Home Game Development Blender 3D: Characters, Machines, and Scenes for Artists

Blender 3D: Characters, Machines, and Scenes for Artists

By Enrico Valenza , Christopher Kuhn , Pierre-Armand Nicq and 1 more
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  1. Free Chapter
    1. Module 1
About this book
Blender 3D is one of the top 3D animation software available. As the Blender software grows more powerful and popular, there is a demand to take your modeling skills to the next level. This learning path is divided into three modules that will take you on this incredible journey of creating games. The first module will take you on a journey to understand the workflow normally used to create characters, from the modeling to the rendering stages, using the tools of the last official release of Blender exclusively. You will be making production-quality 3D models and characters quickly and efficiently, which will be ready to be added to your very own animated feature or game. The second module will help you develop a comprehensive skill set that covers the key aspects of mechanical modeling. You will create many types of projects, including a pistol, spacecraft, robot, and a racer. By the end of this module, you will have mastered a workflow that you will be able to apply to your own creations. The final module will help you to create many types of projects using a step-by-step approach. Each project in this module will give you more practice and increase your knowledge of the Blender tools and game engine. This learning path combines some of the best that Packt has to offer in one complete, curated package. It includes content from the following Packt products: ? Blender 3D Cookbook, Second Edition by Enrico Valenza ? Blender 3D Incredible Machines, Second Edition by Christopher Kuhn ? Blender 3D By Example by Romain Caudron and Pierre-Armand Nicq
Publication date:
November 2016
Publisher
Packt
ISBN
9781787129665

 

Part 1. Module 1

Blender 3D Cookbook

Build your very own stunning characters in Blender from scratch

 

Chapter 1. Modeling the Character's Base Mesh

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Setting templates with the Images as Planes add-on
  • Setting templates with the Image Empties method
  • Setting templates with the Background Images tool
  • Building the character's base mesh with the Skin modifier

Introduction

In this chapter, we are going to do two things: set up templates to be used as a reference for the modeling, and build up a base mesh for the sculpting of the character.

To set up templates in a Blender scene, we have at least three different methods to choose from: the Images as Planes add-on, the Image Empties method, and the Background Images tool.

A base mesh is usually a very low poly and simple mesh roughly shaped to resemble the final character's look. There are several ways to obtain a base mesh: we can use a ready, freely downloadable mesh to be adjusted to our goals, or we can model it from scratch, one polygon at a time. What's quite important is that it should be made from all quad faces.

To build the base mesh for our character, we are going to use one of the more handy and useful modifiers added to Blender: the Skin modifier. However, first, let us add our templates.

Setting templates with the Images as Planes add-on

In this recipe, we'll set the character's templates by using the Images as Planes add-on.

Getting ready

The first thing to do is to be sure that all the required add-ons are enabled in the preferences; in this first recipe, we need the Images as Planes and Copy Attributes Menu add-ons. When starting Blender with the factory settings, they appear gray in the User Preferences panel's Add-ons list, meaning that they are not enabled yet. So, we'll do the following:

  1. Call the User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U) and go to the Add-ons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on 3D View.
  3. Check the empty little checkbox on the right-hand side of the 3D View: Copy Attributes Menu add-on to enable it.
  4. Go back to the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel and click on Import-Export.
  5. Scroll down the add-ons list to the right-hand side to find the Import-Export: Import Images as Planes add-on (usually, towards the middle of the long list).
  6. Enable it, and then click on the Save User Settings button to the left-bottom of the panel and close it.
    Getting ready

    The User Preferences panel with the Categories list and the Addons tab to enable the several add-ons

    There are still a few things we should do to prepare the 3D scene and make our life easier:

  7. Delete the already selected Cube primitive.
  8. Select the Lamp and the Camera and move them on to a different layer; I usually have them on the sixth layer (M key), in order to keep free and empty both the first and second rows of the left layer's block.
  9. The Outliner can be found in the top-right corner of the default workspace. It shows a list view of the scene. Set Display Mode of the Outliner to Visible Layers.
  10. Lastly, save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

How to do it…

Although not strictly necessary, it would be better to have the three (at least in the case of a biped character, the Front, Side, and Back view) templates as separated images. This will allow us to load a specific one for each view, if necessary. Also, to facilitate the process, all these images should be the same height in pixels.

In our case, the required three views are provided for you in the files that accompany this book. You will find them in the templates folder. The Import Images as Planes add-on will take care of loading them into the scene:

  1. Left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  2. On the page that just opened, go to the Material Settings column on the left-hand side (under the Import Images as Planes options) and enable the Shadeless item. Then, browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image:
    How to do it…

    The Import pop-up menu and the material settings subpanel of the Import Images as Planes add-on

  3. Rotate 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter) of the Plane that just appeared at the center of the scene (at the 3D Cursor location, actually; to reset the position of the 3D Cursor at the center of the scene, press the Shift + C keys).
  4. Press N to call the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the active 3D window, and then go to the Shading subpanel and enable the Textured Solid item.
  5. Press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view:
    How to do it…

    The imported plane with the relative UV-mapped image

    Now, we know that our Gidiosaurus is a 2.5 meters tall beast. So, assuming that 1 Blender Unit is equal to 1 meter, we must scale the plane to make the character's front template two and a half Blender Units tall (Note that it is not the plane that must be 2.5 units tall, it's the character's shape inside the plane).

  6. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  7. Duplicate it and move it 2.5 units up on the z axis (Shift + D | Z | 2.5 | Enter).
  8. Go to the Outliner and click on the arrows on the side of the names of the two Empties (Empty and Empty.001), in order to make them gray and the Empties not selectable.
  9. Select the Plane and move it to align the bottom (feet) guideline to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you actually have to move it on the z axis by 0.4470, but note that by pressing the Ctrl key, you can restrict movements to the grid and with Ctrl + Shift, you can have even finer control).
  10. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the object origin, and press the period key to switch Pivot center for rotation/scaling to the 3D Cursor.
  11. Press S to scale the Plane bigger and align the top-head guideline to the horizontal arm of the second Empty (you have to scale it to a value of 2.8300):
    How to do it…

    The properly scaled plane in the 3D scene

  12. Left-click again on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  13. Browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and this time load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  14. Shift + right-click on the first Plane (gidiosaurus_front.png) to select it and make it the active one. Then, press Ctrl + C and from the Copy Attributes pop-up menu, select Copy Location.
  15. Press Ctrl + C again and this time select Copy Rotation; press Ctrl + C one more time and select Copy Scale.
  16. Right-click to select the second Plane (gidiosaurus_side.png) in the 3D view, or click on its name in the Outliner, and rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis (R | Z | 90 | Enter).
  17. Optionally, you can move the second Plane to the second layer (M | second button on the Move to Layer panel).
  18. Again, left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  19. Repeat from step 12 to step 15 and move the third Plane on a different layer.
  20. Save the file.

How it works…

We used a Python script, which is an add-on, to import planes into our scene that are automatically UV-mapped with the selected image, and inherit the images' height/width aspect ratio.

To have the textures/templates clearly visible from any angle in the 3D view, we have enabled the Shadeless option for the Planes materials; we did this directly in the importer preferences. We can also set each material to shadeless later in the Material window.

We then used another add-on to copy the attributes from a selected object, in order to quickly match common parameters such as location, scale, and rotation:

How it works…

The template planes aligned to the x and y axis (Front and Side views)

The imported Planes can be placed on different layers for practicality; they can also be on a single layer and their visibility can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

Getting ready

The first thing to do is to be sure that all the required add-ons are enabled in the preferences; in this first recipe, we need the Images as Planes and Copy Attributes Menu add-ons. When starting Blender with the factory settings, they appear gray in the User Preferences panel's Add-ons list, meaning that they are not enabled yet. So, we'll do the following:

  1. Call the User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U) and go to the Add-ons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on 3D View.
  3. Check the empty little checkbox on the right-hand side of the 3D View: Copy Attributes Menu add-on to enable it.
  4. Go back to the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel and click on Import-Export.
  5. Scroll down the add-ons list to the right-hand side to find the Import-Export: Import Images as Planes add-on (usually, towards the middle of the long list).
  6. Enable it, and then click on the Save User Settings button to the left-bottom of the panel and close it.
    Getting ready

    The User Preferences panel with the Categories list and the Addons tab to enable the several add-ons

    There are still a few things we should do to prepare the 3D scene and make our life easier:

  7. Delete the already selected Cube primitive.
  8. Select the Lamp and the Camera and move them on to a different layer; I usually have them on the sixth layer (M key), in order to keep free and empty both the first and second rows of the left layer's block.
  9. The Outliner can be found in the top-right corner of the default workspace. It shows a list view of the scene. Set Display Mode of the Outliner to Visible Layers.
  10. Lastly, save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

How to do it…

Although not strictly necessary, it would be better to have the three (at least in the case of a biped character, the Front, Side, and Back view) templates as separated images. This will allow us to load a specific one for each view, if necessary. Also, to facilitate the process, all these images should be the same height in pixels.

In our case, the required three views are provided for you in the files that accompany this book. You will find them in the templates folder. The Import Images as Planes add-on will take care of loading them into the scene:

  1. Left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  2. On the page that just opened, go to the Material Settings column on the left-hand side (under the Import Images as Planes options) and enable the Shadeless item. Then, browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image:
    How to do it…

    The Import pop-up menu and the material settings subpanel of the Import Images as Planes add-on

  3. Rotate 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter) of the Plane that just appeared at the center of the scene (at the 3D Cursor location, actually; to reset the position of the 3D Cursor at the center of the scene, press the Shift + C keys).
  4. Press N to call the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the active 3D window, and then go to the Shading subpanel and enable the Textured Solid item.
  5. Press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view:
    How to do it…

    The imported plane with the relative UV-mapped image

    Now, we know that our Gidiosaurus is a 2.5 meters tall beast. So, assuming that 1 Blender Unit is equal to 1 meter, we must scale the plane to make the character's front template two and a half Blender Units tall (Note that it is not the plane that must be 2.5 units tall, it's the character's shape inside the plane).

  6. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  7. Duplicate it and move it 2.5 units up on the z axis (Shift + D | Z | 2.5 | Enter).
  8. Go to the Outliner and click on the arrows on the side of the names of the two Empties (Empty and Empty.001), in order to make them gray and the Empties not selectable.
  9. Select the Plane and move it to align the bottom (feet) guideline to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you actually have to move it on the z axis by 0.4470, but note that by pressing the Ctrl key, you can restrict movements to the grid and with Ctrl + Shift, you can have even finer control).
  10. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the object origin, and press the period key to switch Pivot center for rotation/scaling to the 3D Cursor.
  11. Press S to scale the Plane bigger and align the top-head guideline to the horizontal arm of the second Empty (you have to scale it to a value of 2.8300):
    How to do it…

    The properly scaled plane in the 3D scene

  12. Left-click again on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  13. Browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and this time load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  14. Shift + right-click on the first Plane (gidiosaurus_front.png) to select it and make it the active one. Then, press Ctrl + C and from the Copy Attributes pop-up menu, select Copy Location.
  15. Press Ctrl + C again and this time select Copy Rotation; press Ctrl + C one more time and select Copy Scale.
  16. Right-click to select the second Plane (gidiosaurus_side.png) in the 3D view, or click on its name in the Outliner, and rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis (R | Z | 90 | Enter).
  17. Optionally, you can move the second Plane to the second layer (M | second button on the Move to Layer panel).
  18. Again, left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  19. Repeat from step 12 to step 15 and move the third Plane on a different layer.
  20. Save the file.

How it works…

We used a Python script, which is an add-on, to import planes into our scene that are automatically UV-mapped with the selected image, and inherit the images' height/width aspect ratio.

To have the textures/templates clearly visible from any angle in the 3D view, we have enabled the Shadeless option for the Planes materials; we did this directly in the importer preferences. We can also set each material to shadeless later in the Material window.

We then used another add-on to copy the attributes from a selected object, in order to quickly match common parameters such as location, scale, and rotation:

How it works…

The template planes aligned to the x and y axis (Front and Side views)

The imported Planes can be placed on different layers for practicality; they can also be on a single layer and their visibility can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

How to do it…

Although not strictly necessary, it would be better to have the three (at least in the case of a biped character, the Front, Side, and Back view) templates as separated images. This will allow us to load a specific one for each view, if necessary. Also, to facilitate the process, all these images should be the same height in pixels.

In our case, the required three views are provided for you in the files that accompany this book. You will find them in the templates folder. The Import Images as Planes add-on will take care of loading them into the scene:

  1. Left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  2. On the page that just opened, go to the Material Settings column on the left-hand side (under the Import Images as Planes options) and enable the Shadeless item. Then, browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image:
    How to do it…

    The Import pop-up menu and the material settings subpanel of the Import Images as Planes add-on

  3. Rotate 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter) of the Plane that just appeared at the center of the scene (at the 3D Cursor location, actually; to reset the position of the 3D Cursor at the center of the scene, press the Shift + C keys).
  4. Press N to call the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the active 3D window, and then go to the Shading subpanel and enable the Textured Solid item.
  5. Press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view:
    How to do it…

    The imported plane with the relative UV-mapped image

    Now, we know that our Gidiosaurus is a 2.5 meters tall beast. So, assuming that 1 Blender Unit is equal to 1 meter, we must scale the plane to make the character's front template two and a half Blender Units tall (Note that it is not the plane that must be 2.5 units tall, it's the character's shape inside the plane).

  6. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  7. Duplicate it and move it 2.5 units up on the z axis (Shift + D | Z | 2.5 | Enter).
  8. Go to the Outliner and click on the arrows on the side of the names of the two Empties (Empty and Empty.001), in order to make them gray and the Empties not selectable.
  9. Select the Plane and move it to align the bottom (feet) guideline to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you actually have to move it on the z axis by 0.4470, but note that by pressing the Ctrl key, you can restrict movements to the grid and with Ctrl + Shift, you can have even finer control).
  10. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the object origin, and press the period key to switch Pivot center for rotation/scaling to the 3D Cursor.
  11. Press S to scale the Plane bigger and align the top-head guideline to the horizontal arm of the second Empty (you have to scale it to a value of 2.8300):
    How to do it…

    The properly scaled plane in the 3D scene

  12. Left-click again on File | Import | Images as Planes in the top-left menu on the main header of the Blender UI.
  13. Browse to the location where you placed your templates folder and this time load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  14. Shift + right-click on the first Plane (gidiosaurus_front.png) to select it and make it the active one. Then, press Ctrl + C and from the Copy Attributes pop-up menu, select Copy Location.
  15. Press Ctrl + C again and this time select Copy Rotation; press Ctrl + C one more time and select Copy Scale.
  16. Right-click to select the second Plane (gidiosaurus_side.png) in the 3D view, or click on its name in the Outliner, and rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis (R | Z | 90 | Enter).
  17. Optionally, you can move the second Plane to the second layer (M | second button on the Move to Layer panel).
  18. Again, left-click on File | Import | Images as Planes, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  19. Repeat from step 12 to step 15 and move the third Plane on a different layer.
  20. Save the file.

How it works…

We used a Python script, which is an add-on, to import planes into our scene that are automatically UV-mapped with the selected image, and inherit the images' height/width aspect ratio.

To have the textures/templates clearly visible from any angle in the 3D view, we have enabled the Shadeless option for the Planes materials; we did this directly in the importer preferences. We can also set each material to shadeless later in the Material window.

We then used another add-on to copy the attributes from a selected object, in order to quickly match common parameters such as location, scale, and rotation:

How it works…

The template planes aligned to the x and y axis (Front and Side views)

The imported Planes can be placed on different layers for practicality; they can also be on a single layer and their visibility can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

How it works…

We used a Python script, which is an add-on, to import planes into our scene that are automatically UV-mapped with the selected image, and inherit the images' height/width aspect ratio.

To have the textures/templates clearly visible from any angle in the 3D view, we have enabled the Shadeless option for the Planes materials; we did this directly in the importer preferences. We can also set each material to shadeless later in the Material window.

We then used another add-on to copy the attributes from a selected object, in order to quickly match common parameters such as location, scale, and rotation:

How it works…

The template planes aligned to the x and y axis (Front and Side views)

The imported Planes can be placed on different layers for practicality; they can also be on a single layer and their visibility can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

Setting templates with the Image Empties method

In this recipe, we'll set the character's templates by using Image Empties.

Getting ready

For this and the following recipes, there is no need for any particular preparations. Anyway, it is handy to prepare the two Empties to have markers in the 3D view for the 2.5 meters height of the character; so we'll do the following:

  1. Start a brand new Blender session and delete the already selected Cube primitive.
  2. Select the Lamp and Camera and move them on a different layer; I usually have them on the sixth layer, in order to keep free and empty both the first and second rows of the left layer's block.
  3. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  4. Duplicate it and move it 2.5 units up on the z axis (Shift + D | Z | 2.5 | Enter).
  5. Go to the Outliner and click on the arrows on the side of the names of the two Empties (Empty and Empty.001), in order to make them gray and the Empties not selectable.
  6. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

How to do it…

So, now we are going to place the first Image Empty in the scene:

  1. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Image; it's the last item in the list).
  2. Go to the Object Data window in the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the Blender UI; under the Empty subpanel, click on the Open button.
  3. Browse to the templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
    How to do it…

    The Add pop-up menu and the Image Empty added to the 3D scene, with the settings to load and set the image

  4. Set the Offset X value to -0.50 and Offset Y to -0.05. Set the Size value to 2.830:
    How to do it…

    The Offset and Size settings

  5. Rotate the Empty 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter).
  6. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_front.
  7. Duplicate it (Shift + D), rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis, and in the Outliner, rename it as Empty_gidiosaurus_side.
  8. In the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that data block) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  9. Reselect Empty_gidiosaurus_front and press Shift + D to duplicate it.
  10. Go to the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that datablock) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and this time load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  11. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_back.

How it works…

We have used one of the most underrated (well, in my opinion) tools in Blender: Empties, which can show images! Compared to the Images as Planes add-on, this has some advantages: these are not 3D geometry and the images are also visible in the 3D view without the Textured Solid option enabled (under Shading) and in Wireframe mode.

How it works…

The Image Empties appear as textured also in Wireframe viewport shading mode

Exactly, as for the imported Planes of the former recipe, the visibility in the 3D view of the Image Empties can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

Getting ready

For this and the following recipes, there is no need for any particular preparations. Anyway, it is handy to prepare the two Empties to have markers in the 3D view for the 2.5 meters height of the character; so we'll do the following:

  1. Start a brand new Blender session and delete the already selected Cube primitive.
  2. Select the Lamp and Camera and move them on a different layer; I usually have them on the sixth layer, in order to keep free and empty both the first and second rows of the left layer's block.
  3. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  4. Duplicate it and move it 2.5 units up on the z axis (Shift + D | Z | 2.5 | Enter).
  5. Go to the Outliner and click on the arrows on the side of the names of the two Empties (Empty and Empty.001), in order to make them gray and the Empties not selectable.
  6. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

How to do it…

So, now we are going to place the first Image Empty in the scene:

  1. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Image; it's the last item in the list).
  2. Go to the Object Data window in the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the Blender UI; under the Empty subpanel, click on the Open button.
  3. Browse to the templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
    How to do it…

    The Add pop-up menu and the Image Empty added to the 3D scene, with the settings to load and set the image

  4. Set the Offset X value to -0.50 and Offset Y to -0.05. Set the Size value to 2.830:
    How to do it…

    The Offset and Size settings

  5. Rotate the Empty 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter).
  6. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_front.
  7. Duplicate it (Shift + D), rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis, and in the Outliner, rename it as Empty_gidiosaurus_side.
  8. In the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that data block) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  9. Reselect Empty_gidiosaurus_front and press Shift + D to duplicate it.
  10. Go to the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that datablock) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and this time load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  11. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_back.

How it works…

We have used one of the most underrated (well, in my opinion) tools in Blender: Empties, which can show images! Compared to the Images as Planes add-on, this has some advantages: these are not 3D geometry and the images are also visible in the 3D view without the Textured Solid option enabled (under Shading) and in Wireframe mode.

How it works…

The Image Empties appear as textured also in Wireframe viewport shading mode

Exactly, as for the imported Planes of the former recipe, the visibility in the 3D view of the Image Empties can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

How to do it…

So, now we are going to place the first Image Empty in the scene:

  1. Add an Empty to the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Image; it's the last item in the list).
  2. Go to the Object Data window in the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the Blender UI; under the Empty subpanel, click on the Open button.
  3. Browse to the templates folder and load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
    How to do it…

    The Add pop-up menu and the Image Empty added to the 3D scene, with the settings to load and set the image

  4. Set the Offset X value to -0.50 and Offset Y to -0.05. Set the Size value to 2.830:
    How to do it…

    The Offset and Size settings

  5. Rotate the Empty 90 degrees on the x axis (R | X | 90 | Enter).
  6. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_front.
  7. Duplicate it (Shift + D), rotate it 90 degrees on the z axis, and in the Outliner, rename it as Empty_gidiosaurus_side.
  8. In the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that data block) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image.
  9. Reselect Empty_gidiosaurus_front and press Shift + D to duplicate it.
  10. Go to the Empty subpanel under the Object Data window, click on the little icon (showing 3 users for that datablock) on the right-hand side of the image name under Display, in order to make it a single user. Then, click on the little folder icon on the right-hand side of the image path to go inside the templates folder again, and this time load the gidiosaurus_back.png image.
  11. Go to the Outliner and rename it Empty_gidiosaurus_back.

How it works…

We have used one of the most underrated (well, in my opinion) tools in Blender: Empties, which can show images! Compared to the Images as Planes add-on, this has some advantages: these are not 3D geometry and the images are also visible in the 3D view without the Textured Solid option enabled (under Shading) and in Wireframe mode.

How it works…

The Image Empties appear as textured also in Wireframe viewport shading mode

Exactly, as for the imported Planes of the former recipe, the visibility in the 3D view of the Image Empties can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

How it works…

We have used one of the most underrated (well, in my opinion) tools in Blender: Empties, which can show images! Compared to the Images as Planes add-on, this has some advantages: these are not 3D geometry and the images are also visible in the 3D view without the Textured Solid option enabled (under Shading) and in Wireframe mode.

How it works…

The Image Empties appear as textured also in Wireframe viewport shading mode

Exactly, as for the imported Planes of the former recipe, the visibility in the 3D view of the Image Empties can be toggled on and off by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner.

Setting templates with the Background Images tool

In this recipe, we'll set the character's templates by using the Background Images tool.

Getting ready

As in the former recipe, no need for any particular preparations; just carry out the preparatory steps as mentioned in the Getting ready section of the previous recipe.

How to do it…

So let's start by adding the templates as background images; that is, as reference images only visible in the background in Ortho view mode and, differently from the previous recipes, not as 3D objects actually present in the middle of the scene:

  1. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the orthographic Front view and press Alt + Home to center the view on the 3D Cursor.
  2. If not already present, press N to bring up the Properties sidepanel to the right-hand side of the 3D window; scroll down to reach the Background Images subpanel and enable it with the checkbox. Then click on the little arrow to expand it.
  3. Click on the Add Image button; in the new option panel that appears, click on the Open button and browse to the templates folder to load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
  4. Click on the little window to the side of the Axis item and switch from All Views to Front, and then set the Opacity slider to 1.000.
  5. Increase the Y offset value to make the bottom/feet guideline of the reference image aligned to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you have to set it to 0.780).
  6. Scale Size smaller, using both the Empties that we set as references for the 2.5 meters height of the creature (you actually have to set the Scale value to 0.875).
    How to do it…

    The background image scaled and positioned through the settings in the N sidepanel

  7. Click on the little white arrow on the top-left side of the gidiosaurus_front.png subwindow to collapse it.
  8. Click on the Add Image button again; then, in the new option panel, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image. Then, set the Axis item to Right, Opacity to 1.000, Scale to 0.875, and Y to 0.780.
  9. Repeat the operation for the gidiosaurus_back.png image, set Axis to Back, and so on.

Press 3 on the numpad to switch to the Side view, 1 to switch to the Front view, and Ctrl + 1 to switch to the Back view, but remember that you must be in the Ortho mode (5 key on the numpad) to see the background templates:

How to do it…

The N sidepanel settings to assign the background image to a view

Getting ready

As in the former recipe, no need for any particular preparations; just carry out the preparatory steps as mentioned in the Getting ready section of the previous recipe.

How to do it…

So let's start by adding the templates as background images; that is, as reference images only visible in the background in Ortho view mode and, differently from the previous recipes, not as 3D objects actually present in the middle of the scene:

  1. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the orthographic Front view and press Alt + Home to center the view on the 3D Cursor.
  2. If not already present, press N to bring up the Properties sidepanel to the right-hand side of the 3D window; scroll down to reach the Background Images subpanel and enable it with the checkbox. Then click on the little arrow to expand it.
  3. Click on the Add Image button; in the new option panel that appears, click on the Open button and browse to the templates folder to load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
  4. Click on the little window to the side of the Axis item and switch from All Views to Front, and then set the Opacity slider to 1.000.
  5. Increase the Y offset value to make the bottom/feet guideline of the reference image aligned to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you have to set it to 0.780).
  6. Scale Size smaller, using both the Empties that we set as references for the 2.5 meters height of the creature (you actually have to set the Scale value to 0.875).
    How to do it…

    The background image scaled and positioned through the settings in the N sidepanel

  7. Click on the little white arrow on the top-left side of the gidiosaurus_front.png subwindow to collapse it.
  8. Click on the Add Image button again; then, in the new option panel, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image. Then, set the Axis item to Right, Opacity to 1.000, Scale to 0.875, and Y to 0.780.
  9. Repeat the operation for the gidiosaurus_back.png image, set Axis to Back, and so on.

Press 3 on the numpad to switch to the Side view, 1 to switch to the Front view, and Ctrl + 1 to switch to the Back view, but remember that you must be in the Ortho mode (5 key on the numpad) to see the background templates:

How to do it…

The N sidepanel settings to assign the background image to a view

How to do it…

So let's start by adding the templates as background images; that is, as reference images only visible in the background in Ortho view mode and, differently from the previous recipes, not as 3D objects actually present in the middle of the scene:

  1. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the orthographic Front view and press Alt + Home to center the view on the 3D Cursor.
  2. If not already present, press N to bring up the Properties sidepanel to the right-hand side of the 3D window; scroll down to reach the Background Images subpanel and enable it with the checkbox. Then click on the little arrow to expand it.
  3. Click on the Add Image button; in the new option panel that appears, click on the Open button and browse to the templates folder to load the gidiosaurus_front.png image.
  4. Click on the little window to the side of the Axis item and switch from All Views to Front, and then set the Opacity slider to 1.000.
  5. Increase the Y offset value to make the bottom/feet guideline of the reference image aligned to the horizontal arm of the first Empty (you have to set it to 0.780).
  6. Scale Size smaller, using both the Empties that we set as references for the 2.5 meters height of the creature (you actually have to set the Scale value to 0.875).
    How to do it…

    The background image scaled and positioned through the settings in the N sidepanel

  7. Click on the little white arrow on the top-left side of the gidiosaurus_front.png subwindow to collapse it.
  8. Click on the Add Image button again; then, in the new option panel, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_side.png image. Then, set the Axis item to Right, Opacity to 1.000, Scale to 0.875, and Y to 0.780.
  9. Repeat the operation for the gidiosaurus_back.png image, set Axis to Back, and so on.

Press 3 on the numpad to switch to the Side view, 1 to switch to the Front view, and Ctrl + 1 to switch to the Back view, but remember that you must be in the Ortho mode (5 key on the numpad) to see the background templates:

How to do it…

The N sidepanel settings to assign the background image to a view

Building the character's base mesh with the Skin modifier

In the previous recipes, we saw three different ways to set up the template images; just remember that one method doesn't exclude the others, so in my opinion, the best setup you can have is: Image Empties on one layer (visibility toggled using the eye icons in the Outliner) together with Background Images. This way you can not only have templates visible in the three orthographic views, but also in the perspective view (and this can sometimes be really handy).

However, whatever the method you choose, now it's time to start to build the character's base mesh. To do this, we are going to use the Skin modifier.

