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Maya modeling: Arms

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Date Added: 30th September 2013
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Smooth the arm and combine it with the chest

Select the arm and go Mesh > Smooth and then move the points around to loosely match the reference. With the Translate tool active, use Soft-Selection by tapping B on the keyboard to speed up the process of moving points. You can control the falloff of the Soft-Selection by holding down the B key and left mouse dragging in the viewport, or double clicking the Move tool to bring up its settings and adjusting the falloff within that window.

Once you have the arm loosely shaped, select both the arm and the chest region and go Mesh > Combine. With the two meshes combined, go Edit Mesh > Merge Vertex Tool and snap the vertices under the armpit together to close up the open seam. Add a couple of extra edge loops running down the arm to match the number of edges that run down the torso. To even out the edges that run down the arm, use the Sculpt Geometry Tool with the Mode set to Relax. You'll find the tool under Mesh.

Smoothing the arm and combining it with the chest region

Working on the deltoid

I'm pretty happy with the flow of the edges running from the chest region over the deltoid as it currently is. Although anatomically the pectoralis muscle inserts into the humerus, I find the edge flow in the current state creates good deformation when the shoulder is raised. This is again another time where we slightly bend the rules to suit our needs. So to bring out the mass of the deltoid, I'm just going to add an extra edge loop that runs around the point where the deltoid inserts into the humerus. How tight you have the edges will determine how noticeable you want the border of the deltoid to be. I'm keeping mine pretty light for now, as I don't want him to appear super butch.

Adding an extra loop to define the edge of the deltoid

Bringing out the bicep

Pulling out the bicep is pretty straightforward: just grab the faces in that region and go Edit Mesh > Extrude. With the new geometry, I make sure to work the upper portion of the bicep back into the chest and the shoulder region by cutting into the model with the Split Polygon Tool and redirecting the edge flow. Make sure to check the forms from all angles as you progress through and refer back to the reference.

A quick extrusion to pull out the bicep, and how to work it back into the model

The elbow and the tricep

Next, I pull out the elbow by first selecting two faces on the back of the arm, extruding them and then scaling them in slightly. At the same time, we can introduce the v-shaped notch created by the tricep. I move the points around to create the initial v-shape and then use the Split Polygon Tool to add extra detail.

To keep everything in quads, I run the cut lines through the elbow and down towards the wrist. A few more edge loops are required to run around the arm so we can start filling-out the volume of the tricep and the bicep. Add an extra edge running through the elbow also so we can use it to maintain the form during flexion of the arm. You can push in some vertices to create the elbow pit in a similar fashion to how we created the knee pit. If you compare the topology of the leg to the arm, you'll notice how parts repeat themselves. Just as nature repeats itself when it is on to a good thing, so can we.

Creating the v-shaped notch of the tricep and extruding out the elbow

The forearm

This brings us down to the forearms. Luckily, we don't need to worry about the direction of the edges as the flow has been there since our initial blocking. However, we do want to define the ridge of the ulna that runs from the elbow to the pinky side of the forearm. As we have quite a few edge loops running down the forearm, we can achieve this relatively easily by simply pushing a selection of edges closer to another. (It's worth creating a tight fist with your hand to see the lines that appear on the forearm.)

After that, it is a case of checking the forms against the reference and making any further tweaks. I ended up adding a few extra edge loops around the arm to even out the faces and a loop around the elbow to make it slightly sharper. You could also define the brachioradialis muscle at this stage if you so desire. I think I'll leave it here for now and will make that decision as we approach the final hurdle. Once you are happy with the arm, merge the region back into the main mesh. See you next time for the hands and feet.

Pushing the edges together to create the ridge of the ulna bone and moving points to create the elbow pit

Top tip: Use lights as you model

As I model, I like to pop some lights in to see how the forms are building up. This is a great way to check for any anomalies that you may not generally see with Maya's default lighting. First, I go Create > Lights > Directional Light and in the Attribute Editor I enable Depth Map Shadows, punching the Resolution to the max. Then I create an Ambient light and set the Intensity to something like 0.25.

In the Viewport settings, go Lighting > Use All Lights and also enable Shadows. Still with the Viewport settings, scroll to Renderer and enable Viewport 2.0. Open up the options box for Viewport 2.0 and enable Screen-space Ambient Occlusion. Leave the Ambient Light as it is but play with the orientation of the Directional Light to see how it affects the model. It's worth playing around with the shaders also to see how the model reacts to the light; try a Blinn for example.

Using lights to check the integrity of the modeling and for any anomalies

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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