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Create a Classic He-Man Action Figure using Maya: Part 7

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the seventh and final part of the He-Man Action Figure series, you'll learn how to create and apply plastic shaders to the skin, weapons and accessories to achieve a truly toy look. This lesson also includes creating a basic rig for posing, lighting the scene, rendering passes from Maya using Mentalray, and finally compositing those passes together in Photoshop, to achieve the final end result of this series.


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

So, let’s start Maya and load the file Complete He-Man character model.mb, which was saved at the end of the previous chapter.




Step 2

Now, select all the modeled objects of the character and open the Edit menu, go to Delete by Type and then choose the History command.



This operation deletes the history of all the objects, and hence makes the file light.




Step 3

It is always better to work with layers. So, here we will add the objects to the different layers. So, first select all the character’s body parts except the weapons, and then Right-click on the layer bar and select Add Selected Objects in the fly out menu.




Step 4

Now, we’ll organize all the symmetrical parts of the character. For that, we need to attach both sides of model. So, first select the upper body parts and then go to the Mesh menu and select the Combine command, to combine or attach the selected meshes together.



After combining, it will look like this.




Step 5

Now, we need to isolate the upper part of the body, so we can merge the vertices. So, with the upper body selected, go to the Show menu (in the panel bar) and select Isolate Select, then check on the View Selected command to isolate them.




Step 6

Now, with the upper body mesh selected, press F9 for Vertex mode and then select all the center vertices as shown in the image below. Then go to the Edit Mesh menu and select the Merge command, to merge the selected vertices as shown in the following image.



After merging the vertices, it looks like this.




Step 7

Now we will extract all the separate parts of the upper body. So, with the upper body selected, go to the Mesh menu and choose the Separate command.



Now all parts are separated as shown in the image below.




Step 8

To unhide the isolated poly meshes, go to the Show menu in the panel menu bar and select Isolate Select, then check off the View Selected option.




Step 9

We have already combined the chest armor and also merged all the parts together.






Step 10

Next, we will combine the belt and the lower cloth parts of the character. So, with both of the meshes selected, go to the Mesh menu and then select Combine.




Step 11

Then press the F9 key to enter Vertex selection mode, and select all the center separate vertices. Then go to the Edit Mesh menu and choose the Merge command.



In this way we have now attached and merged all the separate vertices together.




Step 12

We have also separated the leg parts, just like we did with the upper body parts.




Step 13

Now, select the axe model and place it inside the back belt, as shown in the image below.




Step 14

Just like this, position the sword in He-Man's right hand.




Step 15

Now, we will apply some simple colored shaders onto the poly objects to make them look like plastic. So, go to the Window menu and then inside the Rendering Editors submenu, click on Hypershade to open the Hypershade window.



In the Hypershade window, click on the Blinn shader node as shown in the image below.




Step 16

Now, Right-click on the shader and choose the Rename command in the fly out menu.



This opens the Rename node window. Inside the Enter new name: box, rename it as Body Shade and then click on the OK button.




Step 17

Now, with the Body Shade node selected, click on the Color History box and choose something that resembles a skin color.




Step 18

Now, with the upper part of the body selected, Right-click and hold on the Body Shade node, and select Assign Material To Selection from the fly out menu.




Step 19

In this way, we will apply the Body Shader to the entire upper and lower body parts of the character.



After applying the Body Shader to all the parts of the body, it should now look like this.




Step 20

Now, we will apply a texture to the eye ball. So, first we isolate the Eye Ball mesh by going to the Show menu (in panel menu bar), and selecting Isolate Select and then checking On the View Selected option.




Step 21

With the Eyeball poly mesh selected, go to the Edit UVs menu and click on the UV Texture Editor option.




Step 22

Now, you can see the UVs for the eyeball in the UV Texture Editor.




Step 23

Next, we have to apply a Planer map node onto the eyeball shape. So, with the Eyeball shape selected, go to the Create UVs menu in the main menu bar, and click on the Planer Mapping options box.



This opens the Planer Mapping Options window. Here, set the Fit projection to: option to Best Plane, and then click on the Project button to apply the planar map node.




Step 24

Now, I have created one more shade node. And renamed it to EyeShade.




Step 25

Double click on the EyeShade node and it's attribute panel window will open. Here, click on the the Color property’s checker box.



It opens the Create Render Node window. Here click on the File node.



