Step 3: Edge Flow Topology
Edge flow topology is the direction in which our edges are flowing. Sounds simple, but controlling the flow can be a tricky affair.
If you are aiming to model a realistic character, it is best advised to study anatomy. Following anatomical landmarks and the natural flow of the muscles will give you a more realistic result if the mesh is to deform. Also, studying the skin flow and where creases occur can be a great starting point to base your edge flow on.
For characters that are more cartoony or stylized, you may have more room to maneuver but either way, I highly recommend that you get a good solid grounding in anatomy.
To get good deformation you must create a topology that is fit for purpose with the essential edge loops
Step 4: Non-manifold Geometry
Non-manifold geometry is when you cannot take your polygonal object and unfold it to make it flat.
Create a polygonal cube, select any of the edges and go Edit Mesh > Extrude. You now have a non-manifold object. If this were made out of paper and you unfolded it as if it was a paper die, you would have a flappy bit hanging off it. Try and perform a Boolean operation on it and it will let you know that it is not happy in its own special way.
Non-manifold geometry can give you plenty of problems so do your utmost to avoid it. To help you resolve non-manifold issues, you can use the Cleanup tool found in the Mesh menu set.
Non-manifold geometry can create a whole world of pain - keep an eye out and make sure to constantly look over your models from all angles
Step 5: Every Edge Should Have a Purpose
Generally, you will start modeling from a simple primitive, like a cube, and then push this further by adding edge loops or creating extrusions.
It's important that as you continue to add extra complexity to your model, each one of those new edges or faces created has a purpose. Remember, less can be more. Knowing what to cull and how to optimize models comes with time and practice so go on, get modeling.
Don't overcomplicate your models; add detail only where necessary
Top Tip 1: Study the Real World
Everything that we do in the machine is generally a representation of something that exists in the real world in some shape or form. Therefore the biggest tip I can ever give is for you to go out there and experience and analyze the real world we live in.
This is relevant not just for modelers, but also riggers, animators, lighters etc. Think about how a surface has been made: how does the light hit the object and how does it deform? Answering questions like this and more will help inform your modeling decision-making.
to see the previous tutorial in this series.
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to see the first tutorial in this series.