Getting ready

First, let's prepare the scene:

  1. In case it's needed, reopen the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file.
  2. Click on an empty scene layer to activate it; for example, the 11th.
    Getting ready

    The starting empty scene and the scene layer's buttons on the 3D window toolbar

  3. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the center of the scene (Shift + C).
  4. Add a Plane (press Shift + A and go to Mesh | Plane). If you are working with the Factory Settings, you must now press Tab to go in to Edit Mode, and then Shift + right-click to deselect just one vertex.
  5. Press X and delete the three vertices that are still selected.
  6. Right-click to select the remaining vertex and put it at the cursor location in the center of the scene (Shift + S, and then select Selection to Cursor).
  7. Go to the Object Modifiers window on the main Properties panel, to the right-hand side, and assign a Skin modifier; a cube appears around the vertex. Uncheck X under Symmetry Axes in the modifier's panel:

    Getting ready

    The cube geometry created by just one vertex and the Skin modifier

  8. Assign a Mirror modifier and check Clipping.
  9. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier and check Optimal Display.
  10. Go to the toolbar of the 3D view to click on the Limit selection to visible icon and disable it; the icon appears only in Edit Mode and in all the viewport shading modes, except for Wireframe and Bounding Box, and has the appearance of a cube with the vertices selected:
    Getting ready

    The “Limit selection to visible” button on the 3D viewport toolbar and the cube geometry subdivided through the Subdivision Surface modifier

  11. Press 3 on the numpad to go in the Side view:
    Getting ready

    The created geometry and the side-view template reference

How to do it…

We are now going to move and extrude the vertex according to our template images, working as guides, and therefore generating a 3D geometry (thanks to the Skin modifier):

  1. Press G and move the vertex to the pelvis area. Then, press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards the vertex to lower the weight/influence of the vertex itself on the generated mesh; scaling it smaller to fit the hip size showing on the template:
    How to do it…

    Moving the geometry to the character's pelvis area

  2. Press E and extrude the vertex by moving it up on the z axis; place it at the bottom of the rib cage.
  3. Go on extruding the vertex by following the lateral shape of the character in the template. Don't be worried about the volumes; for the moment, just build a stick-figure going up the torso:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the vertices to create a new geometry

  4. Proceed to the neck and stop at the attachment of the head location.
  5. Select the last two vertices you extruded; press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards them to scale down their influence in order to provide a slim-looking neck:
    How to do it…

    Scaling down the influence of the vertices

  6. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the Front view, and then select the bottom vertex and extrude it down to cover the base of the creature's pelvis. Press Ctrl + A | X to scale it only on the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the weight of the vertices in the Front view

  7. Go to the Mirror modifier and uncheck the Clipping item.
  8. Select the middle thorax vertex and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the shoulder. Press Ctrl + A to scale it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Creating the shoulders

  9. Extrude the shoulder vertex, following the arm shape, and stop at the wrist; select the just-extruded arms' vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale them smaller.
  10. Reselect the shoulder vertex, and use Shift + V to slide it along the shoulder's edge in order to adjust the location and fix the area shape:
    How to do it…

    Creating the arms

  11. Select the middle thorax vertex we extruded the shoulder from and go to the Skin modifier; click on the Mark Loose button:
    How to do it…

    Making a more natural transition from the thorax to the arms

  12. Select the second vertex from the bottom and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the hip, and then extrude again and stop at the knee. Use Ctrl + A on the vertex to make it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the thighs

  13. Go on extruding the vertex to build the leg. Then, select the wrist vertex and extrude it to build the hand:
    How to do it…

    Extruding to complete the leg

  14. Press 3 to go to the Side view.
  15. Individually, select the vertices of the knee, ankle, and foot, and move them to be aligned with the character's posture (you can use the widget for this and, if needed, you can press Z to go in to Wireframe viewport shading mode); do the same with the vertices of the arm:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the arm's position

  16. Select the vertices of the shoulder and elbow, and move them forward according to the template position; do the same with the vertices of the neck and waist:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the shoulders, thorax, and neck

  17. Select the vertex connecting the shoulder to the thorax and use Shift + V to slide it upwards, in order to make room for more vertices in the chest area. Use Shift to select the vertex at the bottom of the rib cage and press W; in the Specials pop-up menu, select Subdivide and, right after the subdivision, in the option panel at the bottom-left of the Blender UI, set Number of Cuts to 2:
    How to do it…

    Subdividing an edge

  18. In the Side view, select the upper one of the new vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale it bigger. Adjust the position and scale of the vertices around that area (neck and shoulder) to obtain, as much as possible, a shape that is more regular and similar to the template. However, don't worry too much about a perfect correspondence, it can be adjusted later:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shoulder's shape

  19. Extrude the bulk of the head. Select the last hand vertex and scale it smaller. Then, select the upper hand vertex and extrude two more fingers (scale their influence smaller and adjust their position to obtain a more regular and ordinate flow of the polygons in the generated geometry):
    How to do it…

    Creating the head, hands, and fingers

  20. As always, following the templates as reference, extrude again to complete the fingers; use all the templates to check the accuracy of the proportions and positions, and the Front, Side, and Back views too:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the fingers according to the templates

  21. Do the same thing for the foot, and we are almost done with the major part of the mesh:
    How to do it…

    Creating the feet toes

    Now, it's only a matter of refining, as much as possible, the mesh's parts to resemble best the final shape of the character. Let's try with the arm first:

  22. Select the two extreme vertices of the forearm and press W | Subdivide | 2 (in the bottom Tool panel) to add 2 vertices in the middle. Then, use Ctrl + A to scale and move them outward to curve the forearm a little bit. Do the same for the thigh by slightly moving the vertices outward and backward:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shape of arms and legs

  23. Repeat the same procedure with the upper arm, shin, foot, and fingers; any part where it's possible, but don't go crazy about it. The goal of such a technique is just to quickly obtain a mesh that is good enough to be used as a starting point for the sculpting, and not an already finished model:
    How to do it…

    The completed base mesh

  24. Press Tab to go out of the Edit Mode; go to the Outliner and rename the base mesh as Gidiosaurus. Then, save the file.

How it works…

The Skin modifier is a quick and simple way to build almost any shape; its use is very simple: first, you extrude vertices (actually, it would be enough to add vertices; it's not mandatory to extrude them, but certainly it's more handy than using Ctrl + left-click to add them at several locations), and then using the Ctrl + A shortcut, you scale smaller or bigger the influence that these vertices have on the 3D geometry generated on the fly.

If you have already tried it, you must have seen that the more the complexity of the mesh grows, the more the generated geometry starts to become a little unstable, often resulting in intersecting and overlapping faces. Sometimes this seems unavoidable, but in any case it is not a big issue and can be easily fixed through a little bit of editing. We'll see this in the next chapter.

Getting ready

First, let's prepare the scene:

  1. In case it's needed, reopen the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file.
  2. Click on an empty scene layer to activate it; for example, the 11th.
    Getting ready

    The starting empty scene and the scene layer's buttons on the 3D window toolbar

  3. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the center of the scene (Shift + C).
  4. Add a Plane (press Shift + A and go to Mesh | Plane). If you are working with the Factory Settings, you must now press Tab to go in to Edit Mode, and then Shift + right-click to deselect just one vertex.
  5. Press X and delete the three vertices that are still selected.
  6. Right-click to select the remaining vertex and put it at the cursor location in the center of the scene (Shift + S, and then select Selection to Cursor).
  7. Go to the Object Modifiers window on the main Properties panel, to the right-hand side, and assign a Skin modifier; a cube appears around the vertex. Uncheck X under Symmetry Axes in the modifier's panel:

    Getting ready

    The cube geometry created by just one vertex and the Skin modifier

  8. Assign a Mirror modifier and check Clipping.
  9. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier and check Optimal Display.
  10. Go to the toolbar of the 3D view to click on the Limit selection to visible icon and disable it; the icon appears only in Edit Mode and in all the viewport shading modes, except for Wireframe and Bounding Box, and has the appearance of a cube with the vertices selected:
    Getting ready

    The “Limit selection to visible” button on the 3D viewport toolbar and the cube geometry subdivided through the Subdivision Surface modifier

  11. Press 3 on the numpad to go in the Side view:
    Getting ready

    The created geometry and the side-view template reference

How to do it…

We are now going to move and extrude the vertex according to our template images, working as guides, and therefore generating a 3D geometry (thanks to the Skin modifier):

  1. Press G and move the vertex to the pelvis area. Then, press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards the vertex to lower the weight/influence of the vertex itself on the generated mesh; scaling it smaller to fit the hip size showing on the template:
    How to do it…

    Moving the geometry to the character's pelvis area

  2. Press E and extrude the vertex by moving it up on the z axis; place it at the bottom of the rib cage.
  3. Go on extruding the vertex by following the lateral shape of the character in the template. Don't be worried about the volumes; for the moment, just build a stick-figure going up the torso:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the vertices to create a new geometry

  4. Proceed to the neck and stop at the attachment of the head location.
  5. Select the last two vertices you extruded; press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards them to scale down their influence in order to provide a slim-looking neck:
    How to do it…

    Scaling down the influence of the vertices

  6. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the Front view, and then select the bottom vertex and extrude it down to cover the base of the creature's pelvis. Press Ctrl + A | X to scale it only on the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the weight of the vertices in the Front view

  7. Go to the Mirror modifier and uncheck the Clipping item.
  8. Select the middle thorax vertex and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the shoulder. Press Ctrl + A to scale it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Creating the shoulders

  9. Extrude the shoulder vertex, following the arm shape, and stop at the wrist; select the just-extruded arms' vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale them smaller.
  10. Reselect the shoulder vertex, and use Shift + V to slide it along the shoulder's edge in order to adjust the location and fix the area shape:
    How to do it…

    Creating the arms

  11. Select the middle thorax vertex we extruded the shoulder from and go to the Skin modifier; click on the Mark Loose button:
    How to do it…

    Making a more natural transition from the thorax to the arms

  12. Select the second vertex from the bottom and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the hip, and then extrude again and stop at the knee. Use Ctrl + A on the vertex to make it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the thighs

  13. Go on extruding the vertex to build the leg. Then, select the wrist vertex and extrude it to build the hand:
    How to do it…

    Extruding to complete the leg

  14. Press 3 to go to the Side view.
  15. Individually, select the vertices of the knee, ankle, and foot, and move them to be aligned with the character's posture (you can use the widget for this and, if needed, you can press Z to go in to Wireframe viewport shading mode); do the same with the vertices of the arm:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the arm's position

  16. Select the vertices of the shoulder and elbow, and move them forward according to the template position; do the same with the vertices of the neck and waist:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the shoulders, thorax, and neck

  17. Select the vertex connecting the shoulder to the thorax and use Shift + V to slide it upwards, in order to make room for more vertices in the chest area. Use Shift to select the vertex at the bottom of the rib cage and press W; in the Specials pop-up menu, select Subdivide and, right after the subdivision, in the option panel at the bottom-left of the Blender UI, set Number of Cuts to 2:
    How to do it…

    Subdividing an edge

  18. In the Side view, select the upper one of the new vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale it bigger. Adjust the position and scale of the vertices around that area (neck and shoulder) to obtain, as much as possible, a shape that is more regular and similar to the template. However, don't worry too much about a perfect correspondence, it can be adjusted later:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shoulder's shape

  19. Extrude the bulk of the head. Select the last hand vertex and scale it smaller. Then, select the upper hand vertex and extrude two more fingers (scale their influence smaller and adjust their position to obtain a more regular and ordinate flow of the polygons in the generated geometry):
    How to do it…

    Creating the head, hands, and fingers

  20. As always, following the templates as reference, extrude again to complete the fingers; use all the templates to check the accuracy of the proportions and positions, and the Front, Side, and Back views too:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the fingers according to the templates

  21. Do the same thing for the foot, and we are almost done with the major part of the mesh:
    How to do it…

    Creating the feet toes

    Now, it's only a matter of refining, as much as possible, the mesh's parts to resemble best the final shape of the character. Let's try with the arm first:

  22. Select the two extreme vertices of the forearm and press W | Subdivide | 2 (in the bottom Tool panel) to add 2 vertices in the middle. Then, use Ctrl + A to scale and move them outward to curve the forearm a little bit. Do the same for the thigh by slightly moving the vertices outward and backward:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shape of arms and legs

  23. Repeat the same procedure with the upper arm, shin, foot, and fingers; any part where it's possible, but don't go crazy about it. The goal of such a technique is just to quickly obtain a mesh that is good enough to be used as a starting point for the sculpting, and not an already finished model:
    How to do it…

    The completed base mesh

  24. Press Tab to go out of the Edit Mode; go to the Outliner and rename the base mesh as Gidiosaurus. Then, save the file.

How it works…

The Skin modifier is a quick and simple way to build almost any shape; its use is very simple: first, you extrude vertices (actually, it would be enough to add vertices; it's not mandatory to extrude them, but certainly it's more handy than using Ctrl + left-click to add them at several locations), and then using the Ctrl + A shortcut, you scale smaller or bigger the influence that these vertices have on the 3D geometry generated on the fly.

If you have already tried it, you must have seen that the more the complexity of the mesh grows, the more the generated geometry starts to become a little unstable, often resulting in intersecting and overlapping faces. Sometimes this seems unavoidable, but in any case it is not a big issue and can be easily fixed through a little bit of editing. We'll see this in the next chapter.

How to do it…

We are now going to move and extrude the vertex according to our template images, working as guides, and therefore generating a 3D geometry (thanks to the Skin modifier):

  1. Press G and move the vertex to the pelvis area. Then, press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards the vertex to lower the weight/influence of the vertex itself on the generated mesh; scaling it smaller to fit the hip size showing on the template:
    How to do it…

    Moving the geometry to the character's pelvis area

  2. Press E and extrude the vertex by moving it up on the z axis; place it at the bottom of the rib cage.
  3. Go on extruding the vertex by following the lateral shape of the character in the template. Don't be worried about the volumes; for the moment, just build a stick-figure going up the torso:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the vertices to create a new geometry

  4. Proceed to the neck and stop at the attachment of the head location.
  5. Select the last two vertices you extruded; press Ctrl + A and move the mouse cursor towards them to scale down their influence in order to provide a slim-looking neck:
    How to do it…

    Scaling down the influence of the vertices

  6. Press 1 on the numpad to switch to the Front view, and then select the bottom vertex and extrude it down to cover the base of the creature's pelvis. Press Ctrl + A | X to scale it only on the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the weight of the vertices in the Front view

  7. Go to the Mirror modifier and uncheck the Clipping item.
  8. Select the middle thorax vertex and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the shoulder. Press Ctrl + A to scale it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Creating the shoulders

  9. Extrude the shoulder vertex, following the arm shape, and stop at the wrist; select the just-extruded arms' vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale them smaller.
  10. Reselect the shoulder vertex, and use Shift + V to slide it along the shoulder's edge in order to adjust the location and fix the area shape:
    How to do it…

    Creating the arms

  11. Select the middle thorax vertex we extruded the shoulder from and go to the Skin modifier; click on the Mark Loose button:
    How to do it…

    Making a more natural transition from the thorax to the arms

  12. Select the second vertex from the bottom and extrude it to the right-hand side to build the hip, and then extrude again and stop at the knee. Use Ctrl + A on the vertex to make it smaller:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the thighs

  13. Go on extruding the vertex to build the leg. Then, select the wrist vertex and extrude it to build the hand:
    How to do it…

    Extruding to complete the leg

  14. Press 3 to go to the Side view.
  15. Individually, select the vertices of the knee, ankle, and foot, and move them to be aligned with the character's posture (you can use the widget for this and, if needed, you can press Z to go in to Wireframe viewport shading mode); do the same with the vertices of the arm:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the arm's position

  16. Select the vertices of the shoulder and elbow, and move them forward according to the template position; do the same with the vertices of the neck and waist:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the shoulders, thorax, and neck

  17. Select the vertex connecting the shoulder to the thorax and use Shift + V to slide it upwards, in order to make room for more vertices in the chest area. Use Shift to select the vertex at the bottom of the rib cage and press W; in the Specials pop-up menu, select Subdivide and, right after the subdivision, in the option panel at the bottom-left of the Blender UI, set Number of Cuts to 2:
    How to do it…

    Subdividing an edge

  18. In the Side view, select the upper one of the new vertices and use Ctrl + A to scale it bigger. Adjust the position and scale of the vertices around that area (neck and shoulder) to obtain, as much as possible, a shape that is more regular and similar to the template. However, don't worry too much about a perfect correspondence, it can be adjusted later:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shoulder's shape

  19. Extrude the bulk of the head. Select the last hand vertex and scale it smaller. Then, select the upper hand vertex and extrude two more fingers (scale their influence smaller and adjust their position to obtain a more regular and ordinate flow of the polygons in the generated geometry):
    How to do it…

    Creating the head, hands, and fingers

  20. As always, following the templates as reference, extrude again to complete the fingers; use all the templates to check the accuracy of the proportions and positions, and the Front, Side, and Back views too:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the position of the fingers according to the templates

  21. Do the same thing for the foot, and we are almost done with the major part of the mesh:
    How to do it…

    Creating the feet toes

    Now, it's only a matter of refining, as much as possible, the mesh's parts to resemble best the final shape of the character. Let's try with the arm first:

  22. Select the two extreme vertices of the forearm and press W | Subdivide | 2 (in the bottom Tool panel) to add 2 vertices in the middle. Then, use Ctrl + A to scale and move them outward to curve the forearm a little bit. Do the same for the thigh by slightly moving the vertices outward and backward:
    How to do it…

    Refining the shape of arms and legs

  23. Repeat the same procedure with the upper arm, shin, foot, and fingers; any part where it's possible, but don't go crazy about it. The goal of such a technique is just to quickly obtain a mesh that is good enough to be used as a starting point for the sculpting, and not an already finished model:
    How to do it…

    The completed base mesh

  24. Press Tab to go out of the Edit Mode; go to the Outliner and rename the base mesh as Gidiosaurus. Then, save the file.

How it works…

The Skin modifier is a quick and simple way to build almost any shape; its use is very simple: first, you extrude vertices (actually, it would be enough to add vertices; it's not mandatory to extrude them, but certainly it's more handy than using Ctrl + left-click to add them at several locations), and then using the Ctrl + A shortcut, you scale smaller or bigger the influence that these vertices have on the 3D geometry generated on the fly.

If you have already tried it, you must have seen that the more the complexity of the mesh grows, the more the generated geometry starts to become a little unstable, often resulting in intersecting and overlapping faces. Sometimes this seems unavoidable, but in any case it is not a big issue and can be easily fixed through a little bit of editing. We'll see this in the next chapter.

How it works…

The Skin modifier is a quick and simple way to build almost any shape; its use is very simple: first, you extrude vertices (actually, it would be enough to add vertices; it's not mandatory to extrude them, but certainly it's more handy than using Ctrl + left-click to add them at several locations), and then using the Ctrl + A shortcut, you scale smaller or bigger the influence that these vertices have on the 3D geometry generated on the fly.

If you have already tried it, you must have seen that the more the complexity of the mesh grows, the more the generated geometry starts to become a little unstable, often resulting in intersecting and overlapping faces. Sometimes this seems unavoidable, but in any case it is not a big issue and can be easily fixed through a little bit of editing. We'll see this in the next chapter.

 

Chapter 2. Sculpting the Character's Base Mesh

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Using the Skin modifier's Armature option
  • Editing the mesh
  • Preparing the base mesh for sculpting
  • Using the Multiresolution modifier and the Dynamic topology feature
  • Sculpting the character's base mesh

Introduction

In the previous chapter, we built the base mesh by using the Skin modifier and on the base of the reference templates; in this chapter, we are going to prepare this basic mesh for the sculpting, by editing it and cleaning up any mistakes the Skin modifier may have made (usually, overlapping and triangular faces, missing edge loops, and so on).

Using the Skin modifier's Armature option

The Skin modifier has an option to create an Armature on the fly to pose the generated mesh. This Armature can just be useful in cases where you want to modify the position of a part of the generated mesh.

Note that using the generated Armature to pose the base mesh, in our case, is not necessary, and therefore this recipe is treated here only as an example and it won't affect the following recipes in the chapter.

Getting ready

So, let's suppose that we want the arms to be posed more horizontally and widely spread:

  1. If this is the case, reopen the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file and save it with a different name (something like Gidiosaurus_Skin_Armature.blend).
  2. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh and press Tab to go into Edit Mode; then, select the central pelvis vertex.
  3. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel to the right-hand side of the screen and then to the Skin modifier subpanel; click on the Mark Root button:
    Getting ready

    The root vertex

  4. Press Tab again to exit Edit Mode.

How to do it…

Creating the rig (that is the skeleton Armature made by bones and used to deform, and therefore, animate a mesh) for our character's base mesh is really simple:

  1. Again, in the Skin modifier subpanel, click on the Create Armature button. The Armature is created instantly and an Armature modifier is automatically assigned to the mesh; in the modifier stack, move it to the top so that it is above the Mirror modifier and our posed half-mesh will be correctly mirrored:
    How to do it…

    The Armature created by the Skin modifier

  2. Press Ctrl + Tab to enter Pose Mode for the already selected Armature and then select the upper bone of the arm.
  3. In the toolbar of the 3D viewport, find the widget manipulators panel, click on the rotation Transformation manipulators (the third icon from the left), and set Transform Orientation to Normal.
  4. By using the rotate widget, rotate the selected bone and consequently the arm (be careful that, as already mentioned, the newly created Armature modifier is at the top of the modifier stack, otherwise the rotation will not correctly deform the mirrored mesh):
    How to do it…

    Rotating the arms through the Armature

  5. Exit Pose Mode and reselect the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  6. Go to the Skin modifier subpanel under the Object Modifiers window; click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  7. Go to the Armature modifier and click on the Apply button to also apply the rig transformations.
  8. At this point, we can also select the Armature object and delete it (X key).

How it works…

By clicking on the Create Armature button, the Skin modifier creates a bone for each edge connecting the extruded vertices, it adds an Armature modifier to the generated base mesh, and automatically assigns vertex groups to the base mesh and skins them with the corresponding bones.

The bones of this Armature work in Forward Kinematics, which means they are chained following the child/parent relation, with the first (parent) bone created at the Root location we had set at step 3 of the Getting ready section.

There's more…

Note that the bones of the Armature can be used not only to rotate limbs, but also to scale bigger or smaller parts of the mesh, in order to further tweak the shape of the base mesh.

Getting ready

So, let's suppose that we want the arms to be posed more horizontally and widely spread:

  1. If this is the case, reopen the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file and save it with a different name (something like Gidiosaurus_Skin_Armature.blend).
  2. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh and press Tab to go into Edit Mode; then, select the central pelvis vertex.
  3. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel to the right-hand side of the screen and then to the Skin modifier subpanel; click on the Mark Root button:
    Getting ready

    The root vertex

  4. Press Tab again to exit Edit Mode.

How to do it…

Creating the rig (that is the skeleton Armature made by bones and used to deform, and therefore, animate a mesh) for our character's base mesh is really simple:

  1. Again, in the Skin modifier subpanel, click on the Create Armature button. The Armature is created instantly and an Armature modifier is automatically assigned to the mesh; in the modifier stack, move it to the top so that it is above the Mirror modifier and our posed half-mesh will be correctly mirrored:
    How to do it…

    The Armature created by the Skin modifier

  2. Press Ctrl + Tab to enter Pose Mode for the already selected Armature and then select the upper bone of the arm.
  3. In the toolbar of the 3D viewport, find the widget manipulators panel, click on the rotation Transformation manipulators (the third icon from the left), and set Transform Orientation to Normal.
  4. By using the rotate widget, rotate the selected bone and consequently the arm (be careful that, as already mentioned, the newly created Armature modifier is at the top of the modifier stack, otherwise the rotation will not correctly deform the mirrored mesh):
    How to do it…

    Rotating the arms through the Armature

  5. Exit Pose Mode and reselect the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  6. Go to the Skin modifier subpanel under the Object Modifiers window; click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  7. Go to the Armature modifier and click on the Apply button to also apply the rig transformations.
  8. At this point, we can also select the Armature object and delete it (X key).

How it works…

By clicking on the Create Armature button, the Skin modifier creates a bone for each edge connecting the extruded vertices, it adds an Armature modifier to the generated base mesh, and automatically assigns vertex groups to the base mesh and skins them with the corresponding bones.

The bones of this Armature work in Forward Kinematics, which means they are chained following the child/parent relation, with the first (parent) bone created at the Root location we had set at step 3 of the Getting ready section.

There's more…

Note that the bones of the Armature can be used not only to rotate limbs, but also to scale bigger or smaller parts of the mesh, in order to further tweak the shape of the base mesh.

How to do it…

Creating the rig (that is the skeleton Armature made by bones and used to deform, and therefore, animate a mesh) for our character's base mesh is really simple:

  1. Again, in the Skin modifier subpanel, click on the Create Armature button. The Armature is created instantly and an Armature modifier is automatically assigned to the mesh; in the modifier stack, move it to the top so that it is above the Mirror modifier and our posed half-mesh will be correctly mirrored:
    How to do it…

    The Armature created by the Skin modifier

  2. Press Ctrl + Tab to enter Pose Mode for the already selected Armature and then select the upper bone of the arm.
  3. In the toolbar of the 3D viewport, find the widget manipulators panel, click on the rotation Transformation manipulators (the third icon from the left), and set Transform Orientation to Normal.
  4. By using the rotate widget, rotate the selected bone and consequently the arm (be careful that, as already mentioned, the newly created Armature modifier is at the top of the modifier stack, otherwise the rotation will not correctly deform the mirrored mesh):
    How to do it…

    Rotating the arms through the Armature

  5. Exit Pose Mode and reselect the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  6. Go to the Skin modifier subpanel under the Object Modifiers window; click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  7. Go to the Armature modifier and click on the Apply button to also apply the rig transformations.
  8. At this point, we can also select the Armature object and delete it (X key).

How it works…

By clicking on the Create Armature button, the Skin modifier creates a bone for each edge connecting the extruded vertices, it adds an Armature modifier to the generated base mesh, and automatically assigns vertex groups to the base mesh and skins them with the corresponding bones.

The bones of this Armature work in Forward Kinematics, which means they are chained following the child/parent relation, with the first (parent) bone created at the Root location we had set at step 3 of the Getting ready section.

There's more…

Note that the bones of the Armature can be used not only to rotate limbs, but also to scale bigger or smaller parts of the mesh, in order to further tweak the shape of the base mesh.

How it works…

By clicking on the Create Armature button, the Skin modifier creates a bone for each edge connecting the extruded vertices, it adds an Armature modifier to the generated base mesh, and automatically assigns vertex groups to the base mesh and skins them with the corresponding bones.

The bones of this Armature work in Forward Kinematics, which means they are chained following the child/parent relation, with the first (parent) bone created at the Root location we had set at step 3 of the Getting ready section.

There's more…

Note that the bones of the Armature can be used not only to rotate limbs, but also to scale bigger or smaller parts of the mesh, in order to further tweak the shape of the base mesh.

There's more…

Note that the bones of the Armature can be used not only to rotate limbs, but also to scale bigger or smaller parts of the mesh, in order to further tweak the shape of the base mesh.

Editing the mesh

Once we have applied the Skin and Armature modifiers, we are left with an almost ready-to-use base mesh; what we need to do now is clean the possibly overlapping faces and whatever other mistakes were made by the Skin modifier.

Be careful not to be confused by the previous recipe, which was meant only as a possible example; we didn't actually use the Skin modifier's Armature to change the pose of the base mesh.

Getting ready

Let's prepare the mesh and the view:

  1. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel and then to the Mirror modifier subpanel and click on the little X icon to the right in order to delete the modifier; you are left with half of the mesh (actually the half that is really generated by the Skin modifier; the other side was simulated by the Mirror modifier):
    Getting ready

    Deleting the Mirror modifier

  2. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode, 7 on the numpad to go into Top view, and Z to go into the Wireframe viewport shading mode.

How to do it…

  1. Press Ctrl + R to add an edge-loop to the middle of the mesh; don't move the mouse, and left-click a second time to confirm that you want it at 0.0000 location:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central edge-loop

    Sometimes, depending on the topology created by the Skin modifier, you may not be able to make a single clean loop cut by the Ctrl + R key shortcut. In this case, still in Edit Mode, you can press the K key to call the Knife Tool, left-click on the mesh to place the cuts, and press Enter to confirm (press Shift + K if you want only the newly created edge-loops selected after pressing Enter). This way, you can create several loop cuts, connect them together and, if necessary, move and/or scale them to the middle along the x axis.

    In fact, you can do the following:

  2. Go out of Edit Mode and press Shift + S; in the Snap pop-up menu, select Cursor to Selected (to center the cursor at the middle of the mesh).
  3. Press the period (.) key to switch Pivot Point to 3D Cursor and then press Tab to go again into Edit Mode.
  4. With the middle edge-loop already selected, press S | X | 0 | Enter to scale all its vertices to the 3D Cursor position along the x axis and align them at the perfect center:
    How to do it…

    Scaling the central edge-loop vertices along the x axis

  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices and then press B and box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the screen (actually the mesh's right-side vertices):
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the left vertices

  6. Press X and, in the Delete pop-up menu, select the Vertices item to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Deleting the left vertices

  7. Go out of Edit Mode and, in the Object Modifiers window, assign a new Mirror modifier (check Clipping) to the mesh; move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack.
  8. If needed, this is the point where you can manually edit the mesh by converting triangle faces to quads (select two consecutive triangular faces and press Alt + J), creating, closing, or moving edge-loops (by using the Knife Tool, for example, around the arms and legs attachments to the body), and so on.
  9. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

Well, in our case, everything went right with the Skin modifier, so there is no need for any big editing of the mesh! In effect, it was enough to delete the first Mirror modifier (that we actually used mostly for visual feedback) to get rid of all the overlapping faces and obtain a clean base mesh:

How to do it…

The "clean" mesh with new Mirror and Subdivision Surface modifiers

In the preceding screenshot, the base mesh geometry is showing with a level 1 of subdivision; in Edit Mode, it is still possible to see the low-level cage (that is, the real geometry of the mesh) as wireframe.

There are a couple of triangular faces (that, if possible, we should always try to avoid; quads faces work better for the sculpting) near the shoulders and on the feet, but we'll fix these automatically later, because before we start with the sculpting process, we will also apply the Subdivision Surface modifier.

How it works…

To obtain a clean half-body mesh, we had to delete the first Mirror modifier and the vertices of the right half of the mesh; to do this, we had also added a middle edge loop. So, we obtained a perfect left-half mesh and therefore we assigned again a Mirror modifier to restore the missing half of the body.

Getting ready

Let's prepare the mesh and the view:

  1. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel and then to the Mirror modifier subpanel and click on the little X icon to the right in order to delete the modifier; you are left with half of the mesh (actually the half that is really generated by the Skin modifier; the other side was simulated by the Mirror modifier):
    Getting ready

    Deleting the Mirror modifier

  2. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode, 7 on the numpad to go into Top view, and Z to go into the Wireframe viewport shading mode.

How to do it…

  1. Press Ctrl + R to add an edge-loop to the middle of the mesh; don't move the mouse, and left-click a second time to confirm that you want it at 0.0000 location:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central edge-loop

    Sometimes, depending on the topology created by the Skin modifier, you may not be able to make a single clean loop cut by the Ctrl + R key shortcut. In this case, still in Edit Mode, you can press the K key to call the Knife Tool, left-click on the mesh to place the cuts, and press Enter to confirm (press Shift + K if you want only the newly created edge-loops selected after pressing Enter). This way, you can create several loop cuts, connect them together and, if necessary, move and/or scale them to the middle along the x axis.

    In fact, you can do the following:

  2. Go out of Edit Mode and press Shift + S; in the Snap pop-up menu, select Cursor to Selected (to center the cursor at the middle of the mesh).
  3. Press the period (.) key to switch Pivot Point to 3D Cursor and then press Tab to go again into Edit Mode.
  4. With the middle edge-loop already selected, press S | X | 0 | Enter to scale all its vertices to the 3D Cursor position along the x axis and align them at the perfect center:
    How to do it…

    Scaling the central edge-loop vertices along the x axis

  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices and then press B and box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the screen (actually the mesh's right-side vertices):
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the left vertices

  6. Press X and, in the Delete pop-up menu, select the Vertices item to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Deleting the left vertices

  7. Go out of Edit Mode and, in the Object Modifiers window, assign a new Mirror modifier (check Clipping) to the mesh; move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack.
  8. If needed, this is the point where you can manually edit the mesh by converting triangle faces to quads (select two consecutive triangular faces and press Alt + J), creating, closing, or moving edge-loops (by using the Knife Tool, for example, around the arms and legs attachments to the body), and so on.
  9. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

Well, in our case, everything went right with the Skin modifier, so there is no need for any big editing of the mesh! In effect, it was enough to delete the first Mirror modifier (that we actually used mostly for visual feedback) to get rid of all the overlapping faces and obtain a clean base mesh:

How to do it…

The "clean" mesh with new Mirror and Subdivision Surface modifiers

In the preceding screenshot, the base mesh geometry is showing with a level 1 of subdivision; in Edit Mode, it is still possible to see the low-level cage (that is, the real geometry of the mesh) as wireframe.

There are a couple of triangular faces (that, if possible, we should always try to avoid; quads faces work better for the sculpting) near the shoulders and on the feet, but we'll fix these automatically later, because before we start with the sculpting process, we will also apply the Subdivision Surface modifier.

How it works…

To obtain a clean half-body mesh, we had to delete the first Mirror modifier and the vertices of the right half of the mesh; to do this, we had also added a middle edge loop. So, we obtained a perfect left-half mesh and therefore we assigned again a Mirror modifier to restore the missing half of the body.

