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Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 1

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we're kicking off a brand new tutorial series covering the creation of an awesome He-Man Action Figure using Maya. This unique series will walk you through the entire process of modeling your very own action figure inspired by the iconic 80's character.


Also available in this series:

  1. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 1
  2. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 2
  3. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 3
  4. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 4
  5. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 5
  6. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 6
  7. Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 7

Rather then relying on digital sculpting techniques, author Soni Kumari will show you how to create the character using traditional poly modeling techniques. The He-man figure poses a number of unique challenges not found in your typical character modeling tutorial, from inter-locking limb joints, to stylized anatomy and plastic hair. You'll learn how to tackle each of these to achieve that classic 'action figure' look!


Step 1

Let’s start Maya and load the reference images of our character in the Front and Left views. To do that, first click on the View menu in the panel view menu and then click on ‘Image Plane’ and then click on the ‘Import Image’ option. Then go to the reference file location and load the appropriate He-Man reference images for both the left and right profiles, which have been provided with the tutorial.


After importing the images in both the views (front and left), it should look like the image shown below.



Step 2

Now, we will begin polygon modeling. So, first click on Create>Polygon Primitives and then choose Cube to draw a cube object.


Now drag and draw a cubic shape in either of the viewports. If the drawn cube is not visible as a solid, then press the 5 key on keyboard or click on the ‘Shading’ menu under the view panel menu and choose the Smooth Shade All command.



Step 3

Now, with the cube object selected, do a Right-click on it and choose the Vertex command (alternatively you can press the F9 key also.) This action will bring you into the vertex component mode. Then, with the Move tool selected or by pressing the W key on the keyboard to activate the Move tool, adjust the vertices according to the image reference. To go into wireframe mode, you can press 4 on the keyboard.



Step 4

Now, we will add several edge loops for more deformation. So go to the Edit Mesh menu and select the 'Insert Edge Loop Tool’.


With the Edge Loop Tool selected, add 4 edge loops while clicking on the poly cube.



Step 5

After inserting the new edge loops, we need to adjust them according to the reference images.



Step 6

Now jump in the Perspective view by pressing and holding the Tab key and then clicking the Right or Left mouse button on the Maya menu in the center of the fly out menu and choosing Perspective View.


Again insert several more edge loops as shown, which we'll use to add more details to the boot.


At the same time also adjust the vertices according to the reference images.




Step 7

To add more details to the back side of the boot, this time we need to add several edges manually. So go to Edit Mesh and select the Split Polygon Tool.


And then drag and add edges as shown in the image below.


Also adjust the vertices.



Step 8

First of all change the mode to Polygons and then with the boot selected, press F11 to change it into Face mode. Now, select some top back side polygon faces, then go to Edit Mesh and select the Extrude command. It will give you a chance to extrude the selected faces with subdivision.


Now, click on the center of the gizmo and scale it down a little bit, as shown.



Step 9

Now, again insert several more edge loops to add more details.


Press ‘3’ on the keyboard to see the boot in smooth mode. Press ‘1’ to return back to the default mode.



Step 10

Now we will create the boot strap. So jump into the side view and go to the Create menu, click on Polygon Primitives and then select the Plane primitive.


Jump into the Perspective viewport and then move the plane in the X-Axis and place it near the boot object.



Step 11

With the poly plane selected, again jump into the side view and then press 'F10' on the keyboard to jump into edge selection component mode. The select the upper edge and Extrude it two times as shown in the image below.


Jump back into the Perspective view and press 'F9' to go into Vertex selection mode, and then drag the vertices one by one so they're closer to the surface of the boot.


Following the same process, complete the loop around to the opposite side of the boot.



Step 12

Now create another plane and place it near the toe area.


Follow the same Process of extruding it as we have done before. Keep adjusting the vertices according to the reference, and continue extruding the strap to the other end of the boot.


 



Step 13

Now create another plane and keep it near the heel area of the boot.


Follow the same technique of extruding it as we used before and continue adjusting the vertices according to the reference.


Keep extruding it to the other end of the boot.



Step 14

Now, we will use the Extrude command to add some depth to the created straps. So double click on the border edge and then apply the Extrude command.


