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Modeling & Rigging a Cartoon Parrot In Maya: Part 1

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This post is part of a series called Modelling & Rigging a Cartoon Parrot in Maya.
Modelling & Rigging a Cartoon Parrot in Maya: Part 2
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

1. Preparing Reference Images & the Viewport

Step 1

First of all, we will setup the reference images in the Front and Side viewports. So let’s import the front and side reference images by going to View > Image Plane > Import Image

After importing the front and side reference images, it should look like the following image.

Step 2

With the Front profile image selected in the Perspective view, press Ctrl-A to open the Attribute Editor and type -18.710 into the X axis box. This value may be different in your case. Now both image planes are separate and away from each other.

Step 3

For hiding the reference images in the Perspective view, we need to turn off the Looking through camera option as shown in the following image.

Now you can see the reference images in the Front and Side views, but not in the Perspective view.

2. Creating the Body Mesh

Step 1

Now we will start the modeling process. We will model the parrot from a polygon object. First of all, go to Create > Polygon Primitives and turn off the Interactive Creation check box, as shown in the following image.

Step 2

Go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cone and click on its Option box.

Step 3

In the Polygon Cone Options box, keep the Axis Divisions set to 8, Height Divisions at 2 and then click on the Create button to create the cone polygon primitive.

Now, you can see a Cone polygon primitive has been created at the center grid, as shown in the following image.

Step 4

Jump into the Side view and then Rotate and place the Cone at the end of the tail according to the reference image.

Step 5

In the side panel menu bar, click on the Shading menu and then turn on X-Ray mode. This will make the polygon mesh partially transparent in the viewport, so we won't have any problems modeling against our reference images.  

Step 6

Now we can start editing the cone polygon primitive. Right Click on the Cone primitive and choose Vertex mode. Alternatively you can press the F9 key also for vertex selection mode.

Step 7

With the Cone primitive selected, go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool.

Step 8

Insert 2 edge loops and also edit the vertices to match the reference image shown in the background.

Step 9

In the Front view, press F11 for the Face selection mode. Select one half of the mesh and then press the Delete key to delete the selected faces.

Step 10

Press F8 to enter Object mode, and go to the Edit menu and click on the Duplicate Special Option box.

In the Duplicate Special Options window, turn on the Instance radio button and change the Scale X value to -1 and then click on the Duplicate Special button.

Step 11

In the Front view, try to adjust the vertices of one side according to the reference image. The changes will be symmetrical copied to the opposite side as well.

Step 12

In the Perspective view, press F10 for Edge selection mode and then select the border edges as shown.

Step 13

Now, again jump into the Side view and press Shift and Right Click on the selected edges, and choose Extrude Edge from the fly-out menu.

Step 14

After extruding the border edges, adjust the vertices to match the reference image.

Step 15

Jump into the Front view and adjust the vertices of the mesh according to the Front reference image as well.

Step 16

Keep Extruding the border edges according to the reference images.

Step 17

In this way, work your way up to the Parrot's neck following the reference images.

Step 18

Continue Extruding the edges to the head of the parrot.

Step 19

We now need to cap the open head mesh. So, while in Edge selection mode, select the two indicated vertices shown in the image below. Then go to Edit Mesh > Bridge.

Step 20

After bridging the edges together, select the rest of the open border edges, and go to Mesh > Fill Hole to cap, or fill the gap.

Step 21

Next, go to Edit Mesh > Split Polygon Tool.

With the help of the Split Polygon Tool, insert the needed edges into the head.

Step 22

In this way, we have completed the main body of the parrot according to the reference images.

3. Creating the Beak

Step 1

Now, we will model the Parrot's beak. So jump into the Side view and then go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cone.

Step 2

After creating the new Cone primitive, place it at the upper beak area according to the reference image. In Vertex selection mode, adjust the main shape according to the beak’s flow.

Step 3

Insert several edge loops and adjust the vertices to match the beak’s flow with the reference image.

Step 4

Press F11 to jump into Face selection mode and then with one half of the beak mesh selected, just press the Delete key.

After deleting the selected faces, it should look like the following image.

Step 5

Select the indicated bottom row faces and Delete them also.

Step 6

In the same way we made the upper beak, we will create the lower beak. So let’s create another new Cone primitive.

Step 7

Place the Cone at the lower beak area as shown in the following image.  

Step 8

Insert several edge loops and then adjust the vertices according to the reference image.

Step 9

It should now look like this.

4. Connecting the Beak to the Head

Step 1

To connect the beak mesh with the head mesh, we need to keep the same number of edges or vertices for both the beak and the connecting area. So with the Parrot’s body mesh selected, go to Edit Mesh > Split Polygon Tool.

Step 2

Before splitting the edges, we need to have the body mesh in Isolation mode. So with the body mesh selected, go to the Show menu in the panel menu bar and enable the View Selected check box.

Step 3

Now with the Split Polygon tool selected, split the edges as shown in the following image.

Step 4

Split the indicated edges once again with the Split Polygon tool, as shown in the following image.

Step 5

Next, we need to delete some faces, so we can connect it to the beak mesh. So with the Three indicated faces selected, press the Delete key.

Step 6

After deleting the faces, go to the Show menu in the Perspective panel menu bar and then turn off the View Selected check box. Next, select the lower and upper beaks and the body mesh together, and go to Mesh > Combine to combine the meshes into one.

Step 7

Next, press F9 for Vertex selection mode and then go to Edit Mesh > Merge Vertex Tool.

Step 8

With the Merge Vertex Tool selected, select one vertex of the beak mesh and then drag the cursor to its corresponding vertex, to merge them together as shown in the following image.

Step 9

Following this process, merge all vertices together.