How to do it…

  1. Press Ctrl + R to add an edge-loop to the middle of the mesh; don't move the mouse, and left-click a second time to confirm that you want it at 0.0000 location:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central edge-loop

    Sometimes, depending on the topology created by the Skin modifier, you may not be able to make a single clean loop cut by the Ctrl + R key shortcut. In this case, still in Edit Mode, you can press the K key to call the Knife Tool, left-click on the mesh to place the cuts, and press Enter to confirm (press Shift + K if you want only the newly created edge-loops selected after pressing Enter). This way, you can create several loop cuts, connect them together and, if necessary, move and/or scale them to the middle along the x axis.

    In fact, you can do the following:

  2. Go out of Edit Mode and press Shift + S; in the Snap pop-up menu, select Cursor to Selected (to center the cursor at the middle of the mesh).
  3. Press the period (.) key to switch Pivot Point to 3D Cursor and then press Tab to go again into Edit Mode.
  4. With the middle edge-loop already selected, press S | X | 0 | Enter to scale all its vertices to the 3D Cursor position along the x axis and align them at the perfect center:
    How to do it…

    Scaling the central edge-loop vertices along the x axis

  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices and then press B and box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the screen (actually the mesh's right-side vertices):
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the left vertices

  6. Press X and, in the Delete pop-up menu, select the Vertices item to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Deleting the left vertices

  7. Go out of Edit Mode and, in the Object Modifiers window, assign a new Mirror modifier (check Clipping) to the mesh; move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack.
  8. If needed, this is the point where you can manually edit the mesh by converting triangle faces to quads (select two consecutive triangular faces and press Alt + J), creating, closing, or moving edge-loops (by using the Knife Tool, for example, around the arms and legs attachments to the body), and so on.
  9. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend.

Well, in our case, everything went right with the Skin modifier, so there is no need for any big editing of the mesh! In effect, it was enough to delete the first Mirror modifier (that we actually used mostly for visual feedback) to get rid of all the overlapping faces and obtain a clean base mesh:

How to do it…

The "clean" mesh with new Mirror and Subdivision Surface modifiers

In the preceding screenshot, the base mesh geometry is showing with a level 1 of subdivision; in Edit Mode, it is still possible to see the low-level cage (that is, the real geometry of the mesh) as wireframe.

There are a couple of triangular faces (that, if possible, we should always try to avoid; quads faces work better for the sculpting) near the shoulders and on the feet, but we'll fix these automatically later, because before we start with the sculpting process, we will also apply the Subdivision Surface modifier.

How it works…

To obtain a clean half-body mesh, we had to delete the first Mirror modifier and the vertices of the right half of the mesh; to do this, we had also added a middle edge loop. So, we obtained a perfect left-half mesh and therefore we assigned again a Mirror modifier to restore the missing half of the body.

How it works…

To obtain a clean half-body mesh, we had to delete the first Mirror modifier and the vertices of the right half of the mesh; to do this, we had also added a middle edge loop. So, we obtained a perfect left-half mesh and therefore we assigned again a Mirror modifier to restore the missing half of the body.

Preparing the base mesh for sculpting

Once we have our base mesh completed, it's time to prepare it for the sculpting.

Getting ready

Open the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file and be sure to be out of Edit Mode, and therefore in Object Mode.

How to do it…

  1. Select the character's mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel to the right.
  2. Go to the Mirror modifier panel and click on the Apply button.
  3. If this is the case, expand the Subdivision Surface modifier panel, be sure that the View level is at 1, and click on the Apply button.
  4. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and, if necessary, select all the vertices by pressing A; then, press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and exit Edit Mode.
  5. Go to the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D view (or press the N key to make it appear) and under the View subpanel, change the Lens angle to 60.000 (more natural looking than 35.000, which is set by default).
  6. Under the Display subpanel, check the Only Render item:
    How to do it…

    Setting the view through the 3D window N sidepanel

  7. Go to the Shading subpanel on the sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D viewport and check the Matcap item.
  8. Left-click on the preview window that just appeared and, from the pop-up panel, select the red colored brick material, the one that looks like ZBrush material; obviously, you can choose a different one if you prefer, but in my experience, this is the one that gives the best visual feedback in the 3D view:
    How to do it…

    The available matcaps menu and the selected Zbrush-like matcap

  9. Put the mouse cursor inside the active 3D window and press Ctrl + Spacebar to disable the widget:
    How to do it…

    The matcap assigned to the mesh and the widget button in the 3D window toolbar

  10. Press N to get rid of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  11. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend.

How it works…

By checking the Only Render item in the Display subpanel under the Properties 3D window sidepanel, all the possible disturbing elements that cannot be rendered (such as the Grid Floor, Empties, Lamps, and so on) are hidden, in order to give a clean 3D viewport ready for sculpting.

Note that with this option enabled, sadly, the Image Empties we set in the previous chapter to work as templates for references are not visible—instead, the templates we had set as Background Images are perfectly visible in the 3 orthographic views.

Matcaps can in some cases slow the performance of your computer, depending on the hardware; in any case, Matcaps is a very useful feature, especially for sculpting, as you can see the mesh shape easily.

Changing the Lens angle from 35.000 to 60.000 makes the perspective view look more similar to the natural human field of view.

Getting ready

Open the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file and be sure to be out of Edit Mode, and therefore in Object Mode.

How to do it…

  1. Select the character's mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel to the right.
  2. Go to the Mirror modifier panel and click on the Apply button.
  3. If this is the case, expand the Subdivision Surface modifier panel, be sure that the View level is at 1, and click on the Apply button.
  4. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and, if necessary, select all the vertices by pressing A; then, press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and exit Edit Mode.
  5. Go to the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D view (or press the N key to make it appear) and under the View subpanel, change the Lens angle to 60.000 (more natural looking than 35.000, which is set by default).
  6. Under the Display subpanel, check the Only Render item:
    How to do it…

    Setting the view through the 3D window N sidepanel

  7. Go to the Shading subpanel on the sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D viewport and check the Matcap item.
  8. Left-click on the preview window that just appeared and, from the pop-up panel, select the red colored brick material, the one that looks like ZBrush material; obviously, you can choose a different one if you prefer, but in my experience, this is the one that gives the best visual feedback in the 3D view:
    How to do it…

    The available matcaps menu and the selected Zbrush-like matcap

  9. Put the mouse cursor inside the active 3D window and press Ctrl + Spacebar to disable the widget:
    How to do it…

    The matcap assigned to the mesh and the widget button in the 3D window toolbar

  10. Press N to get rid of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  11. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend.

How it works…

By checking the Only Render item in the Display subpanel under the Properties 3D window sidepanel, all the possible disturbing elements that cannot be rendered (such as the Grid Floor, Empties, Lamps, and so on) are hidden, in order to give a clean 3D viewport ready for sculpting.

Note that with this option enabled, sadly, the Image Empties we set in the previous chapter to work as templates for references are not visible—instead, the templates we had set as Background Images are perfectly visible in the 3 orthographic views.

Matcaps can in some cases slow the performance of your computer, depending on the hardware; in any case, Matcaps is a very useful feature, especially for sculpting, as you can see the mesh shape easily.

Changing the Lens angle from 35.000 to 60.000 makes the perspective view look more similar to the natural human field of view.

How to do it…

  1. Select the character's mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel to the right.
  2. Go to the Mirror modifier panel and click on the Apply button.
  3. If this is the case, expand the Subdivision Surface modifier panel, be sure that the View level is at 1, and click on the Apply button.
  4. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and, if necessary, select all the vertices by pressing A; then, press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and exit Edit Mode.
  5. Go to the Properties sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D view (or press the N key to make it appear) and under the View subpanel, change the Lens angle to 60.000 (more natural looking than 35.000, which is set by default).
  6. Under the Display subpanel, check the Only Render item:
    How to do it…

    Setting the view through the 3D window N sidepanel

  7. Go to the Shading subpanel on the sidepanel on the right-hand side of the 3D viewport and check the Matcap item.
  8. Left-click on the preview window that just appeared and, from the pop-up panel, select the red colored brick material, the one that looks like ZBrush material; obviously, you can choose a different one if you prefer, but in my experience, this is the one that gives the best visual feedback in the 3D view:
    How to do it…

    The available matcaps menu and the selected Zbrush-like matcap

  9. Put the mouse cursor inside the active 3D window and press Ctrl + Spacebar to disable the widget:
    How to do it…

    The matcap assigned to the mesh and the widget button in the 3D window toolbar

  10. Press N to get rid of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  11. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend.

How it works…

By checking the Only Render item in the Display subpanel under the Properties 3D window sidepanel, all the possible disturbing elements that cannot be rendered (such as the Grid Floor, Empties, Lamps, and so on) are hidden, in order to give a clean 3D viewport ready for sculpting.

Note that with this option enabled, sadly, the Image Empties we set in the previous chapter to work as templates for references are not visible—instead, the templates we had set as Background Images are perfectly visible in the 3 orthographic views.

Matcaps can in some cases slow the performance of your computer, depending on the hardware; in any case, Matcaps is a very useful feature, especially for sculpting, as you can see the mesh shape easily.

Changing the Lens angle from 35.000 to 60.000 makes the perspective view look more similar to the natural human field of view.

How it works…

By checking the Only Render item in the Display subpanel under the Properties 3D window sidepanel, all the possible disturbing elements that cannot be rendered (such as the Grid Floor, Empties, Lamps, and so on) are hidden, in order to give a clean 3D viewport ready for sculpting.

Note that with this option enabled, sadly, the Image Empties we set in the previous chapter to work as templates for references are not visible—instead, the templates we had set as Background Images are perfectly visible in the 3 orthographic views.

Matcaps can in some cases slow the performance of your computer, depending on the hardware; in any case, Matcaps is a very useful feature, especially for sculpting, as you can see the mesh shape easily.

Changing the Lens angle from 35.000 to 60.000 makes the perspective view look more similar to the natural human field of view.

Using the Multiresolution modifier and the Dynamic topology feature

To be sculpted, a mesh needs a big enough amount of vertices to allow the adding of details; in short, we now need a way to add (a lot of!) geometry to our simple base mesh.

Besides the usual subdividing operation in Edit Mode (press Tab, then A to select all the vertices, then press W to call the Specials menu, click on Subdivide, and then set the Number of Cuts value in the last operation subpanel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf) and the Subdivision Surface modifier, in Blender, there are two other ways to increase the amount of vertices: one is by assigning a Multiresolution modifier to the mesh (a nondestructive way) and the other is by using the Dynamic topology feature. We are going to see both of them.

Getting ready

As usual, let's start from the last .blend file we saved: in this case, Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend.

How to do it…

Let's start with the Multiresolution modifier method:

  1. First of all, save the file as Gidiosaurus_Multires.blend.
  2. Select the base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the screen; assign a Multiresolution modifier.
  3. Click on the Subdivide (Add a new level of subdivision) button 3 times; the mesh has now reached 143,234 vertices and 143,232 faces.
  4. Check the Optimal Display item in the modifier panel:
    How to do it…

    The mesh with a Multiresolution modifier assigned at level 3 of subdivision

  5. On the toolbar of the 3D window, click on the mode button to go into Sculpt Mode.
  6. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (if necessary, press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X button under the Mirror item.
  7. Click on the Options tab and, under the Options subpanel, uncheck the Size item under Unified Settings.
  8. Start to sculpt.

    At this point, to proceed with the sculpting, you should jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; instead, let's suppose that we have already sculpted our base mesh, so let's move ahead:

  9. Exit Sculpt Mode.
  10. Save the file.

Now, let's see the quick and easy preparation necessary to use the Dynamic topology feature for sculpting:

  1. Reload the Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend blend file.
  2. Then, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo.blend.
  3. On the toolbar of the 3D window, select Sculpt Mode.
  4. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Topology subpanel and click on the Enable Dyntopo button; a popup appears to inform you that the Dynamic topology feature doesn't preserve any already existing Vertex Color, UV layer, or other custom data (only if the mesh has them). Then click on the popup to confirm and go on.
  5. Change the Detail Size value to 15/20 pixels.
  6. Go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X option under the Mirror item:
    How to do it…

    The dynamic topology tool warning and the settings

  7. Start to sculpt.

Again, here you can jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; in any case, remember to save the file.

How it works…

The Multiresolution modifier increasingly subdivides the mesh at each level by adding vertices; we have seen that from 2,240 starting vertices of the base mesh, we have reached 143,234 vertices at level 3, and clearly this allows for the sculpting of details and different shapes. The vertices added by the modifier are virtual, exactly as the vertices added by the Subdivision Surface modifier are; the difference is that the vertices added by the latter are not editable (unless you apply the modifier, but this would be counterproductive), while it's possible to edit (normally through the sculpting) the vertices at each level of subdivision of a Multiresolution modifier. Moreover, it's always possible to go back by lowering the levels of subdivision, and the sculpted details will be stored and shown only in the higher levels; this means that the Multiresolution method is a nondestructive one and we can, for example, rig the mesh at level 0 and render it at the highest/sculpted level.

The Dynamic topology setting is different from the Multiresolution modifier because it allows you to sculpt the mesh without the need to heavily subdivide it first, that is, the mesh gets subdivided on the fly only where needed, according to the workflow of the brushes and settings, resulting in a much lower vertex count for the final mesh in the end.

As you can see in the screenshots (and in the .blend files provided with this cookbook), starting to sculpt the character with the Multiresolution modifier or the Dynamic topology is quite different. In the end, the process of sculpting is basically the same, but in the first case, you have an already smoothed-looking mesh where you must add or carve features; in the second case, the low resolution base mesh doesn't change its raw look at all until a part gets sculpted and therefore subdivided and modified, that is, all the corners and edges must first be softened, in order to round an otherwise harsh shape.

Getting ready

As usual, let's start from the last .blend file we saved: in this case, Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend.

How to do it…

Let's start with the Multiresolution modifier method:

  1. First of all, save the file as Gidiosaurus_Multires.blend.
  2. Select the base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the screen; assign a Multiresolution modifier.
  3. Click on the Subdivide (Add a new level of subdivision) button 3 times; the mesh has now reached 143,234 vertices and 143,232 faces.
  4. Check the Optimal Display item in the modifier panel:
    How to do it…

    The mesh with a Multiresolution modifier assigned at level 3 of subdivision

  5. On the toolbar of the 3D window, click on the mode button to go into Sculpt Mode.
  6. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (if necessary, press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X button under the Mirror item.
  7. Click on the Options tab and, under the Options subpanel, uncheck the Size item under Unified Settings.
  8. Start to sculpt.

    At this point, to proceed with the sculpting, you should jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; instead, let's suppose that we have already sculpted our base mesh, so let's move ahead:

  9. Exit Sculpt Mode.
  10. Save the file.

Now, let's see the quick and easy preparation necessary to use the Dynamic topology feature for sculpting:

  1. Reload the Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend blend file.
  2. Then, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo.blend.
  3. On the toolbar of the 3D window, select Sculpt Mode.
  4. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Topology subpanel and click on the Enable Dyntopo button; a popup appears to inform you that the Dynamic topology feature doesn't preserve any already existing Vertex Color, UV layer, or other custom data (only if the mesh has them). Then click on the popup to confirm and go on.
  5. Change the Detail Size value to 15/20 pixels.
  6. Go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X option under the Mirror item:
    How to do it…

    The dynamic topology tool warning and the settings

  7. Start to sculpt.

Again, here you can jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; in any case, remember to save the file.

How it works…

The Multiresolution modifier increasingly subdivides the mesh at each level by adding vertices; we have seen that from 2,240 starting vertices of the base mesh, we have reached 143,234 vertices at level 3, and clearly this allows for the sculpting of details and different shapes. The vertices added by the modifier are virtual, exactly as the vertices added by the Subdivision Surface modifier are; the difference is that the vertices added by the latter are not editable (unless you apply the modifier, but this would be counterproductive), while it's possible to edit (normally through the sculpting) the vertices at each level of subdivision of a Multiresolution modifier. Moreover, it's always possible to go back by lowering the levels of subdivision, and the sculpted details will be stored and shown only in the higher levels; this means that the Multiresolution method is a nondestructive one and we can, for example, rig the mesh at level 0 and render it at the highest/sculpted level.

The Dynamic topology setting is different from the Multiresolution modifier because it allows you to sculpt the mesh without the need to heavily subdivide it first, that is, the mesh gets subdivided on the fly only where needed, according to the workflow of the brushes and settings, resulting in a much lower vertex count for the final mesh in the end.

As you can see in the screenshots (and in the .blend files provided with this cookbook), starting to sculpt the character with the Multiresolution modifier or the Dynamic topology is quite different. In the end, the process of sculpting is basically the same, but in the first case, you have an already smoothed-looking mesh where you must add or carve features; in the second case, the low resolution base mesh doesn't change its raw look at all until a part gets sculpted and therefore subdivided and modified, that is, all the corners and edges must first be softened, in order to round an otherwise harsh shape.

How to do it…

Let's start with the Multiresolution modifier method:

  1. First of all, save the file as Gidiosaurus_Multires.blend.
  2. Select the base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the screen; assign a Multiresolution modifier.
  3. Click on the Subdivide (Add a new level of subdivision) button 3 times; the mesh has now reached 143,234 vertices and 143,232 faces.
  4. Check the Optimal Display item in the modifier panel:
    How to do it…

    The mesh with a Multiresolution modifier assigned at level 3 of subdivision

  5. On the toolbar of the 3D window, click on the mode button to go into Sculpt Mode.
  6. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (if necessary, press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X button under the Mirror item.
  7. Click on the Options tab and, under the Options subpanel, uncheck the Size item under Unified Settings.
  8. Start to sculpt.

    At this point, to proceed with the sculpting, you should jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; instead, let's suppose that we have already sculpted our base mesh, so let's move ahead:

  9. Exit Sculpt Mode.
  10. Save the file.

Now, let's see the quick and easy preparation necessary to use the Dynamic topology feature for sculpting:

  1. Reload the Gidiosaurus_Sculpt_base.blend blend file.
  2. Then, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo.blend.
  3. On the toolbar of the 3D window, select Sculpt Mode.
  4. On the Tools tab on the left-hand side of the screen (press the T key to make the Tool Shelf containing the tabs appear), go to the Topology subpanel and click on the Enable Dyntopo button; a popup appears to inform you that the Dynamic topology feature doesn't preserve any already existing Vertex Color, UV layer, or other custom data (only if the mesh has them). Then click on the popup to confirm and go on.
  5. Change the Detail Size value to 15/20 pixels.
  6. Go to the Symmetry\Lock subpanel and click on the X option under the Mirror item:
    How to do it…

    The dynamic topology tool warning and the settings

  7. Start to sculpt.

Again, here you can jump to the next recipe, Sculpting the character's base mesh; in any case, remember to save the file.

How it works…

The Multiresolution modifier increasingly subdivides the mesh at each level by adding vertices; we have seen that from 2,240 starting vertices of the base mesh, we have reached 143,234 vertices at level 3, and clearly this allows for the sculpting of details and different shapes. The vertices added by the modifier are virtual, exactly as the vertices added by the Subdivision Surface modifier are; the difference is that the vertices added by the latter are not editable (unless you apply the modifier, but this would be counterproductive), while it's possible to edit (normally through the sculpting) the vertices at each level of subdivision of a Multiresolution modifier. Moreover, it's always possible to go back by lowering the levels of subdivision, and the sculpted details will be stored and shown only in the higher levels; this means that the Multiresolution method is a nondestructive one and we can, for example, rig the mesh at level 0 and render it at the highest/sculpted level.

The Dynamic topology setting is different from the Multiresolution modifier because it allows you to sculpt the mesh without the need to heavily subdivide it first, that is, the mesh gets subdivided on the fly only where needed, according to the workflow of the brushes and settings, resulting in a much lower vertex count for the final mesh in the end.

As you can see in the screenshots (and in the .blend files provided with this cookbook), starting to sculpt the character with the Multiresolution modifier or the Dynamic topology is quite different. In the end, the process of sculpting is basically the same, but in the first case, you have an already smoothed-looking mesh where you must add or carve features; in the second case, the low resolution base mesh doesn't change its raw look at all until a part gets sculpted and therefore subdivided and modified, that is, all the corners and edges must first be softened, in order to round an otherwise harsh shape.

How it works…

The Multiresolution modifier increasingly subdivides the mesh at each level by adding vertices; we have seen that from 2,240 starting vertices of the base mesh, we have reached 143,234 vertices at level 3, and clearly this allows for the sculpting of details and different shapes. The vertices added by the modifier are virtual, exactly as the vertices added by the Subdivision Surface modifier are; the difference is that the vertices added by the latter are not editable (unless you apply the modifier, but this would be counterproductive), while it's possible to edit (normally through the sculpting) the vertices at each level of subdivision of a Multiresolution modifier. Moreover, it's always possible to go back by lowering the levels of subdivision, and the sculpted details will be stored and shown only in the higher levels; this means that the Multiresolution method is a nondestructive one and we can, for example, rig the mesh at level 0 and render it at the highest/sculpted level.

The Dynamic topology setting is different from the Multiresolution modifier because it allows you to sculpt the mesh without the need to heavily subdivide it first, that is, the mesh gets subdivided on the fly only where needed, according to the workflow of the brushes and settings, resulting in a much lower vertex count for the final mesh in the end.

As you can see in the screenshots (and in the .blend files provided with this cookbook), starting to sculpt the character with the Multiresolution modifier or the Dynamic topology is quite different. In the end, the process of sculpting is basically the same, but in the first case, you have an already smoothed-looking mesh where you must add or carve features; in the second case, the low resolution base mesh doesn't change its raw look at all until a part gets sculpted and therefore subdivided and modified, that is, all the corners and edges must first be softened, in order to round an otherwise harsh shape.

Sculpting the character's base mesh

Whatever the method you are going to use, it's now time to start with the effective sculpting process.

However, first, a disclaimer: in this recipe, I'm not going to teach you how to sculpt, nor is this an anatomy lesson of any kind. For these things, a book itself wouldn't be enough. I'm just going to demonstrate the use of the Blender sculpting tools, showing what brush I used for the different tasks, the sculpting workflow following the reference templates, and some of the more frequently used shortcut keys.

Getting ready

In this recipe, we'll use the Dynamic topology method. If you haven't followed the instructions of the previous recipe, just follow the steps from 12 to 17; otherwise, just open the Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo.blend file that is provided.

How to do it…

As usual, it's a good habit to save the file with the proper name as the first thing; in this case, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo_Sculpt.blend.

If you are going to use a graphic tablet to sculpt, remember to enable the tablet pressure sensitivity for both size and strength; in any case, it is better to set the respective sliders to values lower than 100 percent; I usually set the size slider around 30/35 and the strength slider to 0.500, but this is subjective:

How to do it…

The tablet pressure sensitivity buttons for the size and the strength

  1. If you haven't already, go into Sculpt Mode and enable the Dynamic topology feature by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button in the subpanel with the same name under the Tool Shelf panel or by directly pressing Ctrl + D.
  2. Set the Detail Size value to 15, either by using the slider under the Enable Dyntopo button or by pressing Shift + D and then moving the mouse to scale it bigger or smaller:
    How to do it…

    Starting to sculpt

  3. Click on the Brush selection image (Brush datablock for storing brush settings for painting and sculpting) at the top of the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf panel, and, from the pop-up menu, select the Scrape/Peaks brush (otherwise press the Shift + 3 key shortcut):
    How to do it…

    Selecting the Scrape/Peaks brush in the sculpt brushes menu

  4. Start to scrape all the edges and soften the corners to obtain a smooth rounded surface:
    How to do it…

    Softening the edges of the mesh

  5. Change the brush; select the Grab brush (G key) and press 3 in the numpad to go into Side view; press the F key and move the mouse cursor to scale the brush, in this case, to scale it much bigger, around 120 pixels (Shift + F is to change the strength of a brush, instead).
  6. Using the Background Image showing in the orthographic view (the 5 key in the numpad), grab the spine and chest areas of the mesh and move them to fit the shape of the template:
    How to do it…

    Using the Grab brush to modify the mesh

  7. Do the same for the other parts of the mesh that don't fit yet, and do it also in Front view (1 key in the numpad) and Back view (Shift + 1 in the numpad).
  8. Select the Scrape/Peaks brush again (Shift + 3 keys) and keep on softening the mesh until almost every part gets rounded and more organic-looking; you can also use the Smooth (S key) brush to further soften the mesh:
    How to do it…

    The character is starting to take a shape

  9. Open a new window, switch Editor Type to UV/Image Editor and click on the Open button in the toolbar; browse to the templates folder and select the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the little pin icon on the right-hand side of the image name on the window toolbar (Display current image regardless of object selection).
  10. Select the Crease brush (4 key); using it as a chisel and following the loaded image as a reference, start to outline the character's more important features on the mesh, drawing the character's anatomy:
    How to do it…

    Using the Crease brush as a chisel

  11. By pressing Ctrl while sculpting, we can temporarily reverse the effect of the brush; so, for example, the Crease brush, which usually carves lines in the mesh, can sculpt ridges and spike protrusions. We can use this to add details to the elbow bones and knees on the fly.
  12. By pressing the Shift key while sculpting instead, we can temporarily switch whatever brush we are using with the Smooth brush, in order to instantly soften any newly added detail or feature.
    How to do it…

    Outlining the major body features

  13. When finished with the body, exchange the brush for the Clay Strips brush (3 key), start to add stuff (the nose, eyebrows, and so on), and outline the features of the head. Again, press Ctrl to subtract clay (for the eye sockets, for instance) and Shift to soften.
    How to do it…

    Using the Clay Strips brush to add details and/or carve stuff

  14. Always use the templates to check for the proportions and positions of the character's features. Also, use Wireframe mode if necessary, by going into Ortho view and comparing the sculpted mesh outline with the background template image; use the Grab brush to quickly move and shape proportionate features in the right places:
    How to do it…

    Temporarily switching to the Wireframe viewport shading mode to check the proportions in Side view

  15. Using the Clay Strips (3 key), Smooth (S key), SculptDraw (Shift + 4 key), Crease (4 key), and Pinch (Shift + 2 key) brushes, build the head of the creature and define as many details as possible such as the eyebrows, mouth rim, nostrils, and eye sockets; experiment with all the different brushes:
    How to do it…

    Detailing the head

  16. Go out of Sculpt Mode and press N to make the Properties 3D window sidepanel appear; uncheck the Only Render item under the Display subpanel.
  17. Press Shift + A and add a UV Sphere to the scene. Go into Edit Mode, if you haven't done so already, select all the vertices and rotate them 90 degrees on the x axis; then, scale them to 0.1000. Finally, scale them again to 0.3600.
  18. Exit Edit Mode and move the UV Sphere to fit inside the left eye socket location.
  19. Select the character's mesh and press Shift + S; then, in the Snap pop-up menu, choose Cursor to Selected. Select the UV Sphere and go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; click on the Set Origin button and choose Origin to 3D Cursor. This way we have set the origin of the UV Sphere object at the same place as the character's mesh, while the UV Sphere mesh itself is located inside the left eye socket.
  20. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier to it.
  21. Go to the Outliner, press Ctrl + left-click on the UV Sphere item, and rename it Eyes:
    How to do it…

    Positioning the eye spheres

  22. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive. Go into Edit Mode and scale it a lot smaller; use the side template as a reference to modify by scaling, extruding, and tweaking the scaled Cube's vertices in order to build a low resolution fang. Go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window to assign a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  23. Duplicate the fang and, as always, following the side and front templates as a guide, build all the necessary teeth for the Gidiosaurus.
  24. Select all of them and press Ctrl + J to join them into one single object; press Ctrl + A to apply Rotation & Scale; then, do the same as in steps 19 and 20.
  25. Go to the Outliner and rename the new object Fangs.
    How to do it…

    Making the teeth

  26. Add a new Cube and repeat the process to model the talons of the hands and feet:
    How to do it…

    Making the talons

    Note that the Eyes, Fangs, and Talons objects are not going to be sculpted, and therefore they are kept as separate objects. Later, we'll start to retopologize the sculpted body of the creature, while the eyes will be modeled and detailed in the traditional polygonal way; fangs and talons are good enough as they are.

  27. Reselect the Gidiosaurus object and go back into Sculpt Mode to keep on refining the creature's shape more and more; don't be afraid to exaggerate the features, we can always smooth them later.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed sculpted mesh

  28. Adjust the shape of the eyebrows to perfectly fit the Eyes object; then, work more on the mouth rim to accommodate the fangs.
    How to do it…

    Refining the eyebrows and the mouth rim

  29. When you think you have arrived at a good enough point, just go out of Sculpt Mode and remember to save the file!

Just a quick note: we don't actually need to go out of Sculpt Mode to save the file, it's possible to save it periodically (press Ctrl + S or Ctrl + W to save the file over itself, and Ctrl + Shift + S to save as) without needing to exit the sculpting session each time.

How to do it…

The completed sculpted mesh compared with the reference templates

So, here we are; the character's sculpting is basically done. We can work on it a lot more, tweaking the shapes further and adding details such as scales, wrinkles, and veins, but for this exercise's sake (and for this recipe), this is enough.

There's more…

A nice aspect of the Dynamic topology feature is the possibility to actually join different objects into a single mesh; for example, with our Gidiosaurus, we can join the teeth and the talons to the sculpted base mesh and then keep on sculpting the resulting object as a whole.

Actually, there are two ways to do this: simply by joining the objects and by the Boolean modifier.

To join the objects in the usual way, we can do the following:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the first object (that is, the teeth), press Shift + select the second object (the talons), and lastly press Shift + select the sculpted base mesh so that it's the active object (the final composited object will retain the active object's characteristics).
  3. Press Ctrl + J and it is done!

This is the way you join objects in Blender in general, and it can actually work quite well. There is only one problem: there will always be a visible seam between the different objects, and although in the case of teeth or talons this will not be a problem, in other cases it should be avoided. Let's say you are working on a separated head and later you want to join it to a body; in this case, you don't want a visible seam between the head and neck, obviously!

So, the option is to use the Boolean modifier:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the character's base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; assign a Boolean modifier.
  3. Click on the Object field of the modifier to select the object you want to join (let's say, the Talons object) and then click on the Operation button to the left to select Union.
  4. Click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  5. Hide, move onto a different layer, or delete the original object you joined (the talons).

Unlike the previous method, with Booleans, it will be possible to sculpt and smooth the joining of the different objects without leaving visible seams.

Getting ready

In this recipe, we'll use the Dynamic topology method. If you haven't followed the instructions of the previous recipe, just follow the steps from 12 to 17; otherwise, just open the Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo.blend file that is provided.

How to do it…

As usual, it's a good habit to save the file with the proper name as the first thing; in this case, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo_Sculpt.blend.