Then drag slightly on the Z-Axis as shown in the image.



Step 15

To add more detail to the boot straps, go to the Edit Mesh menu and select the Insert Edge Loop Tool.


Now, insert three edge loops to the boot strap as shown in the image below.



Step 16

Following the same process, add details to the other straps as well. So now we have completed all the straps. You can check all the selected objects in Wireframe on Shaded mode.



Step 17

Now, we will split some faces to add details to the toe area of the boot. So with the boot selected, go to Edit Mesh and then select the Split Polygon Tool.


Now drag and insert a couple of edges manually, which will go around to the bottom of the boot as shown.




Step 18

Select the upper and lower edges which created triangulated faces and then press the Delete key to Delete them.


And then select the remaining edges and drag them inwards. This creates a division between the large toe and rest of the toes.



Step 19

Now we will start making the next part of the boot. So go to the Create menu, click on Polygon Primitives and then select Pipe.


Drag and draw the pipe in the Side view and set the parameters of the pipe as shown.



Step 20

Now first press ‘4’ on the keyboard and then press the F9 key. And then adjust the vertices according to the reference image.


Press the 'F11' key to jump into Face mode, and then select the faces on the upper half of the pipe as shown and press the 'Delete' button.



Step 21

Now jump into the Perspective view and adjust the vertices according to the slope of the boot shape.




Step 22

With the pipe mesh selected, press the F11 key and then select the middle faces on both the inside and the outside, and then press the ‘Delete’ key to delete the selected faces again.



Step 23

Now with the mesh selected, go to 'Edit Mesh' and then select the 'Append to Polygon Tool'.


With the 'Append to Polygon Tool' selected, click on the parallel edges and then press the Y key to repeat and finish the command.


Follow the same process with the other pair of edges too.


Also do the same thing to append the top four faces as shown in the image.



Step 24

Now, we need to add more edge loops on the top faces to add more detail and deformation. So go to the Edit Mesh menu and select the Insert Edge Loop Tool.


Now insert four edges between the four faces as shown.



Step 25

To make the workflow easier, we will isolate the object. So go to the 'Show' menu in the panel menu bar and click on the 'Isolate Select' command, then turn on the 'View Selected' check box.



Step 26

We will now add more edge loops, so go to the 'Edit Mesh' menu and select the 'Insert Edge Loop Tool'.


Then add edge loops as shown in the image below.



Step 27

Now select the three vertices at each corner one by one and then go to the 'Edit Mesh' menu and click on the 'Merge' option box icon.


This opens the Merge Vertices Options box. Here keep the Threshold values at 0.5000 and check off the Always Merge for two Vertexes option and then click on the 'Merge' button.


Following the same process, merge all corners vertices as shown in the image below.



Step 28

This option creates several triangulate faces. So we need to make them quads. So select all the triangular edges on each corner and press the Delete key to delete them.


To check the model in smooth view, press ‘3’ on the keyboard.



Step 29

Now, to unhide the hidden objects, go to the ‘Show’ menu and then check off the ‘View Selected’ check box.



Step 30

Now, select the top border edge loop, and then jump into the Side view.


Extrude the selected border edges upward according to the reference image.



Step 31

Now jump into the Front view and modify the vertices according to the image.



Step 32

Again jump into the Perspective view and select each group of three vertices as indicated, and then apply the 'Merge' command one by one to merge them.


After merging them all, Delete each of the triangle edges in between as indicated in the image.



Step 33

This time we will isolate the boot. So with the boot selected, go to the ‘Show’ menu in the panel menu bar and check on the ‘View Selected’ command.



Step 34

Now with the center faces selected, apply the ‘Extrude command and then Scale them down on the X-axis.


Again Extrude the same selected faces and drag them on the Y-axis.


Extrude Three more times as shown in the image.


And then press the ‘F9’ key to jump into Vertex mode, and arrange the vertices to make it a round shape.



Step 35

To adjust it better, jump into the Front and Side views as well and then adjust it according to the reference image.


You can see the result in smooth mode by pressing ‘3’ on the keyboard with all the objects selected together.



Step 36

Now to design the other objects, go to the ‘Create’ menu in the main menu bar and click on 'Polygon Primitives' and select Cylinder.


