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Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 3

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this lesson you'll learn how to create He-Man's arms and hands. Due to the specific nature of an action figure's limbs, careful attention must be payed when creating the overall shape and topology of the arms, wrists and hands, as well as the joints themselves. Representing one of the most challenging aspects of building this character.

You'll start by blocking out the basic shape and proportions of the upper arm and forearm sections and then begin refining the mesh to create the Deltoids, Biceps, Triceps and forearm muscles before moving on to create the always challenging Hands and fingers.


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

Project Overview:
This tutorial series covers 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.

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

In this 3rd part of the tutorial, we will learn how to model hand, arm, palm and fingers of the character. So let’s start Maya and load the file Complete Torso.mb, which was saved in the last part of the tutorial.



Step 2

Now, go to Create > Polygon Primitives and then select a Cylinder poly primitive.


Now drag and draw the cylinder on the grid with the Subdivision Axis set to 8.



Step 3

Now place the cylinder at the starting point of the arm. Then jump into Vertex selection mode by pressing the F9 key, and arrange the vertices in both the Front and the Side views according to the reference images.


Select both end cap faces by pressing F11 and then press the Delete key to delete them.




Step 4

Now, we need to add some edge loops. So go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Insert Edge Loop Tool’.


With the ‘Insert Edge Loop Tool’ selected, insert an edge loop three times as shown in the image below.



Step 5

Now we’ll start by making the deltoid muscles first. So, select the outer border edge loop and then go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ and select the ‘Extrude’ command.


Now, Extrude the border edge loop two times, and arrange it according to the deltoid muscle shape in both the Front and Side views.



Step 6

Now, select the new arm poly object and the torso poly object and go to the ‘Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Combine’ command to combine the selected objects.



Step 7

After combining the selected objects, we need to mirror it for the other side also. So, with the combined poly objects selected, go to the ‘Edit’ menu and click on the ‘Duplicate Special’ command.



Step 8

Now, press the F11 key to jump into Face selection mode and select the four faces depicted in the image below, one by one. And then Extrude and Scale them down.


Now press F10 to jump into Edge selection mode and then select the border edge and Extrude and Scale it down a little bit, as shown in the following image.



Step 9

Since this is not a real human character we are modeling, but rather a toy character, we have to model its body parts keeping a toy character’s body parts (and movement) in mind. Here the big challenge is to create a mechanical type of arm. So, let’s create another Cylinder polygon shape with a Subdivision Axis of 8.


Place the cylinder just beneath the deltoids.



Step 10

Select both end cap faces by pressing the F11 key and then press ‘Delete’ to delete them.


Now, press the F9 key to convert it into Vertex selection mode and then arrange the vertices as shown in the image below.



Step 11

Now, first select the outer border edge loop and then go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ and select the ‘Extrude’ command. Then Extrude the edge loops two times, and arrange it according to the arm’s shape in both the Front and Side views.



Step 12

Now, we need to add some extra edge loops. So, go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Insert Edge Loop Tool’.


With the ‘Insert Edge Loop Tool’ selected, insert 3 edge loops as shown in the image below.



Step 13

Now, press the F11 key to jump into Face selection mode and select the six faces shown in the following image. And then Extrude and Scale the faces down a little bit, to create the biceps bulge.



Step 14

Select the new arm polygon object and the torso poly object and go to the ‘Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Combine’ command to combine the selected objects together.


After combining the selected objects, we need to duplicate it. So, with the combined poly objects selected, go to the ‘Edit’ menu then select ‘Duplicate Special’ as we have done previously. This will generate the mirrored copy of the selected part on the opposite side.



Step 15

Now, this time select 3 front edges and 3 back edges and go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ and select the ‘Extrude’ command.


Now Extrude the selected edges downwards as shown in the image. According to our needs, we might have to extrude them two or three times.



Step 16

Also select the 4 faces on the side of the biceps and Extrude and Scale them down as shown in the image, to create more bulges.



Step 17

Now select all the border edges once again.


