Tutorial 1 - 3ds Max Modelling Tutorial
Here I will teach you a modelling technique that has
always served me well and you can use to create nice game characters.
A Character Template
This is a character a work collegue of mine drew for a 2d game. I have done my
best to create a front image of the character(See Figure 3.) because the modelling
technique used in this tutorial is much easier if you use a front image.
If you want to use this character as a template then right click the image
and Save Target As or Save Image As (in Chrome) to save it to your
Note: You can use any sprite similar to the one above for this tutorial, it doesn't have to be that one; Just
make sure it is a front view of a character.
Start a new Project
Open 3ds Max.
Select "Plane" under "Standard Primitives" and click and drag in the Front viewport to
create a new plane of any size.
Open the Material Editor and select one of the Material Slots. Click the box next to Diffuse and Double-Click Bitmap
Navigate to the sprite e.g. barbarian_front.png and click Open
Make sure the Plane is selected and click Assign Material To Selection.
Click Show Shaded Material in Viewport
Switch to Shaded view in the front viewport.
In the Parameters Roll-out for the Plane, set the width and height to the dimensions of the
.png image e.g. 64x64 pixels.
Now the image is the right size on the plane, so it is not for example stretched too much wide or high.
Note: The Pan tool(See Figure 11) is very useful for panning a view. When you select the pan option, you can click and drag in any of the
four views and move them around. Try it out to get used to it because you will need it.
Select the Scale modifier and scale the plane up a bit so it is bigger.
This let's us see the image a bit better so we can model around it.
Note: The Scale tool is very useful when working with vertices; If you need to scale a selection
of vertices then you can use the scale tool.
Save the project. I've named it "barbarian_front.max".
Now we are going to create the 3d character.
We will start by modelling the head.
Zoom in on the head(in Front view) using the Zoom tool (See Figure 15).
Pan the view if you need to.
Create a plane on the chin. Make it quite small because this will be the tip of the chin.
Set Length Segs to 1 and Width Segs to 1.
Add an Edit Mesh Modifier to the plane.
Now. Zoom in a bit more.
Switch to Vertex Mode.
We are going to create the chin and mouth and gradually create the whole face. First we will model one half
of the head and then copy it to get the other half. Since heads are usually quite symmetrical this works
pretty well for game characters.
Drag a box around the bottom two vertices and use the "Move" tool to drag them to
the centre of the chin. To move them just click the yellow box(see Figure 20.) and drag.
Go to Edge Mode and select the top edge.
Drag the edge up a bit(Move) so it is in line with the top of the chin and the bottom of the mouth. (Note: You can use the X and Y sliders to give you more control.)
Hold down the Shift key and click and drag the Y-slider(See Figure 22.) up to create part of the charater's bottom lip.
This creates a new edge
We will continue using this Shift+drag process to create the distinctive parts of the face. Remember that this is Front view we are working in
so all these edges are completely flat. In other words we have not given the chin any depth and it is a completely flat chin. Later we will
make the chin round by dragging the vertices outward.
I will demonstrate what I mean by example.
Create some more edges till you get something like this:
Go back into vertex mode and re-position the vertex on the left:
Create another edge:
Now we will weld three vertices together.
Go into Vertex Mode and select the three vertices we want to join:
Scroll the panel on the right down until you see Weld:
Enter a large number in the box:
Click Selected and the vertices will be welded together.
Now you can continue creating edges and use the Move, Scale, Pan, Zoom and Weld tools to create all the distinctive parts of
Note: You can select multiple edges and vertices by holding down CTRL+click edge or vertex
Note: You can de-select edges/vetrices by holding down ALT+click edge or vertex
Note: You may also find it useful to make the model you are working with wireframe: Right-Click and select Object Properties, Click
Soon you will end up with something like the following:
Still the face is completely flat so we need to give it a 3rd dimension.
