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Low-Poly Character Modeling and Texturing

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Yikes! Okay... so it looks funky, That's okay! Just start moving things around so they line up a little better from the front viewport. Remember things won't be perfect, but get it close.

Another useful and essential tool for poly modeling is the Cut Tool. To get to it, you need to scroll further down in the editable poly modifier tools then the standard edit vert / edit edge area. It's under the Edit
Geometry Rollout.

Cut will let you cut new edges directly on the surface of your model. It's usually most useful in the perspective viewport.

Something to watch for though! It's common to think you've clicked on an already existing vert and cut a new edge, but max thinks that you clicked just off the vert and has created a new vert. So even though you can't really see it, you now have two verts sitting right next to each other. When this happens just select the verts and Weld with a high threshold so that the two verts are welded together.

I cut this edge along the bottom of the pants cuff and then pulled the edges out to give the bottom of the pants more volume. You should also use cut in other areas around the pants to define other wrinkles and deformations in the shape of the cloth. Remember though! Don't go overboard. Just very basic volume defining changes.

Once you're satisfied with the shape of the legs so far, return to Border selection mode and select the top of the legs. Once again, Hold Down Shift and move upwards a few times for the upper legs.

My plan is for the shirt and pants to be separate meshes. The jacket is very baggy and extends over the pants a lot, so the two objects will not connect directly. Because of this, I need some of the pant geometry to continue up under the jacket. This is especially important for when the character is rigged and animated. It's important that a big empty gap shouldn't appear under the jacket.

Shape the edges in the front viewport to match the legs better. It is ideal to have a V-shape coming from the groin area. It will deform a lot better if you do this.

For the Groin area, I selected the inner edges, held down Shift and moved them to the side to extrude new faces. Then I selected the bottom verts (circled in image) and clicked the REMOVE button. The remaining verts need to be moved to the exact center. Select a single vert and at the bottom of the max window under the animation timeline are three areas where you can enter numbers. Change the X axis location of the vert to 0. This will move the vert to the center. Do this for all of the verts you have here in the center of the groin.

Switch to the Perspective viewport and start tweaking and fixing all of the shape problems that are bound to be there. If any side looks really flat, just bring in the edges more to round it out some. You also need to attend to the butt. This area will require some cutting and a lot of small adjustments to get it to look okay. In this model isn't not a huge deal if it looks perfect since it will be mostly covered by the jacket, but it's still a good idea to get the geometry fairly clean on it.

Chances are that the leg is very faceted at this point, so lets do the smoothing groups thing again to smooth out our leg. Go to Polygon select mode and select the whole pant leg and set it to smoothing group 4. Rotate around the leg and clean up any problems you can see with the mesh.

Now it's time for Symmetry.

Go to the Hierarchy tab. Closer to the bottom are these two buttons. Click them both.

Now at the top there is a button that says Affect Pivot Only. Click that button. The move cursor will change a little to show that now you are controlling the pivot. In the X Axis entry at the bottom of the screen, set it to 0. Now the model's Pivot is in the exact center.

Return to the Modify tab and click on the drop-down menu that says "Modifier List".

Scroll way down towards the bottom and find the modifier called Symmetry. If you're model suddenly disappears check "Flip". If it's doing symmetry from the wrong directly, toggle through the Mirror Axis until you get the right one.


Now is a good time to go and fix any screaming errors that only now make themselves apparent. You can go back to the Editable Poly and continue working on the model with the symmetry modifier on the top of the stack. But when you go back to editable poly, suddenly you won't have the symmetry anymore! But we can fix that! There is a set of icons directly under Editable Poly, but above the parameters. The 2nd button is "show end result". If you click this button, it will show the symmetry, even when working in the Editable Poly area.


Starting the Jacket

Since the Jacket is going to be a separate object, I'm not just going to extrude it from the pants like I did the pants from the shoes. But I don't want to start from a box either. So I selected the edges along the top of the pants and held down SHIFT and pulled up to create a new row of polys. I went into Polygon edit mode, selected the new row and clicked the DETACH button.

At this point you will still have the legs selected. Deselect the legs and select the new detached object you just created. Go into vertex mode and start moving the vets so that it matches the reference. Also check the side view to adjust for that as well.


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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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