Building Thor's Hammer in Maya - Part 1
In this two part tutorial, Chandan Kumar will show you how to model, uv map, texture, light and render Thor’s hammer in Maya. In the first part of the tutorial, Chandan will explain how to model the hammer from scratch using various poly modeling tools and techniques.
1. Modeling the Head
First of all, we need some references of the hammer. Therefore, I have gathered some images of the hammer prop from the movie 'Avengers', which you can download above. So, let’s start making the hammer.
Open Maya and first of all, set a project folder. Now make sure you have selected Polygons in both the shelf menu bar, and in the main menu bar.
In the Front view, click on the Box primitive from the polygon shelf and then create a rectangular box in the viewport.
Now go to the Perspective view and select all four corner edges. You can turn on Wireframe mode by pressing 4, and Shaded mode by pressing 5 on the keyboard.
Now go to Edit Mesh > Bevel, and click on the option box.
This opens the Bevel Options window. Change the settings to the ones shown in the image below, and then click on the Bevel button, and the bevel options window will automatically close.
See the effect of the Bevel on the edges.
Now press F11 to jump into Face selection mode, and then select the two side faces on each end.
Go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, or you can pick this option from the Polygon shelf.
Extrude these two faces and then Scale them inwards with the help of the Scale tool.
Now Extrude both faces outwards according to the reference images of the hammer. Keep observing the reference images at all times, as it will give you the proper input to model the hammer correctly. After extruding the faces, Scale them inwards as shown.
Now go to the Side view and adjust the corners of the extruded part, which we extruded in the last step.
Press F9 to jump into Vertex selection mode and select the corner vertices one by one. Scale them down to make the corners smaller in accordance to the reference images of the hammer.
Once the scaling task is done, go to the Side view and match all the corners to each other.
Before we move ahead, we have to close the open loops. So,go to Edit Mesh > Split Polygon Tool, and close the open edge loops as you can see in the images.
Only close the two open edges vertically, because we need to have four sided polygons (quads.)
Now we will add some extra edge loops, so we can later extrude the sections where we will design the engraved snakes. So go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool and insert some edge loops along the corners, as shown in the image below.
Insert the edge loops on all four sides of the hammer.
Now select and Extrude the faces of the hammer where we will later place the snake design. With the faces selected, go to Edit Mesh > Extrude and then move the faces a bit downwards using the Move tool.
2. Modeling the Handle
Now we are going to make the handle of the hammer. So create a new Cylinder in the Top viewport.
Look at the reference images. On the handle, there are metal like rings. So first we’ll create these rings by going to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and inserting several edge loops as shown in the image below.
Press F11 to jump into Face selection mode and then select the faces between these two edge loops. Then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude and Extrude these faces outwards.
Now go to the Top view and select the two faces, as shown in the image below.
After that, go to the Perspective view and move them downward as shown in the image.
Select all the faces of the extruded parts and then go to Mesh > Extract.
After extracting the strip of faces, if you select the extracted part, you’ll find that the pivot of the strip is quite far away from it. In this situation, what you need to do is to move the pivot to the center of the extracted part.
So, with the strip selected, go to the Modify menu and click on the Center Pivot option.
Now the pivot will be located at the center of the strip.
Now select the strip and move it downward. You will notice that there are no faces underneath it, because we just extract the faces from there. So we need to fill that space. Select both the border edges by double clicking on them.
Now go to Edit Mesh > Bridge and click on the Bridge option. In this way the deleted space will be filled.
Now Delete the created edge loops, as we don’t need them anymore. Select both edge loops and then press and hold Shift + Right, and then pick the Delete Edges command from the menu.
Now we will make several duplicate strips and distribute them evenly on the handle.
So with the strip selected, go to Edit > Duplicate Special and click on the option box.
This opens the Duplicate Special options window. Keep the same settings as you see in the image, but enter a value of 9 in the Number of Copies field.
Now distribute the duplicated strips over the handle as shown in the image. You will notice that the handle of the hammer is looking a bit too long.
So, press F9 to jump into the Vertex selection mode and then select the base vertices, as shown in the image and move them upward.
In the Front view, add three edge loops around the joint of the handle. To insert the edge loops, go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool.
Now select the faces shown in the image below, and then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, and Extrude them outwards.
Now add two more edge loops to the top of the extruded part.
Press F10 to jump into Edge selection mode, and select the edge loops one by one, by double click on them. Scale them down a bit to give it somewhat of a tapered shape.
Do the same with the lower extruded part too.
3. Modeling the Handle's Cap
Now let’s make the cap of the handle. Create a new Cylinder in the Top view.
Then go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool to insert three edge loops.
Then select the edge loops and Scale them down to get a similar shape, to the one shown in the image below.
In the Front view, create another new Box.
Go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and Insert two edge loops horizontally.