5.Creating the Eyes

Step 1

Now, jump into the Side view and while in Face selection mode, select the Two indicated faces around the eye area as shown in the following image.  

Step 2

Use Extrude and then Scale the faces down a little bit.

Step 3

Now Delete the selected faces and insert 1 edge loop using the Insert Edge Loop Tool, as shown in the following image.

Step 4

In Vertex selection mode, arrange the vertices to match the eye shape shown in the reference image.

Step 5

You can see the complete mesh we've made so far below in wireframe and smooth shaded mode.

Step 6

Next, with the parrot body mesh selected, go to Edit > Duplicate Special to make a duplicate and mirrored mesh on the opposite side.

6. Creating the Leg

Step 1

Now we will start modeling the leg of the parrot. So go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cylinder and click on the Option box.

This opens the Polygon Cylinder Options window. Here set the values of Axis divisions to 8, Height division to 2 and Cap division to 1, and then click on the Create button to create the cylinder in the viewport.

Step 2

Place the Cylinder primitive at the starting point of the leg according to the reference images.

Step 3

In the Perspective view, press F11 to enter Face selection mode and then select the upper and lower cap faces of the cylinder and Delete them.

Step 4

After deleting the cap faces, press F10 for Edge selection mode and then select the bottom border edges.

Step 5

With the border edges selected, Extrude twice as per the reference images.

Step 6

Keep Extruding the border edges according to the leg's flow as shown in the reference images. And also keep adjusting the vertices accordingly.

Step 7

In the Perspective view, select the lower border edges of the thigh.

Step 8

With the border edges selected, go to Mesh > Fill Hole.  

Step 9

After filling the hole, use the Split Polygon Tool to make the cuts shown in the following image.

Step 10

Adjust the vertices of the thigh according to the reference images.

Step 11

Let’s create another Cylinder polygon primitive with the value of the Axis divisions set to 8.

Step 12

Put this cylinder around the leg area, and while in Vertex selection mode, adjust the vertices according to the leg's flow shown in the reference images.

Step 13

Delete the upper and lower cap faces as well.

7. Creating the Claws and Toes

Step 1

Now we will make the claws of the parrot. So create a new Sphere with the Subdivision Axis set to 8 and the Subdivision Height set to 4, and place it where the claw will be. 

Step 2

Create 4 more Spheres and place them as shown in the following image, and adjust their vertices accordingly.

Step 3

With all Five spheres selected, go to Mesh > Combine to combine all of them into one.

Step 4

After combining the sphere meshes, Delete all of the cap faces. Now, with the two corresponding border edges selected, go to Edit Mesh > Bridge and click on the Option box.

Step 5

In the Bridge Options window, set the Bridge Type to Linear path with the Divisions set to 1, and then click on the Bridge button.

Step 6

Using the same technique. I have bridged the sphere polygon meshes from both ends.

Step 7

To create the nails, create a new Cone with the Subdivision Axis set to 8 and the Subdivision Height set to 2. Then position the cone at the nail area.

Step 8

Adjust the vertices or the nail mesh according to the reference image.

Step 9

Now, Delete the cap faces of the nail mesh, just like we did with the toes.

Step 10

With the border edges of the toe selected, use Extrude and Scale it down as shown in the following image. Then Bridge the nail with the claw’s toe.

Step 11

Through this process, we have completed the toe and nail. Now, make 2 more copies of the toe and Scale and place each of them accordingly.

Step 12

The basic setup of the claw is ready and now we need to combine all the toes together. So with all the toes selected, go to Mesh > Combine, to combine the selected meshes together.

Step 13

After combining all the toe meshes, Merge them together as we have done previously. It should now look like the following image.

Now, it’s time to combine the claws with the leg. With the claw and leg mesh selected, go to Mesh > Combine and combine the selected meshes.

Step 14

Finally Merge the claw and the leg verticies together.

8. Connecting the Leg to the Body

Step 1

Next, first select the body mesh and then select the leg mesh and go to Mesh > Booleans > Union.

After applying the Boolean command, you can see that the mesh no longer has the proper flow. So, we'll have to maintain the quad flow.

Step 2

With the corresponding and nearest vertices selected, go to Edit Mesh > Merge and click on the Option box.

In the Merge Vertices Options window, set the Threshold value to 1.3 (or above) and turn off the Always merge for two vertices check box,  then click on the Merge button.

Step 3

In this way, we have reduced the unnecessary vertices and also adjusted the mesh properly.

Step 4

Now, for a better mesh flow, we need to delete the extra triangulated edges. So while in Edge selection mode, select and Delete the unnecessary triangulated edges.

Step 5

After doing this, the body and leg are now complete. You can see the result in smooth shaded mode below.

9. Creating the Arms

Step 1

Now let’s make the parrot’s arms. We will make them using a cylinder. So create a new Cylinder with the Subdivision Axis set to 8 and position it over the arm as shown on the reference images.

In Vertex selection mode, adjust the vertices of the Cylinder to match the shape of the arm shown in the reference image.

Step 2

Insert 3 edge loops as shown below.

After inserting the edge loops, continue sculpting the arm as per the shape of the arm shown in the reference image.

Step 3

To attach the arm with the body mesh, select the Four indicated faces on the body at the arm joint. Use Extrude to extrude and then Scale down the faces as shown in the image below. Then Delete these faces.

Use the Combine command to combine the body and arm meshes together. After that, use the Merge command to merge the corresponding vertices together, just like we did previously.

Step 4

Next, select a vertex around the nostril area and then go to Edit Mesh > Chamfer Vertex to chamfer the vertex.

Split the edges further to make the nostril hole.

Conclusion

We have now completed the parrot’s base mesh in its low poly form. In the next part of the tutorial, we will learn unwrapping in detail, which is highly required for sculpting later.









































































































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