Miguel A. Vázquez Pérez 2012/13

Steps to create an avatar.

In this tutorial I am going to explain the main steps that I followed to create an avatar, including modelling, texturing and animation process. Therefore I will divide this tutorial in three sections.


-The first thing that  I did was include the reference images to maya, to do this I created a plane. (create/NURBS primitives/plane). I repeated the process to insert two planes, one for each image (front and slide image).

-From this moment I started to model the avatar. Firstly I created a cube for the body, I deleted half of this and then I started to sculpt the basic shape.

-Using the extrude tool I created neck, head, legs and hands. In some cases I had to use “the insert edge loop tool”.

-The next step was increase the number of polygons keeping the shape,  for that I used the option edit/smooth.

-After that, I added more detail to the avatar, including  elements like the belt, the bracelet and the sleeves of the T-shirt. I selected “mesh/mirror geometry” to create the whole avatar. The result is this:

-Finally, for the environment I created a tombstone ,a dead tree and a podium, again I started the process using a cube for each one.

Texturing (UV unfolding)

Using “mesh/separate” I divided the avatar in several pieces (head, arms, hands, belt, boats, legs and bracelet), before I had to select each face of the body piece. To open the UV texture editor I clicked on “window/UV texture editor and later to set correctly the view I selected “Create UV’s/planar mapping“.

The next step was to select the cut edges and use the following tools on UV texture editor (polygons/cut UV edges and unfold). I had to to the same with each part of the body

Tip: it’s very helpful use “polygons/layout” to improve the view. In the followings images I am going to show some screenshots of the process where we can see some cut edges as a example. To texturing the hair, I separated the face and the hair.

I divided  the character in all these parts because I wasn’t able to create a planar mapping of all body at a time

I selected  “image/create PSD network and update PSD network” to generate a Photoshop file and start to work with this application. Once I created each texture in Photoshop I assigned each one  the correct part of the body, to do this process I only had to select the object and click on “assign new material/lambert/file” and choose the file which I generated using Photoshop. The pattern textures that I applied to the models were obtained from internet. I repeated the process with each environment object  (tombstone and podium).

I had a lot of problems when I wanted to texture the tree. The tree has a very irregular shape, so it was impossible applied a texture. For this reason I applied a Lambert in brown color.

The result of this process is this:

Also I added to the floor and to the tomb stone a couple of texture normal maps using  bump mapping technique. I created it using Crazy Bump application. Now, we can see the result after apply the different textures to the meshes.


Preparing the skeleton

According to the animation process, the first thing that I performed was to create the skeleton. For this purpose I did:

-Select Skeleton/join tool. Firstly I created the right leg.

After, the upper zone.

If the join size was too big, the way to correct it is selecting display/animation join size.

Then I renamed each join, that is the hypergraph hierarchy.

Like we can see, I created two different hypergraph hierarchies, so I had to link them. According to do it, I created another join called j_root which is going to move all the structure.

Clicked on the j_r_leg and j_root (the order is important) and selected edit/parent to link both structures. I repeated the process with the j_r_hip and j_root.

In this point, I had to duplicate the arm and the leg. I selected skeleton/mirror joint and I set it up as we can see in the next picture.

To adjust the rotation of the joins (skeleton/orient joint)

Creating handles

Legs:  I added a ik handle ( skeleton / IK handle tool/ikRPsolver) for each leg, furthermore I also created a locator to control the orient of the knee (create/locator), clicked on the locator and the handle that I just created before, then I selected (constreint/pole vector), after that  it is possible to control the orient of the knee.

Arms: I repeated the same process with the both arms.

The other parts of the body if I would want to move it I would use Forward Kinematics (FK) using the rotation tool itself.

Once I set up the animation tools, the next step was to link the skeleton and the mesh. To do this, I clicked on the root join and the character mesh and then I selected (skin/bind skin/rigid bind).

I had a problem when I wanted to move some parts, for example , when I wanted to rotate the head, the mesh became deformed, so I had to assign other points of the geometry to the join that moves the head, according to do it I used the edit membership tool (edit deformers/edit membership tool) . I repeated the process several times with other parts of the body such as arms and legs. Now I am going to show the problem and the solution of the problem with a couple of pictures.

The worst problem appeared when I wanted to move the arms, because this process moved points of the body mesh.

In this case, I assigned the wrong points to the clavicle, chest and rib joints.

Finally, to create the animation I placed the avatar in the right positions and used the set key option.

The result animation is shown below.




Texturing a frog – Mapping

In this post I am going to write about another texture technique, “mapping”.  This technique involves using a high resolution mesh like a model to generate a map which is to be used in a low resolution mesh.

I Started opening the two 3D models, the source model and the target model.

I Opened the high and low resolution model selecting “file/import”.

