Part 1b - 3ds Max
Optimisation and topology are vitally important in real-time character creation. Whether it's for video games, the web, or interactive media, polygon count and topology should be high on your priority list. If you have a budget of 10,000 tris for a character (most game studios work with tri count as opposed to poly count), plus clothes and accessories, there are a number of considerations to decide on while building. Things like: How am I going to spend those tris wisely? Which areas should have the most tris? How can I go about creating animation-friendly topology with as few tris as possible and how can I keep the silhouette as smooth and edge-free as possible with the minimum amount of tris? These questions are vital, and should be asked all throughout the process of modelling a character. They should be considered at each stage and should be present in all your decisions during this part.
I am using 3ds Max 2009, but older and newer versions will not be too different. On the left of the screenshot I have a modelling toolbar with very useful scripts and features by a genius Maxscript artist, Remus Juncu (http://313designstudio.com/rappatools) (Fig.00). Common selection shortcuts, view shortcuts, edge loop tools, wire colouring and much more are all part of this absolutely free toolset, and I find them extremely useful while modelling or retopologising models. Feel free to go and try them out and see if they can improve your workflow. I won't be using any of the functions during the tutorial except the view and selection shortcuts, so don't worry if you haven't got them installed.
1. We'll start off by importing the model into 3ds Max. Open 3ds Max and go to File > Import. In the File Type dialogue, find Wavefront OBJ, and select the exported model that we created in Part 1A (Fig.01).
2. When I import with the default options the model application is flipped 180 degrees, upside down. In the co-ordinates boxes at the bottom of the screen, enter 180 into the Y box so the model will rotate right-side up (Fig.02).
3. Now it's important to convert our model from editable mesh to editable poly. There are a few reasons for doing this: editable poly is a newer and more complete modelling solution, providing us with access to the newer 3ds Max modelling tools; It also eliminates the possibility of double-sided polys and extruded edges, which in most game and real-time engines will cause errors or fail to export. Right-click over our viewport and click Convert To > Convert to Editable Poly (Fig.03).