After inserting the edges, go to the Side view and lean this box towards the handle cap by moving the vertices, as shown in the image below.
First make the top a little narrower. Then select the top vertices and then the bottom vertices, and move them according to the handle cap. Also adjust the shape of the box to match the image below.
Make a duplicate of this shape for the opposite side. So with the box selected, go to the Edit menu and click the Duplicate Special option box. Here choose the Instance option and set the Z-axis to -1.0000. Whenever you want to duplicate an object to the opposite side, just set it's Axis Scale value to -1.0000, instead of 1.0000.
While in the Front view, press F9 to jump into Vertex selection mode. Then select the upper vertices and Scale them to reduce the upper width.
Now select the three objects shown below, and press Shift + I to isolate the selection. By isolating the selection, only the selected objects will be visible and others will be invisible, so you can work on them easily.
Select the faces as shown in the image, and then Delete them.
Now go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and insert supporting edges wherever you want to maintain hard corners.
Press 3 to check the handle cap in Smooth shade mode. Because we later need to modify the side objects according to the handle cap’s roundness (which are attached to the handle cap.)
So, insert three more edge loops and modify the shape according to the handle cap.
Now insert supporting edges to the objects as you can see in the image below. We will add supporting edges later to the other parts of hammer.
Now we’ll create the leather strap and the space in the handle cap, where the leather strap would be connected. Go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool again, and insert two edge loops on the lower part of the cap.
With the two middle faces selected, go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, and Extrude them inside. Do same for the opposite side of the handle’s cap.
Now, go to the Side view and select the two vertices shown.
Then using the Scale tool, Scale them horizontally to straighten the edges as shown in the image below.
4. Modeling the Strap and Refining the Handle
Now, we’ll model the leather strap. Create a new Box and fit it inside the created space for the leather strap, as shown in the image below. You can modify the vertices of the box according to the slant of the handle.
With the outer face of the box selected, go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, and keep Extruding to form it into a strap like shape, according to the image shown below.
Once done, it will look something like this.
With the handle’s cap selected, press Shift+ I to isolate it and hide rest of the objects. Then press 3 on the keyboard to check it's smoothness. You will notice four small sharp corners, this is because the edges are quite close together. So we'll have to fix this problem.
Select the edge as shown in the image. Then go to Edit Mesh > Slide Edge Tool and slide the edge one along the side to the middle, with the help of middle mouse button.
After selecting the edge, go to the Top view and move it outwards to make a round shape. Also press 3 to make it smooth, so that you have an idea whether the shape is round or not. Now, move the other edges one by one. You can see that the roundness of the handle cap is not perfect. So, we'll have to adjust the rest of the edges as well.
Now, select and move the other edges to get a round shape, as shown in the image below.
To exit the isolated selection, deselect the handle and again press Shift+I, or go to Show > Isolate Select > View Selected and uncheck the option box.
Now, select the handle and isolate the selection.
Select the top and bottom faces and then Delete them, because we don’t need them anymore.
Now, go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and insert supporting edges on the handle as shown in the image.
Now exit isolation mode. This time select the handle, with the handle cap and then isolate the selection. Press 3 to check them in Smooth shaded mode. Since we had moved the handle cap’s vertices earlier, the cap’s size has increased. Look at both the left side and right side. On the right side, there's a slight gap between the handle and handle’s cap.
Pick the Scale tool and adjust the shape of the handle’s cap. First Scale it a little bit on the Z-axis, and then on the X-axis.
Now move the two side objects outward a bit, which are leaning on the handle’s cap.
After that, Scale the leather strap according to the handle’s cap.
5. Refining the Head
Now come back to the hammer’s head. As you can see, it’s looking a bit bigger than the handle. So Scale it down a little bit as well.
Now go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and insert an edge loop vertically on each side of the hammer's head.
Now insert two more edge loops horizontally on each side of the bottom.
In the Perspective view, select the three bottom faces in the middle.
Then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, and Extrude them inwards.
Delete the selected face from both sides. Check the reference of the hammer and observe this part.
Delete this face one also.
Insert an edge loop on both sides.
Now select a vertex and move it forward to the other vertex as shown in the image. Then select both the vertices and then go to Edit Mesh > Merge and Merge both vertices together. In this image, I’m merging the left side vertices. We have to do same for the opposite side as well.
Now select the border by double clicking on one of it's edges.
To fill this empty space, go to Mesh > Fill Hole, and the empty space will be filled with a new poly face. Do this for both sides of the hammer.
Now go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool and insert an edge loop as shown in the image below.
With the two faces selected, go to Edit Mesh > Extrude and Extrude them inward.
From the Front view, insert an edge loop horizontally. Actually we needed two, but one is already there. Go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool and insert and edge loop as shown in the image below.
Again from the Front view, insert two edge loops.
Now, press F9 to jump into Vertex selection mode and select the four vertices shown. Remember, we need to make these details on both sides of the hammer. Here I’m only showing you one side.