Start by selecting one or a few vertices that you want to make 3d(See Figure 30); I have
selected part of the chin:
Now in the left viewport pull the vertices out using the X-Slider:
Do the same thing for the other vertices until it looks right. You have to guess
a bit how much you need to pull each vertex outward. Pay attention to the light
areas and shadows on the character's face; You can use the light and shadowing
to determine how much you need to pull each vertex out in the left viewport.
Note: You may also find it useful to work with vertices in the Perspective viewport.
Once you are done, you might get something that looks a bit like this:
You can create triangles and polygons by going into Polygon Mode and select Create:
Then to create a triangle for example select 3 vertices, double-click
the third vertex you select, and a triangle
will be created (See Figure 34):
Hopefully you know enough now to model the left side of the character's head.
Note: You only have to model one half of the character. The other half will be a copy of that.
Eventually you might get something like this:
I created the hood using the same edge-creation technique but I created a new
plane to start creating the hood.
To make the curves of the hood I mostly made
new edges from multiple selected edges and used the Scale Tool for example:
For the head I had to guess what the back of the character might look like
to model the back of the head.
Modelling the Body
I have started creating the body from the neck of the character. Notice that I have made quite
a number of edges around the thigh (See Figure 37). More edges means it is easier to make a round leg.
After about 10 or so hours this is the resulting left half of the character's body:
Creating the other Half
Select the character and click mirror (See Figure 40):
Select Copy and click OK
Position the new half using the X-Slider in front view so it is correct, so the two halves meet at the centre.
Do the same for the hood and the arm band.
Joining the two halves
Select one of the two halves of the body and click Attach
Then select the other half to join them into one mesh.
Now you are ready to join the middle vertices.
Go into Vertex Mode and select all the middle vertices(See Figure 44):
Set the Weld Threshhold to something small. We want it to be small so that
only vertices close together, the middle ones, will be welded together. You may
need to experiment with this value.
Fixing Invisible Polygons
If you go into Polygon Mode and select all the polygons CTRL+A, if any of them
are dark then select the dark ones and click Flip(See Figure 46) to flip the normals(direction
they are facing).
Texturing the Character
Select the character in front view and open the Material Editor
Assign the existing material to the character model.
Make sure Show Shaded Material In Viewport is selected.
Close the Material Editor.
Add an Unwrap UVW modifier to the character mesh.
Select Polygon Under the Unwrap UVW options and Hold down CTRL+A to select all the polygons.
Scroll down in the panel and select Planar Map and then View Align (See Figure 50)
Note: Make sure you are in Front view when you do this, otherwise View Align will use a different projection.
Now scroll up and select Open UV Editor
In the UV Editor, click and hold the Scale Icon and select the horizontal scaling icon(See Figure 52).
Click and drag in the red and notice in the Front Viewport the image on the model changes while
you scale the red texture coordinates.
Use the Move and Scale tools in the UV Editor to position the texture until it
looks roughly right in the front viewport. You can unselect the red polygons by clicking in the Front viewport
and re-select them by pressing CTRL+A in the UV Editor
Hopefully you will get something like Figure 53.
Now we need to fix the areas that don't look right.
In the front viewport select the polygons on the leg that aren't textured correctly(See Figure 54).
Note: Make sure the UV Editor is still open
Now you need to use the Move and Scale tools again in the UV Editor just like you did before
but this time not for the whole model, just for the polygons that you have selected. Try to make the texture look
right. You can zoom in in the front view to get a better view of the texturing. I find CTRL+Z
is very useful here to de-select and return to what you have selected.
See the difference in the legs:
Now if you've followed the steps up until now you should be able to finish your character texturing by
yourself. In order to make the character complete, continue to use this method of texturing until
you have fixed all the polygons that need to be modified.
To make the hands the right colour I used the body of the barbarian like the following:
This is the result I got for the front of the barbarian:
To do the back, you can either create/use an existing image of the
back of the character or do what I did with the hand and estimate the colours.
I'm not aware of another way to do it but vertex colouring might be something
you can look into.
Here's the finished barbarian ready for animating: