The Basic Shape for Kila
Now we'll begin building our final model. As with Primitive Kila, we first have to block out the basic shape to get a good idea of the whole character's shape and proportions. Don't be too concerned with details at this stage; we will cover that stage of the modeling in Chapter 3.
Limbs and Torso
This time we will begin with cylinders rather than cubes. If you look at the human body from a geometric standpoint, it is made up of cylindrical shapes (except the head, which is spherical).
We know our polygon limit: 4500. With this in mind, we can estimate the configuration of the cylinders that will make up the left arm, left leg, and torso. Because the overall shape of the character is roughly symmetrical, we only need to model her left side. Then we can duplicate it and mirror it across at a later stage, saving half the work.
For a character that comes out at between 2000 and 3000 polygons, you'll get a manageable number of polygons to begin with by starting with cylinders that have eight subdivisions around the axis and eight height subdivisions. This also leaves you with a smooth cylinder that won't look blocky or faceted when viewed in the game. I have the luxury of more polygons for this character, so I am going to begin with a 10-subdivision setup.
The beauty of this method of creating characters is that it is fully scalable; you can begin with just a few subdivisions to create a lower-resolution character, or more subdivisions for a smoother character with greater detail, to use for rendering or FMV (Full Motion Video).
Left Arm Creation
Lets begin building the left arm.
In addition to moving and scaling the vertices to match the image, you will want to rotate them to match the orientation of the limb. As the arm bends, it's a good idea for the vertices to follow the contours of the limb. Don't try and do the entire arm in one gotake your time and do each horizontal row, moving to the next one only when you are happy with your work (Figure 2.34).
Figure 2.34. Left arm sculptingside view
Left Leg Creation
The left arm is done for now. Next, we will create the left leg.
Creating and Positioning the Torso
The basic limbs are complete; now let's tackle the torso. We will concentrate on the main body for now, and leave constructing the breasts for later.
Deleting Half of the Torso
We are not yet finished with the torso. Because we are only working on the left side of Kila, we need to delete half of her torso. (This is why it was important to have an edge down her center.)
Right-click on the mesh again, but this time select Face from the marking menu. You will now be in face editing mode; you can tell because the mesh has turned blue and selection handles have appeared in the center of each face. Select Kila's right side (your left), and press Delete. The faces disappear, leaving only the left side of her torso (Figure 2.40).
Figure 2.40. Deleting half of Kila's torso
By now you can see the character starting to take shape. You should have a clean, grid-style mesh that fits the left side of your character (Figure 2.41). Ideally, however, what you want is for this to be one mesh, a single piece of geometry. We must combine these initial pieces and weld them together.
Figure 2.41. The model so far
Moving the Pivot
Eventually, you need Kila to be in a specific pose before you can attach a skeleton to her (more detail on this in Chapter 10). For now, we want to raise up her arms so they're easier to work on. The problem is that the pivot for the arm is currently in the center of the cylinder. To raise the arm convincingly, we must move the pivot to where the shoulder is and rotate it from there.
Don't develop the bad habit of saving over the same file each time you work on the character. Name saved files incrementally, for example Kila_01.mb, Kila_02.mb, and so on. This makes it easy to go back to a previous version should the worst happen.
Maya does have a built-in incremental file saver. Go to File > Save Scene and open the options, and you'll be able to activate the incremental save. A directory called incrementalSave will be created, and all subsequent saves will be stored there.
Now comes the fun part. We have to stitch these parts together by adding, splitting, and removing polygons as well as welding vertices.
Let's start with the leg. First we have to remove the caps from the leg; the ends must be opened up so we can attach them. Plus we don't want to end up with stray polygons existing inside Kila.
Select the faces at either end of the leg. Do this just as you have done earlier, by right-clicking the actual mesh, then selecting Face from the marking menu so you can select the faces shown in Figure 2.44. Then press Delete to remove them.
Figure 2.44. Delete the caps on the leg.
You can also do this on the arm now, so that you don't have to do it later. Remember to do both ends, the shoulder and the wrist (Figure 2.45).
Figure 2.45. Delete the caps on the arm.
