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The ear is one of the features that modelers least like to model. Clearly the function of ears is really important, but they often cause problems when we model because they contain a lot of detail and distinct shapes that make them easy to get wrong. Their form is somewhat complex and if you don't follow the proper steps to create them you may not get the desired result. One of the problems I have is that I find it difficult to create the right thickness and volume. If I am honest there have been occasions in the past where I have noticed parts that have been modeled badly on the ears when I have been looking at the skin and the shaders.

Before modeling it is important to study references closely. Although there are many different perspectives and angles to consider, the most important view at the beginning is from the side (Fig.01).


I've painted the most important areas of the ear to isolate the contours and allow cleaner work. Organization is a fundamental key for a modeler and any preliminary topological study or sketch is useful when you're modeling (Fig.02).

Fig. 02

There are many different ways to begin modeling an ear. Depending on the software you use, you can start in a variety of ways. In Maya or XSI it is normal to use nurbs and polygons, whilst Max works best with splines and polygons. As a modeler you should be aware of the different ways to work more effectively, but the purpose of this tutorial is to model with Max and so I will explain the system that best works for me in this software.

Draw two splines following the isolated areas on the ear blueprint. Activate "Enable In Renderer" and "Enable In Viewport" to see the geometry in the viewport. There are two ways to represent the mesh; the default selection "Radial" will be perfect for our model. Change Sides to 8. At this point we have to limit everything to simple shapes. Add an Edit Poly modifier to each spline because to use the new Freeform tools we need to work in Edit Poly mode (Fig.03).


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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 190194, pid: 0) Allam on Mon, 01 April 2013 7:46pm
nice work and hope that i can learn it
(ID: 188984, pid: 0) Rob on Mon, 25 March 2013 8:56pm
That's a fairly clever approach. I never thought about doing ears that way. I learned using the poly-by-poly approach and that seemed to be far more tedious. This looks like a major time saver. Very nice.
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