With the help of the Move tool, move these vertices upward.
After that select the upper vertices, and adjust them as shown in the image.
Now select the faces shown in the image below.
Jump into the Perspective view and then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude, and Extrude the selected faces inwards as you can see in the image below.
Look at the side of these extrude faces, they are overlapping here.
So, select the overlapping faces and Delete them.
After deleting the faces, select an edge and move it downward. As you can see in the image below.
Press F9 to jump into Vertex selection mode and then select both the corner vertices. Then go to Edit Mesh > Merge and click on the Merge option, to merge the selected vertices together.
This is how it should look after the vertices are merged together. Do this on the other side of the hammer as well.
Now, it’s time to work on the top of the hammer. So, go to the Top view and create a new Cylinder.
Jump in the Perspective view. Here you can see the exact height of the cylinder and it's placement.
6. Creating the Snake Design
We are almost done modeling the hammer, except for the snake design on each side. So now we are going to model the snake design by observing the original reference images of the hammer. I think the best way to model the snake design is by using Curves. So, let’s see how we can model the snake design with the Curve tool.
Starting in the Side view, first of all change the menu from polygon, to Surface (in the main menu bar.) Also change the shelf menu from Polygon, to Curves.
Pick the EP Curve tool from the curve shelf menu.
Now start making the curve according to the snake design of the hammer.
Making curves is just like working with the Pen tool in Photoshop, but when you need to close it. First press and hold C, and then drag the curve onto the other end of the curve. Don’t worry if you make the wrong shape, as we can always fix it later.
To fix/change the shape of the curve that you made, just Right Click > Choose Control Vertex.
This enables the control vertices, which you can move according to your desired shape curve.
Since this is a curve, not a poly surface. We need to fill it with a surface, so first we will fill it with the Surface tool and then we’ll convert it into a poly mesh. So with the curve shape selected, go to Surfaces > Planar and click on the Planar option box.
It fills the curve shape with a surface.
Now, we will convert it into poly mesh. With the surface selected, go to Modify > Convert > NURBS to Polygons, and click on the option box.
This opens the NURBS to Polygons option window. Keep the settings as shown in the image below. You can increase or decrease the mesh level by changing the values of the Number U and Number V parameters. You can increase or decrease the level according to your needs.
Click on the Apply button and close the window. Now you can see that the NURBS converted into a polygon mesh.
Now select the poly mesh and move it downwards.
And then select the curve and NURBS surface and Delete them, because now we don’t need them anymore.
Look at the poly mesh; it’s not a perfect mesh. You can see that the edge loops are not complete and are also uneven. We won’t work on this poly object, because it will give us too much trouble when we unwrap it. So press F11 to jump into Edge selection mode and then select and Delete the inside edges by pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.
Once done, change the menu bar from Surface, to Polygon. Jump in the Perspective view now and then select the border edges of this poly surface.
Then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude and Extrude the border.
So with these steps, you can model the snake design element perfectly. But you will have model the complete design. So following the same process, complete the other style elements of the snake design for the hammer, as shown in the image below.
Now we have to place this design onto the hammer. First of all, place this one on the right side of the hammer like so.
We need some copies of it. Therefore go to Edit > Duplicate Special, and click on the option box. This opens the Duplicate Special options window. Here, set the geometry type as Instance and also set the Scale value to -1.0000, as you want the copy in the opposite direction.
See the image below. Following this process, place the snake designs on all sides of the hammer.
The hammer of THOR is now ready. Just one thing is left. We have to add supporting edges to the hammer where we want to maintain sharp corners, after applying smoothing.
7. Final Adjustments
So, go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool, and then insert several supporting edges as you can see in the images below.
Add supporting edges to the hammer handle rings also. You will notice, if we add supporting edges to the main ring, all the other rings will be updated with the same supported edges automatically. This is because we made the duplicates Instances. This is the main benefit of making duplicates as instances. Just make changes to one, and the others will automatically be updated.
Look at this extruded part after pressing 3 on the keyboard, to check it in Smooth shade mode. We need to make some changes there.
Go to Edit Mesh > Split Polygon Tool, and then create four cuts around the corners as shown in the image below.
After that, Delete these selected edges.
Then insert an edge at both sides of the handle’s cap, as shown in the image below.
Now you can insert a supporting edge quite easily.
Before applying smoothing, select all the parts of the hammer and press Shift + Alt + D to delete the history. This is important because it reduces the file size. Now you can apply smoothing to the whole hammer, but remember, don’t apply smoothing to the snake design. Go to Mesh > Smooth, and just click on the smooth. Turn off the Keep Borders option, and increase the divisions according to your desires.
Now the hammer is completely ready and this is the final result. In the next part of the tutorial, we will Unwrap, Texture, Light and Composite the hammer.