Returning to the thigh area, look for areas where vertices could line up and potentially be welded together. We know the leg has more polygons than the lower torso, but we can split polygons in order to connect them up. First, though, we must connect any that already line up. The first two lie down on the side of the hip. They both exist in roughly the same plane, so we can join them.
Moving around to the left, you can skip the next vertex on the leg because there doesn't appear to be a nearby vertex to weld it to. Notice that the one after that is in quite a good position to be welded to a close vertex on the torso (Figure 2.48).
Figure 2.48. Vertex welding at the front of her pelvis.
Moving around to the back now, in a similar position to the front, you'll see another two vertices that can be welded as shown in Figure 2.49.
Figure 2.49. Vertex welding on the back.
If the image planes start to get in your way, you can quickly hide them by going to the view's Show menu and unchecking Cameras. Alternatively, you can turn off the visibility on your ImagePlane layer.
Looking between the vertices you have welded, you should see two that appear to have nowhere to go. You could weld them to the vertices just above the hips, but they are too far away.
What you need to do now is create some new vertices in the geometry so that you can weld to these. Looking from the side, select the two faces on the lower torso and delete them (Figure 2.50), which will open up the hip area.
Figure 2.50. Removing faces
Now create some new faces to replace the ones you deleted, the difference being that these new ones will connect to the upper leg.
Follow this same procedure to create another three faces, connecting the leg to the hip and filling in the holes.
A quick way to repeat the last command is to press G or Y. This saves having to go back through the menus.
As you rotate around the mesh, you will notice that we have not removed the caps from the torso, so before you continue, select these top and bottom faces and delete them. This will also help you as you continue to weld the leg to the hip area.
Following the same pattern described for the outer thigh, move around the inner thigh, skipping a vertex then selecting one. Match this vertex to the closest one belonging to the torso, and weld them as shown in Figure 2.53.
Figure 2.53. Weld the vertices nearer the inner thigh.
Move around to the back, and select and weld two vertices from there. Every other vertex gets welded, first the ones at the front and then those in the same area but at the rear (Figure 2.54).
Figure 2.54. Weld the vertices at the back of her leg.
You should end up with one vertex in the middle of the leg and two remaining on the torso. Don't waste time welding these, because the vertices left on the torso belong to faces we need to remove. Select the faces as shown in Figure 2.55, and delete them.
Figure 2.55. Delete the inner faces.
Move around to the front of the figure and using the Append To Polygon Tool create two new faces, filling the gap at the front.
Now move around to the back, looking at her backside, where one polygon still remains. Instead of deleting this one, split it, making a new vertex that you can weld to. Go to Edit Polygons > Split Polygons Tool. Your mouse pointer will change to a sharp point, indicating that the tool is active.
When using the Split Polygon Tool, you must always start and end the cut on an edge. Select the edge at the upper-right of the face. A small square appears; holding the mouse button, move the square up to where the vertex is and release the button.
We now want to put a point on the edge that is closest to the final vertex of the leg, but shares the polygon of the edge we started on. Again, select the edge and hold down the mouse button until you are in the correct position, and then let go. The split is apparent as shown in Figure 2.56. Press Enter to complete the operation.
Figure 2.56. Splitting faces to create an extra vertex.
The Split Polygon Tool will not snap to the position of the second vertex (nor should it), because it lies on an unconnected edge.
You now have a new vertex that you can weld to, so select both vertices and weld them.
Our leg is now connected to the torso, but not very smoothly. We can fix this by moving around the mesh and manipulating the vertices until we get a better shape. Take care to keep checking your image plane guides as you go; it's important you maintain the shape of the character. Keep moving around the mesh, checking the edges for stray polygons and anything that's not smooth. Take your time, making sure the shape is perfect before you proceed. Don't be afraid to split an area to smooth it out, as we did above the hip in Figure 2.57. At this early stage, you don't need any details, but you do want to end up with a smooth mesh.
Figure 2.57. Smoothing out the area above the hip
A wise move at this stage is to slowly rotate around the model and watch how the form turns. This can reveal undesired concavity in an inappropriately turned edge. As you rotate, notice the two edges just on her hip that are highlighted in Figure 2.58 (left). The current arrangement of these edges causes the polygons on either side to appear concave. We want them to be rotated, or flipped.