The steps to generate the maps are the following:

-Assign a blinn material to the low resolution model. In pop-menu select (assign new material/blinn).

-Select the high resolution mesh, after that select lighting/shading/transfer maps.

-In the transfer maps window, in target meshes section add low mesh. Later I had to do the same for source mesh section, in this case I had to add the high resolution mesh.

To set the search Envelope, I had to set display to Envolve in the target meshes section in the transfer maps window. Now, the low resolution mesh looks like this picture. The red mesh grows if we change the envolve value (4,3 is enough ).

After all this, I selected “normal in output maps section” and clicked the browser icon in the normal map text field. In this step I saved the file (toad texture.dds).

To finish, I clicked bake a close. Now Maya will generate the normal map which will be applied to the low resolution mesh.

In this post basically I am going to talk about NURBS curves, I will try to find a typical shapes and object types which are designed using NURBS. After that I am identifying the possible uses that I can implement in my own character.

Firstly, we can see a boat which is ideal to be modelled using NURBS surfaces because it has a smooth shapes. In some cases NURBS surfaces is also valid to model a building as we can see below. In short, they are perfect to control the smoothness and curvature of the shape that we want to design.

These kinds of surfaces (NURBS sufarces) are created using NURBS curves. In some cases use NURBS curves is a really good option, because these objects are mathematically exact, they are lines defined by several points.  Defining the curve with more points we will obtain a more accurate shape.  A great advantages of NURBS curves is that they represent arbitrary shapes while maintaining mathematical exactness.

The curve’s shape is guided by control points and knots.

Finally, you can use NURBS curves to generate 3D shapes and surfaces rotating a 2D curve around an axis or translating a curve along curved path.

Furthermore, I does not think I design my own character using NURBS. In my opinion NURBS is not the best technique to design a human body, I will probably use this technique to design some items or parts of the environment (dead tree or  even some vegetation).

In this tutorial I am not going to texture a flat object, it contains curves,  thereby I am using the technique called “UV unfolding”. Let’s learn how to divide a mesh

Firstly, I opened the scene file which contains  the following soldier.

In the UV texture editor window (select edit UVs/UV texture editor)  if  we select the body of the soldier we will see every part of the soldier are one, so we will have to divide the mesh into multiple pieces. Once have done we can procedure to texture individually each piece.

So to divide the body in several pieces, I selected the faces that I wanted to divide and then I selected “mesh/extract”, for example, the arm. I had to repeat the process repeatedly with another arm and legs. After this step, I already had all the zones of the body divided.

The next step that I had to do is select the part of the body that I wanted to texture and create a planar mapping, it’s necessary to texture a object. (create UVs/planar mapping).

To apply a checker pattern to the torso I assigned a lambert material to the soldier torse and then the colour is checker ( Assign new material/lambert/color/checker).

But, after that there was a problem because the checker pattern looked with a distortion, to fix this problem I had to cut the UV edges .

To fix this problem I cut the UV edges (In the UV Texture Editor select Polygons/Cut UV Edges) and then  unfolded the torso, selecting one UV in each shoulder  and using the following option (In the UV Texture Editor select Polygons/Unfold ).

Besides that I increased the number of square in the checker patter, because it can do the process easier. To do this I  only had to change the value of  repeat UV field To 10,10 in the  attribute editor window.  Now, I have already increased the number of square.

In the perspective view  I selected all  UVs on the torso, and then using the move and scale tool I fit the mesh inside the square of the UV text editor.  The next step that I did is export the torso mesh to iff file  (In the UV Texture Editor select Polygons,UV Snapshot) . That is so useful to create later a texture with a external image editor.

I repeated all the steps with each part of the soldier. Below some pictures of the process.

Arm of the soldier

arm of the soldier

Pants of the soldier

Now is the turn of the head, in this part, the process is different:

Firstly, I Selected “Create UVs/cylindrical mapping” and then I assign a exist texture clicking in the head and selecting “select Assign Existing Material/checker_pattern”. But now the helmet looks this way.

face of the soldier

To fix this problem I had to unfold the helmet’s UV mesh using the UV texture editor, selecting the following UVs, as we can see in the bellow  picture. To finish with this problem, in the  UV Texture Editor I selected “Polygons/Unfold”

Finally, I applied the textures. I am going to show the process with the torso, but the process will be the same for each part of the soldier body.

I Clicked the torso and selected  “Assign new Material”, the kind of the material must be Lambert, and  to complete the assignation I selected the file. From this moment the texture of the soldier is already applied.

Now, Using the move and scale tool I adjusted the texture with the torso mash.

I had a flat texture so I applied a normal maps to give the texture the 3D view (In the texture tab of the atributte editor, Bump Mapping). In my case, I didn’t see the 3D changes on the torso of the soldier, to solve this problem I had to enable this option (Renderer/High Quality Rendering or Renderer /Viewport 2.0 to visualize the normal maps).

