Making Of 'A Mouse'

I was making a mousetrap, so needed a mouse. And needed a mouse quickly. So this is not a high detailed model. Just a model of a mouse that you can model in less than an hour. And do not put camera closer than 20 inches or half a meter.

Modelling Process

To model Mouse I use 3DStudioMax 3.0. Modelingtechnique is polymodeling. I start with importing a reference images to right or left view as background image. And when you importing image as background always choose "fit image".

Start by making a box. Convert it in Editable Mash and go in to the vertex Sub Object mode. Now hit the Create button, and in front or back view create two half circles. Vertexes at the left should have the same value of x coordinate. It would be nice that the value of x is 0.0, but any other will do. And it's important to move those vertexes only by y and z axes.

Smaller half circle will be end of nose, and bigger half circle will be end of head, so move them to fit those positions.

Now to create something visible.

It's time to create faces. Activate the Polygon mode under Sub Objects, and hit create button. It's faster that way, because when you create one polygon you crated two faces. On image below you can clearly see how one polygon is divided in two faces. You need 4 vertexes to create this face . And it's important to create faces by selecting vertexes in aright direction.

When you create mesh.. It's always visible from just one side. And that side should face you. That is way you need to use a right direction when creating faces.

Fig. 05

Fig. 05

Create polygons until you have something that looks like one half of cylinder. Use mirror button to create instance clone of that object. Now every change you make on original is seen on clone object too. The work is cut to half.

At this time you can select the box from the start and delete it. It was just a help for creating vertexes at the start.

Now we have something that should be the head of the mouse. Need a rest of the body. That means we need more faces. These faces will be created in Edge mode. Select the edges that should be at the end of the head. Press and hold shift button and move edges by y axes. You are now cloning edges.

New edges will not fit the body of the mouse at first but use a vertex mode to move vertexes and fit it aright. You can use a Non-uniform Scale but I find moving vertexes more accurate and easy.

By repeating last two steps create the main form of the mouse body.

See how the body is all sharp and squarely. Now we are trying to have as less vertexes as we can, to make model simpler and easier to work with. Later we will apply a Mesh Smooth modifier and get a nice smooth mouse.

The main form of the body is done. Lets make an end of the nose. Select edges at the end of the nose and with holding shift extrude them. Now try to move vertexes almost in one point, and weld them to get just one vertex. For welding value I use 1.0.

Now the same as nose we have to make tail, but extrude edges a few times more to get that curve in tail shape. At the end weld vertexes in one.

Of course you could apply Mesh Smooth modifier now to see how the model is going

Do not remove Mesh Smooth modifier, work in Editable Mash and use Show end result button to see smooth model

When tail I done, step back to see how it looks.

Nice it's starting to look like a mouse.

It's time to model some legs. In side view, you can see a place where a front leg is going to be. You can do this in two ways:

--- Use a cut tool in Face mode and cut (make) some new edges. First make diagonals, and than that little rectangle. Make sure, when making cuts that starts in vertex, that it stays just one vertex. If you make two vertexes with inaccurate cut weld them in one. When we have that little rectangle delete faces with in. Select edges of that rectangle and start extruding them with holding shift and move.

--- Delete polygon where start of the leg should be. Select the edges around the hole, and hold shift and use scale tool to make that little rectangle.

This front leg is growing now. Select edges and holding shift key and move tool extrude it. Move it first down the z axes, and than use xy axis's to adjust position. Maybe sometime you will have to rotate these new edges to get aright position.

Note that you always need to know, to have an exact image, what is your final shape. Always try to think a few steps ahead.

Edges are extruded and leg is forming.


The end of the leg is done by cutting the final polygons in cik-cak shape. Top and bottom polygons are cut symmetrically. Vertexes at the end of the cik-cak shapes are welded (two in one) and holes are covered with new faces. Real model should have nails but we need simple one, and going to finish here with front leg.

Now back leg is a little more difficult to model because of the shape that is partly connected with the body in some strange way. The truth is that you can not see, when leg is curled, what part of the leg is connected with the body, if you do not take some anatomy book. We do not have time for that now. So we have thigh and lower leg. Thigh will be directly connected with the body. Make a cut at the place where the leg is going to be. (See also image below). You should make a circle and delete faces with in.

These two edges are important. Extrude one below, and create new face over the edge at the top so you get something like on the image at the left and below.

This is just another shot to see better what we are doing.

Close the hole creating new faces using vertexes on those two new extruded edges. New faces are colored with red.

That blue colored edges left to form small hole that is faced down. This hole is start of the lower leg.

Hit the Show end result button too see smooth model. Are we going aright way?

As like we created the front leg try to create this back leg. Extruding edges, and modify there position as also modifying vertexes position as needed.Try to use side view for guide.

When most of the leg is done we just need paw. And to save some time we are going to copy a front leg paw and use is as back one. Select faces of the front paw (make sure that Ignore Backfacing is unchecked, so you can select all the faces at once), press and hold shift and use move tool to move paw to side. On release check Clone to Element. Now this new paw is part of the mouse but now in place.

While paw is still selected press space bar to look selection. Move the paw to it's new place.

Use a vertex mode to connect vertexes of the leg with those on the paw. (Weld button)

Now we have a brand new back leg.


It's only left to model an ear. Process is similar to that back leg process. Cut. Delete. Extrude. Connect.

Edges at the back will be extruded. When old edges are connected with new extruded edges, close the hole creating new faces

When the ear is closed you can adjust its shape by moving vertexes. And the model is almost done

Delete Mesh Smooth modifier. Make those two half's unique. Select one half and attach another. Select all vertexes at the middle of the model. There should be around 40 or 60 vertexes. Weld them, and the value should be around 0...(0.1), because one vertex is at the same position as its mirror vertex. After welding apply Mesh Smooth modifier.. For eyes use just two spheres.

Below see some deferent angle looks of mouse model. For texture I use standard one with white diffuse color for the body and red color for the eye texture. Just that because mouse is far away from the camera and you do not see details, just white mouse.

Feedback will be greatly appreciated.

© Nikola Drincic 2002 - All rights reserved.

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