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Maya modeling: Modeling the torso

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Date Added: 22nd August 2013
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Step 4: To follow or not follow anatomy

If the mesh is to deform for animation, then it is vital that the edge loops support this. Through trial and error, you'll find that the more you model and the more you deform your characters, you'll get a bearing of when to and when not to follow anatomy.

In the torso, we'll loosely follow the muscle structure of the external obliques. On the human form, these muscles come down at a 45 degree angle from ribs 5 to 12. If we were to mimic this behavior, we would have issues if the character was to twist. To combat this, we'll stick to a more grid-like approach around the region.

Deciding not to follow anatomy in places can produce better deformation

Step 5: Tidying up

Before calling it a day with the torso, go through and make the following checks. First, check that everything is in quads. I use the Mesh > Cleanup tool to aid me in this.

Set the Operation to Select matching polygons and Fix by Tesselation to 4-sided faces. This will select all the quads. I then go to Edit > Invert Selection to select all the triangles and n-gons. Once I know where they are, it's a case of going in and reworking that section.

Next, I'll even out all the faces so they are more square-like than rectangular. If I need to add a couple of extra edge loops here and there, then I will. Using the Mesh > Sculpt Geometry tool with the Operation set to Relax is a great way of evening out the edges.

We'll leave the torso here for now, but we'll come back to it for further refinement once the other forms have been built up.

Checking for n-gons, triangles and evening out the edges

Top tip 1: Figure out topology beforehand

Before I begin adding edge loops and performing extrusions here and there in Maya, I like to spend some time drafting how I think the topology should be laid out. Taking my reference into Photoshop, or, my personal favorite drawing app at the moment, ArtRage, I can quickly figure out where the key edge loops should go. I don't go into too much detail as I still want some freedom in Maya to experiment, but minutes spent here can save you hours later on.

A quick draw-over of the major muscle groups I'll be considering

Top tip 2: Sculpt out the forms

Moving points around in Maya can be time-consuming. As a result I like to import my model into a package such as ZBrush or Mudbox to make full use of the sculpting tools available. I then export the model back into Maya to continue refining the topology.

Using ZBrush to push the forms faster

Click HERE to see the previous tutorial in this series.

Want to start from the beginning? Click HERE to see the first tutorial in this series.

To see more by Jahirul Amin, check out Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
and 3ds Max Projects

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Jiggy on Sat, 18 April 2015 4:25am
Awesome! You taught me what I wanted to know and what to learn.
Umman on Thu, 05 September 2013 8:01am
I am waiting for the next part in the series... love your tutorial the best for a beginner. Please get the next parts as fast as possible.
Jahirul on Tue, 27 August 2013 12:17pm
Hi Rob Totally agree with you that sculpting and then retopologising is becoming the way to go and for more experienced users, that is all good. The idea behind this set of tutorials, however, is to allow new users to get familiar with only one package (in this case, Maya) and create a character suitable for deformation. I've found that getting a new user to learn multiple applications from the offset can be counter- productive and sometimes a little over-whelming. Once they are comfortable with one package, they're usually more confident going in and out of other packages. Thanks for your feedback and I'll try and emphasize topology and poly density more, which are both good points. Thanks J
Rob on Thu, 22 August 2013 7:14pm
It's an interesting tutorial and I'm sure that a lot of newbies will appreciate it. That said, I do feel that it's a bit outdated. In this day and age, where sculpting is becoming ever more important, I feel as if it should've focused more on topology and the importance of distributed poly density. As-is, the tutorial would've seemed more relevant 10 years ago. Still good for what it is though
Bez on Thu, 22 August 2013 11:24am
Thank you for this tutorial, your steps that show the poly model from start, really helps in making a simple clean topology in an easy way! Cheers :)
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