Last time, I meant to note that there is no one right way to model anything, much less a human head. The steps I am showing in these posts are merely the way that seems to work for me. The best idea for anybody starting out is to read and work through several tutorials. It will give you a better feel for the many ways something can be accomplished, and somewhere along the way you’ll figure out what works best for you.
The same goes for setting up your reference images. I like having mine crossed in the middle. Some people prefer to have them on planes but offset, and others have them set as the background image. It doesn’t necessarily make any real difference, what matters is what works for you. I prefer mine because no matter what view I’m using, the model is in front of the reference image without me having to move it.
Once again, I am using Max 2009 for this tutorial.
Reference Image Setup, Continued
I promised we’d get to modeling, and we will next time, I promise. Last time I forgot to mention that it can be helpful to draw contour lines on your image in your image editing software. They all have some form of a pen tool which is the perfect tool to accomplish this. If you do this, it will give you a good template for how you want your polygons to line up as you model. I’m not actually going to do this for this tutorial, but to give you a small example:
This was done in a hurry, and the lines are not as careful as they would have been if I had been planning to use it, but it should give you the general idea.
The Symmetry Modifier, Your New Best Friend
You may have noticed that I only drew lines on one side of the face. That is because the symmetry modifier is about to become your very best friend in the whole world, at least for the duration of this project. Many of you are probably already familiar with what the symmetry modifier does, but please bear with me as I explain it.
When you put the symmetry modifier on an object, you can make edits to the original half of the object and those edits will appear on the new half as well.
For example: Create a sphere in Max, and make sure it is centered. You can do this a couple of different ways.
First, you can have the top viewport selected, and use Keyboard Entry to create your sphere. It will automatically be centered on the origin.
Another way is to do the usual drag in any of the viewports, then set the parameters to the size you want. With the select and move tool active, right click on the arrows next to the x, y, and z at the bottom of the screen.
Before we go any further, if you want to get rid of that annoying little box around your sphere, hit J in each viewport. G will get rid of the grid as well, if you want it gone.
Now that you have a sphere and it’s nicely centered, right-click on it and convert to editable poly or mesh. I tend to use edit poly always since that is what I learned in school.
Now we’re going to cut the sphere in half. Make the front viewport active. Go to the modify panel and click on the red square for polygon selection.
Select the polygons on the right side of the sphere as you are facing it. Make sure Ignore Backface is not selected. The picture shows both the top and front viewports. You may want to look at the perspective viewport as well, to make certain you have all the of the polys on the right side selected. It’s easy to miss some on the top and bottom when they are tiny.
Now hit delete. Amazing! A half of a sphere. Now, click back on Editable Poly in the modifier stack to turn off sub-object selection. In the Modifier List select symmetry. Oh no, my sphere disappeared!
Not to worry, that’s easy to fix. You’ll just need to play with the parameters for the Symmetry modifier. In this case, the problem is easily fixed by clicking on Flip.
Now, anything we change on the left side of our sphere will be reflected on the right side.
This is going to save us a lot of time when we model the head because for the most part we will only have to work on one side. See, new best friend.
One thing I almost forgot to mention , the little button in the next picture is the Show End Result toggle. With it on, you’ll be able to see the symmetry modifier, even while you have Editable Poly selected and are making changes.
I think that’s all for the preliminaries so next time we should actually get to modeling.