Repairing, Adjusting, and Optimizing

When you are finished modeling a character, you must fix and finalize it so that it can be properly UV mapped for the texturing process, properly animated without invalid mesh deformations, and work properly in a game without producing game engine errors. On first pass, you will analyze the character mesh for holes—that is, places on the model where faces are not connected with other edges. This will cause render problems within the game engine and in some cases will cause the engine to bail out completely from gameplay. Fixing these holes is a matter of creating new edges to link the faces. 3ds Max has STL Check and Patch Holes modifiers that help automate repair of your mesh.

Another step in the character creation process is UV mapping—preparing your model for texturing. Before UV mapping, it is good practice to model your character with mapping in mind to make the UV unwrapping process easier, as I will explain in Chapter 5, "UV Mapping the Character in 3ds

Max." Here we'll dissect the mesh into body parts and lay them out flat so that we can texture them in Photoshop. Having the polygons of the mesh nice and even at the seams of the model will make the UV mapping process easy. You'll also check your mesh for crossed vertices. When two vertices are crossed, their edges that link them to other vertices overlap one another. This means that if a texture were wrapped around the character mesh, the crossed areas would distort the texture. Repairing crossed vertices is a matter of moving them to their proper positions in 3D space.

Lastly, optimizing the mesh helps reduce the overall face count of the model. We'll do so by welding together superfluous vertices and deleting any stray ones. Also, certain areas of the mesh need to have their polygon counts increased somewhat to allow for smoother deformations, such as bending limbs. These areas are the knees, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck, and particularly the face (for smooth lip-syncing movements).

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