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Maya modeling: Modeling the torso

By Jahirul Amin
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 22nd August 2013
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We continue to build our character by fleshing out the torso.


In the last tutorial, we blocked out the major forms for a human figure. In this tutorial, we will continue from where we left off by building up the torso.

To work on just the torso, without affecting the rest of the geometry, we will extract the faces of the torso from the mesh and hide the remainder. At this stage, we will be laying out all the major edge loops that will give us the best results should the character be deformed later on. We will be forming our topology to match the muscle flow and skin flow of a human, but also thinking about when it's not politic to follow anatomy so strictly.

Step 1: Extracting the torso

Download the scene files from here and then open up scene file '01_start', or open up your own scene file. With the mesh selected, go into Face mode and start selecting all the faces of the chest, back, shoulders and pelvis. Check that you are happy with the selection from all camera angles and then go to Mesh > Extract.

Next, select all the geometry in the scene and go to Edit > Delete By Type > History. This is to break the connections between the extracted geometry and the original geometry.

Extracting the torso from the main mesh in order to refine it

Step 2: Defining the major muscle groups and skeletal landmarks

Before we start defining the muscle groups, we need to instance our geometry so we can work with a complete mesh. Select the torso geometry, make sure the pivot is at the center of the World space (hit Insert on the keyboard and use grid snapping if not) and go Edit > Duplicate Special (Options). Change the Geometry Type to Instance and pop a -1 into the first Scale box and hit Apply.

Now, using the Split Polygon tool, start cutting into the model, defining the flow of the pectoralis major, the deltoids and the rectus abdominal muscles. Also define the skeletal landmarks: the clavicle and the scapula. This is the time to experiment with the edge flow as the geometry is at its lowest subdivision. Once we start adding further detail, re-working the topology can be tiresome.

Define the major muscle regions and the skeletal landmarks as early on as possible

Step 3: Building up the forms

Once the major edge flow lines have been determined, start to build them up and add more volume and form. Going through one region at a time, start following the directions of the muscle fibers, considering where the muscles originate and where they insert. Do not go overboard in increasing the resolution; at this stage, we do not want a mesh that is too dense to edit easily later on. Make sure that each edge loop added or extrusion performed gets pushed and pulled to its fullest. If and when you cannot refine the shape with the detail you have, add more.

Extrude out the major forms of the torso

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