In the File Attributes, click on the Image Name file browser icon and locate the eye_texture.jpg image file, which has been supplied with this tutorial.



In this way, we have applied the eye texture onto the Eye Ball poly mesh.



Also apply the same "Eyeshade" node onto the right eye ball as well.




Step 26

Just like this, I have also created an Eyebrow shader node for the eyebrows, and applied it to the eyebrows of the character.




Step 27

Following the same process, I have created a Teeth shader using a white color, and applied it to the character's teeth.




Step 28

In this way, we have now given the entire character a toy looking shader.






Step 29

Now, let’s render the model to check how it looks. So, first click on the Quick Render button on the main status bar, to render the selected perspective view.



In the Render View window, choose mental ray in the render mode fly out menu.




Step 30

Again render the scene. This looks quite flat, as we still have lots of things to do to make it much better.



Look closely and you will find some reflection on the skin. So we have to reduce the reflection amount, and then we'll use the "misss_fast_skin" shader (sub surface scattering) for a better output.




Step 31

For this, choose the misss_fast_skin _maya shader node inside the mental ray node group.




Step 32

And then, apply this shader to all the body parts.




Step 33

You can also change the Overall Color and Diffuse Color as per the color of He-Man's skin. It totally depends upon your wishes. In my case, I have used these colors.



Now, let’s render the frame. As you can see, it looks better than before.




Step 34

Here, I have reduced the values of Reflectivity to 0 and Eccentricity to 0.057, because we don’t need any reflections.






Step 35

For a better quality render, open the Render Settings window and click on the Quality tab, then select the Production preset.



Let’s render the fame. This looks good, but we still need to do several things to make it look even better.




Step 36

First, make a simple ground and background plate. Something like this will work fine.




Step 37

Let’s create several lights in the scene. So, go to the Create menu and select Area Light from the Lights submenu.



Place the light as shown in the image below.



Duplicate the same light by pressing Ctrl+D and place it behind the character as shown.




Step 38

Let’s render the frame. It looks a bit better than the previous rendered image.




Step 39

Now, we'll make a simple puppet rig for the character. Since this is a toy character, it's rigging will be a bit different compared to a general human rig. So, jump into the Side view and then switch into Animation mode. Also, press the 4 key to enter Wireframe mode.




Step 40

Then, go into the Skeleton menu and select the Joint Tool.



With the Joint Tool selected, draw four joints inside the leg mesh.




Step 41

Jump into the Front view and adjust the joints according to the leg's flow.




Step 42

After setting the joints, we need to orient all the rotation joints. So, with the joint's root selected, first click on the Select by Components Type button, on main status bar. And then click on the Select miscellaneous objects (?) icon. Now, you can see all of the local transform gizmos.




Step 43

Now, with the help of the Rotate Tool, try to adjust the local orientation of the joints.




Step 44

After adjusting the rotation orientation, press F8 to switch into Object mode.




Step 45

Now, with the left leg joint's root selected, go to the Skeleton menu and click on the Mirror Joint option box.



In the Mirror Joint options window, check on the Mirror across: YZ radio button and then click on the Mirror button.



This will duplicate the leg joints to the opposite side.




Step 46

With the Joint Tool selected, draw five joints inside the upper body as shown in the image.




Step 47

Draw four more joints inside the arm mesh.



Jump in the Front view and adjust the arm joints according to the arm's flow.




Step 48

Now, for mirroring the arm joints to the opposite side. Go to the Skeleton menu, and select the Mirror Joint command once again.




Step 49

Now, you can see the joints have been mirrored to the right side. First select both arms' root joints and then select the neck joint, and press P. This will make the neck joint, the parent of the arms' root joints.




Step 50

Following the same process. First select both legs’ root joints and then select the hip joint, and press P to make the hip joint the parent of the legs’ joints.



After parenting, the whole rig structure should look like this.




Step 51

Now, we'll add IK handles for inverse movement of the hand and leg joints. So, go to the Skeleton menu once again, and this time select the IK Handle Tool.



With the IK Handle Tool selected, open it's attributes window and set the Current Solver to the iKRPsolver.




Step 52

With the IK Handle Tool selected, first click on the arm's root joint and then click on the wrist joint to apply the IK Handle.



Following the same process, apply all four IK handles to the legs and arms.