If you are going to use a graphic tablet to sculpt, remember to enable the tablet pressure sensitivity for both size and strength; in any case, it is better to set the respective sliders to values lower than 100 percent; I usually set the size slider around 30/35 and the strength slider to 0.500, but this is subjective:

How to do it…

The tablet pressure sensitivity buttons for the size and the strength

  1. If you haven't already, go into Sculpt Mode and enable the Dynamic topology feature by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button in the subpanel with the same name under the Tool Shelf panel or by directly pressing Ctrl + D.
  2. Set the Detail Size value to 15, either by using the slider under the Enable Dyntopo button or by pressing Shift + D and then moving the mouse to scale it bigger or smaller:
    How to do it…

    Starting to sculpt

  3. Click on the Brush selection image (Brush datablock for storing brush settings for painting and sculpting) at the top of the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf panel, and, from the pop-up menu, select the Scrape/Peaks brush (otherwise press the Shift + 3 key shortcut):
    How to do it…

    Selecting the Scrape/Peaks brush in the sculpt brushes menu

  4. Start to scrape all the edges and soften the corners to obtain a smooth rounded surface:
    How to do it…

    Softening the edges of the mesh

  5. Change the brush; select the Grab brush (G key) and press 3 in the numpad to go into Side view; press the F key and move the mouse cursor to scale the brush, in this case, to scale it much bigger, around 120 pixels (Shift + F is to change the strength of a brush, instead).
  6. Using the Background Image showing in the orthographic view (the 5 key in the numpad), grab the spine and chest areas of the mesh and move them to fit the shape of the template:
    How to do it…

    Using the Grab brush to modify the mesh

  7. Do the same for the other parts of the mesh that don't fit yet, and do it also in Front view (1 key in the numpad) and Back view (Shift + 1 in the numpad).
  8. Select the Scrape/Peaks brush again (Shift + 3 keys) and keep on softening the mesh until almost every part gets rounded and more organic-looking; you can also use the Smooth (S key) brush to further soften the mesh:
    How to do it…

    The character is starting to take a shape

  9. Open a new window, switch Editor Type to UV/Image Editor and click on the Open button in the toolbar; browse to the templates folder and select the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the little pin icon on the right-hand side of the image name on the window toolbar (Display current image regardless of object selection).
  10. Select the Crease brush (4 key); using it as a chisel and following the loaded image as a reference, start to outline the character's more important features on the mesh, drawing the character's anatomy:
    How to do it…

    Using the Crease brush as a chisel

  11. By pressing Ctrl while sculpting, we can temporarily reverse the effect of the brush; so, for example, the Crease brush, which usually carves lines in the mesh, can sculpt ridges and spike protrusions. We can use this to add details to the elbow bones and knees on the fly.
  12. By pressing the Shift key while sculpting instead, we can temporarily switch whatever brush we are using with the Smooth brush, in order to instantly soften any newly added detail or feature.
    How to do it…

    Outlining the major body features

  13. When finished with the body, exchange the brush for the Clay Strips brush (3 key), start to add stuff (the nose, eyebrows, and so on), and outline the features of the head. Again, press Ctrl to subtract clay (for the eye sockets, for instance) and Shift to soften.
    How to do it…

    Using the Clay Strips brush to add details and/or carve stuff

  14. Always use the templates to check for the proportions and positions of the character's features. Also, use Wireframe mode if necessary, by going into Ortho view and comparing the sculpted mesh outline with the background template image; use the Grab brush to quickly move and shape proportionate features in the right places:
    How to do it…

    Temporarily switching to the Wireframe viewport shading mode to check the proportions in Side view

  15. Using the Clay Strips (3 key), Smooth (S key), SculptDraw (Shift + 4 key), Crease (4 key), and Pinch (Shift + 2 key) brushes, build the head of the creature and define as many details as possible such as the eyebrows, mouth rim, nostrils, and eye sockets; experiment with all the different brushes:
    How to do it…

    Detailing the head

  16. Go out of Sculpt Mode and press N to make the Properties 3D window sidepanel appear; uncheck the Only Render item under the Display subpanel.
  17. Press Shift + A and add a UV Sphere to the scene. Go into Edit Mode, if you haven't done so already, select all the vertices and rotate them 90 degrees on the x axis; then, scale them to 0.1000. Finally, scale them again to 0.3600.
  18. Exit Edit Mode and move the UV Sphere to fit inside the left eye socket location.
  19. Select the character's mesh and press Shift + S; then, in the Snap pop-up menu, choose Cursor to Selected. Select the UV Sphere and go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; click on the Set Origin button and choose Origin to 3D Cursor. This way we have set the origin of the UV Sphere object at the same place as the character's mesh, while the UV Sphere mesh itself is located inside the left eye socket.
  20. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier to it.
  21. Go to the Outliner, press Ctrl + left-click on the UV Sphere item, and rename it Eyes:
    How to do it…

    Positioning the eye spheres

  22. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive. Go into Edit Mode and scale it a lot smaller; use the side template as a reference to modify by scaling, extruding, and tweaking the scaled Cube's vertices in order to build a low resolution fang. Go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window to assign a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  23. Duplicate the fang and, as always, following the side and front templates as a guide, build all the necessary teeth for the Gidiosaurus.
  24. Select all of them and press Ctrl + J to join them into one single object; press Ctrl + A to apply Rotation & Scale; then, do the same as in steps 19 and 20.
  25. Go to the Outliner and rename the new object Fangs.
    How to do it…

    Making the teeth

  26. Add a new Cube and repeat the process to model the talons of the hands and feet:
    How to do it…

    Making the talons

    Note that the Eyes, Fangs, and Talons objects are not going to be sculpted, and therefore they are kept as separate objects. Later, we'll start to retopologize the sculpted body of the creature, while the eyes will be modeled and detailed in the traditional polygonal way; fangs and talons are good enough as they are.

  27. Reselect the Gidiosaurus object and go back into Sculpt Mode to keep on refining the creature's shape more and more; don't be afraid to exaggerate the features, we can always smooth them later.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed sculpted mesh

  28. Adjust the shape of the eyebrows to perfectly fit the Eyes object; then, work more on the mouth rim to accommodate the fangs.
    How to do it…

    Refining the eyebrows and the mouth rim

  29. When you think you have arrived at a good enough point, just go out of Sculpt Mode and remember to save the file!

Just a quick note: we don't actually need to go out of Sculpt Mode to save the file, it's possible to save it periodically (press Ctrl + S or Ctrl + W to save the file over itself, and Ctrl + Shift + S to save as) without needing to exit the sculpting session each time.

How to do it…

The completed sculpted mesh compared with the reference templates

So, here we are; the character's sculpting is basically done. We can work on it a lot more, tweaking the shapes further and adding details such as scales, wrinkles, and veins, but for this exercise's sake (and for this recipe), this is enough.

There's more…

A nice aspect of the Dynamic topology feature is the possibility to actually join different objects into a single mesh; for example, with our Gidiosaurus, we can join the teeth and the talons to the sculpted base mesh and then keep on sculpting the resulting object as a whole.

Actually, there are two ways to do this: simply by joining the objects and by the Boolean modifier.

To join the objects in the usual way, we can do the following:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the first object (that is, the teeth), press Shift + select the second object (the talons), and lastly press Shift + select the sculpted base mesh so that it's the active object (the final composited object will retain the active object's characteristics).
  3. Press Ctrl + J and it is done!

This is the way you join objects in Blender in general, and it can actually work quite well. There is only one problem: there will always be a visible seam between the different objects, and although in the case of teeth or talons this will not be a problem, in other cases it should be avoided. Let's say you are working on a separated head and later you want to join it to a body; in this case, you don't want a visible seam between the head and neck, obviously!

So, the option is to use the Boolean modifier:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the character's base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; assign a Boolean modifier.
  3. Click on the Object field of the modifier to select the object you want to join (let's say, the Talons object) and then click on the Operation button to the left to select Union.
  4. Click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  5. Hide, move onto a different layer, or delete the original object you joined (the talons).

Unlike the previous method, with Booleans, it will be possible to sculpt and smooth the joining of the different objects without leaving visible seams.

How to do it…

As usual, it's a good habit to save the file with the proper name as the first thing; in this case, save it as Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo_Sculpt.blend.

If you are going to use a graphic tablet to sculpt, remember to enable the tablet pressure sensitivity for both size and strength; in any case, it is better to set the respective sliders to values lower than 100 percent; I usually set the size slider around 30/35 and the strength slider to 0.500, but this is subjective:

How to do it…

The tablet pressure sensitivity buttons for the size and the strength

  1. If you haven't already, go into Sculpt Mode and enable the Dynamic topology feature by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button in the subpanel with the same name under the Tool Shelf panel or by directly pressing Ctrl + D.
  2. Set the Detail Size value to 15, either by using the slider under the Enable Dyntopo button or by pressing Shift + D and then moving the mouse to scale it bigger or smaller:
    How to do it…

    Starting to sculpt

  3. Click on the Brush selection image (Brush datablock for storing brush settings for painting and sculpting) at the top of the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf panel, and, from the pop-up menu, select the Scrape/Peaks brush (otherwise press the Shift + 3 key shortcut):
    How to do it…

    Selecting the Scrape/Peaks brush in the sculpt brushes menu

  4. Start to scrape all the edges and soften the corners to obtain a smooth rounded surface:
    How to do it…

    Softening the edges of the mesh

  5. Change the brush; select the Grab brush (G key) and press 3 in the numpad to go into Side view; press the F key and move the mouse cursor to scale the brush, in this case, to scale it much bigger, around 120 pixels (Shift + F is to change the strength of a brush, instead).
  6. Using the Background Image showing in the orthographic view (the 5 key in the numpad), grab the spine and chest areas of the mesh and move them to fit the shape of the template:
    How to do it…

    Using the Grab brush to modify the mesh

  7. Do the same for the other parts of the mesh that don't fit yet, and do it also in Front view (1 key in the numpad) and Back view (Shift + 1 in the numpad).
  8. Select the Scrape/Peaks brush again (Shift + 3 keys) and keep on softening the mesh until almost every part gets rounded and more organic-looking; you can also use the Smooth (S key) brush to further soften the mesh:
    How to do it…

    The character is starting to take a shape

  9. Open a new window, switch Editor Type to UV/Image Editor and click on the Open button in the toolbar; browse to the templates folder and select the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the little pin icon on the right-hand side of the image name on the window toolbar (Display current image regardless of object selection).
  10. Select the Crease brush (4 key); using it as a chisel and following the loaded image as a reference, start to outline the character's more important features on the mesh, drawing the character's anatomy:
    How to do it…

    Using the Crease brush as a chisel

  11. By pressing Ctrl while sculpting, we can temporarily reverse the effect of the brush; so, for example, the Crease brush, which usually carves lines in the mesh, can sculpt ridges and spike protrusions. We can use this to add details to the elbow bones and knees on the fly.
  12. By pressing the Shift key while sculpting instead, we can temporarily switch whatever brush we are using with the Smooth brush, in order to instantly soften any newly added detail or feature.
    How to do it…

    Outlining the major body features

  13. When finished with the body, exchange the brush for the Clay Strips brush (3 key), start to add stuff (the nose, eyebrows, and so on), and outline the features of the head. Again, press Ctrl to subtract clay (for the eye sockets, for instance) and Shift to soften.
    How to do it…

    Using the Clay Strips brush to add details and/or carve stuff

  14. Always use the templates to check for the proportions and positions of the character's features. Also, use Wireframe mode if necessary, by going into Ortho view and comparing the sculpted mesh outline with the background template image; use the Grab brush to quickly move and shape proportionate features in the right places:
    How to do it…

    Temporarily switching to the Wireframe viewport shading mode to check the proportions in Side view

  15. Using the Clay Strips (3 key), Smooth (S key), SculptDraw (Shift + 4 key), Crease (4 key), and Pinch (Shift + 2 key) brushes, build the head of the creature and define as many details as possible such as the eyebrows, mouth rim, nostrils, and eye sockets; experiment with all the different brushes:
    How to do it…

    Detailing the head

  16. Go out of Sculpt Mode and press N to make the Properties 3D window sidepanel appear; uncheck the Only Render item under the Display subpanel.
  17. Press Shift + A and add a UV Sphere to the scene. Go into Edit Mode, if you haven't done so already, select all the vertices and rotate them 90 degrees on the x axis; then, scale them to 0.1000. Finally, scale them again to 0.3600.
  18. Exit Edit Mode and move the UV Sphere to fit inside the left eye socket location.
  19. Select the character's mesh and press Shift + S; then, in the Snap pop-up menu, choose Cursor to Selected. Select the UV Sphere and go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; click on the Set Origin button and choose Origin to 3D Cursor. This way we have set the origin of the UV Sphere object at the same place as the character's mesh, while the UV Sphere mesh itself is located inside the left eye socket.
  20. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier to it.
  21. Go to the Outliner, press Ctrl + left-click on the UV Sphere item, and rename it Eyes:
    How to do it…

    Positioning the eye spheres

  22. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive. Go into Edit Mode and scale it a lot smaller; use the side template as a reference to modify by scaling, extruding, and tweaking the scaled Cube's vertices in order to build a low resolution fang. Go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window to assign a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  23. Duplicate the fang and, as always, following the side and front templates as a guide, build all the necessary teeth for the Gidiosaurus.
  24. Select all of them and press Ctrl + J to join them into one single object; press Ctrl + A to apply Rotation & Scale; then, do the same as in steps 19 and 20.
  25. Go to the Outliner and rename the new object Fangs.
    How to do it…

    Making the teeth

  26. Add a new Cube and repeat the process to model the talons of the hands and feet:
    How to do it…

    Making the talons

    Note that the Eyes, Fangs, and Talons objects are not going to be sculpted, and therefore they are kept as separate objects. Later, we'll start to retopologize the sculpted body of the creature, while the eyes will be modeled and detailed in the traditional polygonal way; fangs and talons are good enough as they are.

  27. Reselect the Gidiosaurus object and go back into Sculpt Mode to keep on refining the creature's shape more and more; don't be afraid to exaggerate the features, we can always smooth them later.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed sculpted mesh

  28. Adjust the shape of the eyebrows to perfectly fit the Eyes object; then, work more on the mouth rim to accommodate the fangs.
    How to do it…

    Refining the eyebrows and the mouth rim

  29. When you think you have arrived at a good enough point, just go out of Sculpt Mode and remember to save the file!

Just a quick note: we don't actually need to go out of Sculpt Mode to save the file, it's possible to save it periodically (press Ctrl + S or Ctrl + W to save the file over itself, and Ctrl + Shift + S to save as) without needing to exit the sculpting session each time.

How to do it…

The completed sculpted mesh compared with the reference templates

So, here we are; the character's sculpting is basically done. We can work on it a lot more, tweaking the shapes further and adding details such as scales, wrinkles, and veins, but for this exercise's sake (and for this recipe), this is enough.

There's more…

A nice aspect of the Dynamic topology feature is the possibility to actually join different objects into a single mesh; for example, with our Gidiosaurus, we can join the teeth and the talons to the sculpted base mesh and then keep on sculpting the resulting object as a whole.

Actually, there are two ways to do this: simply by joining the objects and by the Boolean modifier.

To join the objects in the usual way, we can do the following:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the first object (that is, the teeth), press Shift + select the second object (the talons), and lastly press Shift + select the sculpted base mesh so that it's the active object (the final composited object will retain the active object's characteristics).
  3. Press Ctrl + J and it is done!

This is the way you join objects in Blender in general, and it can actually work quite well. There is only one problem: there will always be a visible seam between the different objects, and although in the case of teeth or talons this will not be a problem, in other cases it should be avoided. Let's say you are working on a separated head and later you want to join it to a body; in this case, you don't want a visible seam between the head and neck, obviously!

So, the option is to use the Boolean modifier:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the character's base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; assign a Boolean modifier.
  3. Click on the Object field of the modifier to select the object you want to join (let's say, the Talons object) and then click on the Operation button to the left to select Union.
  4. Click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  5. Hide, move onto a different layer, or delete the original object you joined (the talons).

Unlike the previous method, with Booleans, it will be possible to sculpt and smooth the joining of the different objects without leaving visible seams.

There's more…

A nice aspect of the Dynamic topology feature is the possibility to actually join different objects into a single mesh; for example, with our Gidiosaurus, we can join the teeth and the talons to the sculpted base mesh and then keep on sculpting the resulting object as a whole.

Actually, there are two ways to do this: simply by joining the objects and by the Boolean modifier.

To join the objects in the usual way, we can do the following:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the first object (that is, the teeth), press Shift + select the second object (the talons), and lastly press Shift + select the sculpted base mesh so that it's the active object (the final composited object will retain the active object's characteristics).
  3. Press Ctrl + J and it is done!

This is the way you join objects in Blender in general, and it can actually work quite well. There is only one problem: there will always be a visible seam between the different objects, and although in the case of teeth or talons this will not be a problem, in other cases it should be avoided. Let's say you are working on a separated head and later you want to join it to a body; in this case, you don't want a visible seam between the head and neck, obviously!

So, the option is to use the Boolean modifier:

  1. Go out of Sculpt Mode.
  2. Select the character's base mesh and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; assign a Boolean modifier.
  3. Click on the Object field of the modifier to select the object you want to join (let's say, the Talons object) and then click on the Operation button to the left to select Union.
  4. Click on the Apply button to apply the modifier.
  5. Hide, move onto a different layer, or delete the original object you joined (the talons).

Unlike the previous method, with Booleans, it will be possible to sculpt and smooth the joining of the different objects without leaving visible seams.

 

Chapter 3. Polygonal Modeling of the Character's Accessories

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Preparing the scene for polygonal modeling
  • Modeling the eye
  • Modeling the armor plates
  • Using the Mesh to Curve technique to add details

Introduction

In the previous two chapters, we did the following:

  • Quickly modeled a simple base mesh, as close as possible to the shape of the reference templates
  • Sculpted this base mesh, refining the shapes and adding details to some extent

We have also quickly modeled very simple teeth and talons, and placed bare UV Spheres as placeholders for the eyes.

It's now time to start some polygonal modeling to complete the eyes, but especially to build the armor that our character is wearing.

Preparing the scene for polygonal modeling

Coming from a sculpting session, our .blend file must first be prepared for the polygonal modeling, verifying that the required add-ons are enabled and all the character's parts are easily visible and recognizable; for this, even though the topic of Materials is complex and there will be an entire chapter dedicated to it later in this book, we are going to assign basic materials to these parts so that they have different colors in the 3D viewport.

Getting ready

First, we are going to look for the LoopTools add-on, an incredibly useful script by Bartius Crouch that extends the Blender modeling capabilities (and that also has other functionalities, as we'll see in the next chapter about retopology); this add-on is provided with the official Blender release, but still must be enabled. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Start Blender and call the Blender User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U); go to the Addons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on Mesh.
  3. Check the empty little checkbox on the right-hand side of the Mesh: LoopTools add-on to enable it.
  4. Click on the Save User Settings button at the bottom-left of the panel to save your preferences and close the panel:
    Getting ready

    The Blender User Preferences panel

  5. Open the Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo_Sculpt.blend file.

How to do it…

Now, we can start with the scene setup:

  1. Click on the 11th scene layer button (the first one in the second row of the first-left layer block of Visible Layers in the toolbar of the 3D window) to make it the only one visible (or else, just put the mouse pointer on the 3D viewport and press the Alt + 11 keys; the Alt button is to allow for double digits).
  2. Press Shift + left-click on the 13th button to multiactivate it (or use the Shift + Alt + 13 shortcut).
  3. Go to the Outliner and click on the little grayed arrow icons on the side of the Eyes, Fangs and Talons items to make them selectable again.
  4. If not already present, show the Properties 3D window sidepanel (N key) and go to the Shading subpanel; uncheck the Matcap item:
    How to do it…

    Disabling the Matcap item

  5. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh; go to the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right and click on the New button to assign a material (note that, at least at the moment, we are using the default Blender Internal engine); click on the Diffuse button and change the color to RGB 0.604, 0.800, 0.306 (a greenish hue, but in this case you can obviously choose any color you wish). Double left-click on the material name inside the data block slot to rename it as Body.
  6. Select the Eyes object and again in the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right, click on the New button to assign a new material; click on the Diffuse button and this time change the color to RGB 0.800, 0.466, 0.000. Rename the material as Eyes.
  7. Select the Fangs object and repeat the process; change the diffuse color to RGB 0.800, 0.697, 0.415. Rename the material as Enamel.
  8. Select the Talons object and go to the Material window under the Properties panel to the right; click on the little arrows on the left-side of the New button and from the pop-up menu, select the Enamel material:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material and choosing a color

  9. Go to the UV/Image_Editor window on the left-hand side of the screen and press Shift + left-click on the X icon on the right-hand side of the data block name to get rid of the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_armor1.png image.
  10. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend.
    How to do it…

    The armoured character's image loaded in the UV/Image Editor for reference

How it works…

We have deselected the Matcap view, assigning also differently colored basic materials to the four parts making up the character's mesh (body, eyes, fangs, and talons) to have a clearer way of differentiating the different pieces of the mesh. Then, we have replaced the template we used as reference for the sculpting of the Gidiosaurus body with a new one showing the armor as well (in the templates folder there are actually two slightly different versions of the armor; we chose the first one).

We have also activated the 13th scene layer to be ready for the modeling of the armor (in the 11th we have the character's mesh and in the 12th we have the fangs, talons, and eyes).

Note that, in this cookbook, I will always specify scene layers to indicate the 20 3D layers accessible from the buttons on the viewport toolbar and distinguish them from other types of layer systems present in Blender, such as for the bones or the Grease Pencil tool and so on.

Getting ready

First, we are going to look for the LoopTools add-on, an incredibly useful script by Bartius Crouch that extends the Blender modeling capabilities (and that also has other functionalities, as we'll see in the next chapter about retopology); this add-on is provided with the official Blender release, but still must be enabled. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Start Blender and call the Blender User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U); go to the Addons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on Mesh.
  3. Check the empty little checkbox on the right-hand side of the Mesh: LoopTools add-on to enable it.
  4. Click on the Save User Settings button at the bottom-left of the panel to save your preferences and close the panel:
    Getting ready

    The Blender User Preferences panel

  5. Open the Gidiosaurus_Dynatopo_Sculpt.blend file.

How to do it…

Now, we can start with the scene setup:

  1. Click on the 11th scene layer button (the first one in the second row of the first-left layer block of Visible Layers in the toolbar of the 3D window) to make it the only one visible (or else, just put the mouse pointer on the 3D viewport and press the Alt + 11 keys; the Alt button is to allow for double digits).
  2. Press Shift + left-click on the 13th button to multiactivate it (or use the Shift + Alt + 13 shortcut).
  3. Go to the Outliner and click on the little grayed arrow icons on the side of the Eyes, Fangs and Talons items to make them selectable again.
  4. If not already present, show the Properties 3D window sidepanel (N key) and go to the Shading subpanel; uncheck the Matcap item:
    How to do it…

    Disabling the Matcap item

  5. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh; go to the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right and click on the New button to assign a material (note that, at least at the moment, we are using the default Blender Internal engine); click on the Diffuse button and change the color to RGB 0.604, 0.800, 0.306 (a greenish hue, but in this case you can obviously choose any color you wish). Double left-click on the material name inside the data block slot to rename it as Body.
  6. Select the Eyes object and again in the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right, click on the New button to assign a new material; click on the Diffuse button and this time change the color to RGB 0.800, 0.466, 0.000. Rename the material as Eyes.
  7. Select the Fangs object and repeat the process; change the diffuse color to RGB 0.800, 0.697, 0.415. Rename the material as Enamel.
  8. Select the Talons object and go to the Material window under the Properties panel to the right; click on the little arrows on the left-side of the New button and from the pop-up menu, select the Enamel material:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material and choosing a color

  9. Go to the UV/Image_Editor window on the left-hand side of the screen and press Shift + left-click on the X icon on the right-hand side of the data block name to get rid of the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_armor1.png image.
  10. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend.
    How to do it…

    The armoured character's image loaded in the UV/Image Editor for reference

How it works…

We have deselected the Matcap view, assigning also differently colored basic materials to the four parts making up the character's mesh (body, eyes, fangs, and talons) to have a clearer way of differentiating the different pieces of the mesh. Then, we have replaced the template we used as reference for the sculpting of the Gidiosaurus body with a new one showing the armor as well (in the templates folder there are actually two slightly different versions of the armor; we chose the first one).

We have also activated the 13th scene layer to be ready for the modeling of the armor (in the 11th we have the character's mesh and in the 12th we have the fangs, talons, and eyes).

Note that, in this cookbook, I will always specify scene layers to indicate the 20 3D layers accessible from the buttons on the viewport toolbar and distinguish them from other types of layer systems present in Blender, such as for the bones or the Grease Pencil tool and so on.

How to do it…

Now, we can start with the scene setup:

  1. Click on the 11th scene layer button (the first one in the second row of the first-left layer block of Visible Layers in the toolbar of the 3D window) to make it the only one visible (or else, just put the mouse pointer on the 3D viewport and press the Alt + 11 keys; the Alt button is to allow for double digits).
  2. Press Shift + left-click on the 13th button to multiactivate it (or use the Shift + Alt + 13 shortcut).
  3. Go to the Outliner and click on the little grayed arrow icons on the side of the Eyes, Fangs and Talons items to make them selectable again.
  4. If not already present, show the Properties 3D window sidepanel (N key) and go to the Shading subpanel; uncheck the Matcap item:
    How to do it…

    Disabling the Matcap item

  5. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh; go to the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right and click on the New button to assign a material (note that, at least at the moment, we are using the default Blender Internal engine); click on the Diffuse button and change the color to RGB 0.604, 0.800, 0.306 (a greenish hue, but in this case you can obviously choose any color you wish). Double left-click on the material name inside the data block slot to rename it as Body.
  6. Select the Eyes object and again in the Material window under the main Properties panel to the right, click on the New button to assign a new material; click on the Diffuse button and this time change the color to RGB 0.800, 0.466, 0.000. Rename the material as Eyes.
  7. Select the Fangs object and repeat the process; change the diffuse color to RGB 0.800, 0.697, 0.415. Rename the material as Enamel.
  8. Select the Talons object and go to the Material window under the Properties panel to the right; click on the little arrows on the left-side of the New button and from the pop-up menu, select the Enamel material:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material and choosing a color

  9. Go to the UV/Image_Editor window on the left-hand side of the screen and press Shift + left-click on the X icon on the right-hand side of the data block name to get rid of the gidiosaurus_trequarters.png image. Then, click on the Open button, browse to the templates folder, and load the gidiosaurus_armor1.png image.
  10. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend.
    How to do it…

    The armoured character's image loaded in the UV/Image Editor for reference

How it works…

We have deselected the Matcap view, assigning also differently colored basic materials to the four parts making up the character's mesh (body, eyes, fangs, and talons) to have a clearer way of differentiating the different pieces of the mesh. Then, we have replaced the template we used as reference for the sculpting of the Gidiosaurus body with a new one showing the armor as well (in the templates folder there are actually two slightly different versions of the armor; we chose the first one).

We have also activated the 13th scene layer to be ready for the modeling of the armor (in the 11th we have the character's mesh and in the 12th we have the fangs, talons, and eyes).

Note that, in this cookbook, I will always specify scene layers to indicate the 20 3D layers accessible from the buttons on the viewport toolbar and distinguish them from other types of layer systems present in Blender, such as for the bones or the Grease Pencil tool and so on.

How it works…

We have deselected the Matcap view, assigning also differently colored basic materials to the four parts making up the character's mesh (body, eyes, fangs, and talons) to have a clearer way of differentiating the different pieces of the mesh. Then, we have replaced the template we used as reference for the sculpting of the Gidiosaurus body with a new one showing the armor as well (in the templates folder there are actually two slightly different versions of the armor; we chose the first one).

We have also activated the 13th scene layer to be ready for the modeling of the armor (in the 11th we have the character's mesh and in the 12th we have the fangs, talons, and eyes).

Note that, in this cookbook, I will always specify scene layers to indicate the 20 3D layers accessible from the buttons on the viewport toolbar and distinguish them from other types of layer systems present in Blender, such as for the bones or the Grease Pencil tool and so on.

Modeling the eye

It's now time to start to define the creature's eyes. We already had UV Sphere placeholders, but we're going to refine this mesh to deliver a more convincing eye. By the way, keep in mind that a good portion of the expressiveness of the eye will be due to the use of appropriate textures; for more information, see Chapter 12, Creating the Materials in Cycles, and Chapter 13, Creating the Materials in Blender Internal.

Getting ready

Following the previous recipe, there is nothing particular to be prepared before starting, except for the following:

  1. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (N key if not already present) and uncheck the Background Images item.
  2. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view and zoom to the UV Sphere location, by pressing Shift + B and drawing a box around the point you want to zoom at; as you release the mouse button, the selected area will be zoomed in;
    Getting ready

    Disabling the background images and zooming to the eyes area

  3. Go to the Outliner and click on the eye icon on the right-hand side of the Gidiosaurus item to hide it; or else, select the mesh in the 3D viewport and press the H key. Alternatively, you can also press the slash (/) key in the numpad to go in Local view, a particular view mode where only the selected objects are still visible (press the slash (/) again to go back to the normal view mode).

