by November 10, 2003 0 comments

This month we plunge deeper into the multimedia space and learn how to model a human face using 3DStudio Max. Creating a human face can be a challenge for an amateur and a professional alike. Here, we would use the polygon technique for modeling and learn how to make a face with a minimum number of segments. We assume that you have a basic knowledge of 3DS Max and you can find your way about in the interface.

It is very important to follow the anatomy of the face while modeling. By anatomy we mean the flow of the muscles, so that it can be animated easily for expressions such as smile, anger and surprise.

The first step in any kind of modeling is the reference images. This is the process generally followed in media houses and minimizes the modeler’s efforts quite a lot. The two images that we are going to use here are the front and side views of the face. We’ve got our two images from the Web. Although low res, these can serve our purpose well. 

Quick Tip
l When you set up the reference images in the background
viewports, never forget to set the match bitmap and Lock zoom /Pan option.
When you need to extrude a polygon and later scale it, prefer bevel.
Anytime you need to cut the polygons or create new polygons, prefer perspective/user
viewport. It helps in checking the creation of segments at the desired locations.
When using image sets, compare them carefully to check whether they match at the right places, like chin, eyes, lips and ears. If not, open them in Photoshop, copy the front and side profiles in the one file as different layers and match them by applying a little transparency to the upper layer. Save them as separate files.
Work on your sketching skills as they are always helpful. Try to understand muscles and bones and their working. 

First, we need to set up these images as in figure 1 in the front and left viewports by selecting MENU/View/view background/ files {Alt +B}. Choose the front and left viewports separately and call these references one by one. At this moment, check the options, Aspect Ratio: Match Bitmap Display Background and Lock Zoom/Pan. You can also select viewport (front/left) from the viewport background window at lower left corner.

We are all set and ready to get cracking. 

Create a box (Standard Primitives/Cube) in the top viewport by dragging from the center of the grid. Now match the height, width and length of the box and segments as you can see reference picture figure 1. We will create one segment each for forehead, eye and for the mouth.

Convert the box into an editable poly (right click on the box and choose Convert to Editable Poly). You can also right click inside the Modifier list window & select Convert to: Editable Poly as in figure 2.

Go to modifier stack/polygon (sub object) and delete half of the mesh as shown in figure 3. 

Apply the mesh smooth modifier from the Modifier list and then apply the Symmetry modifier. This is done in order to create the second half automatically. Now, when you adjust half of the box, second will respond automatically.

At Editable Poly, check the button ‘Show end result’ to On if it is off as shown inside the magenta circle in figure 4. 

Now match the left and front profiles of the face by tweaking the vertices. The end result after tweaking is shown in figure 5. 

Create one segment along the center in the front viewport by using Quick slice tool or manually in the perspective viewport by carefully selecting the segments, using the Cut tool. Now create three half circular segments by using the cut tool, preferably in the perspective view and adjust it around the mouth as shown in figure 6. 

Note that we created circular cuts around the mouth area because of the mouth muscle called Orbicularis Oris. This way expressions in the mouth area (like smile, surprise and lip sync for dialogues) will be easier to do and will be more accurate.

Create different segments using the same Cut tool in the perspective view, around the eye and nose area for the nose and eye socket. With reference to images, tweak them so that a nice shape comes up as shown in figure 7. We have marked the green nodes to represent vertices and magenta lines to represent segments for easy identification.

Note that we have marked circular segments around the eye area for the muscle Orbicularis

Put some more segments around the nose towards the chin area, as shown in figure 8, and adjust them properly, so that it matches as closely as possible to the reference image. 

Create some more segments vertically on the right side of nose & tweak them out. For the nostril, select the polygon at the lower part of the nose as shown in the fig, extrude it & scale it to match the nostril hole or use bevel as shown in figure 9. 

You may prefer to use bevel as it is easier. 

With the nose, lips and the chin done, we will move to the eye. We will create the eyeballs first. 

The basic shape for the eyeballs is a sphere. Create a sphere and position it at the location of the eyeball with reference to the profiles and apply material [Diffuse map] on it using Ramp Gradient as shown in figure 10. 

Now create more segments around the eye and adjust them, so that they fit along the sphere and give the eye a good shape.

See figure 11 for the final results we got. 

To do more refinement, you can add some segments at the nose (between the eyes) and your face is ready. After a bit of tweaking here and there, you face would be like in figure 12. 

Figure 13 shows the face after some changes have been done in the materials to give it a more realistic feel.

That is it. Have fun.

Tejinder Jeet Singh Is Technical Head at the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics

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