With the Cylinder primitive selected, draw it in the side view and keep it's Subdivisions Axis set to 10.


Then jump into the Side view and place it inside the hollow part of the ankle.



Step 37

Now select the border edge around the upper part.


And Extrude it upward following the reference images in both the Side and Front views.



Step 38

Press ‘F9’ on the keyboard and arrange the vertices into a round shape as shown in the image below.


Keep arranging the vertices in both the Front and Side views.


Also insert one edge loop by using the 'Insert Edge Loop' Tool in the middle of the extruded faces.



Step 39

Extrude one more time to the boot’s top.



Step 40

Now we will make the fur of the boot. We will model it from a separate primitive object. So go to the ‘Create’ menu, click on Polygon Primitives and select Torus.


Create a Torus on the grid with the ‘Subdivision Axis’ set to 12 and the ‘Subdivisions Height’ set to 6.



Step 41

Now place it at the top of the boot and adjust it's slope according to the reference images.


Jump into the Perspective view, press ‘F11’ on the keyboard and select the bottom loop of faces on the torus, press the ‘Delete’ key to delete the selected faces.



Step 42

Now, we need to add more edge loops for detailing. So go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and click on the ‘Offset Edge Loop Tool’.


With the Offset Edge Loop Tool selected, click on the vertical edges to insert offset edge loops.



Step 43

Arrange the vertices in such a way so that it looks bumped and wrinkled, as shown.



Step 44

Now, we will create the strap for the upper part of the boot. For that, we will follow the same process we did earlier. So go to the ‘Create’ menu, click on ‘Polygon Primitives’ and then select ‘Plane’.


Draw the plane in the Side view.


Jump into the Perspective view and place the Plane near the boot surface.


Jump into the Side view. Press the ‘F10’ key to quickly jump into Edge mode and then Extrude the edge horizontally as shown in the image.


Using the Perspective view, keep Extruding until it makes a ring shape around the boot.



Step 45

Now select both the upper and lower border edges and apply an Extrude, then drag and move the gizmo on the Z-axis very slightly.


Also insert Three more edge loops in between the faces horizontally.



Step 46

Now, to make the crossing straps. Again create a new Plane and then place it according to the reference image.


Keep Extruding the edge following the reference image.


Jump into the Perspective view and arrange it spirally.


Also insert Three more edge loops in between the faces to add more details to the strap.



Step 47

Following the same method, make the other straps according to the reference. Below we can see the final result in smooth shade mode. Now it looks pretty much the same as the reference image.




Step 48

Now, let’s move ahead and model the rest of the parts for the Calf, the Knee and the Thigh. So create a new Cylinder polygon primitive and set it's ‘Subdivisions Axis’ to 8 inside the Channel Properties panel.


Place the Cylinder inside the boot mesh.



Step 49

Now, jump back into Perspective view and insert two edge loops in between the faces to add detail to the calf area.



Step 50

After inserting the edges, arrange the vertices in the Front and Side views according to the reference images.


Select the Top polygons and Extrude them upward.



Step 51

Adjust the vertices and try to cover the proper area of the reference images up to the middle of knee.


Also adjust the vertices in Perspective view.



Step 52

Now select alternating edges on the top faces and press the ‘Delete’ key.


It should look like the image below.



Step 53

Now, go to the 'Edit Mesh' menu in the main menu bar and select the 'Split Polygon Tool'.


Now insert the edges as shown in the image.



Step 54

Now, we will make several cuts to add bumps to the calf to give it more detail. So with these two faces selected, go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the 'Extrude' command.


Now Extrude the faces a bit outward to give it a little bump.


Just like this, select the faces from the next area and Extrude and drag those outwards too.


Follow the same procedure for the opposite side of mesh and the knee part too.



Step 55

Arrange the vertices properly while in vertex component mode.


Dragging in and out several of the vertices will make the mesh look more muscular.



Step 56

Now with the top faces selected, go to the 'Edit Menu' and select the 'Extrude' command.



Remember, you only have to apply the extrude command but do not move it in any direction, because we need quite a hard corner surface here as shown in the image below.



