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Low-Poly Character Modeling and Texturing

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(Score 4.59 out of 5 after 79 Votes)
Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:

Now to do the arms

Since the arms are a part of the jacket, you should make sure to do them very similar so that they flow together. So you'll use a lot of the same base texture on the sleeve that you used on the torso, and do your shades and highlights in the same color/lighting.

Same as all the other things. And when everything is done, save it as a flattened, sharpened, tga file and update max again.


And finally the hands

The hands will be like the shoes. I used photo reference on the bottom, but it was mostly just for color and basic reference. It's very difficult to get photo referenced hands to line up properly with boxy, low-poly unwrapped hands, so most everything will end up being hand-painted. Here's a picture of my process:

First I filled the outside of my UV ref with a skin tone so I could see better where the fingers were.

I copied, moved, scaled, and used Liquify to get a palm and hand-top into basic locations.

Then I created layers overtop of all that and painted the hand texture. The images below made good reference for color, etc. but hardly any of it is showing through in the end.

And when I was finally finished, I sharpened the whole image.


The Hair

Okay, first off, at work we don't actually have hair like this. Our hair is very basic and usually just painted directly onto the head itself. Simple short hair cuts. With women, even then the hair is usually a part of the head mesh and painted directly onto the head texture itself.

But I'm making this tutorial for a more fancy kind of hair because it's something I get asked a lot.

This is just one possible way to make hair. There are many different ways to approach making hair, and there is no One Right Way to do it. Just many options depending on what your end goal is.

First I made a new document in Photoshop; 256x256. I got some photo ref of some hair I wanted to make it look like and pasted some bits into the new window.

Use the Liquify filter (Filter > Liquify) to move anything around that needs moving.

I painted below the hair bits first to match the general color and then created a layer above the hair and painted with a small brush and around 50% opacity.

Just keep painting in details and strokes. Use the images as reference.


Basically I make several shapes of hair that I know I'll want to use in different locations on the head. It's good if you plan out the hair style and the sort of shapes you'll need before you start all this so that you can make the texture fit what you want.

Once I had the base hair texture done, I used the pen tool to create the basic outline of the shape.

When you've got the shape done, right-click in your image and choose Make Selection. Go with the defaults on the window that pops up) Feather Radius should be 0) and click OK.

Now go to the Channels tab and click the Save Selection as Channel button (circled below).


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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Glenn Campbell on Mon, 15 February 2016 11:28pm
The best 3DS Max tut online. Superbly handled and capable of engaging users at all levels of experience. A great deal of work went into this, a great deal of expertise was shared freely and by far and away the most effective, interesting, absorbing and enriching short course of its kind on the internet. My sincere gratitude for your efforts; I trust your career has since been nothing short of meteoric, as I'm certain mine will be, influenced as it is by you. That was awesome and more fun than you can shake a stick at.
Maru on Sat, 27 December 2014 4:20pm
Thank you for the tutorial! I would like to ask about a little detail, since I've just started using 3d max, it's quite confusing for me. Well, it's about the first step in the second page. I connected the two vertical edges of the foot, but i don't know how you got all the other edges :s Would you please explain it to me?
Again on Thu, 06 February 2014 11:06pm
Best tutorial for unwrapping !!! lots of usefull tips !!!
SEMO on Mon, 01 July 2013 10:14pm
great tutorial , can i make one by max scripts that include all process in order if i want to use this script in making human models ?
Chris on Mon, 03 June 2013 12:59am
Nice tutorial, very informative! I recommended this to some fellow students for a project we are doing. Well done!
Sudhir on Sun, 31 March 2013 3:39am
Very good tutorial for beginers I've made the same thing in 3ds max
Kjuu on Sun, 25 March 2012 4:03pm
Great tutorial. I'm just starting with 3d graphic and that helped me alot. Thanks! PS. XellD, it's much easier to use planes and apply images on them. Then you can easily manage their size.
Sizza on Mon, 27 February 2012 10:03am
A very in depth tutorial, just what I'm looking for, need to download 3DS MAX to try it! Thanks for your time making this.
ErroR on Sat, 25 February 2012 3:27pm
Excellent tutorial. Covers everything in-depth while keeping it pretty simple. Will definitely try this soon. Thanks!
Djcliverson on Thu, 26 January 2012 10:40pm
Great tutorial, these were my first few days of 3d graphics, and you teached me really a lot, easy and funny, thank you so much
Tanbeen Amin on Tue, 17 January 2012 10:26am
Thank you very much for your tutorial... :) i needed this ..!
XellD on Tue, 03 January 2012 12:08am
OK, i don't know if this is still recently read, but I got stuck already on the first page. When I add Backgrounds for front and left viewport (even if I take yours), they end up not being the same height for the feet (also both pictures have the same resolution and so on, as you mentioned). I found many people on forums having the same problem: the background image cannot be aligned inside of 3DS Max. What can I do about that?
Krisu on Wed, 21 December 2011 4:32pm
That is what i was looking for, this kind of tutorials! Thanks you all so much! >_
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