The final result is this:

cracker box tutorial

For this post I am going to write about the main steps that we have to follow to create a textured cracker box. To do it I am using the UV texture Editor.

First of all, I downloaded and unzipped the tutorial files, after this I created a new Maya project selecting UV mapping folder (Set project). Once done this I created the box, following the maya oficial tutorial steps.

I had not any problem to assign the new lambert and to apply the PSD texture of the box material. The result is this.

As the the texture is not appear correctly I have to correct this problem using UV texture editor (select edit UVs/UV texture editor).  To set better the UV projection of cracker box faces I modified some parameters in  automatic mapping options window (Planes-3 Percentage Space-2). Once have done these steps the UV texture editor shows this  appearance.

But, as we can see the textures and the cracker box faces doesn’t match for the texture map, so I had to solve it following the next steps. In the scene view I selected a edge to can identify the corresponding  UV shells  for the box.  After that I selected  “polygons/move and sew  UV edges” to combine two UV shells into one. I repeated the process with each edge of the front.

To finish the tutorial, in the UV texture editor I had to move UVs using  “move tool” and “rotate selected UVs”

Finally, the final result below.


For this entry I am going to write about the topology, focusing in face and body human modeling. In my opinion is extremely important create a correct and a good mesh to modeling a human body part (faces, ears, months …) inasmuch as a good topology is going to permit create later a complex  animation, else we are having a un-natural animation.

Below we can see a bad and good mesh example.

As we can see in the bad example, it shows a poor topology and lacks edges around nose, mouth and eyes.

This is an example of how should we model edges around the face shapes, we should to follow the irregularities and shapes of the object, thereby the direction of the edge and poles will flow in the same direction as the skin or clothes when we animate the character.

The next picture could be a good way to start to build up a head model. In this picture we can observe which is the right place to insert the edges loops, it’s a really good example of how to start a 3d model.


About my own character, I think the parts more difficult to design are hair,ears, eyes, hands and fingers because the level detail is high. These zones are going to need more poles.

At the moment I have no idea what is the best way to build up hair, I am going to try to search some good tutorial about this theme.

To create a good model or a good mesh we should to follow the next tips in terms of topology.

– One of most important issues to build a good model up is create a good mesh with 4-edges vertex (regular) , otherwise if we create triangle or pole (vertex that shares more than 4 edges) later we will have problems with the animation and texturing process, therefore we should to use quad as much as possible and avoid irregular poles.

-Edge loops are very important in our model volume.

– Edges and vertices must be in the accurate place, otherwise later, the deformation is not going to produce correctly, therefore the most important places to implement a good topology are shoulders, mouth corners, cheeks, knees, elbows, hands and fingers.

– We should to add poles and faces where we really have to add it (shapes and silhouette), we should not waste it in unhelpful places, so the key is add more polygons where there’s curvature.

The quality of the model depends on if the designer has followed the tips that I commented before.



Character in steps.

  • The first thing that i am going to do is create two planes where I am going to put the front and side character pictures.

  • In first place I am going to start modelling the head of my character, for do this I am going to insert a sphere (create / NURBS Primitives / Sphere).
  • After that I will  rotate the sphere with rotate tool.

I am going to create a layer for the planes. Later, I will create more layers for the rest of parts of my character. But, I am not going to explain it because the process is the same in each case. To create a layer I have to select the object or objects and then select ” layers / crate layer from selected “.

  • In this step I fit the sphere with the head using “scale tool” and  “move tool”.

  •  To model the head better I should to use “sculpting surfaces tool” but I didn’t know exactly how to do it, and I lost too much time with this problem.
  • To begin with the T-shirt, I am going to create a curve around the body, like we can see in the next image.

  • After that, I used the revolve option (surfaces / revolve).  We can see the result in the next image.

  •  I have already created the character body, but I have to fit the result of the revolve with the background image, for this task I will use “move tool” and “scale tool”.

  • Again I am going to use the revolve technical to create a sleeve, but I will have to create a curve before.

  • In this part of the process I duplicate the sleeve ( edit / duplicate ).

  • For the following creations (legs, neck, arms, hands) I used spheres as above. You can see the process in the following photos.
  • As far as the neck’s concerned I am going to divide it  in two parts. Both parts will start from a sphere.

  • I inserted one isotherm per arm to increase the detail of the elbow.

  • It’s the turn of the pocket of the T-shirt. For this task I am going to use the loft tool. For to do this, I have to draw a curve and duplicate it (edit/duplicate).

  • Once done select shading / Smooth Shade all.
  • Select surfaces / loft.

  • After doing I commented we can see the result in the next picture.
  • To finish the pocket, I am going to fit the pocket with the body using “control vertex” and “move tool”.

  • The final result of my character is this.
  • Click here to download the maya project.

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