How to do it…

Without further ado, let us begin to build the eye:

  1. Press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  2. In the Outliner, select the Eyes item (or else, if you wish, in the 3D viewport, select the UV Sphere object) and rename it as Cornea.
  3. Press Shift + D and then immediately press the Esc key or right-click to cancel the Grab/Translate function, obtaining a duplicated object that now shows as Cornea.001; in the Outliner, rename the new object as Eyeball.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode; if necessary, press A to select all the vertices and scale them to 0.990 (S | .99 | Enter).
  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices. Then, box-select (B key) the pole vertex and the first row of vertices at the left-side pole (that is, in total 33 vertices); press X to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the vertices at the UV Sphere pole

  6. Reselect all the remaining vertices; then, press the period (.) key on the numpad to center the view on the selection.
  7. Go to the Outliner and click on the eye icon on the left-hand side of the Cornea item to hide it.
  8. Rotate the view to align it with the hole in the UV Sphere and, if necessary, press the 5 key on the numpad to go in Ortho mode.
  9. Press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode and press A to deselect everything.
  10. Select the first row of vertices around the hole (Alt + right-click on the edge-loop). Press E to extrude them and then S to scale them; keep Ctrl + Shift pressed and scale to 0.9500 (or else, press S | .95 | Enter).
  11. Press E and S again to extrude and scale the vertices to 0.500.
  12. Press F to fill the selection and Alt + P to poke the created N-gon face (that is, to automatically subdivide the single N-gon face into triangular faces connected to a central vertex).
    How to do it…

    Extruding and closing the eye

  13. Press 1 on the numpad to go in Front view. Scale the selected vertices to 0.500 on the x axis (S | X | .5 | Enter).
  14. Press Ctrl + R and add an edge-loop outside of the iris; keep Ctrl pressed and move the mouse to edge-slide it to -0.900.
    How to do it…

    Making the pupil

  15. In the toolbar of the 3D window, enable the PET (the Proportional Editing tool); set it to Connected and the Proportional Editing Falloff option to Sphere.
  16. Enable the widget, set it to Translate (the second icon from the left, the one with the arrow), set Transform Orientation to Global, and select the central vertex of the pole. By using the widget, move it on the y (green) axis to 0.0030 (click on the green arrow and hold Shift for a finer control as you move the mouse on the y axis), while with the middle mouse wheel, set the Proportional size value of the PET to a quite small radius, or 0.01 to be precise:
    How to do it…

    Creating the iris concave shape

  17. Press Ctrl and the + key on the numpad 3 times, in order to grow the selection starting from the single selected vertex at the center of the iris.
  18. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Iris; change its diffuse color to something like RGB 0.061, 0.025, 0.028 and then click on the Assign button:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material to the iris

  19. Press Ctrl and the - key on the numpad just 1 time, in order to reduce the selection to the pupil. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Pupil; change its diffuse color to plain black and then click on the Assign button.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed eye

  21. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the UI and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier; check the Optimal Display item.
  22. In the Outliner, unhide the Cornea object and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier as well; check the Optimal Display item and then hide it again (you can also use the H and Alt + H keys to do this).
  23. Select the Eyeball object and go to the Material window; select the Pupil material and go to the Specular subpanel to set the Intensity value to 0.000. Set the Specular Shader Model option of both the Eyes and Iris materials to WardIso and the Slope value to 0.070. Set the Iris material's Emit value (under the Shading subpanel) to 0.050.
  24. In the Outliner, select the Cornea object and in the Material window, click on the little icon reporting 2 on the right-hand side of the material name (it's the display of the number of users for that material). The name Eyes automatically changes to Eyes.001: rename it Cornea; then, go to the Transparency subpanel and enable it. Set the Fresnel value to 1.400 and the Blend factor to 2.000. Go to the Options subpanel further down and uncheck the Traceable item.
  25. Unhide the Gidiosaurus mesh (Alt + H) and enable the 6th scene layer (the one with the Camera and the Lamp). Select the Lamp and in the Object Data window, change the type to Sun and then rotate it to: X = 55.788948°, Y = 16.162031°, and Z = 19.84318°; you can press N and then type these values in the slots of the Rotation panel at the top of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  26. Press N to hide again the Properties 3D window sidepanel and in the toolbar of the 3D window, go to the Viewport Shading button and select Rendered (or directly press the Shift + Z shortcut) to have a nice preview of the effect:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered preview of our character so far

  27. Save the file.

How it works…

Actually, the eyes of the character are composed of two distinct objects: the Eyeball and the Cornea object.

The Cornea object is the transparent layer covering the Eyeball object, and by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner, it has been made invisible in the 3D viewport but still renderable. With the Cornea object visible in the 3D views, irises and pupils would have been hidden behind, making the work of animating the eyes quite hard; animators always need to know what the character is looking at.

Both the Cornea and Eyeball objects, at the moment, are mirrored to the right by the Mirror modifier; this will be changed when we skin the mesh to the Armature.

If you can't find the Rendered view in the Viewport Shading mode button on the 3D viewport's toolbar, you may want to make sure you have the latest version of Blender; only versions after 2.6 have this feature for the Blender Render engine.

Getting ready

Following the previous recipe, there is nothing particular to be prepared before starting, except for the following:

  1. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (N key if not already present) and uncheck the Background Images item.
  2. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view and zoom to the UV Sphere location, by pressing Shift + B and drawing a box around the point you want to zoom at; as you release the mouse button, the selected area will be zoomed in;
    Getting ready

    Disabling the background images and zooming to the eyes area

  3. Go to the Outliner and click on the eye icon on the right-hand side of the Gidiosaurus item to hide it; or else, select the mesh in the 3D viewport and press the H key. Alternatively, you can also press the slash (/) key in the numpad to go in Local view, a particular view mode where only the selected objects are still visible (press the slash (/) again to go back to the normal view mode).

How to do it…

Without further ado, let us begin to build the eye:

  1. Press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  2. In the Outliner, select the Eyes item (or else, if you wish, in the 3D viewport, select the UV Sphere object) and rename it as Cornea.
  3. Press Shift + D and then immediately press the Esc key or right-click to cancel the Grab/Translate function, obtaining a duplicated object that now shows as Cornea.001; in the Outliner, rename the new object as Eyeball.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode; if necessary, press A to select all the vertices and scale them to 0.990 (S | .99 | Enter).
  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices. Then, box-select (B key) the pole vertex and the first row of vertices at the left-side pole (that is, in total 33 vertices); press X to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the vertices at the UV Sphere pole

  6. Reselect all the remaining vertices; then, press the period (.) key on the numpad to center the view on the selection.
  7. Go to the Outliner and click on the eye icon on the left-hand side of the Cornea item to hide it.
  8. Rotate the view to align it with the hole in the UV Sphere and, if necessary, press the 5 key on the numpad to go in Ortho mode.
  9. Press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode and press A to deselect everything.
  10. Select the first row of vertices around the hole (Alt + right-click on the edge-loop). Press E to extrude them and then S to scale them; keep Ctrl + Shift pressed and scale to 0.9500 (or else, press S | .95 | Enter).
  11. Press E and S again to extrude and scale the vertices to 0.500.
  12. Press F to fill the selection and Alt + P to poke the created N-gon face (that is, to automatically subdivide the single N-gon face into triangular faces connected to a central vertex).
    How to do it…

    Extruding and closing the eye

  13. Press 1 on the numpad to go in Front view. Scale the selected vertices to 0.500 on the x axis (S | X | .5 | Enter).
  14. Press Ctrl + R and add an edge-loop outside of the iris; keep Ctrl pressed and move the mouse to edge-slide it to -0.900.
    How to do it…

    Making the pupil

  15. In the toolbar of the 3D window, enable the PET (the Proportional Editing tool); set it to Connected and the Proportional Editing Falloff option to Sphere.
  16. Enable the widget, set it to Translate (the second icon from the left, the one with the arrow), set Transform Orientation to Global, and select the central vertex of the pole. By using the widget, move it on the y (green) axis to 0.0030 (click on the green arrow and hold Shift for a finer control as you move the mouse on the y axis), while with the middle mouse wheel, set the Proportional size value of the PET to a quite small radius, or 0.01 to be precise:
    How to do it…

    Creating the iris concave shape

  17. Press Ctrl and the + key on the numpad 3 times, in order to grow the selection starting from the single selected vertex at the center of the iris.
  18. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Iris; change its diffuse color to something like RGB 0.061, 0.025, 0.028 and then click on the Assign button:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material to the iris

  19. Press Ctrl and the - key on the numpad just 1 time, in order to reduce the selection to the pupil. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Pupil; change its diffuse color to plain black and then click on the Assign button.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed eye

  21. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the UI and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier; check the Optimal Display item.
  22. In the Outliner, unhide the Cornea object and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier as well; check the Optimal Display item and then hide it again (you can also use the H and Alt + H keys to do this).
  23. Select the Eyeball object and go to the Material window; select the Pupil material and go to the Specular subpanel to set the Intensity value to 0.000. Set the Specular Shader Model option of both the Eyes and Iris materials to WardIso and the Slope value to 0.070. Set the Iris material's Emit value (under the Shading subpanel) to 0.050.
  24. In the Outliner, select the Cornea object and in the Material window, click on the little icon reporting 2 on the right-hand side of the material name (it's the display of the number of users for that material). The name Eyes automatically changes to Eyes.001: rename it Cornea; then, go to the Transparency subpanel and enable it. Set the Fresnel value to 1.400 and the Blend factor to 2.000. Go to the Options subpanel further down and uncheck the Traceable item.
  25. Unhide the Gidiosaurus mesh (Alt + H) and enable the 6th scene layer (the one with the Camera and the Lamp). Select the Lamp and in the Object Data window, change the type to Sun and then rotate it to: X = 55.788948°, Y = 16.162031°, and Z = 19.84318°; you can press N and then type these values in the slots of the Rotation panel at the top of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  26. Press N to hide again the Properties 3D window sidepanel and in the toolbar of the 3D window, go to the Viewport Shading button and select Rendered (or directly press the Shift + Z shortcut) to have a nice preview of the effect:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered preview of our character so far

  27. Save the file.

How it works…

Actually, the eyes of the character are composed of two distinct objects: the Eyeball and the Cornea object.

The Cornea object is the transparent layer covering the Eyeball object, and by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner, it has been made invisible in the 3D viewport but still renderable. With the Cornea object visible in the 3D views, irises and pupils would have been hidden behind, making the work of animating the eyes quite hard; animators always need to know what the character is looking at.

Both the Cornea and Eyeball objects, at the moment, are mirrored to the right by the Mirror modifier; this will be changed when we skin the mesh to the Armature.

If you can't find the Rendered view in the Viewport Shading mode button on the 3D viewport's toolbar, you may want to make sure you have the latest version of Blender; only versions after 2.6 have this feature for the Blender Render engine.

How to do it…

Without further ado, let us begin to build the eye:

  1. Press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  2. In the Outliner, select the Eyes item (or else, if you wish, in the 3D viewport, select the UV Sphere object) and rename it as Cornea.
  3. Press Shift + D and then immediately press the Esc key or right-click to cancel the Grab/Translate function, obtaining a duplicated object that now shows as Cornea.001; in the Outliner, rename the new object as Eyeball.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode; if necessary, press A to select all the vertices and scale them to 0.990 (S | .99 | Enter).
  5. Press A to deselect all the vertices. Then, box-select (B key) the pole vertex and the first row of vertices at the left-side pole (that is, in total 33 vertices); press X to delete them:
    How to do it…

    Box-selecting the vertices at the UV Sphere pole

  6. Reselect all the remaining vertices; then, press the period (.) key on the numpad to center the view on the selection.
  7. Go to the Outliner and click on the eye icon on the left-hand side of the Cornea item to hide it.
  8. Rotate the view to align it with the hole in the UV Sphere and, if necessary, press the 5 key on the numpad to go in Ortho mode.
  9. Press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode and press A to deselect everything.
  10. Select the first row of vertices around the hole (Alt + right-click on the edge-loop). Press E to extrude them and then S to scale them; keep Ctrl + Shift pressed and scale to 0.9500 (or else, press S | .95 | Enter).
  11. Press E and S again to extrude and scale the vertices to 0.500.
  12. Press F to fill the selection and Alt + P to poke the created N-gon face (that is, to automatically subdivide the single N-gon face into triangular faces connected to a central vertex).
    How to do it…

    Extruding and closing the eye

  13. Press 1 on the numpad to go in Front view. Scale the selected vertices to 0.500 on the x axis (S | X | .5 | Enter).
  14. Press Ctrl + R and add an edge-loop outside of the iris; keep Ctrl pressed and move the mouse to edge-slide it to -0.900.
    How to do it…

    Making the pupil

  15. In the toolbar of the 3D window, enable the PET (the Proportional Editing tool); set it to Connected and the Proportional Editing Falloff option to Sphere.
  16. Enable the widget, set it to Translate (the second icon from the left, the one with the arrow), set Transform Orientation to Global, and select the central vertex of the pole. By using the widget, move it on the y (green) axis to 0.0030 (click on the green arrow and hold Shift for a finer control as you move the mouse on the y axis), while with the middle mouse wheel, set the Proportional size value of the PET to a quite small radius, or 0.01 to be precise:
    How to do it…

    Creating the iris concave shape

  17. Press Ctrl and the + key on the numpad 3 times, in order to grow the selection starting from the single selected vertex at the center of the iris.
  18. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Iris; change its diffuse color to something like RGB 0.061, 0.025, 0.028 and then click on the Assign button:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a material to the iris

  19. Press Ctrl and the - key on the numpad just 1 time, in order to reduce the selection to the pupil. Go to the Material window, create a new material, and rename it as Pupil; change its diffuse color to plain black and then click on the Assign button.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The almost completed eye

  21. Go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the UI and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier; check the Optimal Display item.
  22. In the Outliner, unhide the Cornea object and assign a Subdivision Surface modifier as well; check the Optimal Display item and then hide it again (you can also use the H and Alt + H keys to do this).
  23. Select the Eyeball object and go to the Material window; select the Pupil material and go to the Specular subpanel to set the Intensity value to 0.000. Set the Specular Shader Model option of both the Eyes and Iris materials to WardIso and the Slope value to 0.070. Set the Iris material's Emit value (under the Shading subpanel) to 0.050.
  24. In the Outliner, select the Cornea object and in the Material window, click on the little icon reporting 2 on the right-hand side of the material name (it's the display of the number of users for that material). The name Eyes automatically changes to Eyes.001: rename it Cornea; then, go to the Transparency subpanel and enable it. Set the Fresnel value to 1.400 and the Blend factor to 2.000. Go to the Options subpanel further down and uncheck the Traceable item.
  25. Unhide the Gidiosaurus mesh (Alt + H) and enable the 6th scene layer (the one with the Camera and the Lamp). Select the Lamp and in the Object Data window, change the type to Sun and then rotate it to: X = 55.788948°, Y = 16.162031°, and Z = 19.84318°; you can press N and then type these values in the slots of the Rotation panel at the top of the Properties 3D window sidepanel.
  26. Press N to hide again the Properties 3D window sidepanel and in the toolbar of the 3D window, go to the Viewport Shading button and select Rendered (or directly press the Shift + Z shortcut) to have a nice preview of the effect:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered preview of our character so far

  27. Save the file.

How it works…

Actually, the eyes of the character are composed of two distinct objects: the Eyeball and the Cornea object.

The Cornea object is the transparent layer covering the Eyeball object, and by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner, it has been made invisible in the 3D viewport but still renderable. With the Cornea object visible in the 3D views, irises and pupils would have been hidden behind, making the work of animating the eyes quite hard; animators always need to know what the character is looking at.

Both the Cornea and Eyeball objects, at the moment, are mirrored to the right by the Mirror modifier; this will be changed when we skin the mesh to the Armature.

If you can't find the Rendered view in the Viewport Shading mode button on the 3D viewport's toolbar, you may want to make sure you have the latest version of Blender; only versions after 2.6 have this feature for the Blender Render engine.

How it works…

Actually, the eyes of the character are composed of two distinct objects: the Eyeball and the Cornea object.

The Cornea object is the transparent layer covering the Eyeball object, and by clicking on the eye icon in the Outliner, it has been made invisible in the 3D viewport but still renderable. With the Cornea object visible in the 3D views, irises and pupils would have been hidden behind, making the work of animating the eyes quite hard; animators always need to know what the character is looking at.

Both the Cornea and Eyeball objects, at the moment, are mirrored to the right by the Mirror modifier; this will be changed when we skin the mesh to the Armature.

If you can't find the Rendered view in the Viewport Shading mode button on the 3D viewport's toolbar, you may want to make sure you have the latest version of Blender; only versions after 2.6 have this feature for the Blender Render engine.

Modeling the armor plates

In the previous recipe, we modeled the character's eye and we had already modeled the teeth in Chapter 2, Sculpting the Character's Base Mesh, because we needed them, at that moment, to go on with the sculpting; they had been made with simple Cube primitives quickly scaled and tweaked in Edit Mode.

It is now time to model the armor for our warrior. Let's begin by creating the hard metal plates. We are going to use an approach similar to the modeling of the fangs, which is by starting with a Cube primitive and subdividing it to have more geometry to be edited in the proper shape, and we'll also use the LoopTools add-on to simplify some processes.

Getting ready

We will carry on with the Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend file:

  1. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view.
  2. By scrolling the middle mouse wheel, zoom back to frame the Gidiosaurus mesh in the 3D window.
  3. In the Outliner, click on the arrow icon on the right-hand side of the Gidiosaurus item to make it unselectable.

How to do it…

Now, we can start to build the armor; let's go with the chest piece:

  1. Note that the 3D Cursor is in the middle of the scene, at the character's pivot location (Shift + S | Cursor to Selected or also Cursor to Active, just in case).
  2. Press O to disable the Proportional Editing tool; go to the 3D viewport toolbar to verify that the tool button is grayed.
  3. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive to the scene.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode and scale all the vertices to 0.500 (or press S | .5 | Enter).
    How to do it…

    Adding the Cube primitive to the scene

  5. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the y axis and then left-click twice to confirm it at the middle of the object:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central vertical edge-loop to the Cube

  6. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them; then, assign a Mirror modifier and check the Clipping item:
    How to do it…

    The Cube with the Mirror modifier

  7. Go again in Side view and press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode; select all the vertices and move them upward.
  8. Rotate the vertices to reflect the angle of the character's chest.
  9. Select the upper vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the creature's neck area.
  10. Select the bottom vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the base of the chest:
    How to do it…

    Starting to model the armor from the Cube primitive

  11. Press Ctrl + R to add a new horizontal edge-loop at the middle of the Cube; scale it bigger to fit the shape of the creature's chest.
  12. While still in Side view, grab and move the vertices to conform them to the chest shape.
  13. Press 1 to go in Front view and again move the vertices to adjust them consistently to the character's chest shape:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry and shape to the Cube

  14. Select the 2 middle outer vertices and move them down, in order to place the edge connecting them just below the character's armpit.
  15. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the x axis; click twice to confirm it at the middle of the lateral side:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry again

  16. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go in Local view with the selected object (in this case, even if still in Edit Mode, it is the Cube) and select the upper outer edge-loop.
  17. Go to the Tool Shelf panel and scroll down the Tools tab to find the LoopTools subpanel (the LoopTools items are available also in the Specials menu that we can call by pressing the W key in Edit Mode); click on the Circle button to make the selection on a circular path:
    How to do it…

    Using the LoopTools add-on

  18. Do the same also with the middle and the bottom edge-loop; then, select the central upper and bottom pole's vertices and delete them:
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling

  19. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; click on the Apply button to apply the Mirror modifier.
  21. Go back in Edit Mode and press Ctrl + R to add a horizontal edge-loop to the upper half of the mesh.
  22. Scale the new edge-loop to 1.100:
    How to do it…

    Adapting the shape of the armor to the chest by adding more geometry as edge-loops

  23. Add a new horizontal edge-loop also to the lower half of the mesh.
  24. Select the middle edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis, to 0.900.
  25. Select the bottom edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis as well.
  26. Select the last edge-loop and repeat the operation.
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling by adding edge-loops

  27. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view and Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  28. If not already, enable the widget in the toolbar of the 3D window; set the Transformation manipulators to scaling (the last icon to the right) and the Transform Orientation option to Normal.
  29. Select all the vertices and by moving the green scaling manipulator of the widget, scale smaller all the edge-loops on the normal y axis; small enough to almost reach the character's back and chest surfaces.
  30. Deselect everything and then select the middle edge-loop (press Alt + right-click); scale it again by using the widget to get close to the torso shape:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the chest armor depth

  31. Do the same with the other edge-loops by selecting them individually, rotating and scaling them, and also by moving the vertices.
    How to do it…

    Refining the lateral profile of the armor

  32. Press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go again in Local view.
  33. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them.
  34. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a new Mirror modifier; as usual, check the Clipping item.
  35. Select the central vertex on the upper-side part and delete it.
  36. Select the resulting loop of edges around the resulting hole (you can press Alt + right-click and then Shift + right-click to add the remaining unselected top vertex to the selection; it doesn't get selected with the edge-loop because there are no faces connecting it to the other vertices, but only edges).
  37. Press E and then S to extrude new faces and scale them (about 0.600).
  38. Select the new edge-loop and go to the LoopTools panel under the Tools tab of the Tool Shelf panel; click on the Circle button to make it rounded:
    How to do it…

    Adding the arm's holes

  39. Go in Front view and move the edge-loop outward.
  40. Go out of Edit Mode and press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  41. Press 1 on the numpad to go again in Front view. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a Shrinkwrap modifier to the Cube; check the Keep Above Surface item and in the Target field, select the Gidiosaurus name:
    How to do it…

    Assigning the Shrinkwrap modifier to the chest armor

  42. Set the Offset value to 0.05.
  43. Move the Shrinkwrap modifier to the top of the modifier stack and click on the Apply button.
  44. Go in Edit Mode and select the shoulder edge-loop; go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Flatten button:
    How to do it…

    Refining the modeling through the LoopTools add-on

  45. Fix, below the armpit, the lateral vertices that are curved inwards, by using the Alt + S shortcut to move them outward along their normal, the 3D Cursor and the Snap pop-up menu (Shift + S) to place them midway from other vertices, and the Shift + V shortcut to slide them along the edges:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices

  46. Press the K key to activate the Knife Topology Tool; by keeping the Ctrl key pressed to constrain the cuts to the middle of the edges, cut a new edge-loop as shown in the following screenshot (each time, press Enter to confirm the cut and then pass to the following one):
    How to do it…

    Using the Knife tool

  47. Press Alt + J to join the already selected triangular faces into quads:
    How to do it…

    Joining two triangular faces into one quad face

  48. Select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  49. Deselect all the vertices and go to the Object Modifiers window; assign a Subdivision Surface modifier, set the Subdivisions level for View to 2, and check the Optimal Display item. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, the last one to the right with the editing triangle, in order to see the effect of the modifier in Edit Mode.
  50. Go out of Edit Mode and then go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; under the Edit subpanel, select the Smooth shading.
  51. Go back in Edit Mode and select the vertices (in our case, mainly on the side and back) corresponding to areas where the sculpted mesh is overlapping the armor. Press Alt + S to scale their position along their normals and so fix the overlapping; then, select the upper vertices of the shoulder and move them closer to the character's shoulder surface:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices with the visible cage of the Subdivision Surface modifier

  52. Repeat the operations of the previous step on all the vertices that need it; select the vertices on the belly and press Shift + V to move them upward, but along the edges to model the arc shape at the bottom of the plate:
    How to do it…

    Sliding the vertices and adjusting the polygonal flow through the LoopTools add-on

  53. Select the edges of the front and back and click on the Space button in the LoopTools add-on panel; if needed, tweak the value of the Influence slider at the bottom of the Tools tab to set the amount for the operation.
  54. Add edge-loops at the bottom of the armor and at the shoulder opening to create a rim; extrude the neck opening upwards to create a kind of short collar:
    How to do it…

    Extruding geometry

  55. Add edge-loops on the front of the chest plate as shown in the following screenshot (Ctrl + R and then slide it to 0.500) and then select the front vertices of the alternate edge-loops and in Side view, move them forward.
  56. Select the last bottom edge-loop and scale it bigger (to 1.100):
    How to do it…

    Adding edge-loops to add detailing to the armor

  57. Move the front vertices of the breast and belly downward, using the image loaded in UV/Image Editor as reference. Add more edge-loops to add definition to the front of the chest plate (in the following screenshot, the three added edge-loops are selected at the same time only to highlight them; in Blender, they must be added one at a time). Then, smooth the resulting oddly spaced back vertices by using the Space button of the LoopTools add-on:
    How to do it…

    Making the edges' length even through the LoopTools add-on

  58. In the Outliner, rename the Cube item as Breastplate (by either double-left-clicking or by pressing Ctrl + left-click on the item).
  59. Then, go to the Material window under the main Properties panel and assign a new material to the Breastplate object; rename the material as Armor_dark. Set the diffuse color to RGB 0.605, 0.596, 0.686 and the Diffuse Shader Model option to Oren-Nayar; set the specular color to RGB 0.599, 0.857, 1.000 and the Specular Shader Model option to WardIso; set the Intensity value to 0.164 and the Slope value to 0.100. Under the Shading subpanel, check the Cubic Interpolation item.
  60. Go to the Object Modifiers window and assign a Solidify modifier; move it up in the stack, before the Subdivision Surface modifier. Set the Thickness value to 0.0150 and check the Even Thickness item.
  61. Set Viewport Shading to Rendered to have a quick preview (be sure to have the proper scene layers activated, that is, the 6th for the lighting and the 11th and 13th for the character and armor). Then, go to the World window under the main Properties panel and activate the Indirect Lighting tab; then, click on the Approximate button under the Gather subpanel. For the moment, leave the rest as it is:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered result so far, with some World Lighting setting

  62. Save the file.

How it works…

This is the usual polygonal modeling process that is common to most aspects of 3D packages. Starting from a Cube primitive, we moved and arranged the vertices to model the chest armor plate, extruding and also adding new edge-loops by using the Knife Topology Tool and the Ctrl + R shortcut.

We used the Mirror modifier to work only on half of the mesh and to have the other half automatically updated. In some cases, we had to temporarily apply the Mirror modifier to better scale the edges as complete circles (otherwise, they would have been half circles with odd scaling pivot points); then, we had to delete the vertices from one side and assign the Mirror modifier again.

At a certain point, as the armor's shape got more defined, we started to tweak the vertices in Edit Mode, but with the Subdivision Surface modifier applied to the editing cage in order to have the right feedback while conforming the armor's shape to the character's shape.

We also used a few of the options available in the LoopTools add-on that has been revealed to be an incredibly handy aid in the modeling process.

Getting ready

We will carry on with the Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend file:

  1. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view.
  2. By scrolling the middle mouse wheel, zoom back to frame the Gidiosaurus mesh in the 3D window.
  3. In the Outliner, click on the arrow icon on the right-hand side of the Gidiosaurus item to make it unselectable.

How to do it…

Now, we can start to build the armor; let's go with the chest piece:

  1. Note that the 3D Cursor is in the middle of the scene, at the character's pivot location (Shift + S | Cursor to Selected or also Cursor to Active, just in case).
  2. Press O to disable the Proportional Editing tool; go to the 3D viewport toolbar to verify that the tool button is grayed.
  3. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive to the scene.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode and scale all the vertices to 0.500 (or press S | .5 | Enter).
    How to do it…

    Adding the Cube primitive to the scene

  5. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the y axis and then left-click twice to confirm it at the middle of the object:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central vertical edge-loop to the Cube

  6. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them; then, assign a Mirror modifier and check the Clipping item:
    How to do it…

    The Cube with the Mirror modifier

  7. Go again in Side view and press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode; select all the vertices and move them upward.
  8. Rotate the vertices to reflect the angle of the character's chest.
  9. Select the upper vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the creature's neck area.
  10. Select the bottom vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the base of the chest:
    How to do it…

    Starting to model the armor from the Cube primitive

  11. Press Ctrl + R to add a new horizontal edge-loop at the middle of the Cube; scale it bigger to fit the shape of the creature's chest.
  12. While still in Side view, grab and move the vertices to conform them to the chest shape.
  13. Press 1 to go in Front view and again move the vertices to adjust them consistently to the character's chest shape:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry and shape to the Cube

  14. Select the 2 middle outer vertices and move them down, in order to place the edge connecting them just below the character's armpit.
  15. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the x axis; click twice to confirm it at the middle of the lateral side:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry again

  16. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go in Local view with the selected object (in this case, even if still in Edit Mode, it is the Cube) and select the upper outer edge-loop.
  17. Go to the Tool Shelf panel and scroll down the Tools tab to find the LoopTools subpanel (the LoopTools items are available also in the Specials menu that we can call by pressing the W key in Edit Mode); click on the Circle button to make the selection on a circular path:
    How to do it…

    Using the LoopTools add-on

  18. Do the same also with the middle and the bottom edge-loop; then, select the central upper and bottom pole's vertices and delete them:
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling

  19. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; click on the Apply button to apply the Mirror modifier.
  21. Go back in Edit Mode and press Ctrl + R to add a horizontal edge-loop to the upper half of the mesh.
  22. Scale the new edge-loop to 1.100:
    How to do it…

    Adapting the shape of the armor to the chest by adding more geometry as edge-loops

  23. Add a new horizontal edge-loop also to the lower half of the mesh.
  24. Select the middle edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis, to 0.900.
  25. Select the bottom edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis as well.
  26. Select the last edge-loop and repeat the operation.
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling by adding edge-loops

  27. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view and Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  28. If not already, enable the widget in the toolbar of the 3D window; set the Transformation manipulators to scaling (the last icon to the right) and the Transform Orientation option to Normal.
  29. Select all the vertices and by moving the green scaling manipulator of the widget, scale smaller all the edge-loops on the normal y axis; small enough to almost reach the character's back and chest surfaces.
  30. Deselect everything and then select the middle edge-loop (press Alt + right-click); scale it again by using the widget to get close to the torso shape:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the chest armor depth

  31. Do the same with the other edge-loops by selecting them individually, rotating and scaling them, and also by moving the vertices.
    How to do it…

    Refining the lateral profile of the armor

  32. Press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go again in Local view.
  33. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them.
  34. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a new Mirror modifier; as usual, check the Clipping item.
  35. Select the central vertex on the upper-side part and delete it.
  36. Select the resulting loop of edges around the resulting hole (you can press Alt + right-click and then Shift + right-click to add the remaining unselected top vertex to the selection; it doesn't get selected with the edge-loop because there are no faces connecting it to the other vertices, but only edges).
  37. Press E and then S to extrude new faces and scale them (about 0.600).
  38. Select the new edge-loop and go to the LoopTools panel under the Tools tab of the Tool Shelf panel; click on the Circle button to make it rounded:
    How to do it…

    Adding the arm's holes

  39. Go in Front view and move the edge-loop outward.
  40. Go out of Edit Mode and press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  41. Press 1 on the numpad to go again in Front view. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a Shrinkwrap modifier to the Cube; check the Keep Above Surface item and in the Target field, select the Gidiosaurus name:
    How to do it…

    Assigning the Shrinkwrap modifier to the chest armor

  42. Set the Offset value to 0.05.
  43. Move the Shrinkwrap modifier to the top of the modifier stack and click on the Apply button.
  44. Go in Edit Mode and select the shoulder edge-loop; go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Flatten button:
    How to do it…

    Refining the modeling through the LoopTools add-on

  45. Fix, below the armpit, the lateral vertices that are curved inwards, by using the Alt + S shortcut to move them outward along their normal, the 3D Cursor and the Snap pop-up menu (Shift + S) to place them midway from other vertices, and the Shift + V shortcut to slide them along the edges:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices

  46. Press the K key to activate the Knife Topology Tool; by keeping the Ctrl key pressed to constrain the cuts to the middle of the edges, cut a new edge-loop as shown in the following screenshot (each time, press Enter to confirm the cut and then pass to the following one):
    How to do it…

    Using the Knife tool

  47. Press Alt + J to join the already selected triangular faces into quads:
    How to do it…

    Joining two triangular faces into one quad face

  48. Select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  49. Deselect all the vertices and go to the Object Modifiers window; assign a Subdivision Surface modifier, set the Subdivisions level for View to 2, and check the Optimal Display item. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, the last one to the right with the editing triangle, in order to see the effect of the modifier in Edit Mode.
  50. Go out of Edit Mode and then go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; under the Edit subpanel, select the Smooth shading.
  51. Go back in Edit Mode and select the vertices (in our case, mainly on the side and back) corresponding to areas where the sculpted mesh is overlapping the armor. Press Alt + S to scale their position along their normals and so fix the overlapping; then, select the upper vertices of the shoulder and move them closer to the character's shoulder surface:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices with the visible cage of the Subdivision Surface modifier

  52. Repeat the operations of the previous step on all the vertices that need it; select the vertices on the belly and press Shift + V to move them upward, but along the edges to model the arc shape at the bottom of the plate:
    How to do it…

    Sliding the vertices and adjusting the polygonal flow through the LoopTools add-on

  53. Select the edges of the front and back and click on the Space button in the LoopTools add-on panel; if needed, tweak the value of the Influence slider at the bottom of the Tools tab to set the amount for the operation.
  54. Add edge-loops at the bottom of the armor and at the shoulder opening to create a rim; extrude the neck opening upwards to create a kind of short collar:
    How to do it…

    Extruding geometry

  55. Add edge-loops on the front of the chest plate as shown in the following screenshot (Ctrl + R and then slide it to 0.500) and then select the front vertices of the alternate edge-loops and in Side view, move them forward.
  56. Select the last bottom edge-loop and scale it bigger (to 1.100):
    How to do it…

    Adding edge-loops to add detailing to the armor

  57. Move the front vertices of the breast and belly downward, using the image loaded in UV/Image Editor as reference. Add more edge-loops to add definition to the front of the chest plate (in the following screenshot, the three added edge-loops are selected at the same time only to highlight them; in Blender, they must be added one at a time). Then, smooth the resulting oddly spaced back vertices by using the Space button of the LoopTools add-on:
    How to do it…

    Making the edges' length even through the LoopTools add-on

  58. In the Outliner, rename the Cube item as Breastplate (by either double-left-clicking or by pressing Ctrl + left-click on the item).
  59. Then, go to the Material window under the main Properties panel and assign a new material to the Breastplate object; rename the material as Armor_dark. Set the diffuse color to RGB 0.605, 0.596, 0.686 and the Diffuse Shader Model option to Oren-Nayar; set the specular color to RGB 0.599, 0.857, 1.000 and the Specular Shader Model option to WardIso; set the Intensity value to 0.164 and the Slope value to 0.100. Under the Shading subpanel, check the Cubic Interpolation item.
  60. Go to the Object Modifiers window and assign a Solidify modifier; move it up in the stack, before the Subdivision Surface modifier. Set the Thickness value to 0.0150 and check the Even Thickness item.
  61. Set Viewport Shading to Rendered to have a quick preview (be sure to have the proper scene layers activated, that is, the 6th for the lighting and the 11th and 13th for the character and armor). Then, go to the World window under the main Properties panel and activate the Indirect Lighting tab; then, click on the Approximate button under the Gather subpanel. For the moment, leave the rest as it is:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered result so far, with some World Lighting setting

  62. Save the file.

How it works…

This is the usual polygonal modeling process that is common to most aspects of 3D packages. Starting from a Cube primitive, we moved and arranged the vertices to model the chest armor plate, extruding and also adding new edge-loops by using the Knife Topology Tool and the Ctrl + R shortcut.

