At the early beginning of my work I decided to work on 3D animation in Maya auto desk 2013. My tutor Mark told me write a proposal describing the idea of my future work. I was introduced to Maya program earlier in January 2014 by David Jenkins, at that time I was creating a really basic shape of 3D character and I thought of making a better version for my final project. As I didn’t know how long it will take me to make a character, I also though of doing a scene where I plan to include grass, lake passing through the whole scene, a tree and a character walking through that scene. I actually thought I would have enough time to do this all therefore I wrote in my proposal that I want to make all this for my final project. While I start to work on my project I realized that it is not possible to make all that as I haven’t got any experience using Maya and I haven’t got enough time to learn how to create everything. I spoke with David and he told me to concentrate on my character as he is the main object I need to work on. David told me if I will have some time, when my character is done, he will help me to find some textures and create a scene as I wanted to make. This is when I started to work on my character.
12th of March I begin working on a character sketch I needed to start building up a shape. I heard about graphic tablet which is very useful when drawing something and I asked to book one for myself. I though it would be very good experience to try and I start drawing. It took me about an hour to get use to the tablet as it was very uncomfortable at the beginning but later it was OK. I finish drawing the front view of the character and begin with a side view but it didn’t worked out and I had to leave it. The reason why this happened was the knowledge of drawing. to start working on character in Maya I had to have 3 character views ( from the side, front and top if necessary ). I had to line up all the proportion of the body to make each side equal and this is where I faced my problem. I could not do the side view the same as a front view, i just didn’t know how to do it I thought instead of wasting so much time I could simply find some character profile on the internet (non copyright) and work with that, although before I did it I still tried to do it myself and I draw a female character front, side and top view but this time with my hand and it looked awful, still I tried to work with that and I import my pictures into Maya. I created a three-dimensional polygons, import my pictures into tree sides and start building up a shape, the first problem I had was importing the side view as my character was facing to the wrong side so I had to learn how to change the axis and how to use rotation tool to put it into right place. I didn’t know how to start, so I looked at some videos on the internet where people make those 3D character for the video games and follow one of them. At the beginning it looked like I am progressing but as far as I went I felt that something is wrong I realized that I could not go any further. The reason why this happened is very simple, now when i look at my work I can see straight away I was looking at my front and side view and moving down vertex but I didn’t know about tool called “extrude” face, I just add so many vertex where I didn’t need them at all and that is why I did it totally wrong, of course that time I didn’t know that and I stop working on my model, I thought the reason was my pictures.
I start over again and took a pictures from the internet, unfortunately I haven’t got a source from where I took them as I forgot about reference. I made 3 dimensional cube sides and same as in my previous work I import those pictures into Maya I tried one more time. One more thing I forgot to say – from what I learn during my work is the number of vertex. It is very important to use as less vertex as possible during the character creation as if there are to many it will make it harder to work afterwards or just makes the whole work stuck as happens with mine.
The second try was much successful comparing to the first one, the reason why is I used less vertex at that time (still too much but better that in the previous version) I also used scaling tool and instead off pulling down each vertex I selected all bottom vertex and move them down/up, left/right. This time I learn new tool such as move tool and scale tool. The video I follow was not the best video to follow for someone who doesn’t know anything about Maya , I needed someone who could slowly tell me about every important tool and process of using them and at that time David came up to me and told me about a guy who has lots of useful videos in you tube to watch. David also follow his videos and created his own once to show me the same process of work but a little more slow and descriptive. He only had 2 parts so I watch them and start follow the you tube example. I was amazed with work the guy does, the techniques he used and how fast he build up a simple shape, it took him 10 minutes to that and for me days and lot of hours but I was very excited. I learn how to use all the basic tools, how to scale, how to move each part of the body, how to extrude and select faces and I made a basic shape and it looked amazing. I stuck for a while when I had to rotate the arm in addition 40 C forward. I was keep trying but My arm was rotating in a wrong side always so I called David to help me. David showed me one trick, is basically the button on the mac keyboard (I am not sure about PC) so when you select rotation tool and click on that button it allows you to select place where you need rotation to work. This was a very good tool to know as it is very useful, I used this tool quite often while working on my character.
Overall I watched about 7 parts of those you tube videos as I was very short of time and had to do much more things. The owner of the videos uses older Maya version also he added tools into Maya shelf. Shelf is a place on the top of the screen where you can add tools you use most, it makes it lot more easier to work as you don’t need to look for some tool every time, so as the owner already prepared some tools which he used while building a character, I had to look for them and some of them were called different names and been places in to different places so it was very hard for me to find many of them. for example, on the video guy used “edge loop tool ” but in Maya 2013 this tool called a little bit different and there are two tools with a similar name but different options. I believe it was one of another great experience I get during my work, its is something like secondary research. I looked for the tools on the internet and Maya help option and found all I needed.
Edge Loop Tool
I learn how to round out the shapes of my character, it is very important to do that each time you add a new edge loop. If added edge will not be fixed at the beginning, afterwards it will make it much harder to come back and do it. Rounding the shapes something what you have to do at all times while you building up the character. It makes the body look smooth and more realistic. for me it was even more important because I extrude many times to create the muscles on my man’s body. As I show in my screen shots, I have been doing muscles in the chest, stomach, legs, face and back therefore I spend a lot of time on ounding out the extruded parts. After extruding the stomach area I had a lot of problems in there. At first I did not scale the shape as much as I sup[posed to do, therefore my stomach looks too big. I tried to scale it a little more but each time I did that it created a hole in the middle so I had to leave it as it is.
