31. I add a few more edges into the ear and continue to tidy up the area. As the image shows, the newly created polygons of the ear are not smoothing in the same way as the rest of the model. The reason for this is smoothing groups, an important part of real-time modelling as it gives us the opportunity to create hard edges and smooth surfaces without using more polygons. Smoothing groups tell the application how to display the model. A six-sided box with a smoothing group on each of the six sides looks like a standard box. If we apply only one smoothing group to the entire object, the programme will attempt to smooth it into one surface, instead of six, making the box appear somewhat spherical. As this is only a lighting effect and does not alter the polygon count or the actual model, it is simply an illusion. Because a silhouette is a shadow and lacks all forms of light, smoothing groups won't affect the appearance of the model's silhouette, which is just one more reason why it is so important to use silhouettes and smoothing groups in conjunction throughout the entire modelling process (Fig.31).
Setting up smoothing groups is not something we will do often with an organic character. It's much more common to use them for accessories, weapons, cars, and most game-ready models.
32. Enter Polygon sub-selection mode and hit [Ctrl] + [A] to select all polygons of the model. Scroll down in the modifier panel to Polygon Smoothing Groups. The number one is invisible, which means that not every polygon is part of group one. We can therefore deduce that, because no other smoothing groups are invisible, the polygons that are not in group one are also not part of their own second smoothing group. In order to make sure the entire model is all part of the same smoothing group, simply click on the invisible 1 button and see the ear and eye areas smooth over (Fig.32a & Fig.32b).
33. Applying the same principles we've used throughout the tutorial so far, I'm working on the neck area and shaping the back of the skull. I want the large neck muscles to be prominent in the base mesh and follow the muscles' direction so the area will animate well when the character turns his head (Fig.33).
34. Continue to work on the model by tidying up all areas until you are left with mostly quads. If you do have triangles, ask yourself why they are there. They should only be there if they are performing a function, whether it be for the silhouette, polygon reduction, or to help deformation (Fig.34). It's good to ask yourself these questions throughout. If you don't, the programmers will later on.
35. For the final section of this part, I've used a combination of moving vertices using soft selection and hand pulling the model around to work further on matching the pose and proportions of the concept. What we have at the end is a base mesh that will not only work well for sculpting our high poly, but also animate well, run efficiently in our real-time engine, and look good from all distances due to our care and attention to the silhouette (Fig.35).
Next up is Chapter 02 in which we'll be sculpting the real meat of the character, muscles, veins and all!
Please note that this series is also available in Maya, LightWave and modo, all available in the 3DTotal Shop