Then Extrude the selected border edge loop and Scale it down on the Z-axis a little bit, as shown in the following image.


Also insert an edge loop close to the corner edge to make a hard edged corner.



Step 18

We now need to create some edges manually on the faces. So, go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and then select the ‘Split Polygon Tool’.


And then split the faces as shown in the image.


Do the same split operation on the back side too.



Step 19

After splitting, we need to delete the triangulated edges. So, Delete all the triangulate edges.


To make a hard surface, insert two edge loops at the corners.



Step 20

See the result in smooth shade by pressing ‘3’ on the keyboard.



Step 21

For better detailing on surface we need to add some more edges, as shown.


Also Delete the triangulated edges.


And finally insert one more edge loop on the back side surface.



Step 22

Now, press F11 to jump into Face selection mode. Select the 9 faces for the triceps and then Extrude and pull them down a little bit.


Again do the same with the 2 faces selected in the image below.



Step 23

We need some more edge loops for more detailing. So, let’s add some more edges around the elbow area.


Then carefully Delete the triangulated edges.


And add one more edge loop (something like what's shown in the image below.)



Step 24

After editing and sculpting, this is the result in smooth shade mode.




Step 25

Now we will create the forearm. So, select all the bottom faces to Extrude.


Then go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the 'Duplicate Face' command.


And then apply a Move with the transform gizmo in the Z-axis (a little bit) to make a slight gap.



Step 26

Now, press the F10 key to jump into Edge selection mode and select the outer border edges of the duplicated faces. Then go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Extrude command’.


Then Extrude and drag it down a little bit as shown.



Step 27

After extruding the edges for the forearm area, we need to reduce some edges which are not necessary. So, select the 3 vertices in the corner and go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and click on the ‘Merge’ command to merge the selected vertices. Do the same for the vertices on the opposite side also.



Step 28

Again Extrude the border edges as shown in the image.



Step 29

Press the F9 key to jump into Vertex selection mode and then adjust the vertices to cover the forearm area according to the reference images.



Step 30

We have to reduce some more edges again. So, with 3 vertices selected in the corner, ‘Merge’ them as we have done previously.


And also Delete the triangulated edges.



Step 31

Now, select the last extruded border edge loop and Extrude it once.


Try to match it in the Side and Front views according to the forearm shape on the reference images. You can also modify the polygons in the Perspective view as per your needs.



Step 32

Following the same way, Extrude the border edge once more and try to reshape the polygons according to the He-Man forearm shape.



Step 33

It’s always better to edit in Perspective view, so jump into the Perspective view and start editing the vertices as per the forearm shape of the character.



Step 34

Now, we have to make the circular hole in the character’s hand. So, select a vertex and go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Chamfer Vertex’ command.


The ‘Chamfer Vertex’ command divides the vertex in four different vertices with a face amongst them. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the forearm too.



Step 35

Press F10 to jump into Face selection mode and then split the faces as shown in the image below.



Step 36

Arrange the vertices in a circular shape.


Press the F11 key to enter Face selection mode again and repose the selected face in the Side and Front views.



Step 37

Do the same thing for opposite side of the forearm also.



Step 38

Now, Extrude the selected face inside twice as shown in the image.


With the inside face selected, Extrude it up and Inset it a little bit.



Step 39

Now, for better poly flow, we need to add cross edges using the ‘Split Polygon Tool’ command.


Do the same thing on the opposite side of the forearm also.



Step 40

Try to sculpt the forearm's shape properly in the Perspective view.




Step 41

Again select the border edge loop and then Extrude it down to the starting point of the wrist.


And adjust the vertices as needed for the wrist shape.



Step 42

Now, Extrude once more and reshape it according to the image reference.



Step 43

Now, we will create the hand of the character. So, go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cube and draw a cube out in the viewport.



Step 44

Then place it in the hand area, using both the Front and Side views.



Step 45

Now we need to add some edge loops. So, go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu then select the ‘Insert Edge Loop Tool’.


Then insert 4 edge loops as shown in the image below.