Step 57

Now select the indicated middle faces.


Then Extrude them upward as shown in the image.



Step 58

To make hard corners, we have to insert several edges manually.


Do the same for all four corners and then Delete the triangulate edges.


Now the final result will look like something this.



Step 59

Now we will start making the thigh. So create a Cylinder primitive with the Subdivisions Axis set to 8.


Then place the cylinder at the top of the thigh area and adjust its position while looking at the reference images.


Now, Extrude the cylinder down three times and then arrange it according to the side and front views.



Step 60

Extrude the face one more time, and then arrange the mesh flow to shape the thigh muscles.



Step 61

Now we will repeat the same process as we did previously. Select the Six front faces of the thigh and then Extrude it a little bit in the Z-axis to create a bulge.


Again select the Four back faces and Extrude them on the same Z-axis a little bit. And then also Scale them down on all axes.


Follow the same process for the next four selected faces also.


And finally select the faces of knee cap area, and also Extrude and Scale them down in all axes.



Step 62

Now we have to maintain a proper edge flow.


So with the ‘Split Polygon Tool’ selected, insert edges manually as shown in the image below. And then Delete the triangulated faces to make them all quad.



Step 63

Now Extrude the faces on the opposite side of the thigh.


And then Scale them down on all axes.


Then arrange the mesh flow properly.




Step 64

Now to maintain the edge loops use the Split Polygon Tool, and then Delete the triangles.


And again, arrange the vertices to get more detail on the thigh surface.



Step 65

For the bottom area, we have to edit more. So, with the thigh mesh selected, go to the ‘Show’ menu in the panel menu bar and check on the 'View Selected' command.


Now, select the bottom faces and press the ‘Delete’ key to Delete the selected faces.


After deleting the faces, select the border by double clicking on the border edge and then go to the Mesh menu in the main menu bar, and select the Fill Hole command to fill the empty area.



Step 66

Now select the ‘Split Polygon Tool’ and then split the face as shown in the image below.



Step 67

After splitting the faces, arrange the vertices in the same way as shown in the image below. Then select the faces on both sides Extrude them once.



Step 68

After extruding the faces, jump into Vertex mode by pressing the ‘F9’ key and then arrange the vertices according to the reference images.



Step 69

Now let’s move ahead and select the Nine faces of the knee area in the Side view.


Then Delete the selected faces. It will become hollow after deleting the selected faces.


Do the same thing on the opposite side too. On the opposite side we have to select Six faces only and then Delete them.



Step 70

Now press ‘1’ on the keyboard to jump into hard face mode and select the hole’s border. Then apply the ‘Extrude’ command to Extrude it inside.


Apply the Extrude command once again and this time Scale the border down a bit on all axes.


Now select the border edge of the last extrude, and Extrude once more. This time pull it outward as shown.


And finally, with the same edges selected, Extrude them Three more times and Scale them down. Then select all the vertices by pressing the F9 key, and apply the ‘Merge’ command to merge all the selected vertices.



Step 71

We also need to add edge loops around the corner areas to make a harder edge by using the Insert Edge Loop Tool, which is we have done in previous steps.



Step 72

Now press ‘3’ on the keyboard to see the result in smooth shade mode.




Step 73

Now to make the hard corner edges, select the Insert Edge Loop Tool and then add edge loops around the corners as shown in the following image.



Step 74

After doing this, we need to adjust the vertices according to the reference images in the Side and Front views.


Also unhide all the already created objects in the viewport. And we are now done with the left leg.



Step 75

Now, we’ll create the right leg as a mirror of the left side leg. So with all the objects selected, go to the ‘Mesh’ menu in the main menu bar and then select the ‘Combine’ command to combine all the selected meshes into one.



Step 76

Now with the combined polygon object selected, go to the ‘Edit’ menu in the main menu bar and click on the ‘Duplicate Special’ option box.


In the ‘Duplicate Special’ options box, check On the Instance radio button and keep the Scale X values at -1.0000 and then press the Duplicate Special button.



Step 77

This creates the mirrored right leg. Now save the file as ‘Complete Leg.mb’ and in the next part of the tutorial we’ll learn how to model the upper torso of the character.



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