After I gave some shape and expression to the face, I made a clone of the head (which was very important for the later steps) and hid it, I didn't need it yet.
I then started deleting polygons in the original head to create gaps in the mesh. My idea was to model from the outside to the inside, using different layers of meshes to get a highly detailed model with reasonable efforts of time.
I then applied a simply "solidify"-modifier to the mesh. (If you're working with max 6,7,8 simply use "shell", there's no need for solidify any more) and chamfered the outer edges to get rid of the "mesh-smoothy-look". I also altered the vertex-weight of the hard and sharp looking corners to avoid those being rounded at mesh-smooth level.
After I was satisfied with the outer "shell", I unhid the head-clone, cloned it again (!), hid the new clone and renamed the first clone in "layer 2". Please don't get confused here! I did not work with Max-Layers, I simply call it layers, because I worked from the outside to the inside.
Layer 2 received a push-modifier with a negative value first to scale the head down, keeping the proportions at the right place. A simple scale-down wouldn't do it. Then I did the same thing with layer2 as I did earlier with the outer head-shell: I started deleting polys to create gaps for layer4 (four, yes). I then applied a greeble modifier to the mesh (a lot of people hate greeble as it always looks cool but doesn't afford any work at all!). I love greeble, although this is the first time I ever used it in one of my personal pictures. It saves tremendous amounts of time and looks cool as long as it's used in combination with the right elements...
I also created some smaller cylinders with chamfered edges and scattered them some dozen times on layer2, using the scatter-compound-object. This was done to break up the boring greeble surface and insert some cylinders and circular shapes.
Before creating the next really noticable layer, I cloned layer2, removed the greeble-modifier (I wanted a clean mesh again) and created the fine cable-details using the create shape-command. If you've never worked with this fantastic operation: Simply select one or more edges (in this case I selected almost every edgeloop of layer2), right-click in the active viewport and click on "create shape". Now your selected edges are transformed into independent splines, which can also be treated like splines! You can define the steps, the thickness, the amount of segments etc. I used this method to create fine cables running through the greebled surface adding another level of detail.
Afterwards I unhid the clone of the original head (I didn't need another clone) and started to work on layer4. I extruded whole blocks of polys like in the neck, I extruded polys inwards to create depth and filled intruded gaps with simple geometry like cylinders, boxes etc. just to give it a "filled up" look.
One very precious tool that I was working with is called "CS-Polytools" which can be downloaded here:Â http://www.scriptspot.com/start.php?p=download&ID=2432
It's an additional package of modelling tools for polymode - and hey.... There's ONE command which really helps creating technical looking models - I'm talking about the untangle-command.
Untangle allows you to transform any polygon (from 3-sided to x-sided polys) into a perfect N-Gon, that means a perfectly symmetrical polygon. A 4-sided poly for example gets converted to a perfect square - a 100-sided poly (if something like this ever exists in your mesh, shame on you) will be converted into something like a "perfect" circle.
What's this good for now..? Well, as you probably all know, the boolean-operations in Max are crap. They're not working at all, for some reason the whole mesh gets messed up and can hardly be repaired afterwards. But you might want some nice looking circular holes in your mesh, don't you? You might want some screws, some openings for cables and hydraulics... etc.! Normally you would need to move vertices manually until you end up with a perfect square, so that it could be smoothed out into a circle at mesh-smooth-level. With the CSPoly-Tools simply choose a polygon (or take a selection of polys and collaps them to a single poly), choose "untangle" and you get a perfect poly, which canÂ be smoothed into a circle. You simply need to adjust the rotation and the size of the new poly - but as the "local" setting gets activated automatically and most of the time the polys don't need a lot of readjusting, that's not a lot of work.
Here is a short guide how to use untangle! I used a specially ugly basic shape to show you how untangle works with irregular bodys and objects. This is not part of my picture, it just shows how the cs-untangle command can be used: (Isn't that helpful!)
Select as many polys as you want to use for your circular inset. Use them rightaway or make an inset if you want to keep the original edges (as I did here). Delete the inset polys (!). Select the rim-edge and close it with one (!) poly - you can use the cap-holes command. Select the new poly and choose "untangle" from the cs-polytools. You might need to scale and rotate the new untangled, circular poly. Now extrude it as you like.
Now look at my picture and you'll find a lot of variations of untangle there: Extruded polys (outwards and inwards), holes, buttons, screws....
I really recommend this plugin for anyone who loves bots. It just makes work a lot easier.
The screws are of course combined with a screw-texture (from the sink in my bathroom). Did I mention that I was quite lazy when creating this picture? Well, then you might notice that I forgot to turn the screws individually. They look all in the same direction ;-) Shame on me. You wouldn't have recognized that, would you?..
After I finished layer4, I extruded some polys on layer1 using extrude along spline, to create the "cage" which surrounds the whole mesh and is meant to protect the fragile electronical parts inside the head in case of a collision or sth. like that.
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