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03-14-2013, 03:22 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2013 05:53 AM by probiner.)
Post: #1 The Form
This thread is a replication of the salvage fom Not all posts are replicated, and some were snipped (missing urls, etc). The author and number of the post are in the title of each post. The goal of such thread is to provide easy access to these contents and allow them to be discussed, rather than just observed.

Kudos to vbob and madseeds for the backups.

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03-14-2013, 03:23 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2013 05:55 AM by probiner.)
Post: #2
#1 SomeArtist
There are many methods to modeling and they all have its good and bad so there is no such thing as “The best method”. The reason why I have decided to go down this form path is because it works and plus I've always wanted to become a sculpture. I like to block out things before I jump right into the detailing and I got this far because of it and so I've decided to write this thread to help those that are new to 3d modeling and to show them the map of form before they decided on what they would like to do.

I first started out with the head form and it was very frustrating because I was trying to do it without any references, just pure imagination. Instead of blocking out the form my mind was occupied by these questions:

How many cuts? Why? Where and When? Not only that but I was also worried about the eyes, nose and the mouth (and I'm not even there yet). My mind was blank, unsure of where I was heading until one day I managed to blocked out the basic head from a box and behold, the moment of Eureka! I was very excited and decided to do it again! and again and again until I got bored and tired of it.

[Image: the_form_001.png]

Looking back now it seems so basic and simple. All you need to do is create a box and make a few cuts and tweak!
Now, if it's that simple how come I struggled with it? Shouldn't we all be able to do it without a problem? Well yes if you have the mentality for it but I didn't when I first started. What I've learned now is that when we learn 3d modeling we are not really learning 3d at all! What we are really doing is searching for that “Mentality” so if you're having trouble with something is it not because you don't have the skill or knowledge but because you don't have the required mentalities to do what you're doing. Once you have the mentality your senses will take over and you will do things naturally and so it is the first thing we will try to build – a mentality.


Drawing the profile: Connecting the dots

This is a little exercise to help you build the mentality.
Look at that image for a moment and what we're going to do is draw the profile with points and connect (Connecting the dots). If you have two points to draw with how would you go about it? The answer is: Forehead to Chin because there is no other way. However as you increase more points they not only allow you to shape the profile more accurately but they allow many ways to do it and this leads to styles (Artistic). This is important to keep in mind when you need to make cuts and when you need to round them out. (animal.avi in the zip)

KeyCut and FillCut

At first I had a hard time understanding where I should cut and how many when creating forms so I searched for a metaphor and that metaphor is “animation”. In Animation there is a concept called Keyframes which represent key poses then you have another concept called In-between frames which fill in the rest to complete the sequence. This not only speed things up but made them easier. The more In-between frames (FillCuts) you have the more smooth and accurate the motion will be. Since you are an animator you have the power to control how many inbetween frames there will be, this is similar to slicing polygons in 3D. Drawing a lot of in-between frames and managing them all can be tedious, in 3d moving a lot of points can be tedious.

The idea behind Keycuts is joints. When people block out their forms they start with KeyCuts and they always look blocky. If the software you're using supports bones you can do it now and bend/twist it to see your blocky form in poses. Once you have all the KeyCuts you have two options:

1: Smooth it out
Sometimes I just make KeyCuts and let the subdivision code take care of the Fills. The problem is that it doesn't look realistic.. so what you have to do is use soft-selection and tweak it (reshape it). Sometimes this can save a lot of time(depending on what you're modeling).

2: Fill it manually
Most of the time I prefer to do things manually because I can control the number of Fills and where they should be.

Keep in mind that this Key/Fill concept is not just for creating forms but for detailing your meshs as well. KeyCuts and Sudiv fill is one way of optimizing your mesh (Buttock, Thigh ect..). Also, sometimes a Fill can become a Key and it all
depends on how you look at it. You're an artist so use your judgement. Interestingly enough, this concept also works for Topology/Edgeloop.. [KeyLoop/FillLoop].

The Key and Fill is a very interesting concept because you can apply them to almost anything! The next time you look at a topology wireframe try and find the keyloop because all heads have one. So far from what I've seen there are:
Cloop, Xloop and Eloop topologies (There are much more). More on this in the future and for now let's stay focused on the form.

NOTE: If you're unsure of how many cuts to make for your model have a look at my blog.


This is the most common mistake that beginners make. They make KeyCuts and then Fill in by slicing it and just leave it there... If you do not round out your Fills then the result will look squarish later and you will have a hard time making it looks good. Every times you make a Fill round it out right away and you do not need to be perfect in doing it.

Following the Flow

Another common mistake is not following the flow of the subject. Remember that this is organic modeling so try to think rganically. When you block out things like tail or body that bend try and imagine bending a Cylinder.

Fear, Rush an Doubt

This is more of a mental state problem when you first started out. When you're doing anything for the first time you will always experience great difficulties. The thing is that you must not give up because everyone goes through it. It's rare to find someone who come forth and talk about how they suffered so my advice is: Take it easy and slowed down there is no need to rush. Try and spend about 1 or two months playing with forms and start with a subject that allows you to make mistakes like creatures and just practice. If it sucks delete it and start all over.

At first you will do things a bit slow and as you do it many times it will speed up since you've done it before and this is the reason why we practices, to get better and faster. Also, there is something very funny when you create form for the first time and that is the “overall look”. Take human figure for example, let's say you started with the torso and extruded outward. If you don't have the leg and arm/head yet the whole thing will looks funny. For it to looks like “human” you must have all the parts in place so don't be turned off by the horrible result (not having all the parts). You just need to extrude all the parts and tweak them into the right places then it will starts to look like a human figure.