I learn how to smooth the body of my character to see how he looks after smoothing. I saw many hols in the center of the body (stomach area) and one more at the top of the head. David told me about the “snap” button. To use that button I select the vertex on one side and together with move tool snap it to the vertex on another side, after select two vertex and merge together. The is something to be aware of when using snap button, need to make sure the vertex on one side and another are not too far away from each other as if they are, the snap tool will not work, will connect to some other nearest vertex and mess up everything.
Merge tool is a very important tool in Maya such as edge loop tool. merge means combine two points together (two vertex) to make it one (1+1=1). If not merge two points together then each time you want to move lets say front of the stomach, only one side of it will move and another will stay. I hope that makes sense. Another thing about merge tool is when the process of building up a body is due, two sides of the body have to be combined together and merged, this is why it is a very important tool. If I would not merge all points together before exporting into FBX file, I would then have many holes all over the body. I had a extremely big problem at the end of my work. When I combine two sides of the body and merge points, I pressed – smooth option to have a look at the view and saw noise looked awful. It had so many lines trying to get inside and some weird holes on both sides of the noise. I was keep trying to understand what have I done wrong, I called David as I understood I would not manage it myself and even David took an hour to understand what the problem begin. At the end we found that the problem begin inside the noise. I looked at the noise from inside and saw many vertex mix and going into some wrong direction, so I fixed that and told David that I had gone over it. I am very happy that I am able to fix thing very good and most of them by myself but this time I needed someone to help me but at the end I fixed it myself. David gave me an idea and I am very thankful for that.
The View From Inside
Here is another important thing I learn during my work and its all about make the character separated into two parts and check the inside look. Why is it important? There are some faces which are extra faces and we don’t need them, sometimes they are the reason for the holes we can see on the body. This faces have to be deleted but very carefully, other important faces from outside should not be selected together with an extra once. As I didn’t know all these rules at that time, I deleted one face at the back of my character by mistake and I saw it when it was too late to go back and fix it therefore I had to move closest vertex by using snap tool to close that hole and merge the points afterwards. I fix it good I think, it is not visible.
When I was making fingers on the legs I found it very difficult as when I extrude faces on each finger (each finger has 4 extrudes) they were too close to each other and I was thinking what could I do to make it look better. I tried to move them with a move tool (select all faces on the finger and move a little) so it did work I ques and after that there was another problem, fingers were too small compare to the fingers on the hands. I begin with scale tool, made them wider and bigger and all was fine. At the end I was satisfied.
I made lips, mouth, eyes, noise and ears at the face of my character. When I was doing that I have been through a lot of things so It was not so hard to do it, the only place I stuck a little were eyes, they way I tried to extrude faces and use rotate tool to push them down a little I found a bit difficult. I watched the video I followed few times, stop every second to understand what exactly have been done and how. I tried one time – didn’t work, second time – again didn’t work and two three times more and finally I got the right result. The eye shape was ready for rounding out the sides to create a shape and the same way I did with mouth and ears and noise. I created an eye socket and mouth socket, once again I didn’t have any problem with that, I create them quite fast, same with mouth. Video I watched describes every single movement to create what I need and it help me really. That part of the video I watched very carefully as it was very important to create a good looking face features so later I could add textures.
At the final of my work David Jenkins tried to be next to me as much as he could as it was very difficult part for me to do. I had to work with Photoshop to add textures on to my characters body but that was quite easy, all I had to do was find the right face textures; change the opacity to see the background picture through; scale; rotate if needed and place on to the right place.
This was the most difficult part. This was no longer Maya, from now on I start to work on 3D Max which is a little bit similar to Maya but at the same time very different. I have never worked with 3D max before in my life, even the Photoshop I didn’t know but I I have done a few works in the past. David showed me how to add those texture I add in Photoshop – onto my character, I catch that very fast as well but when the time came to put in the skeleton I was struggling a lot. I was reading some books about it before but didn’t do it in a proper way. David showed me all the buttons and how to do it and left, so I tried to put the skeleton in a right position, after I saw that the skeleton was way too big for the body of my character so I tried to scale it a little but it didn’t work for some reason and each time I scale the hands for example, when I try to put it straight, it bends again and again. I asked one student from animation group to help me and he did. I was keep trying to work with the skeleton and at the final David came and did it, this is how it was done. The mistake I was making was the scaling process. i scale the hand wrong that is why I could not do it.
I forgot to say the main problem I had through the whole process of my work, which is the number of teacher who where able to help me with my work. The teacher was only one, I guess that explain everything. It is very hard to work when you know there wont be anyone who could help as my teacher David was the only person who knows about Maya program, he also work with 3D max and photo shop.
This page gives a very detailed information of my work process in Maya during my final project. I wrote about my strengths and weaknesses I discovered while I was creating 3D character also the strengths and weaknesses I had before I start working on this project. Tells about all the problems I faced during my work and about the skills I develop.