necessary so that it rests on the eyeball. Shape the iris, pupil, and cornea as demonstrated below. Select the new group and scale the group -1 across the x axis. Follow the steps as guided with the images below. Figure 1. Uniformly scale, and translate a sphere to roughly fit inside the socket.
Figure 2. Adjust the socket to fit around the eye. Duplicate the eye. The "eye" mesh we do not edit will be the cornea. Figure 3. Pick a sphere, select the edges as shown, and scale. Figure 4. Translate the edges back to fit inside the cornea. Select the inner faces, and extrude inward to create the pupil. Group the eye pieces. Rename the group and then proceed to duplicate it. Figure 6. Now, the only things missing from the head are the eyelids, ears, and neck.
As for the hair and eyebrows, I typically like to create low-poly simple shapes. This is an indication of asymmetry. Go through the following steps to troubleshoot the problem. Check for and delete extra vertices and faces. Make a duplicate and hide or move the original. My mesh is asymmetrical. This sometimes happens when you move vertices after forgetting to turn symmetry back on. This is likely the case for eyes that have an oval shape or are really far spread apart.
Animating a texture map is also a possible solution. At least three edgeloops are needed at joints such as the knuckles, elbows, shoulders, and knees. When the character is rigged, the joints will be placed along that bend; this helps the IK joints figure out which way to bend.
However, if the joints are placed in a straight line, the joints could bend backwards, giving your character a broken arm or leg. Modeling The Arms My process for modeling the arms starts with the fingers and works backwards. I find that doing it this way makes the end mesh cleaner. Palm Stage: model the palm. Attaching Stage: attach the fingers and thumb to the hand.
Arm Stage: extrude and shape the arm. Now that you have a basic understanding of our goal, here are the detailed steps with images to show the process. Stage one Figure 1. Make a low-poly cube to model a finger, toggle views to match your drawings. Add edgeloops at the knuckles, and refine.
Duplicate, tweak, and translate the finger model to create the other fingers.
Edgeloop Character Modeling For 3D Professionals Only