How to build a 3D character


The Work Flow

The basic process, work flow, that I am going to use here while building this character is Nurbs to Polys to SubDs. To give you the dirty low down... I build the character roughly in nurbs first. Why do I do this? Because this gives me clean geometry when I convert to polys. Why do I convert to polys? Because I can add in localized detail much easier. So, what about the SubD's? I convert to SubD's because they are the best of both worlds. Basically they allow me to have a nice smooth character that will deform well when I go to animate.

Creating the Control Cube

There are two things I do before I dig into the character. I build a CONTROL CUBE and I put in character references.

What is a control Cube? Well, just that. It is a cube with an added attribute to control the transparency of the default shader. This makes it easier to match up your model to your character sketch. When every you make an object in Maya it gets assigned the default shader. So, this little cube will control the transparency of just that material. The process is easy.

1. Make a polycube rename it Control Cube and delete its history
2. Nav. to Windows__/General Editors__/Channel Control
3. move all the Keyable controls to Non Keyable.

4. Now you have a nice clean Channel Box for your Control CUBE
5. Nav. to Modify__/Add Attribute
6. Name = Transparency;
Data Type = Float;
Numeric Att. Prop. Min = 0 Max =10 Def.= 0
You will now notice that in the Channel Box we have a transparency attribute w/o all that other junk.
Lets get this working with the shader now. To do this we need to use a set driven key that is linked b/w the control CUBEs Transparency attribute and the transparency of the default shaders transparency. Easy enough!

1.(Animation) Nav to Animate__/Set Driven Key__/Set (options)
2. Load Driver = Control Cube; Load Driven = Default Shader

(To load the default shader you need to go to your hypershade
and select Lambert 1 then hit Load Driven. The attributes you are going to control will be the transparency RGB.)



In the set driven key box hit KEY at the following.

3.Control CUBE Trans = 0 Set Def. Shader trans to 0.
4.Control CUBE Trans = 10 Set Def. Shader trans to 1.

(When the Transparency attribute is set to 0 the labert1 transparency has no transparency. When the Transparency attribute is set to 10 we go in and change the lambert1's transparency all the way up then we set a key.)

You should get the following result

Now that we have the control CUBE made we will be able to control the transparency of our default texture with ease.

Making the Character Reference

Most of the time people model characters they like to have a reference to model by. Some use an image plane I on the other hand like to map an image to a polyplane. I do this for two reasons.

1. I can put the plane on a layer which gives me layer options.
2. I think it is much easier to move a plane.

Now that I have my Control Cube and my reference plane in I am ready to start modeling the character.

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