Making of the Shark - Part I

I was inspired by Disney's cartoon "Little Mermaid". My idea was to create a vicious looking shark, but also has a cartoonish look.
It should have a small and compact body so that at first sight you reckon that he's a stout and strong fellow. And in the end it must look funny as well.

To model the Shark I used 3DStudioMax R3.

The Modeling technique is same I used for SadMike.

I started by assigning reference images to the right and left views as well as to the front view. These images are going to be very helpful in the modeling process. When you are importing image as backgrounds always tick "fit image"!

In the right view draw a box over the bakground. It's not to be wider or taller than the shark. My Box had 6x4 segments and 2 side segments. This box will be one half of the shark. Maybe in top view the box does not fit the reference image of the shark. Don't move the box - try to rescale the background image so it fits the box. After fitting, lock the background so that when you move the box the image goes with it.

You might face a problem: My box had black colored edges. That is because I have white background in the reference images. But by default MAX' setting is white edges on selected object. Thus you can't see them, when they sit over the images. To solve this go to Customize / Preferences / Colors / Main UI and under Selection pick some dark color like black

Like I said before the box is just one half of the Shark. This is good because we are going to clone this box as an instance and mirror it. We will work only on one half of the body (box) - every time a change is made on one half, it can be seen on the otherone too. So the whole process is cut to half.When I was satisfied with the dimensions of the box I collapsed it to an Editable Mesh.

Note: The Shark or any other organic entity is not perfectly symmetrical, so after one half is completely modelled, connect both halves to form one object and then make some modification so the model is not symmetrical in every part.

And another thing, before mirroring the box delete faces on the side where the mirror object is going to be.

Now just jump to the top view. I began by moving vertcies of the box so followingthe shark-drawing's edges.

Note: leave Ignore Backfacing unchecked, so when you select one vertex all vertices below it are selected as well.

I did the same thing for both the side and the top view. In the making of of SadMike I had reference images for only one side so it was difficult to see all dimensions of the model and modelling was more done by feeling than according to the concept sketches. Here it's easy because you know the exact dimensions of your model.

Most of the modelling was done in Perspective viewport. Here you cannot see the reference images, so I drew two planes, exactly of the size of the reference images in that view, one in top and one in side view and assigned two materials with the respective reference image in the diffuse channel. Make sure that you check "Show map in Viewport"

Now you have helpers even in the perspective view.

Note: hide the model while drawing these planes - that makes it easier.

Unhide the model to see if everything fits. Now it's going to be difficult to model with these planes in the way so move them outside the model like on the image below. 

After some move-vertex-here-move-vertex-there-time this is what the model looks like. You can see some big difference from the box. Most of work at this stage was moving those vertices on the sharp edges of the box to make some smooth surfaces out of them.

The whole thing about box modeling is to work with as few vertices as you can. Afterwards you apply a meshsmooth modifier and get a nice smooth rounded model.

Another view of the model and moving those vertexes to match the look you want.  Reference images in perspective view are just to see what the model should look like. You cannot see the exact place of the fin because of the perspective, though. To see the exact locations of parts like the fins, eyes, etc. use top and side views.

When I was satisfied with the overall shape, I started to model some details. The first one was the tail or better his back fin.
Sorry I forgot to take some shots the between image on the left and the image below. You'll have to imagine those.

Do not wait to finish the model before you apply the meshsmooth modifier. Apply it during the process of making Sharky to see where are you going. And do not remove this modifier either, just go to Editable Mesh and turn off show end result by pressing the button. Now you can work with Editable Mesh and see the smoothed result simply by clicking one button. That can be very useful.

Here is a smooth look of his back fin. When you add a meshsmooth modifier the model shrinks a bit so make sure that the non-smoothed model is a little bit bigger in volume.

Note that there is an edge running along from the head end of the model all the way down to the end of the back, the joint of the back fin. I doubled this edge to mark the area where the back of the shark ends and the flanks begin. Later the back should be of a darker color than the belly.

The next step was to model a nose hole. This was easily done by adding (cut tool) more edges. Follow the images below....

Delete the faces where the hole is going to be and extrude the edges to the inside of the model. 

Select all edges around the hole, press and hold shift and move them inside.

Now to see how this looks when smoothed, press show end result in the modify panel.

Next step was to create a hole for the eye. The eye will be a sphere in this phase. In side view position it and lock the eye-object.  Make some cuts into the shark's body similar to those at the nose hole. The process is the same.

And again move the vetices up and down, left and right till the eye hole fits the eye.  Go to the eye's properties and check see-through. It can be useful to see better.

Here you can see the finished eye- and nosehole in another beautyshot of the smoothed model.

Can you see how in the perspective view you can't see the exact place of the top fin? Mark the spot using the side view. See image below.

Now this is the almost completed top fin, check out how it matches up with the reference image behind it. The Fin is done by cutting a hole into the top of the shark and extracting edges afterwards.

Look, the fin is done.

This time I was more careful with making those step by step shots so you can nicely see how the side fin was created. By cutting and deleting faces...

...extruding edges around the hole by selecting them and moving them away from the model while pressing shift.

A, now this looks like something allready!

Just another look at the smoothed out model...

The last thing was creating the mouth. Cut and delete in the desired spot.

I did not finished the mouth by the time I am posting this but that's not so can do it alone using he techniques i've showed you.

Some things are better done in wireframe look. For example that part of the mouth that is inside the model. You can move your view inside the model and see things you cannot see from the outside, too.

some images look attractive in invert mode :)

This "making of" only shows the modeling of my shark.

You will find tutorials about animating and texturing him as well..

Feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Copyright: Nikola Drincic 2002 - All rights reserved.

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