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Model legs in Maya

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Date Added: 6th September 2013
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In this tutorial, we continue to build our model by fleshing out the legs

Click here to download resources accompanying this article.


We continue our introduction to modeling in Maya by building up the legs. Before tackling the legs in CG, I first examine the reference, looking at how the underlying bones and muscles affect the skin. By understanding this structure and flow, we can start to transfer them to the model, making the edges mimic the natural rhythms that occur. We don't need to add every single muscle but we can think about the muscle masses and bony areas: the quadriceps, the calf muscles and the bony regions of the ankles, for example. By doing so, we can create the creases and bulges that should occur during deformation as well as hinting at an underlying structure existing within the hollow model.

For this tutorial, we will continue to use the reference from the awesome folks at 3dscanstore. However, please note, as well as looking at the front, side and back views supplied, I have also used all the other images that come with the collection to extract as much info as I can during the modeling process. Check out what they have to offer; it's all good stuff.

Obviously this tutorial is aimed primarily at new Maya users, familiarizing readers with one way to skin the modeling cat. However, there are many ways to skin this particular cat, and I urge you to explore and experiment with other packages and processes to see what suits you best.

Step 1: Plan ahead

Okay, so the first thing I like to do is to analyze the reference. I've taken some images into Photoshop and produced a quick draw-over indicating the forms I want to capture and the directions in which my edges should flow to achieve the desired results. Muscle masses that I have highlighted include: the quadriceps, the calf muscle, the Sartorius and the tensor fasciae latae. I also want to indicate the popliteal fossa (the knee pit), the Achilles tendon, the patella, the shaft of the tibia and the medial and lateral malleoli (inner and outer ankle bones). You could, if you wanted, take this into Maya, pop it on to an image plane and use the lines to determine where you make your cuts on the model.

Thinking about the edge flow before hitting Maya

Step 2: Extract the leg

The first thing we need to do in Maya is extract the leg from the rest of the geometry. To do this, go into Face mode (F11) and select all the faces you wish to separate from the mesh. With the faces selected, hit F3 to be in the Polygons module and go Mesh > Extract. Go back into Object mode (F8), select all the geometry in the scene and go Edit > Delete by Type > History. In the Outliner, you may notice some of the geometry parented under group nodes. Simply un-parent them from the groups by selecting them and going Edit > Unparent or hitting Shift+P. You can then delete the groups. To tidy up the viewport a little, create some layers and add the geometry parts that we do not need to view at the moment. You can then show and hide them easily as well as reference them.

Extracting the leg and cleaning up the Outliner

continued on next page >

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