Figure 2.58. Concave edges on her hip
Normally we could use the Edit Polygons > Flip Triangle Edge Tool. We would select the edges we need to flip or rotate and then choose Flip Triangle Edge from the menu.
Unfortunately, if you try and do this, Maya comes up with an error: Warning: polyFlipEdge: Cannot flip texture border edge 218. The error occurs because two different types of texture-mapping coordinates exist on either side of the edges we are trying to flip. So what do we do? A quick solution is to manually delete the edges.
Kila's thigh is at a satisfactory stage now, so let's move on and attach her arm. Before you do, take a moment to clean the history, since this can slow things down if it's not kept under control.
Looking from the front, we should probably start by scaling her arm up slightly around her shoulder. When a person's arms are raised, the shoulders become more pronounced, so let's do the scaling here, before we continue. Simply select the vertices around the top of the arm and scale them up globally, ever so slightly (Figure 2.59 middle).
Figure 2.59. Arm extension
Select the edges at the same end of the arm. To do this quickly, convert the selection by going to Edit Polygons > Selection > Convert Selection to Edges. Now you have edges selected for you, but you only need the very end ones, so you need to deselect the others. You are still in vertex editing mode, so right-click on the mesh and select Edge from the marking menu. Holding down Ctrl, drag over the unneeded edges.
Kila's arm is a little too far away, so you need to extend it so it meets the body. With the edges still selected, go to Edit Polygons > Extrude Edge. Drag the green arrow (Y axis) until the polygons have cut into the shoulder (Figure 2.59 right).
Because we set Keep Faces Together earlier, the faces that have been extruded will automatically be welded together. Without this option set, the polygons would be divided and fanned out.
We can now start the work of stitching this area together. Clean it up a little first, by moving some of the vertices to a more suitable place, bringing them out of the torso mesh and into daylight as shown in Figure 2.60.
Figure 2.60. Move the vertices for the shoulder out of the geometry.
We could now start matching these vertices up with vertices on the torso, but a better idea is to move the ones on the torso to match the shoulder. First do the vertices in the armpit area. Weld these together as shown in Figure 2.61.
Figure 2.61. Armpit welding
Moving to the front of the arm, select the three vertices right at the front, as seen in Figure 2.62, and weld these.
Figure 2.62. Weld the three vertices at the front of the shoulder.
You will notice that we have a minor problem with a polygon cutting through another, but this can be rectified easily. To fix this you need to remove some faces now before proceeding. Select the three at the upper-rear of the torso, along with the center one from the row below it (Figure 2.63), and delete them all.
Figure 2.63. Removing some extra polygons
As shown in Figure 2.64, you should be left with two vertices sticking out; select them both. Holding down V, snap the selected vertices to the ones below them, and then weld them.
Figure 2.64. Polygon cropping
The area is cleaned up nicely now, and you can see things a bit more clearly. You need to go around the top now, and fill in the rest of the shoulder.
Select the top two and the rear two edges on the shoulder. Go to Edit Polygons > Extrude Edge, and drag the green arrow (Y axis) until the edges are nearly in line with what's left of the torso, as shown in Figure 2.65.
Figure 2.65. Extending the shoulder.
All that's left to do now is fill in the holes at the front and back and do a bit of tidying. Before you do this, activate the Append to Polygon tool used earlier and fill in the holes; then spend some time cleaning up the area by moving vertices until the shape is correct. It's a good idea to refer to a good anatomy book when you're doing this, to make sure the shape matches actual human anatomy.
A normal is a line representing the direction perpendicular to a polygon's surface. When you render polygons, the normals determine how light reflects off the surface.
Deselect the mesh and notice that it has been smoothed outno more harsh lines (Figure 2.66). This gives us a clearer view of what the actual in-game mesh will look like.
Figure 2.66. Cleaned-up, stitched-together model
Delete the history, and save your work as Kila_Combined.mb.
Head and Neck
At this early stage of development, we only need placeholder geometrysomething we can build upon laterfor the head and neck. The neck can be created using a simple cylinder; as with the torso, we only need half, but it's easier to create the whole thing and delete half later.