Step 46

Now, edit the vertices to form the palm while following the Side and Front views.


Spread the upper vertices around the wrist. Then press F11 to jump into Face selection mode and select all the bottom faces.



Step 47

After selecting the bottom faces, Extrude them twice and Rotate them to keep the correct shape (like curled fingers) as shown in the image below.



Step 48

Select a side face and then Extrude it twice to make the start of the thumb.


Match it in both the Front and Side views.



Step 49

Select the entire upper faces of the cube by pressing the F11 key and then Delete those faces.



Step 50

Now, insert several edge loops on all in-between faces to make more subdivisions for more detailed sculpting.



Step 51

Now, arrange the vertices according to the palm and fingers.


Something like the image shown below.



Step 52

Insert several more edge loops for more detailing and try to adjust them to form the shape of the hand and fingers.



Step 53

Now select the two faces around the nail area and Extrude and Scale them down a little bit.



Step 54

After that, select the 3 marked vertices (back) and push them inside again a little bit. Select the 3 vertices (front) and pull them up a little bit.



Step 55

Press F11 to jump into Face selection mode and then select these 2 faces and Extrude them outward a little bit.


After, it should look like the following image.



Step 56

We need to add some more edges for the finger detailing. So, use the ‘Split Edge Tool’ to add new several edges like this.




Step 57

Select the middle vertices and move them inside to make the division between the fingers.



Step 58

Now, to shape the nails, insert one edge loop as shown in the image below.



Step 59

And follow the same process to make the index finger’s nail as we have done previously for the thumb’s nail.




Step 60

Following the same technique, create all the finger nails and reshape it to create the character’s toy hand look.




Step 61

Now, we’ll combine the hand mesh with the wrist. So, first select the hand mesh and then select the body mesh and go to the ‘Mesh’ menu and click on the ‘Combine’ command.



Step 62

After combining the polygon meshes together, the half portion gets deleted. So we need to make a duplicate of the half portion for the opposite side. So, select the half portion first and then go to the ‘Edit’ menu and click on the ‘Duplicate Special’ command.


This makes a mirrored copy of the half portion on the opposite side.



Step 63

Now, we have to join the wrist to the hand. So, first count the wrist’s vertices and then the hand’s outline vertices. The wrist vertices are 20 and the hand vertices are 15.



Step 64

So, first we have to equal the vertex count for the parallel merge. So, select the 3 nearest vertices at a time and go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select the ‘Merge’ command to merge the selected vertices.



Step 65

Also Delete the triangulated edges to keep the quad flow intact.



Step 66

Now select the wrist and the hand’s parallel vertices, and go to the ‘Edit Mesh’ menu and select ‘Merge’ to merge the selected vertices.


In this way, merge all the vertices together as shown in the image below.



Step 67

But somehow, one vertex is left which couldn’t find its match (this happens most of the time.) So, in this case, we have to insert an edge.



Step 68

Therefore we have added one edge loop manually using the ‘Split polygon tool’.



Step 69

Also, don’t forget to Delete the triangular or unwanted edges as shown in the image below.



Step 70

After doing this, adjust the vertices properly according to the shape of the wrist.



Step 71

You can see the jointed area. It is looking hard and crisp. This is because the new hand polygon mesh which we have added is flipped . So, we need to fix this problem.



Step 72

To fix this problem, first select the body mesh and then go to the ‘Normals’ menu and choose the ‘Conform’ command.


Now, the problem has been fixed.


Finally it should look like this image.



Step 73

Now, we will add some more details to the hand and forearm. We need to add some more edge loops. So, insert several edge loops to the fingers knuckle area.



Step 74

Extrude the faces of the knuckles. Add some more edges to add more detail and then edit the vertices.



Step 75

Add one more edge as shown in the image below for the forearm muscle bulge.


Also extrude the face for the bone bump around the wrist area.


Step 76

We have completed the arm and hand of the He-Man character so far. Finally, save the file as ‘Complete Torso and Hand.mb’. We will work on the head modeling of the character in the next part of the tutorial.



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