Shaping the Pants (Lower Body)

The pants are baggy in keeping with military style. They also include shin and knee guards, like the marines in Aliens. A leg is basically a slowly extruded cylinder primitive all the way up to the torso. After you've tweaked one entire leg, you apply a Symmetry modifier, making a mirror copy of it.


The boot and pants, which constitute the lower body, will be a single mesh entity with its own UV, texture, and normal maps.

1. Because the pants have shin guards going all the way down to the laces of the boot, they are wider. In Figure 3.5, I rotated the boot to conform to the image and then added a Cylinder primitive. I then scaled and rotated the Cylinder primitive into position and I extruded the top face over and over, adjusting each extrusion to generally conform to the sketches. Some people prefer to make one long cylinder with many segments and then adjust each segment, but I prefer to extrude and move each segment into place before continuing.

2. Continue to extrude the top face of the leg up to the waist. Try to scale and rotate each extrusion to conform to the shape of the sketch (see Figure 3.6).

If you're lacking detail along the length of the leg in one area, select an edge. Then, while holding down Ctrl, click on the Ring spinner, which is located in the Command Panel. This selects all parallel edges around the character. Then click the Connect button to add a new edge that runs perpendicular to the selected rings of edges. To adjust an individual segment, enter Edge Edit mode, select an edge, and click Ring in the Modify panel.This selects the entire segment, which you can move, scale, and rotate.

Figure 3.6 Continue extruding the top face of the leg up to the waist.

3. The base portion of the right leg is finished. Now it's time to manipulate polygons, edges, and vertices. This book isn't big enough for me to show you all the steps I took to do this, but it's not difficult—just time consuming! Take a look at the side and front of the leg in Figure 3.7. To make shapes like the shin guards and pockets, I manipulated individual vertices, while extruding certain faces. For instance, for the shin and knee guard, I selected polygons on the front of the leg to cover what will be the guard. Then I carefully extruded them.

Finally, in Vertex mode, I slowly moved them to create the shape I wanted. I did the same for the pockets. (Remember that the completed model is on the CD-ROM in the Chapter 3 folder if you need a better visual reference.)

4. Next, we'll use the Symmetry modifier to the existing leg to create a duplicate. There's more detail that we could add, such as the belt and front pockets, but the Symmetry modifier can be tricky in the sense that the front (groin) area of the resultant operation is somewhat deformed and would affect further modeling performed near that area.

This modifier works by taking on an object and merging it with an identical copy. It's sort of magnetic because as you move the copy further toward the original, the polygons try to attach themselves from one part to the other in a magnetic way. I've found that it's best to set up your model in preparation for this modifier by offering your new leg a flat area in the inseam so that things attach nicely.

Try this. Use the Slice modifier to chop off the inseam of your leg (see Figure 3.8). Expand this modifier, rotate and position the slice plane (turn on Angle Snap Toggle on the top toolbar so that you can rotate it to 90 degrees) like I've done, and select Remove Top. This creates a surface that mates nicely with the mirrored leg. I also used the Slice modifier for the top of the leg to make it flat.

Figure 3.7 Take your time manipulating the leg mesh at the subobject level. This means moving around edges and vertices and extruding polygons to create those emerging shapes.

5. Now it's time for the Symmetry modifier. First—and most importantly—go to the Tools panel and perform a Reset Xform; otherwise, the Symmetry modifier will perform its operation based on the leg's intrinsic alignment. After you've applied it, you can collapse the Modifier stack by right-clicking it and selecting Collapse All. Now, with the leg selected, add a Symmetry modifier. In this modifier's rollout, click the X-axis, and check Flip. Expand the modifier and select Mirror. This allows you to move the mirror horizontally. When the duplicate leg is in position, right at the seam, you can collapse this modifier (see Figure 3.9). Note that if you adjust the Threshold command to something like 0.02, you'll have better results.


Collapsing the Modifier stack is something you should do only if you feel you don't need to go back to any one point in the stack to make changes to your model. I tend to collapse the stack frequently, but this is bad practice. The stack is named as such for just that reason: to enable the user to revert to previously applied modifiers and fix issues on a model.

Figure 3.8 Use the Slice modifier to create a clean flat area at the inside of the waist so that the Symmetry modifier won't have problems.

Figure 3.9 The Symmetry modifier applied to the leg.

Figure 3.8 Use the Slice modifier to create a clean flat area at the inside of the waist so that the Symmetry modifier won't have problems.

Figure 3.9 The Symmetry modifier applied to the leg.

3ds Max Groin Area
Figure 3.10 Fix the groin and buttocks area of the model so that they flow naturally.

6. The Symmetry modifier left some unusual creases in the groin and buttocks, so go ahead and manipulate those areas at the vertex level. You might have to add vertices and edges to create more definition with the Cut tool. I've added a bulge in the front, because the marines in Aliens have a special guard for that area.


In dealing with areas that will have extreme flexible movement (such as the crotch, knees, and armpits), you must have higher polygon detail to avoid kinks when the model moves. As you animate and notice these issues, know that they're not a big deal. Just go back and add the necessary detail.

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