Finishing the Head

The rest of the head is easy. It's just a few primitives that are sliced, manipulated, and attached. For the helmet, create a Capsule primitive from the Extended Primitives section in the Create panel, and convert it to Editable Poly. Remove one end of it, and in Vertex Edit mode, select all vertices around the bottom edge and scale them up to match the shape of the helmet in the sketches. With the vertices still selected, you can flare them by scaling the selection outward a bit.

In Figure 3.39, I went around the helmet and moved some of the vertices up and down to make the edge of the helmet curved. (I also went to some Army depots online and used pictures of helmets as a reference.) When you're satisfied with the shape of the helmet, close it up with a Cap Holes modifier.

In Aliens, the helmets that the marines wore had a neck protection flap that extended from the back side of the helmet. I created this by selecting some polygons at the back, extruding them down, and then shaping them. This is also visible in Figure 3.39. Don't worry about a chinstrap for the helmet at this time; we'll add faux detail for this in Chapter 6, "Skin Texturing with Photoshop CS2."

The front of the helmet has an infrared eyepiece that drops down from the helmet. Create this by extruding one or two polygons from the edge of the helmet downward and adjusting the end vertices to shape it (see Figure 3.40).

The earpieces are just Sphere primitives that are cut in half, scaled flat along the X-axis, and attached to the helmet where the ears of the character would be. If you look to the left earpiece, I've extruded a single polygon several times, bending each extrusion around to the mouth to create a microphone. After you apply a Smooth modifier, this will look great and have a low polygon count.

Figure 3.39 Create a helmet using a Capsule primitive. Remove the bottom of the capsule and shape the helmet using the sketches as a reference.
Figure 3.40 Finish the head by adding an infrared eyepiece to the front of the helmet, earpieces on both sides with a microphone, and a helmet camera. You can attach these new objects to the face, leaving the eyes unattached for animation. Extrude polygons from the head to form a neck.

Now create a helmet camera as in Aliens by using another Capsule primitive with one end chopped off and capped. I've attached mine to the helmet after I scaled and rotated it at a slight downward angle.

The bottom of the head has a large hole where the neck needs to attach. I manually capped this hole by creating polygons in Polygon Edit mode. (Simply adding a Cap Holes modifier would create awkward geometry.) Then I selected all these new polygons and extruded them several times, scaling and rotating each extrusion, thus shaping the neck. This completes the head. At this point, you can attach everything that constitutes the head except for the eyes. The eyes need to be free for movement and will be controlled by bones separate from the biped skeleton. (See Chapter 7, "Rigging a Character with Biped in 3ds Max.") Add a Smooth modifier to preview your work.

Finalize the head by adding a Reset Xform modifier from the Tools panel and collapsing the stack. (You might also want to add a Reset Xform modifier to the upper and lower body.) In your scene, you should now have five components dictating your model: the head, two eyes, upper body parts, and lower body parts. This will complete the model. However, don't attach everything until Chapter 7 because you'll be optimizing and texturing individual components in the next few chapters. Figure 3.41 shows the Hicks character at the completion of this chapter.

Note

After I completed my model, I attached everything to make a single mesh entity so that I could view the overall polygon count. If you do this, right-click the mesh and choose Properties from the quad menu. On the top left is the number of faces contained in the mesh. With the mesh still an Editable Poly object, you should have something in the ballpark of 5,000-7,000 polygons. However, this is not the true face count. Right-click the Editable Poly object in the Modifier panel and convert it to Editable Mesh. Go back to the Properties screen, and the face count should be double that amount. Mine came out to about 11,500 polygons, as predicted, but will be reduced by about 50 percent when we optimize the model and apply a MultiRes modifier.

Figure 3.41 The completed Hicks model consisting of five components: the head, two eyes, upper body parts, and lower body parts.

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