Making Of 'A Self Made Man'

It's a wonderful life...

When I think about working in 3D even two or three years ago, I feel joyous about the tools available to me today. Creative feedback is getting faster and faster. Powerful hardware is affordable and software solutions increasingly offer streamlined feedback options such as openGL viper renders and optimized GUI's.

Thank you, all you tech-heads and scripters out there, because my work on the computer is approaching the immediacy of traditional techniques, i.e. pencil on paper or clay sculpture.
Each advance in software makes my work less technical and more artistic

A modeling stroll...

The word 'tutorial' implies a learning girdle to be followed step-by-step in order to accomplish a specific task. I like the idea of a walk-through. There are many different ways of doing the same task, and it's more important to convey the principals involved, how to approach a task, etc.
Of all the various tasks involved in the digital story-telling process, modeling is the most zen-like. The ultimate goal: to enjoy modeling - and to deliver models that are a joy for others.

Note: the techniques spoken of here work with subpatch polygon techniques as applied to Lightwave 3D v 7.5, but are relevant to other software packages as well

Terms...

This is a form-down modeling technique.
The term form-down implies beginning with general forms and then working details into this by slicing or extruding extra geometry.

Detail-up will be dealt with in the next part.
Detail-up implies specifically detailing geometry for defined regions, then building them together to form one full mesh.
Of course, both techniques work great together, as well as with other techniques such as splines

So, you want a be a self-made man? Or woman?
You want to enjoy the exclusive confidence of knowing that every polygon, every vertex in your body comes from your own sweat and labor?

First, you'll need reference materials. In this case, they'll be easy to find. Prop up a mirror next to your monitor, take snapshots, draw or have someone draw you. We're interested in cartoonish, lower-detail material here, if you want more detail - check out the detail-up tutorial.

A self-made man!
So, you've got in touch with yourself using various graphic utensils. Great! Slap that new-found knowledge up in the background projection of an appropriate window [ctrl d].

I'll start off with a cylinder primitive with 12 sides. I start with 3 segments, but we'll be cutting more in almost immediately, so feel free to start off with more if you find it faster.
Select the end polygons. They're both have more than 4 sides, so they won't sub-patch.

I knife [shft-K] them into bite-sized pieces. If you're not exact (and who is) then grab the snap tool [Shft-G] and correct those corners.

No polys with more than 4 sides? Great. Onward.

Hit the [tab] button. You now have a sub-patched cylinder. If this is what you look like, you're in luck!

Otherwise, turn on symmetry and "onward"!

Align the polys to taste. Work from one view first, like the front.

Remember, I've got my background image for reference.

Also pull the bottom geometry out. That will be my chin.
Your chin may require something radically different.

Here's a look at the side view.
Not very head-like.

That's better.
As you can see, I select whole point strings to better form them into the desired contour.

This is what I look like in the perspective window - but not for long.

More geometry!

I select my face(s) and smooth-shift them out.

If you're not happy with the contours, correct them now. Every polygon you make is a polygon that you will have to tweak - repeatedly.

Smooth Shift.
This tool is your friend.
Select two or more polys in a row, than saw all the polys in that row in two!
Switch to point mode and all the newly generated points are selected.

Grab the bottom polys and shift them downward. This is the neck.

By stretching and tweaking the points of selected polygons between each shift, you can quickly create form close to what you want.

Don't worry about getting perfection right off the bat. The model has to work as a whole, so it's oftern wiser to come back and rework areas after neighboring areas have been worked along.

Here I find something unkosher: the geometry works against the contour, leaving on point to define a curved jaw bone. Select the culprits...

...and spin them!

Spin Quad Pairs.
This leaves one of the newly spinned polys conveniently aligned with a neighbor.

Select those two and merge them into one poly [Shft-Z].

Both steps in perspective:

d_11spinQuads.gif

d_11spinQuads.gif

d_12merge.gif

d_12merge.gif

I select two polys as future ears and delete them, then bandsaw the face polys for a better division between mouth and nose.

Tweak. Select mouth.

Smooth Shift.

Smooth Shift again.

And tweak again. (Like we did last summer.)