Step 53

Next, select both eyeballs and then the head joint, press P to make the head joint the parent of the eyes.




Step 54

Now we will perform the skinning, so that all the body parts can deform with the joints. So, select all the parts of the character (except for the weapons), and then carefully select the root skeleton joint.



With the joint and mesh selected, open the Skin menu and click on Smooth Bind, inside the Bind Skin submenu.




Step 55

After applying the smooth skin, let’s check the deformation of the skin by moving the IK handles of the legs. As you can see this is not deforming correctly right now.




Step 56

Therefore, we need to edit the skin weight properties. So, first select the thigh mesh and then go to the Skin menu and select the Paint Skin Weight Tool, from inside the Edit Smooth Skin submenu.




Step 57

Now, in the Paint Skin Weight Tool's attributes. Select joint1 and set it's Opacity and Value settings to 1.000. Then start painting weight on the thigh mesh.



Following the same process, select joint2 and set it's Opacity and Value settings to 1.000 as well . Then start painting weight on the lower leg mesh.




Step 58

Now, you can see the leg is deforming properly.




Step 59

Following the same process, we have to set a skin weight for each separate part of the character.




Step 60

Next, we need to check if the arm joint is shifting it's weight onto the other poly objects. Pick the arm joint and Rotate it. As you can see, it is affecting the lat. So, we need to remove this unnecessary skin weight.




Step 61

So, select the upper body mesh and then select joint14 for the left arm joint, in the Paint Skin Weight Tool attributes. This time, keep its Value set to 0.000 and then reduce it's weight by painting on the selected upper body mesh.




Step 62

Finally, we have completed the work of applying skin weights to all of the body parts properly.




Step 63

We also need to create some controls. So, go to the Create menu and select Circle, from inside the NURBS Primitives submenu.



Draw a Circle curve in the viewport, and then place it near the left foot as shown in the image. Also select the left IK handle and then the circle curve, and press P to parent them.




Step 64

Now, with the circle curve selected, Duplicate it three times by pressing Ctrl+D. Then place two of them at the left and right arms, and also parent them to their respective arm IK handles. Place the last curve at the right leg and link it to it's IK handle also.




Step 65

Once done, prepare the character for final rendering. This will be the final pose of He-Man. You can always scale the weapons if needed.




Step 66

We have created most of the lights already, but let's create one more Directional light for the Key light. With the Directional light selected, go to the Raytrace Shadow Attributes settings and check on the Use Ray Trace Shadow, and set the values of the Light Angle to 3.000, Shadow Rays to 10, and the Ray Depth Limit to 4.




Step 67

Now, go to the Render Settings and choose Mental Ray as the renderer, and set the Quality to Production.




Step 68

Let’s Render the scene now. The rendered image looks very plastic, but rest assured. We'll render some more passes and then composite them together, to have the best final output. Save this rendered image as Render 1.jpg.




Step 69

Now, remove the misss_fast_skin _maya shader node, and apply a simple Blinn Shader node for the body. Keep it's color set to something like skin.




Step 70

Now, let’s Render the frame from the same angle. You can set a camera angle for this if you like. Save this rendered image as Render 2.jpg.




Step 71

Now, we will render an Ambient Occlusion pass. Here I have created one Surface Shader node in the Hypershade window.



I have also created one mib_amb_occlusion node, as shown in the image below.




Step 72

Next, select the mib_amb_occlusion node and set the Sample value to 256. And adjust the Bright and Dark values a little bit in Attributes editor.




Step 73

Select the mib_amb_occlusion node with the Middle mouse button, then drag and drop it onto the Surface shader. Then select the Default option in the fly-out menu, as shown.




Step 74

Let’s apply the Surface shader to all the poly meshes. First, select all the objects and then Right-click on the shader, and select the Assign Material To Selection option in the fly-out menu.



After applying the shader, it should look dark as shown in the image below.




Step 75

Now, render the frame to create the Ambient Occlusion pass. Save this rendered image as AO pass.jpg.




Step 76

Now, open Photoshop and import all the rendered images as shown.



Select the Render 2 layer, change it's Blending Mode to Screen, and set it's Opacity value to 50%.



Then, select the AO pass layer, and change it`s Blending Mode to Soft Light. Now, you can see the beautiful final composition in bright and rich color.



Hence, this is the final output of our He-Man Action Figure. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial series!




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