Doing it

The Subject

First let's talk about the subject.

If you're into characters modeling obviously you will start with the head and work downward. The general head the body and then the hands and feet. Over a few weeks you will find the head to be the easiest because it's just one block right in front of you and all you need to do is zoom in and out. The body will get a little difficult since it requires that you rotate/zoom the model and people who are new to 3d are not used to doing all the spinning/rotating and zooming. To avoid headaches try and use references and once you got a hang of doing it try doing it from memory. Creating the hand form from memory for the first time is tough so it's best to practice it with references then do it from memory later. The reason for doing it from memory is to see if your sense on the hand form or whatever that you're creating has improved. As of this writing I can only block out the head and body, I haven't got to the hands yet and it's something I will practice later down the road.

If you're into creatures modeling it's the same thing. Start with the head then the body and work outward. Don't limit yourself by practicing just one you can jump back and forth between the two like I did.

Here is a zip that contains 3 AVIs (xvid requires) just to give you an idea. I'll do lengthy timelapses in the future when
my computer can handle it. [ File is missing, anyone ? =( ]


[Image: the_form_002.png]

Before you go on extruding areas like the arm and leg keep in mind that there are only two ways to do it and this has to do with how you shape the corner. Method A is faster but soon or later you'll ended up with B (You can convert A to B via a method called UnPolling), also notice the flow (red line). For realistic human arm I've seen a lot of method A while B is for non-realistic like cartoons ect... If you're too lazy to rotate each time you extruded then use method A but it doesn't really matter that much since you can convert between the two down the road.

And that concludes the first part of this thread. For now if I had you confused you can ask questions.
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03-14-2013, 05:25 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2013 05:57 AM by probiner.)
Post: #3
#11 SomeArtist
Micro Extruding

Once you're done with your overall form (Macro Extrudes) you will then start to work on smaller areas like fingers and toes. Without any prior knowledge you will do the obvious and that is select a face and extrude, very simple. Once you have your first finger you'll do another one and again, the same step.

Then later you'll learn that there is a problem... and this is your first encounter with 6 edges Poles (red dot) and poles in general. Not only that but it doesn't look right and you know it because you've seen many others' WIP. The solution to this is not to extrude two faces that are next to each other. Before you extrude separate them and you can do this with bevel (select that entire line and bevel it) or just Loop and connect and slide it together (manually).


[Image: the_form_010.png]

The problem with separating two faces like this is that other areas that don't need details ended up having details (extra faces). So now you are forced to get into Local detailing and since we're talking about FORMs I've decided not to go in-depth with local detailing because then I will have to go off-topic and the thread will be lengthy (in pictures). If you're eager to know visit my Journey thread at Winsg3D forum where I talked about it in-depth.

For now I've attached a zip: [ File is missing, anyone? =( ]
Separate.avi: In this avi I demostrate two ways of separating.
1: Globally
2: Locally (Leave it as Ngons or turn it into Triangles – there is no right or wrong at this state)

BevelSeparate.avi: In this avi I demostrate how you can solve it AFTER you extruded.

NOTE: Sometimes it's ok to extrude two faces that are next to each other without separating them first. It all depends on what you're modeling and whether you care about the 6 edges poles or not so keep this in mind. Also this separating applies to all, not just fingers and toes.

Something to think about

When you are blocking out your form you should block out all parts (leg, arm, head, ect..), don't do it after you have a medium/heavy mesh because it's hard to manage. Here's another beautiful example from Glen and notice how he blocked it all out before he jumped right into detailing.

[Image: the_form_009.png]

A: It's easy to block out leg/arm during a blocky form state because you only need to select one FACE to do the extrusion. The thing about this one face extrude is that the face is “Flat” and that makes it easy to shape the leg/arm since you can move that one face easily with the “Extrude Normal” command.

B: The problem with extruding in a state like this is that you will ask yourself how many faces to select (if you're new).
Another problem is that you can't use the “Extrude Normal” without flattened it first because if you do you'll get something like this:

[Image: the_form_008.png]

Another solution is to use the “Extrude Free” but you have to switch to ortho view according to the axis that you want.
Not a good idea to Extrude Free in perspective (unless you rotate the viewport as you do it).

[Image: the_form_007.png]

Number of Faces

[Image: the_form_006.png]

This might seems obvious to a lot of you but I remember when I first started out I was confused to the number of faces I should selected for the extrusion. I now see that for beginners it's good to follow the square because it will saves you time and headache later. I generally go for one face or four depending on the condition of my mesh (whether it's blocky or not).

[Image: the_form_006.png]

These two images should give you an idea on the number of faces. Once you become experienced there are no rules you just do what you feel right. There is much more to be said for this section but I have decided to leave it out (The Organic Plane concept) since we're talking about FORMs and not detailing.


If you model creatures body without references then you can ignore this Alignment issue since you're creating it out of your imagination. However when you model it against a backdrop image then you will wonder how to match the reference.

[Image: the_form_005.png]

I'll be brief with this part since it's self-explanatory. During your early form state things need not be accurate so just approximate them (whether it's 1 face or 4 faces extrusion). Later on you can add in more cuts and you can be accurate about it. Same with extruding the leg/arm for the FrontView.

This concludes the second part and I've left out a few things because it's not the right time to talk about it yet (I might bring it up at the end of this thread).
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