Modelling, Mapping and Texturing a Creatures Head

This overview of 3DTotal's Training DVD Modelling a Creatures Head is a broken down version of the DVD. It wont give away the key elements of the modelling and texturing process but it will give you a insite to how indepth the DVD is. Part 1 of this overview will be going over a few steps of the modelling, mapping and unwrapping stages with part 2 going over the texturing process. All of the things covered in this overview are taken from the DVD.


The DVD contains 13 movies, 57 stills and 33 pages of printable text on this section

We begin this tutorial by creating a box with an equal width to height ratio. After converting the cube to an editable mesh and flipping the normals we can then face map our front and profile drawings onto the corresponding sides as seen in the below image. By cropping the drawings beforehand so they are square we can guarantee there is no distortion when they are mapped onto the faces.

The next step is to create a box with 4 segments along each of the three dimensions and scale the width and height to match the proportions of our template as seen the image to the right

If we look at the image below we can see how on the far left we had a version of our model a with some extra divisions across the jaw line as well as vertically through the head either side of the central line. In stage 2 we see a additional development of cross sections done using the Ring and Connect tools together with some extra detail running up the front of the head that further enhance the mouth and chin areas. In stage 3 we can see that the resultant extra verts have been moved in order to create a neck and sculpt the jaw line, eyebrow shape and lips. What you will also notice is that the vertices at the corner of the mouth have been temporarily Welded to form three triangles. This is an issue that will be corrected later as it may cause a visible crease when the model is smoothed. This is also a problem especially around the mouth area because if we were to animate our character there needs to be a sufficient number of verts at the corner of the mouth in order that it may open and stretch convincingly as this is a particularly flexible part of the face and if the Polygons ended in a single vert there would be some pinching and certainly creasing. The other noticeable change is the nose which has been extended outwards. This is done by Extruding a number of Polygons in the next stage.

Although we are gradually adding more detail as we go along it is our intention to eventually add some smoothing to our model and dramatically increase the number of Polygons as a result. This enables us to have a more detailed and organic model and so what we are actually seeing at the moment is not in fact a true representation of what we will end up with, rather a cruder more angular version. You may ask whether the notion of refining our model at a stage that does not show the finished version is a practical or indeed useful method. Well it is a good point but what this technique allows is a lower and more manageable number of Poly's to work with but with a more highly polished result. However it is good practice to apply our smoothing mid-process in order that we can check our progress. We do this by first being in Modify mode as seen ringed in red in the below image.

In Sub-Object Poly mode click on the Cut tool and add some edges in positions marked in red in the below image. You can see that at either end there are two triangles and so in order to get rid of these we need to make another cut just above as seen by the green line. As you will notice there is now a Quad at each end as opposed to a triangle but we have not had to add edges all around the head. This essentially wraps up the various Modelling techniques covered in this overview and all that is left to do now is tweak the head ready for Texturing using the methods outlined so far.

Mapping and Unwrapping

The DVD contains 5 movies, 11 stills and 7 pages of printable text on this section

With the Poly's still selected click on the UVW Map button at the top of the rollout (highlighted in red in the below Image). This opens up the mapping parameters menu where we have a number of options. Click on the small plus sign next to the UVW Mapping Modifier in the stack and then on Gizmo which can be seen highlighted in yellow on the right. Select the Cylindrical Radio button and then scroll down to the Alignment section and click on the X Radio button and then the Fit button. This basically places a cylinder around our selected faces from which our map is projected onto the surface of our mesh and is proportionate to the width and height of the selection group. You will also notice that the checker map pattern is now far more consistent and that is the reason we use it. If the scale of the squares are the same all over and the lines parallel then we know our texture co-ordinates are being accurately mapped..

The next stage is to click on the Unwrap UVW button to the right of the UVW Map one which is highlighted in red in the below Image on the right panel. After bringing up the Unwrap rollout which is shown underneath click on the Edit button which is also highlighted and this will open up the Edit UVWs window where we see a flattened version of our creatures head which can be seen on the left. This is where we can manipulate the mapping co-ordinates of our mesh by transforming verts and edges but it does not affect the positions of the verts on the actual model - it simply governs how we view the texture across the surface of our geometry. What we have done here is essentially wrap a cylinder around the head and then project our checker map onto it and then cut the cylinder lengthways and unfold the map so it is flat. Therefore the two extreme edges on the left and right of the unwrap would be the seamline where the cut was made on the cylinder. You will notice that the two edges are not straight because some of the verts on the left appear to be taken from the right edge and also fall outside the template boundary so what we need to do to neaten things up is move these over to the other side.

One last issue that requires some attention are the areas where faces are in front of others when mapped and as a consequence result in overlapping Verts. These can be seen in the below Image at the top of the nose, the nostril and upper eyelid. In order to be able to clearly see all of the faces we need to re-arrange the verts somewhat. We do this by first selecting the group of offending verts and then clicking on Tools on the Main Menu Bar and selecting Relax Dialog shown at the top left. .

Now that we have completed Mapping our character we are ready to begin texturing but we need to export our Unwrapped wireframe to use as a guide in order to know where to paint in the features and details. Texporter is a free Plugin that can be downloaded from the following link and enables us to do just this.

After installing it go into the Utilities Panel by clicking on the hammer icon in the top right ( ringed in red in I the below image) and select Texporter. If it does not appear click on More.. and find it in the list. Then under Parameters type in the size of the texture in the Image Size section - in this case 2048x1024. Scroll down and adjust the settings in the Display file to match those on the right making sure to tick the Only ID box and enter 1. Lastly select Constant in the Colourize by section and make the colour white. Having done all that click on Pick Object and then on the model and you will see a wireframe appear in a new window where we can save it out ( top left icon ) and then open it in Photoshop

To see more by Richard Tilbury, check out Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 4
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 5
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 7
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop
Photoshop for 3D Artists
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection

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