We used the Mirror modifier to work only on half of the mesh and to have the other half automatically updated. In some cases, we had to temporarily apply the Mirror modifier to better scale the edges as complete circles (otherwise, they would have been half circles with odd scaling pivot points); then, we had to delete the vertices from one side and assign the Mirror modifier again.

At a certain point, as the armor's shape got more defined, we started to tweak the vertices in Edit Mode, but with the Subdivision Surface modifier applied to the editing cage in order to have the right feedback while conforming the armor's shape to the character's shape.

We also used a few of the options available in the LoopTools add-on that has been revealed to be an incredibly handy aid in the modeling process.

How to do it…

Now, we can start to build the armor; let's go with the chest piece:

  1. Note that the 3D Cursor is in the middle of the scene, at the character's pivot location (Shift + S | Cursor to Selected or also Cursor to Active, just in case).
  2. Press O to disable the Proportional Editing tool; go to the 3D viewport toolbar to verify that the tool button is grayed.
  3. Press Shift + A and add a Cube primitive to the scene.
  4. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode and scale all the vertices to 0.500 (or press S | .5 | Enter).
    How to do it…

    Adding the Cube primitive to the scene

  5. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the y axis and then left-click twice to confirm it at the middle of the object:
    How to do it…

    Adding a central vertical edge-loop to the Cube

  6. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them; then, assign a Mirror modifier and check the Clipping item:
    How to do it…

    The Cube with the Mirror modifier

  7. Go again in Side view and press Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode; select all the vertices and move them upward.
  8. Rotate the vertices to reflect the angle of the character's chest.
  9. Select the upper vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the creature's neck area.
  10. Select the bottom vertices and scale and rotate them to fit the base of the chest:
    How to do it…

    Starting to model the armor from the Cube primitive

  11. Press Ctrl + R to add a new horizontal edge-loop at the middle of the Cube; scale it bigger to fit the shape of the creature's chest.
  12. While still in Side view, grab and move the vertices to conform them to the chest shape.
  13. Press 1 to go in Front view and again move the vertices to adjust them consistently to the character's chest shape:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry and shape to the Cube

  14. Select the 2 middle outer vertices and move them down, in order to place the edge connecting them just below the character's armpit.
  15. Press Ctrl + R to add a loop along the x axis; click twice to confirm it at the middle of the lateral side:
    How to do it…

    Adding more geometry again

  16. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go in Local view with the selected object (in this case, even if still in Edit Mode, it is the Cube) and select the upper outer edge-loop.
  17. Go to the Tool Shelf panel and scroll down the Tools tab to find the LoopTools subpanel (the LoopTools items are available also in the Specials menu that we can call by pressing the W key in Edit Mode); click on the Circle button to make the selection on a circular path:
    How to do it…

    Using the LoopTools add-on

  18. Do the same also with the middle and the bottom edge-loop; then, select the central upper and bottom pole's vertices and delete them:
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling

  19. Press the slash key (/) on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  20. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window under the main Properties panel; click on the Apply button to apply the Mirror modifier.
  21. Go back in Edit Mode and press Ctrl + R to add a horizontal edge-loop to the upper half of the mesh.
  22. Scale the new edge-loop to 1.100:
    How to do it…

    Adapting the shape of the armor to the chest by adding more geometry as edge-loops

  23. Add a new horizontal edge-loop also to the lower half of the mesh.
  24. Select the middle edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis, to 0.900.
  25. Select the bottom edge-loop and scale it smaller on the x axis as well.
  26. Select the last edge-loop and repeat the operation.
    How to do it…

    Going on with the modeling by adding edge-loops

  27. Press 3 on the numpad to go in Side view and Z to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  28. If not already, enable the widget in the toolbar of the 3D window; set the Transformation manipulators to scaling (the last icon to the right) and the Transform Orientation option to Normal.
  29. Select all the vertices and by moving the green scaling manipulator of the widget, scale smaller all the edge-loops on the normal y axis; small enough to almost reach the character's back and chest surfaces.
  30. Deselect everything and then select the middle edge-loop (press Alt + right-click); scale it again by using the widget to get close to the torso shape:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the chest armor depth

  31. Do the same with the other edge-loops by selecting them individually, rotating and scaling them, and also by moving the vertices.
    How to do it…

    Refining the lateral profile of the armor

  32. Press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go again in Local view.
  33. Select the right-side vertices of the Cube and delete them.
  34. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a new Mirror modifier; as usual, check the Clipping item.
  35. Select the central vertex on the upper-side part and delete it.
  36. Select the resulting loop of edges around the resulting hole (you can press Alt + right-click and then Shift + right-click to add the remaining unselected top vertex to the selection; it doesn't get selected with the edge-loop because there are no faces connecting it to the other vertices, but only edges).
  37. Press E and then S to extrude new faces and scale them (about 0.600).
  38. Select the new edge-loop and go to the LoopTools panel under the Tools tab of the Tool Shelf panel; click on the Circle button to make it rounded:
    How to do it…

    Adding the arm's holes

  39. Go in Front view and move the edge-loop outward.
  40. Go out of Edit Mode and press the slash (/) key on the numpad to go out of Local view.
  41. Press 1 on the numpad to go again in Front view. Go to the Object Modifiers panel and assign a Shrinkwrap modifier to the Cube; check the Keep Above Surface item and in the Target field, select the Gidiosaurus name:
    How to do it…

    Assigning the Shrinkwrap modifier to the chest armor

  42. Set the Offset value to 0.05.
  43. Move the Shrinkwrap modifier to the top of the modifier stack and click on the Apply button.
  44. Go in Edit Mode and select the shoulder edge-loop; go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Flatten button:
    How to do it…

    Refining the modeling through the LoopTools add-on

  45. Fix, below the armpit, the lateral vertices that are curved inwards, by using the Alt + S shortcut to move them outward along their normal, the 3D Cursor and the Snap pop-up menu (Shift + S) to place them midway from other vertices, and the Shift + V shortcut to slide them along the edges:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices

  46. Press the K key to activate the Knife Topology Tool; by keeping the Ctrl key pressed to constrain the cuts to the middle of the edges, cut a new edge-loop as shown in the following screenshot (each time, press Enter to confirm the cut and then pass to the following one):
    How to do it…

    Using the Knife tool

  47. Press Alt + J to join the already selected triangular faces into quads:
    How to do it…

    Joining two triangular faces into one quad face

  48. Select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  49. Deselect all the vertices and go to the Object Modifiers window; assign a Subdivision Surface modifier, set the Subdivisions level for View to 2, and check the Optimal Display item. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, the last one to the right with the editing triangle, in order to see the effect of the modifier in Edit Mode.
  50. Go out of Edit Mode and then go to the Tools tab under the Tool Shelf; under the Edit subpanel, select the Smooth shading.
  51. Go back in Edit Mode and select the vertices (in our case, mainly on the side and back) corresponding to areas where the sculpted mesh is overlapping the armor. Press Alt + S to scale their position along their normals and so fix the overlapping; then, select the upper vertices of the shoulder and move them closer to the character's shoulder surface:
    How to do it…

    Tweaking vertices with the visible cage of the Subdivision Surface modifier

  52. Repeat the operations of the previous step on all the vertices that need it; select the vertices on the belly and press Shift + V to move them upward, but along the edges to model the arc shape at the bottom of the plate:
    How to do it…

    Sliding the vertices and adjusting the polygonal flow through the LoopTools add-on

  53. Select the edges of the front and back and click on the Space button in the LoopTools add-on panel; if needed, tweak the value of the Influence slider at the bottom of the Tools tab to set the amount for the operation.
  54. Add edge-loops at the bottom of the armor and at the shoulder opening to create a rim; extrude the neck opening upwards to create a kind of short collar:
    How to do it…

    Extruding geometry

  55. Add edge-loops on the front of the chest plate as shown in the following screenshot (Ctrl + R and then slide it to 0.500) and then select the front vertices of the alternate edge-loops and in Side view, move them forward.
  56. Select the last bottom edge-loop and scale it bigger (to 1.100):
    How to do it…

    Adding edge-loops to add detailing to the armor

  57. Move the front vertices of the breast and belly downward, using the image loaded in UV/Image Editor as reference. Add more edge-loops to add definition to the front of the chest plate (in the following screenshot, the three added edge-loops are selected at the same time only to highlight them; in Blender, they must be added one at a time). Then, smooth the resulting oddly spaced back vertices by using the Space button of the LoopTools add-on:
    How to do it…

    Making the edges' length even through the LoopTools add-on

  58. In the Outliner, rename the Cube item as Breastplate (by either double-left-clicking or by pressing Ctrl + left-click on the item).
  59. Then, go to the Material window under the main Properties panel and assign a new material to the Breastplate object; rename the material as Armor_dark. Set the diffuse color to RGB 0.605, 0.596, 0.686 and the Diffuse Shader Model option to Oren-Nayar; set the specular color to RGB 0.599, 0.857, 1.000 and the Specular Shader Model option to WardIso; set the Intensity value to 0.164 and the Slope value to 0.100. Under the Shading subpanel, check the Cubic Interpolation item.
  60. Go to the Object Modifiers window and assign a Solidify modifier; move it up in the stack, before the Subdivision Surface modifier. Set the Thickness value to 0.0150 and check the Even Thickness item.
  61. Set Viewport Shading to Rendered to have a quick preview (be sure to have the proper scene layers activated, that is, the 6th for the lighting and the 11th and 13th for the character and armor). Then, go to the World window under the main Properties panel and activate the Indirect Lighting tab; then, click on the Approximate button under the Gather subpanel. For the moment, leave the rest as it is:
    How to do it…

    The Rendered result so far, with some World Lighting setting

  62. Save the file.

How it works…

This is the usual polygonal modeling process that is common to most aspects of 3D packages. Starting from a Cube primitive, we moved and arranged the vertices to model the chest armor plate, extruding and also adding new edge-loops by using the Knife Topology Tool and the Ctrl + R shortcut.

We used the Mirror modifier to work only on half of the mesh and to have the other half automatically updated. In some cases, we had to temporarily apply the Mirror modifier to better scale the edges as complete circles (otherwise, they would have been half circles with odd scaling pivot points); then, we had to delete the vertices from one side and assign the Mirror modifier again.

At a certain point, as the armor's shape got more defined, we started to tweak the vertices in Edit Mode, but with the Subdivision Surface modifier applied to the editing cage in order to have the right feedback while conforming the armor's shape to the character's shape.

We also used a few of the options available in the LoopTools add-on that has been revealed to be an incredibly handy aid in the modeling process.

How it works…

This is the usual polygonal modeling process that is common to most aspects of 3D packages. Starting from a Cube primitive, we moved and arranged the vertices to model the chest armor plate, extruding and also adding new edge-loops by using the Knife Topology Tool and the Ctrl + R shortcut.

We used the Mirror modifier to work only on half of the mesh and to have the other half automatically updated. In some cases, we had to temporarily apply the Mirror modifier to better scale the edges as complete circles (otherwise, they would have been half circles with odd scaling pivot points); then, we had to delete the vertices from one side and assign the Mirror modifier again.

At a certain point, as the armor's shape got more defined, we started to tweak the vertices in Edit Mode, but with the Subdivision Surface modifier applied to the editing cage in order to have the right feedback while conforming the armor's shape to the character's shape.

We also used a few of the options available in the LoopTools add-on that has been revealed to be an incredibly handy aid in the modeling process.

Using the Mesh to Curve technique to add details

In the previous recipe, we modeled the basic bulk of the Breastplate. We are now going to see a simple but effective technique to add detailing to the borders of the armor plate.

How to do it…

Assuming we have gone out of Edit Mode and then saved the file, reopen the Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend file and proceed with the following:

  1. Go back in Edit Mode and select the edge-loop around the neck (Alt + right-click), the edge-loop around the shoulder hole (Alt + Shift + right-click), and the last one at the base of the Breastplate (Alt + Shift + right-click again).
  2. Press Shift + D and soon after, the right-mouse button to duplicate without moving them; press P to separate them (in the Separate pop-up menu, choose the Selection item):
    How to do it…

    Separating geometry by selection

  3. Go out of Edit Mode to select the Breastplate.001 object (the duplicated edge-loops).
  4. Press Alt + C and in the Convert to pop-up menu, select the first item: Curve from Mesh/Text.
  5. The mesh edge-loops actually get converted into Curve objects, as you can see in the Object Data window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the UI:
    How to do it…

    Converting the geometry in Curves

  6. In the Object Data window, under the Geometry tab, set the Extrude value to 0.002 and the Depth value to 0.010; then, under the Shape tab, set the Fill mode to Full:
    How to do it…

    "Modeling" the Curves by the settings

  7. Press Alt + C and this time, in the Convert to pop-up menu, select the second item: Mesh from Curve/Meta/Surf/Text.
  8. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode, press A to select all the vertices, and in the Mesh Tools tab under the Tools tab in the Tool Shelf panel, click on the Remove Doubles button (note that in the top main header, a message appears: Removed 2240 vertices; so always remember to remove the doubles after a conversion!).
  9. Go out of Edit Mode and click on the Smooth button in the Edit subpanel; in the Outliner, rename it as Breastplate_decorations.
  10. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier, with the Subdivision level as 2 and Optimal Display enabled.
  11. Go to the Material window and assign a new material; rename it as Armor_light and copy all the settings and options from the Armor_dark material, except for the diffuse and the specular colors—set them to RGB 1.000 (pure white; a faster way is to assign the Armor_dark material, make it a single user, change the colors to white, and rename the material as Armor_light).
    How to do it…

    Assigning a new material

  12. As always, remember to save the file.

How it works…

Even if at first sight this seems a complex process, actually it's one of the easiest and fastest ways to model a mesh. We have just duplicated the edge-loops that are located where we had the intention of adding the modeled borders. With a simple shortcut, we have converted them to a curve object that can be beveled both by other curve objects or simply by values to be inserted in the fields under the Geometry tab. Then, once we obtained the shape we wanted, we converted the curve back to a mesh object.

We could have kept the armor decorations as curves, but by converting them to meshes, we have the opportunity to unwrap them for the mapping of the textures according to the rest of the armor.

Note that the Preview U value under the Resolution item in the Shape subpanel for the curve objects should be kept low if you don't want a resulting mesh with a lot of vertices; you can set it quite lower than the default 12. Just experiment before the final conversion, while keeping in mind that once converted to mesh, the decorations will probably be smoothed by a Subdivision Surface modifier with the rest of the armor; in any case, the obtained decorations mesh can also be simplified at a successive stage.

In this chapter, we saw the process that can be used to model the armor meshes. We will not demonstrate the rest of the armor modeling, as the same techniques can be used over again. However, feel free to model the rest of the armor on your own or have a look at the provided Gidiosaurus_modeling_02.blend file:

How it works…

The completed armor as it appears in the rendering

How to do it…

Assuming we have gone out of Edit Mode and then saved the file, reopen the Gidiosaurus_modeling.blend file and proceed with the following:

  1. Go back in Edit Mode and select the edge-loop around the neck (Alt + right-click), the edge-loop around the shoulder hole (Alt + Shift + right-click), and the last one at the base of the Breastplate (Alt + Shift + right-click again).
  2. Press Shift + D and soon after, the right-mouse button to duplicate without moving them; press P to separate them (in the Separate pop-up menu, choose the Selection item):
    How to do it…

    Separating geometry by selection

  3. Go out of Edit Mode to select the Breastplate.001 object (the duplicated edge-loops).
  4. Press Alt + C and in the Convert to pop-up menu, select the first item: Curve from Mesh/Text.
  5. The mesh edge-loops actually get converted into Curve objects, as you can see in the Object Data window under the main Properties panel on the right-hand side of the UI:
    How to do it…

    Converting the geometry in Curves

  6. In the Object Data window, under the Geometry tab, set the Extrude value to 0.002 and the Depth value to 0.010; then, under the Shape tab, set the Fill mode to Full:
    How to do it…

    "Modeling" the Curves by the settings

  7. Press Alt + C and this time, in the Convert to pop-up menu, select the second item: Mesh from Curve/Meta/Surf/Text.
  8. Press Tab to go in Edit Mode, press A to select all the vertices, and in the Mesh Tools tab under the Tools tab in the Tool Shelf panel, click on the Remove Doubles button (note that in the top main header, a message appears: Removed 2240 vertices; so always remember to remove the doubles after a conversion!).
  9. Go out of Edit Mode and click on the Smooth button in the Edit subpanel; in the Outliner, rename it as Breastplate_decorations.
  10. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier, with the Subdivision level as 2 and Optimal Display enabled.
  11. Go to the Material window and assign a new material; rename it as Armor_light and copy all the settings and options from the Armor_dark material, except for the diffuse and the specular colors—set them to RGB 1.000 (pure white; a faster way is to assign the Armor_dark material, make it a single user, change the colors to white, and rename the material as Armor_light).
    How to do it…

    Assigning a new material

  12. As always, remember to save the file.

How it works…

Even if at first sight this seems a complex process, actually it's one of the easiest and fastest ways to model a mesh. We have just duplicated the edge-loops that are located where we had the intention of adding the modeled borders. With a simple shortcut, we have converted them to a curve object that can be beveled both by other curve objects or simply by values to be inserted in the fields under the Geometry tab. Then, once we obtained the shape we wanted, we converted the curve back to a mesh object.

We could have kept the armor decorations as curves, but by converting them to meshes, we have the opportunity to unwrap them for the mapping of the textures according to the rest of the armor.

Note that the Preview U value under the Resolution item in the Shape subpanel for the curve objects should be kept low if you don't want a resulting mesh with a lot of vertices; you can set it quite lower than the default 12. Just experiment before the final conversion, while keeping in mind that once converted to mesh, the decorations will probably be smoothed by a Subdivision Surface modifier with the rest of the armor; in any case, the obtained decorations mesh can also be simplified at a successive stage.

In this chapter, we saw the process that can be used to model the armor meshes. We will not demonstrate the rest of the armor modeling, as the same techniques can be used over again. However, feel free to model the rest of the armor on your own or have a look at the provided Gidiosaurus_modeling_02.blend file:

How it works…

The completed armor as it appears in the rendering

How it works…

Even if at first sight this seems a complex process, actually it's one of the easiest and fastest ways to model a mesh. We have just duplicated the edge-loops that are located where we had the intention of adding the modeled borders. With a simple shortcut, we have converted them to a curve object that can be beveled both by other curve objects or simply by values to be inserted in the fields under the Geometry tab. Then, once we obtained the shape we wanted, we converted the curve back to a mesh object.

We could have kept the armor decorations as curves, but by converting them to meshes, we have the opportunity to unwrap them for the mapping of the textures according to the rest of the armor.

Note that the Preview U value under the Resolution item in the Shape subpanel for the curve objects should be kept low if you don't want a resulting mesh with a lot of vertices; you can set it quite lower than the default 12. Just experiment before the final conversion, while keeping in mind that once converted to mesh, the decorations will probably be smoothed by a Subdivision Surface modifier with the rest of the armor; in any case, the obtained decorations mesh can also be simplified at a successive stage.

In this chapter, we saw the process that can be used to model the armor meshes. We will not demonstrate the rest of the armor modeling, as the same techniques can be used over again. However, feel free to model the rest of the armor on your own or have a look at the provided Gidiosaurus_modeling_02.blend file:

How it works…

The completed armor as it appears in the rendering

 

Chapter 4. Re-topology of the High Resolution Sculpted Character's Mesh

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Using the Grease Pencil tool to plan the edge-loops flow
  • Using the Snap tool to re-topologize the mesh
  • Using the Shrinkwrap modifier to re-topologize the mesh
  • Using the LoopTools add-on to re-topologize the mesh
  • Concluding the re-topologized mesh

Introduction

The re-topology of a mesh, as the name itself explains, is simply the reconstruction of that mesh with a different topology; usually, the re-topology is used to obtain a low resolution mesh from a high resolution one.

In our case, this is obviously needed because we are later going to rig and animate our Gidiosaurus, and these tasks would be almost impossible with a mesh as dense as the high resolution sculpted one; we not only need to reconstruct the shape of the mesh with a lower number of vertices, but also with the edge-loops properly placed and flowing for the best render and deformation of the character's features.

In Blender, we have several tools to accomplish this task, both hardcoded into the software or as add-ons to be enabled, and in this chapter, we are going to see them.

Using the Grease Pencil tool to plan the edge-loops flow

It would be perfectly possible to start immediately to re-topologize the high resolution mesh, at least for an expert modeler; by the way, it's usually a good practice to have a guide to be followed in the process, to solve a priori any issue (or at least most of them) that we would come across.

So, let's start this chapter by planning what the right topology can be for a low resolution mesh of our Gidiosaurus character; we are going to use the Grease Pencil tool to draw the paths of the edge-loops and polygons flow, straight onto the sculpted mesh.

Getting ready

First, let's prepare the screen:

  1. Open the Gidiosaurus_modeling_02.blend file.
  2. Go to the UV/Image Editor window to the left and Shift + left-click on the X icon on the toolbar to get rid of the template image (to be more technically precise, to unlink the template image data block; the Shift key is to set the users to 0 and definitely eliminate the image from the file).
  3. Put the mouse pointer on the border between the two windows and right-click; in the little Area Options pop-up panel, left-click on the Join Area item and then slightly move the mouse pointer to the left and left-click again, to join the two windows and obtain a single big 3D viewport window:
    Getting ready

    Joining the two windows into one

  4. Click on the 11th scene layer button to show only the sculpted Gidiosaurus mesh and parts such as the teeth, eyes, and so on.
  5. Go to the Outliner and click on the icons showing an eye image placed to the right side of the Eyeballs, Fangs, and Talons items to hide them.
  6. Press the N key to make the Properties 3D view sidepanel appear to the right of the 3D window and scroll it to find the Grease Pencil subpanel (already enabled by default); go to the Tool Shelf panel to the left of the 3D window and click on the Grease Pencil tab:
    Getting ready

    The Grease Pencil panels and the screen layout in current state

  7. Check to enable the Continuous Drawing item just below the four buttons at the top of the Grease Pencil tab on the Tool Shelf.
  8. Go to the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel to the right and click on the New button; then, click on the + icon button to the left side to add a new Grease Pencil layer, which is by default labeled GP_Layer; set the Stroke color to RGB 1.000, 0.000, 0.350 and Thickness of the strokes to 4 pixels.
  9. Double-click on the GP_Layer name to rename it as Head.
  10. Go to the Tool Shelf and, under Stroke Placement, click on the Surface button:
    Getting ready

    Starting to use the Grease Pencil tool

  11. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend.

How to do it…

We are now going to start to draw on the character's head:

  1. Press Shift + B and draw a box around the head of the Gidiosaurus to zoom to it; then, press the 5 key on the numpad to go into Ortho view.
  2. Click on the Draw, Line or Poly buttons at the top of the Grease Pencil tab in the Tool Shelf; alternatively, keep the D key pressed (along with left-click) to start to draw the first stroke on the mesh (Ctrl + D + left-click and Ctrl + D + right-click, respectively for Line and Poly).

    Because we enabled the Continuous Drawing item in the Tool Shelf, we can continue to draw without the need to reactivate the drawing mode at each stroke. To quit the sketching session (for example, to change the brush), we can press the Esc or the Enter keys, so confirming the sketching session itself at the same time; otherwise, without the Continuous Drawing item enabled, the sketching is confirmed right after each stroke.

  3. Start to draw (one half side of the mesh is enough) the strokes; try to make the strokes follow the main, basic, and more remarkable features of the sculpted mesh such as the main skin folders going from the snout to the eye sockets and the bags under the eyes, nostril, mouth rim, and so on.
  4. Don't worry too much about the quality or the precision of the strokes; also, don't be afraid to erase (D + right-click or the Erase button) and/or correct the strokes, if necessary. The Grease Pencil, in this case, is just a tool to sketch directly on the mesh the guidelines we will later follow for the re-topology stage:
    How to do it…

    Drawing the head's main features topology

    In the case of our Gidiosaurus, the topology for a correct deformation is similar to the topology we would use for a human face, but a lot simpler: we just need edge-loops around the eyes and in the eyebrows area, to give them mobility for expressiveness; a few edge-loops around the mouth that, however, in our case, remains quite rigid; and edge-loops following the folders on the top of the snout, which can also be important for the growl expression.

  5. Once the strokes for the main features have been posed, try to join them into a web of edges, as balanced and efficient as possible:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the strokes

  6. At a certain point, when and if the overlapping of the strokes starts to become confusing, you can uncheck the X Ray item, which is located to the right side of the Thickness slot in the Grease Pencil layer subpanel, to disable the visibility of the strokes behind the mesh surface.
  7. Forget about the edge-loops of stiff parts such as the cranium; it's enough to plan the position and the flow of the deforming ones. In the screenshot at the bottom right, I have highlighted (in Gimp) the main facial edge-loops for the Gidiosaurus with different colors:
    How to do it…

    The X Ray button and the highlighted main edge-loops

  8. When you think you are done with the head, click on the + icon button to add a new layer and rename it as Neck. Set the values the same you did for the Head layer, just change the color of the strokes; I set mine to RGB 0.106, 0.435, 0.993, but whatever color you choose, be sure that it stands out in the viewport against the mesh color.
  9. In the case of the neck, the important thing is to find the correct joining with the head's edge-loops under the lower jaw, as you can see in the bottom-right screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The Neck layer

  10. Continue to stroke on the neck by drawing parallel horizontal loops along its length and use the vertical strokes to outline the neck's muscles (don't look for a sternocleidomastoid muscle here; the Gidiosaurus, anatomy, although similar in some ways, is not human at all!).
  11. Remember that because our character is wearing an armor, it is not necessary to re-topologize the whole body, but only the exposed parts; so we can stop the planning just a little beyond the plates outside edges. To verify the correct extension of the strokes, just be sure to have the X Ray item enabled in the Grease Pencil layers and also the 13th scene layer enabled to show the armor:
    How to do it…

    Verifying the extension of the strokes under the armor

  12. Click again on the + icon button in the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and rename the new layer as Arm. Set the values the same as you did for the Head and Neck layers, but change the color once more (R 0.000, G 1.000, B 0.476); this time, we have to plan the joining of the cylindrical shape of the arm with the shoulder and the collar bones areas:
    How to do it…

    Sketching the guidelines on the arm

  13. As before, also in this case, it is not necessary to go beyond the boundaries of the armor chest plate, but including also the muscles of the chest and back in the topology planning can give a more natural result:
    How to do it…

    The completed guidelines for the shoulder and the arm joining

  14. When you are done, save the file.

At this point, we can stop with the Grease Pencil sketching of the topology; the remaining parts of the exposed body are a lot simpler and will be quickly resolved in the successive recipe of this chapter.

There's more…

We can load any already existing Grease Pencil layer data blocks even into an empty scene, by clicking on the little arrows on the left-hand side of the Gpencil slot (Freehand annotation sketchbook) at the top of the Grease Pencil subpanel on the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and indifferently for Scene or Object. Actually, the Grease Pencil tool can be used as a sketchbook tool, to write quick notes and/or corrections inside the Node Editor window or the UV/Image Editor window, and even as an animation tool, by drawing inside an empty scene or on the surface of other objects to be used as templates.

In the following screenshot, you can see the sketching sessions previously made on the Gidiosaurus object's surface, showing a solo and keeping the volumes of the character in the 3D space:

There's more…

The Grease Pencil layers in the 3D space

Getting ready

First, let's prepare the screen:

  1. Open the Gidiosaurus_modeling_02.blend file.
  2. Go to the UV/Image Editor window to the left and Shift + left-click on the X icon on the toolbar to get rid of the template image (to be more technically precise, to unlink the template image data block; the Shift key is to set the users to 0 and definitely eliminate the image from the file).
  3. Put the mouse pointer on the border between the two windows and right-click; in the little Area Options pop-up panel, left-click on the Join Area item and then slightly move the mouse pointer to the left and left-click again, to join the two windows and obtain a single big 3D viewport window:
    Getting ready

    Joining the two windows into one

  4. Click on the 11th scene layer button to show only the sculpted Gidiosaurus mesh and parts such as the teeth, eyes, and so on.
  5. Go to the Outliner and click on the icons showing an eye image placed to the right side of the Eyeballs, Fangs, and Talons items to hide them.
  6. Press the N key to make the Properties 3D view sidepanel appear to the right of the 3D window and scroll it to find the Grease Pencil subpanel (already enabled by default); go to the Tool Shelf panel to the left of the 3D window and click on the Grease Pencil tab:
    Getting ready

    The Grease Pencil panels and the screen layout in current state

  7. Check to enable the Continuous Drawing item just below the four buttons at the top of the Grease Pencil tab on the Tool Shelf.
  8. Go to the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel to the right and click on the New button; then, click on the + icon button to the left side to add a new Grease Pencil layer, which is by default labeled GP_Layer; set the Stroke color to RGB 1.000, 0.000, 0.350 and Thickness of the strokes to 4 pixels.
  9. Double-click on the GP_Layer name to rename it as Head.
  10. Go to the Tool Shelf and, under Stroke Placement, click on the Surface button:
    Getting ready

    Starting to use the Grease Pencil tool

  11. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend.