Create another cylinder, with Subdivision Axis set to 8 and Subdivision Height set to only 2. Position the cylinder so that it lies where the neck should be. You shouldn't need to edit any of the strips of vertices for this section because it is such a small area and is pretty much cylindrical in shape to start with (Figure 2.67).
Figure 2.67. The basic neck in position
You need to remove half of the neck cylinder, along with the end caps. Right-click the neck's geometry and select Face from the marking menu. Drag over the half you don't want. Hold down Shift, select the top and bottom caps, and press Delete to remove them (Figure 2.68).
Figure 2.68. The cropped neck
For the head, begin with a cube, but not a simple one like what we created for the primitive version of Kila. This time, set Subdivisions Width to 4, Subdivision Height to 4, and Subdivision Depth to 4.
Move, scale, and rotate the cube so it approximately fits the size and orientation of the head in the image plane (Figure 2.69).
Figure 2.69. Head position
This time, delete half of the head first. Because you're going to be editing the vertices, it's easier to work on only one side.
In the side view, scale the vertices in so that the cube begins to resemble the image in the image plane (Figure 2.70).
Figure 2.70. Remove half of the head and manipulate it in the side view.
In the front view, select all the vertices on the right side of the cube. Switch to the side view, where you now need to scale the vertices inbecause the head is rounder than it is square. First you need to smooth it out a little; when that's done, move to the next row, scaling these vertices in slightly (Figure 2.71).
Figure 2.71. Manipulate the front of the head.
Now work on the vertices individually, manipulating them until the half-cube roughly resembles the shape of half a human head. Start in the side view, and then move around to the front, before finally working in perspective view. Remember to use your guides, and refer to some good anatomical reference material.
You may find it useful to smooth the head out a little by softening the normals, as we did before. Right-click the mesh, and select Edge from the marking menu to get into edge editing mode. Select all the edges on the mesh, and go to Edit Polygons > Normals > Soften/Harden and open up the options. Click All Soft, then Apply, and close the window; Figure 2.72 shows what you should have now.
Figure 2.72. Sculpt the head to achieve a better shape.
The final stage in creating the basic neck and head is to attach them to the body.
Finish off by deleting the history on the mesh and saving your work.
If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to implement one of the mirrored instances I mentioned earlier in the chapter.
Now rotate around Kila and see if you can fix a few areas, filling her out and rounding her off (but don't worry too much about it at this stage because we still have a few things to add).
Feet and Hands
It's not necessary to bother with placeholder hands and feet. However, if geometry already exists for the hands and feet, you can add them just to get a sense of what the final character will look like (Figure 2.79).
Figure 2.79. The character with temporary feet and hands
Alternatively, you can include some primitive objects in order to achieve the correct proportions, giving a feel for the final character.
Other Body Parts
Kila's basic shape is complete; now you can add any additional geometry. Skip her hair and clothing for now; you need to concentrate on getting the fundamental mesh completed and to a stage where you are happy with it. The one fundamental part remaining is the chest, so let's add this now.
To simplify things, remove the mirrored instance you created earlier; just select it and delete it.
Our character is wearing a short top, so you will not be able to see the breasts as separate entities. This being the case, we can edit the inside of the sphere to bring the vertices out, creating the middle of the topthe part that bridges the front of her chest (Figure 2.86).
Figure 2.86. Bridging the breasts
Create a mirrored instance at this point to help visualize how things are looking. You can see that we have a problem (well, not a problem to some)her chest is huge! You need to reduce it to keep it in proportion to the overall design.
Although this is a good way to quickly reduce the size of Kila's chest, you will need to spend some time afterward tweaking it back into an acceptable shape. Take as much time as you need to rework any other areas you are not happy with. Use the Split Polygon Tool if you need to add extra polygons to smooth her out (Figure 2.89).
Figure 2.89. Breast refinement
Once you're completely happy with the entire shape, delete the history and save the file as Kila_Basic.mb.
You now have an excellent basic model with correct proportions (Figure 2.90). You could use this mesh, along with placeholder hands and feet, as your primitive model, passing it on to be rigged and animated. It has a lot more detail than the box version and is closer to the final model.
Figure 2.90. The completed basic model