As nice as bandsaw is, bandsawPro is nicer.

Here's a good situation for it: I'd like the division to tend towards one edge or the other.

Click [n] to open the tool's numeric panel and simply drag the slider!

d_19mouthSurface.gif

d_19mouthSurface.gif

d_19mouthIn.gif

d_19mouthIn.gif

Now I assign surfaces and shift my 'sk_mouth' polygons inward. The 'sk' is for 'skin' and eases future surface selection and editing.

d_20tweak.gif

d_20tweak.gif

d_21nose.gif

d_21nose.gif

Tweak. I need more detail for my nose (hehe), so I select polys from the brow down to the inner upper lip.

d_22detail1.gif

d_22detail1.gif

d_22detail2.gif

d_22detail2.gif

I then do the following:

- smooth-shift
- deselect the bottom polys and
- stretch the remaining polys downward and inward.

Because the deslected points haven't moved from their source geometry, I can merge them at the click of the [m] button

d_22smShft.gif

d_22smShft.gif

d_23stretch.gif

d_23stretch.gif

This is what it looks like in perspective. Above after the smooth shift, below after deselecting and stretching.

d_23merge.gif

d_23merge.gif

d_24tweak.gif

d_24tweak.gif

Now open the statistics window [w] and select the 2-point polys.

We have quickly and efficiently created the geometry necessary for my pointy lips! Tweak 'em and off to my nose, the highlight of my face!

d_24tweak.gif

d_24tweak.gif

d_25spinQuad.gif

d_25spinQuad.gif

Above, before and after a simple spinQuad operation. This is much better for the contours of a brow.

d_26select.gif

d_26select.gif

d_26smShift.gif

d_26smShift.gif

Select the nose polys and....... stunning!

d_26smShift.gif

d_26smShift.gif

d_27merge.gif

d_27merge.gif

Here I repeat the same process as before, but now you can see the effect better. SmoothShift > deselect > stretch remaining polys > merge > delete 2-point polys.

d_28noseTip.gif

d_28noseTip.gif

d_29banSlice.gif

d_29banSlice.gif

A nose tip and...another Saw action...

d_30select.gif

d_30select.gif

d_31slice.gif

d_31slice.gif

Here I select a problem area at the base of the nose...
... and slice sufficient geometry to deal with the contours.

d_32smSh.gif

d_32smSh.gif

d_33spinNtweak.gif

d_33spinNtweak.gif

SmoothShift a nostril...
.... SpinQuads and tweak.

I also like to use the standard weight map to help control sup-patching. I seldom drift above 40% or below -40%, because the weighting is not edge-based but point based. Red is positive (sharper edges), blue negative.

To smoothShift the nostrils you have to temporarily deactivate [symmetry] and delete the half you'd like to mirror. LW will shift all connected polygons, so its only logical that you'd end up with a Cyclone-Schnauze!

d_36look.gif

d_36look.gif

d_35banSlice.gif

d_35banSlice.gif

Taking a step back I see areas where more detail is needed. In this case around my mouth.

d_37select.gif

d_37select.gif

d_38spin.gif

d_38spin.gif

Now for the windows to my soul! It figures that those polys are a mess! Select 'em, and spin them into shape!

d_39tweak.gif

d_39tweak.gif

d_40shft.gif

d_40shft.gif

I often turn off sub-patch to get a better view [tab]. Ahh. I can recognize my penetrating gaze already!
Two smoothShift functions later...

d_41arrange.gif

d_41arrange.gif

d_bandsaw.gif

d_bandsaw.gif

My brow needs another line of detail, its lack was bothering my eye for my eyes...
... now I can BandSaw to my heart's content.

d_43again.gif

d_43again.gif

d_44eye.gif

d_44eye.gif

...which I do. And I tweak alot. Did I mention that?
The eye is easy: a primitive sphere, slice the cornea and stretch them inward to create the typical bulge.

So, that didn't take long at all!

What? No ears? You can easily create cartoonish ears with these same techniques, or get a real earful of higher detail modeling with my detail-up tutorial.
Or walk-through.
Or whatever.

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