How to do it…

We are now going to start to draw on the character's head:

  1. Press Shift + B and draw a box around the head of the Gidiosaurus to zoom to it; then, press the 5 key on the numpad to go into Ortho view.
  2. Click on the Draw, Line or Poly buttons at the top of the Grease Pencil tab in the Tool Shelf; alternatively, keep the D key pressed (along with left-click) to start to draw the first stroke on the mesh (Ctrl + D + left-click and Ctrl + D + right-click, respectively for Line and Poly).

    Because we enabled the Continuous Drawing item in the Tool Shelf, we can continue to draw without the need to reactivate the drawing mode at each stroke. To quit the sketching session (for example, to change the brush), we can press the Esc or the Enter keys, so confirming the sketching session itself at the same time; otherwise, without the Continuous Drawing item enabled, the sketching is confirmed right after each stroke.

  3. Start to draw (one half side of the mesh is enough) the strokes; try to make the strokes follow the main, basic, and more remarkable features of the sculpted mesh such as the main skin folders going from the snout to the eye sockets and the bags under the eyes, nostril, mouth rim, and so on.
  4. Don't worry too much about the quality or the precision of the strokes; also, don't be afraid to erase (D + right-click or the Erase button) and/or correct the strokes, if necessary. The Grease Pencil, in this case, is just a tool to sketch directly on the mesh the guidelines we will later follow for the re-topology stage:
    How to do it…

    Drawing the head's main features topology

    In the case of our Gidiosaurus, the topology for a correct deformation is similar to the topology we would use for a human face, but a lot simpler: we just need edge-loops around the eyes and in the eyebrows area, to give them mobility for expressiveness; a few edge-loops around the mouth that, however, in our case, remains quite rigid; and edge-loops following the folders on the top of the snout, which can also be important for the growl expression.

  5. Once the strokes for the main features have been posed, try to join them into a web of edges, as balanced and efficient as possible:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the strokes

  6. At a certain point, when and if the overlapping of the strokes starts to become confusing, you can uncheck the X Ray item, which is located to the right side of the Thickness slot in the Grease Pencil layer subpanel, to disable the visibility of the strokes behind the mesh surface.
  7. Forget about the edge-loops of stiff parts such as the cranium; it's enough to plan the position and the flow of the deforming ones. In the screenshot at the bottom right, I have highlighted (in Gimp) the main facial edge-loops for the Gidiosaurus with different colors:
    How to do it…

    The X Ray button and the highlighted main edge-loops

  8. When you think you are done with the head, click on the + icon button to add a new layer and rename it as Neck. Set the values the same you did for the Head layer, just change the color of the strokes; I set mine to RGB 0.106, 0.435, 0.993, but whatever color you choose, be sure that it stands out in the viewport against the mesh color.
  9. In the case of the neck, the important thing is to find the correct joining with the head's edge-loops under the lower jaw, as you can see in the bottom-right screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The Neck layer

  10. Continue to stroke on the neck by drawing parallel horizontal loops along its length and use the vertical strokes to outline the neck's muscles (don't look for a sternocleidomastoid muscle here; the Gidiosaurus, anatomy, although similar in some ways, is not human at all!).
  11. Remember that because our character is wearing an armor, it is not necessary to re-topologize the whole body, but only the exposed parts; so we can stop the planning just a little beyond the plates outside edges. To verify the correct extension of the strokes, just be sure to have the X Ray item enabled in the Grease Pencil layers and also the 13th scene layer enabled to show the armor:
    How to do it…

    Verifying the extension of the strokes under the armor

  12. Click again on the + icon button in the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and rename the new layer as Arm. Set the values the same as you did for the Head and Neck layers, but change the color once more (R 0.000, G 1.000, B 0.476); this time, we have to plan the joining of the cylindrical shape of the arm with the shoulder and the collar bones areas:
    How to do it…

    Sketching the guidelines on the arm

  13. As before, also in this case, it is not necessary to go beyond the boundaries of the armor chest plate, but including also the muscles of the chest and back in the topology planning can give a more natural result:
    How to do it…

    The completed guidelines for the shoulder and the arm joining

  14. When you are done, save the file.

At this point, we can stop with the Grease Pencil sketching of the topology; the remaining parts of the exposed body are a lot simpler and will be quickly resolved in the successive recipe of this chapter.

There's more…

We can load any already existing Grease Pencil layer data blocks even into an empty scene, by clicking on the little arrows on the left-hand side of the Gpencil slot (Freehand annotation sketchbook) at the top of the Grease Pencil subpanel on the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and indifferently for Scene or Object. Actually, the Grease Pencil tool can be used as a sketchbook tool, to write quick notes and/or corrections inside the Node Editor window or the UV/Image Editor window, and even as an animation tool, by drawing inside an empty scene or on the surface of other objects to be used as templates.

In the following screenshot, you can see the sketching sessions previously made on the Gidiosaurus object's surface, showing a solo and keeping the volumes of the character in the 3D space:

There's more…

The Grease Pencil layers in the 3D space

How to do it…

We are now going to start to draw on the character's head:

  1. Press Shift + B and draw a box around the head of the Gidiosaurus to zoom to it; then, press the 5 key on the numpad to go into Ortho view.
  2. Click on the Draw, Line or Poly buttons at the top of the Grease Pencil tab in the Tool Shelf; alternatively, keep the D key pressed (along with left-click) to start to draw the first stroke on the mesh (Ctrl + D + left-click and Ctrl + D + right-click, respectively for Line and Poly).

    Because we enabled the Continuous Drawing item in the Tool Shelf, we can continue to draw without the need to reactivate the drawing mode at each stroke. To quit the sketching session (for example, to change the brush), we can press the Esc or the Enter keys, so confirming the sketching session itself at the same time; otherwise, without the Continuous Drawing item enabled, the sketching is confirmed right after each stroke.

  3. Start to draw (one half side of the mesh is enough) the strokes; try to make the strokes follow the main, basic, and more remarkable features of the sculpted mesh such as the main skin folders going from the snout to the eye sockets and the bags under the eyes, nostril, mouth rim, and so on.
  4. Don't worry too much about the quality or the precision of the strokes; also, don't be afraid to erase (D + right-click or the Erase button) and/or correct the strokes, if necessary. The Grease Pencil, in this case, is just a tool to sketch directly on the mesh the guidelines we will later follow for the re-topology stage:
    How to do it…

    Drawing the head's main features topology

    In the case of our Gidiosaurus, the topology for a correct deformation is similar to the topology we would use for a human face, but a lot simpler: we just need edge-loops around the eyes and in the eyebrows area, to give them mobility for expressiveness; a few edge-loops around the mouth that, however, in our case, remains quite rigid; and edge-loops following the folders on the top of the snout, which can also be important for the growl expression.

  5. Once the strokes for the main features have been posed, try to join them into a web of edges, as balanced and efficient as possible:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the strokes

  6. At a certain point, when and if the overlapping of the strokes starts to become confusing, you can uncheck the X Ray item, which is located to the right side of the Thickness slot in the Grease Pencil layer subpanel, to disable the visibility of the strokes behind the mesh surface.
  7. Forget about the edge-loops of stiff parts such as the cranium; it's enough to plan the position and the flow of the deforming ones. In the screenshot at the bottom right, I have highlighted (in Gimp) the main facial edge-loops for the Gidiosaurus with different colors:
    How to do it…

    The X Ray button and the highlighted main edge-loops

  8. When you think you are done with the head, click on the + icon button to add a new layer and rename it as Neck. Set the values the same you did for the Head layer, just change the color of the strokes; I set mine to RGB 0.106, 0.435, 0.993, but whatever color you choose, be sure that it stands out in the viewport against the mesh color.
  9. In the case of the neck, the important thing is to find the correct joining with the head's edge-loops under the lower jaw, as you can see in the bottom-right screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The Neck layer

  10. Continue to stroke on the neck by drawing parallel horizontal loops along its length and use the vertical strokes to outline the neck's muscles (don't look for a sternocleidomastoid muscle here; the Gidiosaurus, anatomy, although similar in some ways, is not human at all!).
  11. Remember that because our character is wearing an armor, it is not necessary to re-topologize the whole body, but only the exposed parts; so we can stop the planning just a little beyond the plates outside edges. To verify the correct extension of the strokes, just be sure to have the X Ray item enabled in the Grease Pencil layers and also the 13th scene layer enabled to show the armor:
    How to do it…

    Verifying the extension of the strokes under the armor

  12. Click again on the + icon button in the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and rename the new layer as Arm. Set the values the same as you did for the Head and Neck layers, but change the color once more (R 0.000, G 1.000, B 0.476); this time, we have to plan the joining of the cylindrical shape of the arm with the shoulder and the collar bones areas:
    How to do it…

    Sketching the guidelines on the arm

  13. As before, also in this case, it is not necessary to go beyond the boundaries of the armor chest plate, but including also the muscles of the chest and back in the topology planning can give a more natural result:
    How to do it…

    The completed guidelines for the shoulder and the arm joining

  14. When you are done, save the file.

At this point, we can stop with the Grease Pencil sketching of the topology; the remaining parts of the exposed body are a lot simpler and will be quickly resolved in the successive recipe of this chapter.

There's more…

We can load any already existing Grease Pencil layer data blocks even into an empty scene, by clicking on the little arrows on the left-hand side of the Gpencil slot (Freehand annotation sketchbook) at the top of the Grease Pencil subpanel on the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and indifferently for Scene or Object. Actually, the Grease Pencil tool can be used as a sketchbook tool, to write quick notes and/or corrections inside the Node Editor window or the UV/Image Editor window, and even as an animation tool, by drawing inside an empty scene or on the surface of other objects to be used as templates.

In the following screenshot, you can see the sketching sessions previously made on the Gidiosaurus object's surface, showing a solo and keeping the volumes of the character in the 3D space:

There's more…

The Grease Pencil layers in the 3D space

There's more…

We can load any already existing Grease Pencil layer data blocks even into an empty scene, by clicking on the little arrows on the left-hand side of the Gpencil slot (Freehand annotation sketchbook) at the top of the Grease Pencil subpanel on the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and indifferently for Scene or Object. Actually, the Grease Pencil tool can be used as a sketchbook tool, to write quick notes and/or corrections inside the Node Editor window or the UV/Image Editor window, and even as an animation tool, by drawing inside an empty scene or on the surface of other objects to be used as templates.

In the following screenshot, you can see the sketching sessions previously made on the Gidiosaurus object's surface, showing a solo and keeping the volumes of the character in the 3D space:

There's more…

The Grease Pencil layers in the 3D space

Using the Snap tool to re-topologize the mesh

In this recipe, we'll use the Snap tool to start to re-topologize the sculpted high resolution mesh.

Getting ready

First, let's prepare both, the mesh to be traced, which is the high resolution mesh, and the tool itself:

  1. Go to the Outliner and click on the Restrict viewport selection icon, which is the arrow one, to the side of the Gidiosaurus item to make it not selectable.
  2. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the center of the scene (Shift + C) and add a Plane primitive.
  3. Click on the Snap during transform button, the little icon with the magnet, on the 3D view toolbar, or else press Shift + Tab to activate the tool.
  4. Click on the Snap Element button (Type of element to snap to) on the close right to select the Face item, or else press Shift + Ctrl + Tab to make the Snap Element pop-up menu appear in order to select the item from:
    Getting ready

    The Snap Element menu

How to do it…

Now, we are going to start the re-topology:

  1. With the Plane object selected, press Tab to go into Edit Mode; with all the vertices already selected by default, by pressing Shift + right-click, deselect just one vertex (anyone of them, it doesn't matter which one).
  2. Press X to delete the other three vertices that are still selected.
  3. Select the single remaining vertex and move it onto the head of the sculpted mesh, close to the left eye socket; as the Snap tool is enabled, the vertex stays on the mesh surface.
  4. Press the period (.) key on the numpad to zoom the 3D view centered on the selected vertex:
    How to do it…

    Starting the re-topology process

  5. Go to the Object Data window and check the X-Ray item under the Display subpanel in the main Properties panel to the right of the screen.
  6. Start to extrude the vertex, building an edge-loop around the eye socket and following the Grease Pencil guideline, both by pressing the E key or Ctrl + left-click to add vertices; if needed, press G to move them at the right location (that is, at the intersections of the guidelines).
  7. When you have almost completed the edge-loop around the eye socket, select the last and the first vertices and press the F key to close it.
  8. Select the bottom row of vertices of the edge-loop and extrude them; adjust the position of each vertex on the ground of the strokes guideline:
    How to do it…

    The first re-topology around the eye socket

  9. Do the same with the upper row of vertices and then select the free vertices on the right-hand side of the edge-loops and press Alt + M to merge them at the center (At Center):
    How to do it…

    Building the eye edge-loop

  10. While still in Edit Mode, select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  11. Keep on extruding the edge-loops to build the faces around the eye socket. Select the inner edge-loop and extrude it; then, scale it inside and adjust the vertices position as usual.
  12. Cut a new edge-loop in the middle of the eye socket by pressing Ctrl + R and then select each vertex; press G and, immediately after, click with the left button of the mouse. This way the newly added vertex stays in place, but is snapped to the underlying surface (sadly, it doesn't work automatically as you cut or add vertices; they must be moved in some way to make the Snap tool work).
    How to do it…

    Adding geometry and snapping the vertices to the surface

  13. Keep on adding geometry to the mesh, extruding or Ctrl + left-clicking, and switch between edges and vertices selection mode to make the workflow faster. Press 5 on the numpad to go into Ortho view when necessary. Following the strokes guideline, build faces going towards the median line of the object.
  14. As you are arrived to the median line of the object, go to the Object Modifiers window under the Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier.
  15. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon (the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name), to activate the modifier during the editing, and check the Clipping item.
  16. Adjust the vertices you just added to the median line of the mesh to stay on the y axis and recalculate the normals.
  17. Go to the Outliner and rename the Plane item as Gidiosaurus_lowres.
    How to do it…

    Going towards the median line

  18. Build the remainder of the faces the same way, extruding edges or vertices, moving them to react to the Snap tool, and adding cuts and edge-loops where needed to keep all quads. N-gons faces can be split into quads by dividing an edge to add a vertex in the middle, selecting the new vertex and its opposite one and pressing the J key to connect them (see the two screenshots at the bottom row):
    How to do it…

    Building the eyebrows and dividing N-gons into two quad faces

  19. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier to the low resolution mesh and set Subdivisions to 2. Check the Optimal Display item; if you want, click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, which is the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name. To work with an already smoothed mesh (in the end, the mesh will be subdivided in any case) is a usual workflow; by the way, it depends on your preferences. If you prefer to work without the modifier, occasionally go out of Edit Mode to verify how the geometry behaves under the Subdivision Surface modifier.
    How to do it…

    The created geometry in the Subdivision Surface visualization mode

  20. Around the eyebrows, it is important to have continuous edge-loops to allow for better mesh deformation; often, it is enough to merge (Alt + M) two vertices to obtain the right flow. Note that this creates a pole (check out the screenshot at the top right) that can later be eliminated by a cut and then merges the two tris faces into a quad (Alt + J; the two screenshots at the bottom):
    How to do it…

    Closing two edge-loops

  21. We have almost completed the Gidiosaurus' face. Select the vertices of the lower jaw and press the H key to hide them; select the upper mouth rim and extrude it and then adjust the vertices' position.
  22. Deselect the vertices, press Alt + H to unhide the mandible, and press Shift + H to hide the unselected vertices (in this case, the upper face). Select the mouth rim of the mandible and extrude and then tweak the position of the vertices.
  23. Connect the upper and the lower jaws by connecting the last vertices, as shown in the bottom-left of screenshot and then build a face. Tweak the vertices' position:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the jaw to the upper mouth

We can stop using the Snap tool at this point and continue with the re-topologizing by using different tools; we'll see this in the upcoming recipes.

How to do it…

The re-topologized face of the character

How it works…

The main requirement for a re-topology tool is the ability to trace the shape and volume of the high resolution mesh as easily as possible. In this recipe, we used the Blender Snap tool that, once set to Face, guarantees that every added vertex lies on the faces of any directly underlying object; this way, it is quite simple to concentrate on the flow of the polygons, while their vertices stay anchored to the mesh's surface.

To remark that the strokes are there only as a generic indication, note that in certain areas we are doubling the number of faces sketched with the Grease Pencil tool as well as to try to keep the density of the mesh as even as possible.

Getting ready

First, let's prepare both, the mesh to be traced, which is the high resolution mesh, and the tool itself:

  1. Go to the Outliner and click on the Restrict viewport selection icon, which is the arrow one, to the side of the Gidiosaurus item to make it not selectable.
  2. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the center of the scene (Shift + C) and add a Plane primitive.
  3. Click on the Snap during transform button, the little icon with the magnet, on the 3D view toolbar, or else press Shift + Tab to activate the tool.
  4. Click on the Snap Element button (Type of element to snap to) on the close right to select the Face item, or else press Shift + Ctrl + Tab to make the Snap Element pop-up menu appear in order to select the item from:
    Getting ready

    The Snap Element menu

How to do it…

Now, we are going to start the re-topology:

  1. With the Plane object selected, press Tab to go into Edit Mode; with all the vertices already selected by default, by pressing Shift + right-click, deselect just one vertex (anyone of them, it doesn't matter which one).
  2. Press X to delete the other three vertices that are still selected.
  3. Select the single remaining vertex and move it onto the head of the sculpted mesh, close to the left eye socket; as the Snap tool is enabled, the vertex stays on the mesh surface.
  4. Press the period (.) key on the numpad to zoom the 3D view centered on the selected vertex:
    How to do it…

    Starting the re-topology process

  5. Go to the Object Data window and check the X-Ray item under the Display subpanel in the main Properties panel to the right of the screen.
  6. Start to extrude the vertex, building an edge-loop around the eye socket and following the Grease Pencil guideline, both by pressing the E key or Ctrl + left-click to add vertices; if needed, press G to move them at the right location (that is, at the intersections of the guidelines).
  7. When you have almost completed the edge-loop around the eye socket, select the last and the first vertices and press the F key to close it.
  8. Select the bottom row of vertices of the edge-loop and extrude them; adjust the position of each vertex on the ground of the strokes guideline:
    How to do it…

    The first re-topology around the eye socket

  9. Do the same with the upper row of vertices and then select the free vertices on the right-hand side of the edge-loops and press Alt + M to merge them at the center (At Center):
    How to do it…

    Building the eye edge-loop

  10. While still in Edit Mode, select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  11. Keep on extruding the edge-loops to build the faces around the eye socket. Select the inner edge-loop and extrude it; then, scale it inside and adjust the vertices position as usual.
  12. Cut a new edge-loop in the middle of the eye socket by pressing Ctrl + R and then select each vertex; press G and, immediately after, click with the left button of the mouse. This way the newly added vertex stays in place, but is snapped to the underlying surface (sadly, it doesn't work automatically as you cut or add vertices; they must be moved in some way to make the Snap tool work).
    How to do it…

    Adding geometry and snapping the vertices to the surface

  13. Keep on adding geometry to the mesh, extruding or Ctrl + left-clicking, and switch between edges and vertices selection mode to make the workflow faster. Press 5 on the numpad to go into Ortho view when necessary. Following the strokes guideline, build faces going towards the median line of the object.
  14. As you are arrived to the median line of the object, go to the Object Modifiers window under the Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier.
  15. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon (the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name), to activate the modifier during the editing, and check the Clipping item.
  16. Adjust the vertices you just added to the median line of the mesh to stay on the y axis and recalculate the normals.
  17. Go to the Outliner and rename the Plane item as Gidiosaurus_lowres.
    How to do it…

    Going towards the median line

  18. Build the remainder of the faces the same way, extruding edges or vertices, moving them to react to the Snap tool, and adding cuts and edge-loops where needed to keep all quads. N-gons faces can be split into quads by dividing an edge to add a vertex in the middle, selecting the new vertex and its opposite one and pressing the J key to connect them (see the two screenshots at the bottom row):
    How to do it…

    Building the eyebrows and dividing N-gons into two quad faces

  19. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier to the low resolution mesh and set Subdivisions to 2. Check the Optimal Display item; if you want, click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, which is the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name. To work with an already smoothed mesh (in the end, the mesh will be subdivided in any case) is a usual workflow; by the way, it depends on your preferences. If you prefer to work without the modifier, occasionally go out of Edit Mode to verify how the geometry behaves under the Subdivision Surface modifier.
    How to do it…

    The created geometry in the Subdivision Surface visualization mode

  20. Around the eyebrows, it is important to have continuous edge-loops to allow for better mesh deformation; often, it is enough to merge (Alt + M) two vertices to obtain the right flow. Note that this creates a pole (check out the screenshot at the top right) that can later be eliminated by a cut and then merges the two tris faces into a quad (Alt + J; the two screenshots at the bottom):
    How to do it…

    Closing two edge-loops

  21. We have almost completed the Gidiosaurus' face. Select the vertices of the lower jaw and press the H key to hide them; select the upper mouth rim and extrude it and then adjust the vertices' position.
  22. Deselect the vertices, press Alt + H to unhide the mandible, and press Shift + H to hide the unselected vertices (in this case, the upper face). Select the mouth rim of the mandible and extrude and then tweak the position of the vertices.
  23. Connect the upper and the lower jaws by connecting the last vertices, as shown in the bottom-left of screenshot and then build a face. Tweak the vertices' position:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the jaw to the upper mouth

We can stop using the Snap tool at this point and continue with the re-topologizing by using different tools; we'll see this in the upcoming recipes.

How to do it…

The re-topologized face of the character

How it works…

The main requirement for a re-topology tool is the ability to trace the shape and volume of the high resolution mesh as easily as possible. In this recipe, we used the Blender Snap tool that, once set to Face, guarantees that every added vertex lies on the faces of any directly underlying object; this way, it is quite simple to concentrate on the flow of the polygons, while their vertices stay anchored to the mesh's surface.

To remark that the strokes are there only as a generic indication, note that in certain areas we are doubling the number of faces sketched with the Grease Pencil tool as well as to try to keep the density of the mesh as even as possible.

How to do it…

Now, we are going to start the re-topology:

  1. With the Plane object selected, press Tab to go into Edit Mode; with all the vertices already selected by default, by pressing Shift + right-click, deselect just one vertex (anyone of them, it doesn't matter which one).
  2. Press X to delete the other three vertices that are still selected.
  3. Select the single remaining vertex and move it onto the head of the sculpted mesh, close to the left eye socket; as the Snap tool is enabled, the vertex stays on the mesh surface.
  4. Press the period (.) key on the numpad to zoom the 3D view centered on the selected vertex:
    How to do it…

    Starting the re-topology process

  5. Go to the Object Data window and check the X-Ray item under the Display subpanel in the main Properties panel to the right of the screen.
  6. Start to extrude the vertex, building an edge-loop around the eye socket and following the Grease Pencil guideline, both by pressing the E key or Ctrl + left-click to add vertices; if needed, press G to move them at the right location (that is, at the intersections of the guidelines).
  7. When you have almost completed the edge-loop around the eye socket, select the last and the first vertices and press the F key to close it.
  8. Select the bottom row of vertices of the edge-loop and extrude them; adjust the position of each vertex on the ground of the strokes guideline:
    How to do it…

    The first re-topology around the eye socket

  9. Do the same with the upper row of vertices and then select the free vertices on the right-hand side of the edge-loops and press Alt + M to merge them at the center (At Center):
    How to do it…

    Building the eye edge-loop

  10. While still in Edit Mode, select all the vertices and press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals.
  11. Keep on extruding the edge-loops to build the faces around the eye socket. Select the inner edge-loop and extrude it; then, scale it inside and adjust the vertices position as usual.
  12. Cut a new edge-loop in the middle of the eye socket by pressing Ctrl + R and then select each vertex; press G and, immediately after, click with the left button of the mouse. This way the newly added vertex stays in place, but is snapped to the underlying surface (sadly, it doesn't work automatically as you cut or add vertices; they must be moved in some way to make the Snap tool work).
    How to do it…

    Adding geometry and snapping the vertices to the surface

  13. Keep on adding geometry to the mesh, extruding or Ctrl + left-clicking, and switch between edges and vertices selection mode to make the workflow faster. Press 5 on the numpad to go into Ortho view when necessary. Following the strokes guideline, build faces going towards the median line of the object.
  14. As you are arrived to the median line of the object, go to the Object Modifiers window under the Properties panel and assign a Mirror modifier.
  15. Click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon (the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name), to activate the modifier during the editing, and check the Clipping item.
  16. Adjust the vertices you just added to the median line of the mesh to stay on the y axis and recalculate the normals.
  17. Go to the Outliner and rename the Plane item as Gidiosaurus_lowres.
    How to do it…

    Going towards the median line

  18. Build the remainder of the faces the same way, extruding edges or vertices, moving them to react to the Snap tool, and adding cuts and edge-loops where needed to keep all quads. N-gons faces can be split into quads by dividing an edge to add a vertex in the middle, selecting the new vertex and its opposite one and pressing the J key to connect them (see the two screenshots at the bottom row):
    How to do it…

    Building the eyebrows and dividing N-gons into two quad faces

  19. Assign a Subdivision Surface modifier to the low resolution mesh and set Subdivisions to 2. Check the Optimal Display item; if you want, click on the Adjust edit cage to modifier result icon, which is the last one in the row to the side of the modifier's name. To work with an already smoothed mesh (in the end, the mesh will be subdivided in any case) is a usual workflow; by the way, it depends on your preferences. If you prefer to work without the modifier, occasionally go out of Edit Mode to verify how the geometry behaves under the Subdivision Surface modifier.
    How to do it…

    The created geometry in the Subdivision Surface visualization mode

  20. Around the eyebrows, it is important to have continuous edge-loops to allow for better mesh deformation; often, it is enough to merge (Alt + M) two vertices to obtain the right flow. Note that this creates a pole (check out the screenshot at the top right) that can later be eliminated by a cut and then merges the two tris faces into a quad (Alt + J; the two screenshots at the bottom):
    How to do it…

    Closing two edge-loops

  21. We have almost completed the Gidiosaurus' face. Select the vertices of the lower jaw and press the H key to hide them; select the upper mouth rim and extrude it and then adjust the vertices' position.
  22. Deselect the vertices, press Alt + H to unhide the mandible, and press Shift + H to hide the unselected vertices (in this case, the upper face). Select the mouth rim of the mandible and extrude and then tweak the position of the vertices.
  23. Connect the upper and the lower jaws by connecting the last vertices, as shown in the bottom-left of screenshot and then build a face. Tweak the vertices' position:
    How to do it…

    Connecting the jaw to the upper mouth

We can stop using the Snap tool at this point and continue with the re-topologizing by using different tools; we'll see this in the upcoming recipes.

How to do it…

The re-topologized face of the character

How it works…

The main requirement for a re-topology tool is the ability to trace the shape and volume of the high resolution mesh as easily as possible. In this recipe, we used the Blender Snap tool that, once set to Face, guarantees that every added vertex lies on the faces of any directly underlying object; this way, it is quite simple to concentrate on the flow of the polygons, while their vertices stay anchored to the mesh's surface.

To remark that the strokes are there only as a generic indication, note that in certain areas we are doubling the number of faces sketched with the Grease Pencil tool as well as to try to keep the density of the mesh as even as possible.

How it works…

The main requirement for a re-topology tool is the ability to trace the shape and volume of the high resolution mesh as easily as possible. In this recipe, we used the Blender Snap tool that, once set to Face, guarantees that every added vertex lies on the faces of any directly underlying object; this way, it is quite simple to concentrate on the flow of the polygons, while their vertices stay anchored to the mesh's surface.

To remark that the strokes are there only as a generic indication, note that in certain areas we are doubling the number of faces sketched with the Grease Pencil tool as well as to try to keep the density of the mesh as even as possible.

Using the Shrinkwrap modifier to re-topologize the mesh

Sometimes, the Snap tool is not enough or can be quite difficult to use because of a particular shape of the high resolution mesh; in these cases, the Shrinkwrap modifier can be very handy.

Getting ready

Basically, the usage of this method is all in the preparation of the modifier:

  1. Assign the Shrinkwrap modifier to the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh and, in the modifier stack, move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  2. Click on the Target field to select the Gidiosaurus mesh item and leave the Mode option to Nearest Surface Point (this seems to be the more efficient mode for this task; by the way, you can experiment with the other two modes that can reveal themselves useful in other situations).
  3. Enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons (the penultimate one and the last one to the right, with the cube and four selected vertices image and with the upside-down triangle and three vertices image, respectively) and the Keep Above Surface item.
  4. In Edit Mode, if it's necessary to make the low resolution mesh more easily visible against the high resolution one, change the Offset value to 0.001.
  5. Having the X-Ray item still active, go to the Shading subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and check the Backface Culling item:
    Getting ready

    The Shrinkwrap modifier panel

How to do it…

In Edit Mode, select, extrude, and move the vertices as required! The Shrinkwrap modifier will take care of keeping the vertices adhering to the target mesh surface.

If you are having issues, such as vertices jumping everywhere as you try to move them, try to disable the Snap tool. This is not always the case, but sometimes the combination of both the tool and the modifier can give unexpected results; other times, it can be the opposite.

How to do it…

Extruding and cutting an edge-loop under the Shrinkwrap modifier

Remember that if you are using this method to re-topologize, at the end of the process, you must apply the Shrinkwrap modifier.

Also, save the file.

Getting ready

Basically, the usage of this method is all in the preparation of the modifier:

  1. Assign the Shrinkwrap modifier to the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh and, in the modifier stack, move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  2. Click on the Target field to select the Gidiosaurus mesh item and leave the Mode option to Nearest Surface Point (this seems to be the more efficient mode for this task; by the way, you can experiment with the other two modes that can reveal themselves useful in other situations).
  3. Enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons (the penultimate one and the last one to the right, with the cube and four selected vertices image and with the upside-down triangle and three vertices image, respectively) and the Keep Above Surface item.
  4. In Edit Mode, if it's necessary to make the low resolution mesh more easily visible against the high resolution one, change the Offset value to 0.001.
  5. Having the X-Ray item still active, go to the Shading subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and check the Backface Culling item:
    Getting ready

    The Shrinkwrap modifier panel

How to do it…

In Edit Mode, select, extrude, and move the vertices as required! The Shrinkwrap modifier will take care of keeping the vertices adhering to the target mesh surface.

