Modeling the Wings

Modeling the Wings

Grae has wings, and they're somewhat unconventional. His are constructed from separate strands rather than being two solid entities.

To build the wings, we have two options available to us:

  • We can build the entire wing, modelling each strand separately.

  • We can construct the wings out of several large, flat polygons; then the individual strands can be added in the form of a semi-transparent texture.

The first option would produce a better-looking result but would require plenty of polygons. In addition, we would need lots of joints in order to animate the wings; each strand would need at least 10 joints to animate successfully. Another plus is that we would need very little texture space.

What about the second option? Both wings could be created with under 60 polygons, and animation would require only a few joints. The downside: We would need more texture space for these wings. Let's go with this safer second option and see how the wings turn out.

Although the wings are not conventional, we still want them to animate like normal wings. That is, we want them to fan in and out as well as flap up and down. With this in mind, we will try and create the basic geometry of the wing by placing edges where the joints occur in a bat wing.


Start in a new scene. Create a polygonal plane by going to Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane. Configure the plane so it has six Subdivisions Along Width and two Subdivisions Along Height (Figure 7.47a).

Figure 7.47. Create and adjust a basic plane to get the wing shape.


Manipulate the plane's vertices until you have a credible wing shape, as illustrated in Figure 7.47b.


So that we can add a bit more shape to the wing, divide the larger spans (Figure 7.47c).


Edit the whole wing in the perspective view, making it less flat and more three-dimensional, as shown in Figure 7.48.

Figure 7.48. Adjust the wing in the perspective view until it looks less flat.


Save the file as Grae_Wing.mb; then load the full Grae model file.


Import the wing and position it, duplicating it to make the wing on the other side.

Now, as you did with Kila, rotate around the entire model of Grae, making sure he is perfect before you proceed to optimization.

As shown in Figure 7.49 the Grae model is now complete. Clean up the geometry and the scene, and save your work as Grae_Details.mb.

Figure 7.49. The Grae model, complete


    Your next task is to optimize Grae, lowering the polygon count in the process. The limit for Grae was set at 5500; let's see how close we are to that.


    Select all the geometry and go to Polygons > Triangulate.


    Go to Display > Heads Up Display and make sure Poly Count is checked.

    The current Grae model is 5394 polygonsnot bad; we are already under our budget. As mentioned in Chapter 5, the purpose of optimization is not only to lower the polygon count; it's also a way to remove unwanted and unneeded polygons. Removing 100 polygons from Grae could mean more detail can be added elsewhere in the gameevery polygon counts.

    Lets recap what we're looking for as we optimize:

    • Unnecessary PolygonsAn unused polygon is one that neither adds to the shape of the mesh, nor aids in deformation.

    • Shallow AnglesPolygons that make a shallow angle do add to the shape of the geometry, but in such a small way that no one would miss them if they were gone.

    Most important during optimization is to keep zooming out of your mesh to see how it will look from the game perspective. Chances are, you will never see Grae's body up close, so don't leave too much fine detail in the model that would never be seen.

    With these objectives in mind, let's begin optimization. Following is a brief overview of areas that could be optimized, starting from the top and working downward. First, the wingsthey are really as low as they can go. We could reduce them further, but this could make them deform badly, so leave them alone. Hide them for now so you can concentrate on the rest of the body.

    Head and Inner Mouth

    As shown in Figure 7.50, there isn't much we can remove from the head. What we can do is collapse a few edges, knocking a few polygons off the count. These edges are around the sides of the head, so removing them will not alter the overall shape.

    Figure 7.50. Optimizing the head

    Moving on to the internal part of the head, hide everything except for the main, left side of Grae's body. Focus in on the inner mouth. There are a few edges inside here we can collapse, as highlighted in Figure 7.51. The inner mouth will have a basic texture and so does not need lots of detail. Removing these polygons won't cause any problems.

    Figure 7.51. Optimizing the inner mouth

    Next, look at his teeth. To help your examination, isolate the teeth using the view's Show > Isolate Selected > View Selected command. The very top of the gums will be hidden inside the geometry making up the inner mouth. Therefore, we can afford to collapse some of the edges. This process is demonstrated in Figure 7.52.

    Figure 7.52. Reduce the top of the gums.

    We are done with the head, now let's look at the rest of the body.

    Main Body and Legs

    First, there are a couple of extra polygons on his shoulder (Figure 7.53). These were created to show the muscles making up this area. Since these particular muscles could be defined with the texture, we can remove the detail here.

    Figure 7.53. Remove the extra detail from the shoulders.

    Looking at the overall lower leg, we initially see two areas containing shallow curves, one on the thigh and the other on the lower leg (Figure 7.54). We can safely select the edges highlighted in the figure and collapse them.

    Figure 7.54. Remove the shallow angles from the legs.

    Finally, we can do the same on the midsection of the leg, collapsing the edges shown in Figure 7.55.

    Figure 7.55. Collapse the edges on the midsection of the leg.

    There isn't much more we can remove at this stage, but take a last look around your model and see if you can find anything. When you're ready, clean up the mesh and save the file as Grae_Optimized.mb.