The self portrait seen here was a project that I undertook to try and acheive a level of realism I had never done before. From the initial modelling to the final touch ups the project was very much a learning experience. I might also add that I have have a BFA in painting. I belive anyone making, or interested in making figurative 3d art would greatly benefit from traditional training. Anyway, this tutorial is more of an overview of the the whole process of building a self portrait. Though I do explain some of the basics in the different phases of modelling and texturing. Every artist has there own approach to doing things. And so this tutorial will probably be different than others. Even so I believe exploring as much as you can and trying many different methods of doing things will only make one stronger. Also for newbies that are looking for the very basics of the UI in max make good use of the Max Help. Therein you will find very in depth explanations of who the specific tools of the interface work.
And now the tutorial!
To start with I had a photographer friend of mine take two digital photos of my face with a 6 mega pixel camera. These photos proved very resourceful for the photogrammetry process that followed. Photogrammetry is basically the process of using 2d photos projected onto 3d planes as a reference for polygonal modelling. Some artists will make spline drawings of the defining lines of a photographed or painted reference. Then they will build the model based on those spline drawings. Again, every artist has there own way of doing things. For this project I did all of the modelling using the actual photos as my reference. These pictures would later be the jumping off point for much of the texture work. I will get into that later.
To begin the modelling procedure I created two planes in the front and side view to line up perfectly with the photos. I then used sub-object operations to move the lines making up these planes to trace the dominant parts of my face. If you are starting with planes like I have "edge chamfering" is one of the cleanest ways to add segments to the planes. I would select one or two edges all the way accross the plane. Then I would chamfer them to create two or four new edges. I could then use the standard transform tool to move those new edges around. Once this was done I had a 3-dimensional blueprint of all of the peculiarities of my face. This proved a very effective starting point for all of the modelling.
I then created a sphere that I roughly modelled to fit the shape of my hair. This was also the easiest way to begin to define the shape of the cranium. This mock up hair piece would later be replaced by the actual hair model. I will explain this later.
Once I had this general reference for the shape of my head I began to become more intricate with the sub-object operations on the face to further define its shape. I simply cut in lines where I needed them to define all of the major contours. In conjunction with adding segments I pulled, pushed, rotated, and scaled all of these polygons to form very closely to the defining structures of the head. This process was the bulk of the modelling job. However, I will refrain from going any further in depth here. I think that if I do I would be delving into an entirely different tutorial.
After I was pleased with the structure of the model of the face I welded together all of the verts that needed welding. The head was then one mesh. Up until now I was working on the different parts of the face separately as I started with two planes instead of a box. Finally, after creating spheres the size of the eyeballs and placing them where the eyes are I cut out the polygons around the eyes.
A mesh smooth modifier was added to the stack with two iterations in the render. (the lower right hand head in this picture is what the final model came out looking like with one iteration on the mesh smooth level of the stack).