If you are having issues, such as vertices jumping everywhere as you try to move them, try to disable the Snap tool. This is not always the case, but sometimes the combination of both the tool and the modifier can give unexpected results; other times, it can be the opposite.

How to do it…

Extruding and cutting an edge-loop under the Shrinkwrap modifier

Remember that if you are using this method to re-topologize, at the end of the process, you must apply the Shrinkwrap modifier.

Also, save the file.

How to do it…

In Edit Mode, select, extrude, and move the vertices as required! The Shrinkwrap modifier will take care of keeping the vertices adhering to the target mesh surface.

If you are having issues, such as vertices jumping everywhere as you try to move them, try to disable the Snap tool. This is not always the case, but sometimes the combination of both the tool and the modifier can give unexpected results; other times, it can be the opposite.

How to do it…

Extruding and cutting an edge-loop under the Shrinkwrap modifier

Remember that if you are using this method to re-topologize, at the end of the process, you must apply the Shrinkwrap modifier.

Also, save the file.

Using the LoopTools add-on to re-topologize the mesh

We have already seen the LoopTools add-on in Chapter 3, Polygonal Modeling of the Character's Accessories. This incredibly useful Python script can even be used for the re-topology!

Getting ready

If the LoopTools add-on isn't enabled yet, perform the following steps:

  1. Start Blender and call the Blender User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U); go to the Addons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on Mesh.
  3. Check the empty little box to the right of the Mesh: LoopTools add-on to enable it.
  4. Click on the Save User Settings button at the bottom-left of the panel to save your preferences and close the panel:
    Getting ready

    The User Preferences panel and the LoopTools add-on enabled

  5. Load the Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend file.
  6. Click on the Snap during transform button on the 3D view toolbar (or else, press Shift + Tab) to enable the Snap tool again.

How to do it…

In the LoopTools add-on, there are at least three tools that can be used for the re-topology: Gstretch, Bridge, and Loft (the last two seem to have almost the same effect so, at least for our present goal, we can consider them to be interchangeable).

Let's first see the Gstretch tool:

  1. Go to the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel to the right. Be sure that the Grease Pencil checkbox is checked and click on the + icon button to add a fourth layer after the Arm layer (actually, you can also delete the preexisting GPencil data block and start with a brand new one, or in any case disable the visibility of the other layers); leave the strokes color as it is by default—that is, pure black.
  2. In Edit Mode, press D and sketch one edge-loop stroke.
  3. Select the edges of the low resolution mesh and press E to extrude them and then right-click; click on the Gstretch button (or press W | Specials | LoopTools | Gstretch).
  4. In the last operator panel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf (or else, press F6 to make the pop-up window appear at the mouse cursor location), check the Delete strokes item.
  5. Press Ctrl + R to cut the required edge-loops in the new faces:
    How to do it…

    Using the Gstretch tool in conjunction with the Grease Pencil tool

Yes, it's that simple; it's enough to stroke the target position line and the new extruded vertices will be moved to that target position.

Also, now let's see the Bridge and the Loft tools:

  1. Select a group of edges and press Shift + D to duplicate them.
  2. Move them into a new position and adjust the vertices as required.
  3. Select both the new edges as the previous group.
  4. Go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Bridge button (or again, through the W key to call the Specials menu).
    How to do it…

    Using the Bridge tool

  5. If you need to add cuts, instead of the usual Ctrl + R shortcut, go to the last operator panel (F6) and change the value of the Segments slot to the number required.

It's not mandatory to duplicate new edges, it's enough to select the same number of vertices in the two edge-loops to be connected; here, after the Bridge tool operation, we have set the Segments value to 3:

How to do it…

Adding cuts to the bridge operation

You can repeat the operation and the add-on will keep the last values you entered.

Repeat the steps, and this time click on the Loft button. The effect is almost the same, but if the new faces come out really messy, just click twice on the Reverse checkbox in the last operator panel; this should fix the issue.

You can then use all the other buttons to refine the added geometry; in the following screenshots, I tweaked the new geometry a little bit by selecting the horizontal edges and clicking on the Space, Flatten, and Relax buttons:

How to do it…

Completing the Gidiosaurus head

Using a mix of all the previous methods, in a short time, we have completed the head and the joining of the neck of our Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh; as you can see, particularly in the second screenshot at the bottom, the technique of following the main features and folders of the sculpted surface with the edge-loops can highlight the organic shapes even with a low resolution mesh:

How to do it…

The completed head

Don't forget to save the file and quit Blender.

Getting ready

If the LoopTools add-on isn't enabled yet, perform the following steps:

  1. Start Blender and call the Blender User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U); go to the Addons tab.
  2. Under the Categories item on the left-hand side of the panel, click on Mesh.
  3. Check the empty little box to the right of the Mesh: LoopTools add-on to enable it.
  4. Click on the Save User Settings button at the bottom-left of the panel to save your preferences and close the panel:
    Getting ready

    The User Preferences panel and the LoopTools add-on enabled

  5. Load the Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend file.
  6. Click on the Snap during transform button on the 3D view toolbar (or else, press Shift + Tab) to enable the Snap tool again.

How to do it…

In the LoopTools add-on, there are at least three tools that can be used for the re-topology: Gstretch, Bridge, and Loft (the last two seem to have almost the same effect so, at least for our present goal, we can consider them to be interchangeable).

Let's first see the Gstretch tool:

  1. Go to the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel to the right. Be sure that the Grease Pencil checkbox is checked and click on the + icon button to add a fourth layer after the Arm layer (actually, you can also delete the preexisting GPencil data block and start with a brand new one, or in any case disable the visibility of the other layers); leave the strokes color as it is by default—that is, pure black.
  2. In Edit Mode, press D and sketch one edge-loop stroke.
  3. Select the edges of the low resolution mesh and press E to extrude them and then right-click; click on the Gstretch button (or press W | Specials | LoopTools | Gstretch).
  4. In the last operator panel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf (or else, press F6 to make the pop-up window appear at the mouse cursor location), check the Delete strokes item.
  5. Press Ctrl + R to cut the required edge-loops in the new faces:
    How to do it…

    Using the Gstretch tool in conjunction with the Grease Pencil tool

Yes, it's that simple; it's enough to stroke the target position line and the new extruded vertices will be moved to that target position.

Also, now let's see the Bridge and the Loft tools:

  1. Select a group of edges and press Shift + D to duplicate them.
  2. Move them into a new position and adjust the vertices as required.
  3. Select both the new edges as the previous group.
  4. Go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Bridge button (or again, through the W key to call the Specials menu).
    How to do it…

    Using the Bridge tool

  5. If you need to add cuts, instead of the usual Ctrl + R shortcut, go to the last operator panel (F6) and change the value of the Segments slot to the number required.

It's not mandatory to duplicate new edges, it's enough to select the same number of vertices in the two edge-loops to be connected; here, after the Bridge tool operation, we have set the Segments value to 3:

How to do it…

Adding cuts to the bridge operation

You can repeat the operation and the add-on will keep the last values you entered.

Repeat the steps, and this time click on the Loft button. The effect is almost the same, but if the new faces come out really messy, just click twice on the Reverse checkbox in the last operator panel; this should fix the issue.

You can then use all the other buttons to refine the added geometry; in the following screenshots, I tweaked the new geometry a little bit by selecting the horizontal edges and clicking on the Space, Flatten, and Relax buttons:

How to do it…

Completing the Gidiosaurus head

Using a mix of all the previous methods, in a short time, we have completed the head and the joining of the neck of our Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh; as you can see, particularly in the second screenshot at the bottom, the technique of following the main features and folders of the sculpted surface with the edge-loops can highlight the organic shapes even with a low resolution mesh:

How to do it…

The completed head

Don't forget to save the file and quit Blender.

How to do it…

In the LoopTools add-on, there are at least three tools that can be used for the re-topology: Gstretch, Bridge, and Loft (the last two seem to have almost the same effect so, at least for our present goal, we can consider them to be interchangeable).

Let's first see the Gstretch tool:

  1. Go to the Grease Pencil subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel to the right. Be sure that the Grease Pencil checkbox is checked and click on the + icon button to add a fourth layer after the Arm layer (actually, you can also delete the preexisting GPencil data block and start with a brand new one, or in any case disable the visibility of the other layers); leave the strokes color as it is by default—that is, pure black.
  2. In Edit Mode, press D and sketch one edge-loop stroke.
  3. Select the edges of the low resolution mesh and press E to extrude them and then right-click; click on the Gstretch button (or press W | Specials | LoopTools | Gstretch).
  4. In the last operator panel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf (or else, press F6 to make the pop-up window appear at the mouse cursor location), check the Delete strokes item.
  5. Press Ctrl + R to cut the required edge-loops in the new faces:
    How to do it…

    Using the Gstretch tool in conjunction with the Grease Pencil tool

Yes, it's that simple; it's enough to stroke the target position line and the new extruded vertices will be moved to that target position.

Also, now let's see the Bridge and the Loft tools:

  1. Select a group of edges and press Shift + D to duplicate them.
  2. Move them into a new position and adjust the vertices as required.
  3. Select both the new edges as the previous group.
  4. Go to the LoopTools panel and click on the Bridge button (or again, through the W key to call the Specials menu).
    How to do it…

    Using the Bridge tool

  5. If you need to add cuts, instead of the usual Ctrl + R shortcut, go to the last operator panel (F6) and change the value of the Segments slot to the number required.

It's not mandatory to duplicate new edges, it's enough to select the same number of vertices in the two edge-loops to be connected; here, after the Bridge tool operation, we have set the Segments value to 3:

How to do it…

Adding cuts to the bridge operation

You can repeat the operation and the add-on will keep the last values you entered.

Repeat the steps, and this time click on the Loft button. The effect is almost the same, but if the new faces come out really messy, just click twice on the Reverse checkbox in the last operator panel; this should fix the issue.

You can then use all the other buttons to refine the added geometry; in the following screenshots, I tweaked the new geometry a little bit by selecting the horizontal edges and clicking on the Space, Flatten, and Relax buttons:

How to do it…

Completing the Gidiosaurus head

Using a mix of all the previous methods, in a short time, we have completed the head and the joining of the neck of our Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh; as you can see, particularly in the second screenshot at the bottom, the technique of following the main features and folders of the sculpted surface with the edge-loops can highlight the organic shapes even with a low resolution mesh:

How to do it…

The completed head

Don't forget to save the file and quit Blender.

Concluding the re-topologized mesh

The Shrinkwrap modifier method can be the way to quickly finish the rest of the re-topology of the Gidiosaurus sculpted mesh, by quickly re-topologizing the simpler cylindrical shapes and then completing the more difficult parts by hand.

Getting ready

If necessary, repeat the steps to set up the Shrinkwrap modifier technique:

  1. Assign the Shrinkwrap modifier to the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh and in the modifier stack, move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  2. Click on the Target field to select the Gidiosaurus mesh item and leave Mode to Nearest Surface Point.
  3. Enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons and the Keep Above Surface item.
  4. In Edit Mode, to make the low resolution mesh more easily visible against the high resolution one, change the Offset value to 0.001.
  5. Having the X-Ray item still active, go to the Shading subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and check the Backface Culling item.
  6. Then, to conclude the re-topology, we also need to enable the Copy Attributes Menu add-on; go to Blender User Preferences | Addons | 3D View | 3D View: Copy Attributes Menu.

How to do it…

Let's go on by building the geometry of the neck:

  1. While still in Edit Mode, just select the head's last edge loop on the neck and extrude it (E key) towards the shoulders.
  2. Press the Ctrl + R keys and add at least 7 or 8 widthwise edge-loops:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the neck

  3. Also, with the aid of the Snap tool, tweak the position of the bottom row of vertices, extrude them to add an edge-loop of faces, and tweak again. Go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The re-topology of the neck

We can use the same technique as in steps 1, 2, and 3 to quickly re-topologize the left arm and leg of the character. Instead of extruding the new geometry from the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh, in this case, it's better to add a new simple primitive: a Circle or also a Plane; whatever the primitive, when you add it, be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the character's origin pivot point.

As you can see in the following screenshot, at first we just created the geometry only for the main cylindrical sections of the limbs:

How to do it…

Arms and legs re-topologized

Do the same for the body: just a couple of edge-loops placed at the waist to extrude the geometry from; remember that the chest is covered with the armor breastplate, so only the exposed area needs to be re-topologized.

One Mirror and one Subdivision Surface modifier has been assigned to the three objects (head/neck, arm, and hips/leg). Also, because of the Mirror modifier, the vertices of the half side of the abdomen's edge-loops have been deleted.

There's more…

After the main parts have been re-topologized, we can start to tweak the position of the vertices on the arm and leg, to better fit the flow and shapes of the muscles and tendons in the sculpted mesh.

Thanks to the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier, we can do it quite freely; however, before we start with the tweaking, we require a little bit of preparation for a better visibility of the working objects, to affect and modify the new geometry (visible as a wireframe) and have the underlying sculpted mesh visible at the same time.

To do this, we have two ways:

The first way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier panel and set the Offset value to 0.002.
  2. Go to the Object window and disable the X-Ray item; in the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Wire:
    There's more…

    The mesh visualized in wireframe mode

The second way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier and set the Offset value back to 0.000.
  2. If this is the case, go to the Object window and, under the Display subpanel, enable the X-Ray item. In the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Textured.
  3. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (press N if not already present); if necessary, enter Edit Mode and under the Shading subpanel, check the Hidden Wire item.
  4. In both ways (I used the second one), if you want to enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons for the Subdivision Surface modifier to see its effect in Edit Mode, it is better to move the Shrinkwrap modifier after the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack, to have a better looking result.
    There's more…

    The second wireframe visualization method

We can now start to add the missing parts, by extruding and moving the vertices to better fit the sculpted features and also adding, if necessary, new edge-loops to better define these features:

There's more…

Refining and completing the remaining features

After the wireframe setup, it's easy to tweak the low resolution geometry to better fit the character's anatomy:

There's more…

The character's anatomy

The still missing parts are modeled at this stage, such as the inside of the nostrils or the eyelids, again with the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier; this time, targeted to the Cornea object to project the eyelids geometry onto it with an Offset value of 0.0035:

There's more…

The character's eyelids

Also, we built the inner mouth and the tongue of our character and refined the dental alveoli:

There's more…

The character's alveoli and tongue

As in every project, we can go on with the refining, adding edge-loops, and so on, and this would seem a never-ending work; instead, at this point, we can consider the Gidiosaurus re-topology at the end, so it's time to apply the Shrinkwrap modifiers and, if this is the case, select the Gidiosaurus body's still separated objects and join them together to have a single mesh.

It's time to do the same with the armor that is still waiting on the 13th scene layer:

There's more…

The totally completed re-topologized character with the armor

How it works…

First, we have to quickly build the geometry using the Shrinkwrap modifier technique and then set the visibility of this geometry to wireframe (Wire), to make the underlying sculpted mesh visible.

The Shrinkwrap modifier, in the first case with the Offset value set high enough to allow the wireframe visibility over the sculpted surface, ensured that all the moved vertices and the new added geometry are automatically wrapped around the target mesh to preserve the volume.

At the end, we took back the Offset value to 0.000 anyway and we applied the Shrinkwrap modifier; then, we joined the re-topologized arm and leg objects together to the Gidiosaurus_lowres one.

As you have probably noticed, we haven't applied the Mirror modifiers yet. This is because it will still be useful in the next chapter.

Getting ready

If necessary, repeat the steps to set up the Shrinkwrap modifier technique:

  1. Assign the Shrinkwrap modifier to the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh and in the modifier stack, move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  2. Click on the Target field to select the Gidiosaurus mesh item and leave Mode to Nearest Surface Point.
  3. Enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons and the Keep Above Surface item.
  4. In Edit Mode, to make the low resolution mesh more easily visible against the high resolution one, change the Offset value to 0.001.
  5. Having the X-Ray item still active, go to the Shading subpanel under the Properties 3D view sidepanel and check the Backface Culling item.
  6. Then, to conclude the re-topology, we also need to enable the Copy Attributes Menu add-on; go to Blender User Preferences | Addons | 3D View | 3D View: Copy Attributes Menu.

How to do it…

Let's go on by building the geometry of the neck:

  1. While still in Edit Mode, just select the head's last edge loop on the neck and extrude it (E key) towards the shoulders.
  2. Press the Ctrl + R keys and add at least 7 or 8 widthwise edge-loops:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the neck

  3. Also, with the aid of the Snap tool, tweak the position of the bottom row of vertices, extrude them to add an edge-loop of faces, and tweak again. Go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The re-topology of the neck

We can use the same technique as in steps 1, 2, and 3 to quickly re-topologize the left arm and leg of the character. Instead of extruding the new geometry from the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh, in this case, it's better to add a new simple primitive: a Circle or also a Plane; whatever the primitive, when you add it, be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the character's origin pivot point.

As you can see in the following screenshot, at first we just created the geometry only for the main cylindrical sections of the limbs:

How to do it…

Arms and legs re-topologized

Do the same for the body: just a couple of edge-loops placed at the waist to extrude the geometry from; remember that the chest is covered with the armor breastplate, so only the exposed area needs to be re-topologized.

One Mirror and one Subdivision Surface modifier has been assigned to the three objects (head/neck, arm, and hips/leg). Also, because of the Mirror modifier, the vertices of the half side of the abdomen's edge-loops have been deleted.

There's more…

After the main parts have been re-topologized, we can start to tweak the position of the vertices on the arm and leg, to better fit the flow and shapes of the muscles and tendons in the sculpted mesh.

Thanks to the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier, we can do it quite freely; however, before we start with the tweaking, we require a little bit of preparation for a better visibility of the working objects, to affect and modify the new geometry (visible as a wireframe) and have the underlying sculpted mesh visible at the same time.

To do this, we have two ways:

The first way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier panel and set the Offset value to 0.002.
  2. Go to the Object window and disable the X-Ray item; in the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Wire:
    There's more…

    The mesh visualized in wireframe mode

The second way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier and set the Offset value back to 0.000.
  2. If this is the case, go to the Object window and, under the Display subpanel, enable the X-Ray item. In the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Textured.
  3. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (press N if not already present); if necessary, enter Edit Mode and under the Shading subpanel, check the Hidden Wire item.
  4. In both ways (I used the second one), if you want to enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons for the Subdivision Surface modifier to see its effect in Edit Mode, it is better to move the Shrinkwrap modifier after the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack, to have a better looking result.
    There's more…

    The second wireframe visualization method

We can now start to add the missing parts, by extruding and moving the vertices to better fit the sculpted features and also adding, if necessary, new edge-loops to better define these features:

There's more…

Refining and completing the remaining features

After the wireframe setup, it's easy to tweak the low resolution geometry to better fit the character's anatomy:

There's more…

The character's anatomy

The still missing parts are modeled at this stage, such as the inside of the nostrils or the eyelids, again with the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier; this time, targeted to the Cornea object to project the eyelids geometry onto it with an Offset value of 0.0035:

There's more…

The character's eyelids

Also, we built the inner mouth and the tongue of our character and refined the dental alveoli:

There's more…

The character's alveoli and tongue

As in every project, we can go on with the refining, adding edge-loops, and so on, and this would seem a never-ending work; instead, at this point, we can consider the Gidiosaurus re-topology at the end, so it's time to apply the Shrinkwrap modifiers and, if this is the case, select the Gidiosaurus body's still separated objects and join them together to have a single mesh.

It's time to do the same with the armor that is still waiting on the 13th scene layer:

There's more…

The totally completed re-topologized character with the armor

How it works…

First, we have to quickly build the geometry using the Shrinkwrap modifier technique and then set the visibility of this geometry to wireframe (Wire), to make the underlying sculpted mesh visible.

The Shrinkwrap modifier, in the first case with the Offset value set high enough to allow the wireframe visibility over the sculpted surface, ensured that all the moved vertices and the new added geometry are automatically wrapped around the target mesh to preserve the volume.

At the end, we took back the Offset value to 0.000 anyway and we applied the Shrinkwrap modifier; then, we joined the re-topologized arm and leg objects together to the Gidiosaurus_lowres one.

As you have probably noticed, we haven't applied the Mirror modifiers yet. This is because it will still be useful in the next chapter.

How to do it…

Let's go on by building the geometry of the neck:

  1. While still in Edit Mode, just select the head's last edge loop on the neck and extrude it (E key) towards the shoulders.
  2. Press the Ctrl + R keys and add at least 7 or 8 widthwise edge-loops:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the neck

  3. Also, with the aid of the Snap tool, tweak the position of the bottom row of vertices, extrude them to add an edge-loop of faces, and tweak again. Go out of Edit Mode.
    How to do it…

    The re-topology of the neck

We can use the same technique as in steps 1, 2, and 3 to quickly re-topologize the left arm and leg of the character. Instead of extruding the new geometry from the Gidiosaurus_lowres mesh, in this case, it's better to add a new simple primitive: a Circle or also a Plane; whatever the primitive, when you add it, be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the character's origin pivot point.

As you can see in the following screenshot, at first we just created the geometry only for the main cylindrical sections of the limbs:

How to do it…

Arms and legs re-topologized

Do the same for the body: just a couple of edge-loops placed at the waist to extrude the geometry from; remember that the chest is covered with the armor breastplate, so only the exposed area needs to be re-topologized.

One Mirror and one Subdivision Surface modifier has been assigned to the three objects (head/neck, arm, and hips/leg). Also, because of the Mirror modifier, the vertices of the half side of the abdomen's edge-loops have been deleted.

There's more…

After the main parts have been re-topologized, we can start to tweak the position of the vertices on the arm and leg, to better fit the flow and shapes of the muscles and tendons in the sculpted mesh.

Thanks to the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier, we can do it quite freely; however, before we start with the tweaking, we require a little bit of preparation for a better visibility of the working objects, to affect and modify the new geometry (visible as a wireframe) and have the underlying sculpted mesh visible at the same time.

To do this, we have two ways:

The first way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier panel and set the Offset value to 0.002.
  2. Go to the Object window and disable the X-Ray item; in the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Wire:
    There's more…

    The mesh visualized in wireframe mode

The second way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier and set the Offset value back to 0.000.
  2. If this is the case, go to the Object window and, under the Display subpanel, enable the X-Ray item. In the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Textured.
  3. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (press N if not already present); if necessary, enter Edit Mode and under the Shading subpanel, check the Hidden Wire item.
  4. In both ways (I used the second one), if you want to enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons for the Subdivision Surface modifier to see its effect in Edit Mode, it is better to move the Shrinkwrap modifier after the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack, to have a better looking result.
    There's more…

    The second wireframe visualization method

We can now start to add the missing parts, by extruding and moving the vertices to better fit the sculpted features and also adding, if necessary, new edge-loops to better define these features:

There's more…

Refining and completing the remaining features

After the wireframe setup, it's easy to tweak the low resolution geometry to better fit the character's anatomy:

There's more…

The character's anatomy

The still missing parts are modeled at this stage, such as the inside of the nostrils or the eyelids, again with the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier; this time, targeted to the Cornea object to project the eyelids geometry onto it with an Offset value of 0.0035:

There's more…

The character's eyelids

Also, we built the inner mouth and the tongue of our character and refined the dental alveoli:

There's more…

The character's alveoli and tongue

As in every project, we can go on with the refining, adding edge-loops, and so on, and this would seem a never-ending work; instead, at this point, we can consider the Gidiosaurus re-topology at the end, so it's time to apply the Shrinkwrap modifiers and, if this is the case, select the Gidiosaurus body's still separated objects and join them together to have a single mesh.

It's time to do the same with the armor that is still waiting on the 13th scene layer:

There's more…

The totally completed re-topologized character with the armor

How it works…

First, we have to quickly build the geometry using the Shrinkwrap modifier technique and then set the visibility of this geometry to wireframe (Wire), to make the underlying sculpted mesh visible.

The Shrinkwrap modifier, in the first case with the Offset value set high enough to allow the wireframe visibility over the sculpted surface, ensured that all the moved vertices and the new added geometry are automatically wrapped around the target mesh to preserve the volume.

At the end, we took back the Offset value to 0.000 anyway and we applied the Shrinkwrap modifier; then, we joined the re-topologized arm and leg objects together to the Gidiosaurus_lowres one.

As you have probably noticed, we haven't applied the Mirror modifiers yet. This is because it will still be useful in the next chapter.

There's more…

After the main parts have been re-topologized, we can start to tweak the position of the vertices on the arm and leg, to better fit the flow and shapes of the muscles and tendons in the sculpted mesh.

Thanks to the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier, we can do it quite freely; however, before we start with the tweaking, we require a little bit of preparation for a better visibility of the working objects, to affect and modify the new geometry (visible as a wireframe) and have the underlying sculpted mesh visible at the same time.

To do this, we have two ways:

The first way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier panel and set the Offset value to 0.002.
  2. Go to the Object window and disable the X-Ray item; in the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Wire:
    There's more…

    The mesh visualized in wireframe mode

The second way is as follows:

  1. Go to the Shrinkwrap modifier and set the Offset value back to 0.000.
  2. If this is the case, go to the Object window and, under the Display subpanel, enable the X-Ray item. In the Maximum Draw Type slot, under the Display subpanel, select Textured.
  3. Go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel (press N if not already present); if necessary, enter Edit Mode and under the Shading subpanel, check the Hidden Wire item.
  4. In both ways (I used the second one), if you want to enable the Display modifier in Edit mode and Adjust edit cage to modifier result buttons for the Subdivision Surface modifier to see its effect in Edit Mode, it is better to move the Shrinkwrap modifier after the Subdivision Surface modifier in the stack, to have a better looking result.
    There's more…

    The second wireframe visualization method

We can now start to add the missing parts, by extruding and moving the vertices to better fit the sculpted features and also adding, if necessary, new edge-loops to better define these features:

There's more…

Refining and completing the remaining features

After the wireframe setup, it's easy to tweak the low resolution geometry to better fit the character's anatomy:

There's more…

The character's anatomy

The still missing parts are modeled at this stage, such as the inside of the nostrils or the eyelids, again with the aid of the Shrinkwrap modifier; this time, targeted to the Cornea object to project the eyelids geometry onto it with an Offset value of 0.0035:

There's more…

The character's eyelids

Also, we built the inner mouth and the tongue of our character and refined the dental alveoli:

There's more…

The character's alveoli and tongue

As in every project, we can go on with the refining, adding edge-loops, and so on, and this would seem a never-ending work; instead, at this point, we can consider the Gidiosaurus re-topology at the end, so it's time to apply the Shrinkwrap modifiers and, if this is the case, select the Gidiosaurus body's still separated objects and join them together to have a single mesh.

It's time to do the same with the armor that is still waiting on the 13th scene layer:

There's more…

The totally completed re-topologized character with the armor

How it works…

First, we have to quickly build the geometry using the Shrinkwrap modifier technique and then set the visibility of this geometry to wireframe (Wire), to make the underlying sculpted mesh visible.

The Shrinkwrap modifier, in the first case with the Offset value set high enough to allow the wireframe visibility over the sculpted surface, ensured that all the moved vertices and the new added geometry are automatically wrapped around the target mesh to preserve the volume.

At the end, we took back the Offset value to 0.000 anyway and we applied the Shrinkwrap modifier; then, we joined the re-topologized arm and leg objects together to the Gidiosaurus_lowres one.

As you have probably noticed, we haven't applied the Mirror modifiers yet. This is because it will still be useful in the next chapter.

How it works…

First, we have to quickly build the geometry using the Shrinkwrap modifier technique and then set the visibility of this geometry to wireframe (Wire), to make the underlying sculpted mesh visible.

The Shrinkwrap modifier, in the first case with the Offset value set high enough to allow the wireframe visibility over the sculpted surface, ensured that all the moved vertices and the new added geometry are automatically wrapped around the target mesh to preserve the volume.

At the end, we took back the Offset value to 0.000 anyway and we applied the Shrinkwrap modifier; then, we joined the re-topologized arm and leg objects together to the Gidiosaurus_lowres one.

As you have probably noticed, we haven't applied the Mirror modifiers yet. This is because it will still be useful in the next chapter.

 

Chapter 5. Unwrapping the Low Resolution Mesh

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Preparing the low resolution mesh for unwrapping
  • UV unwrapping the mesh
  • Editing the UV islands
  • Using the Smart UV Project tool
  • Modifying the mesh and the UV islands
  • Setting up additional UV layers
  • Exporting the UV Map layout

Introduction

So, at this point, we have sculpted our high resolution character and through the retopology process, we have obtained a low resolution copy, which is easier to use for rigging, texturing, and animation.

There are several ways to apply textures to a mesh in Blender, as in any other 3D package. In our case, we are going to use UV Mapping, which is certainly one of the most commonly used and efficient methods for organic shapes.

Before the unwrapping process, the mesh must be prepared to make the task easier.

Preparing the low resolution mesh for unwrapping

In this recipe, we'll fix the last details such as the position of some of the character's parts (for instance, the closed mouth) and in general, anything that is needed to facilitate the unwrapping.

Getting ready

To be more precise, before the unwrapping, we must perform the following tasks in the right order:

  1. Join the teeth and talons to the body.
  2. Create the vertex group for the mandible.
  3. Open the mouth.
  4. Mark the seams to unwrap the body.

So, open the Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend file and deactivate the layer with the armor to hide it; select the Gidiosaurus object and save the file as Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend.

How to do it…

The simplest of the four tasks just so happens to be the first, joining the body with the teeth and talons.

To join the body parts, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Talons item in the Outliner, and then hold Shift and select the Fangs_bottom, Fangs_upper, and Gidiosaurus_lowres items.
  2. Press Ctrl + J to join them.
  3. Right away we will notice that, because the retopologized mesh didn't have any material assigned, the whole object gets the only material available, which is the Enamel material we had assigned to the talons and teeth earlier.
  4. To fix this, assign a new material, or you can also assign the already existing Body material, to the retopologized mesh before the joining operation.
  5. Alternatively, after the joining, click on the + icon to the side of the material names, and then select the New button in the Material window to create a new material. Now, enter Edit Mode, put the mouse pointer on the Gidiosaurus mesh, and press the L key to select all the connected vertices. Because the talons and teeth vertices are joined, but not connected to the face vertices, they don't get selected; for the same reason, you have to repeat the operation three times to select the head, arm, hips, and leg vertices:
    How to do it…

    The head, arm and hip/leg vertices selected in Edit Mode

  6. Click on the Assign button and go out of the Edit Mode. Now, edit the name and color of the new material or whatever, or else switch it with the Body one.

    The second task is a bit more complex and is covered in more detail in Chapter 7, Skinning the Low Resolution Mesh, which is about the skinning process. However, we need to explore this subject a little bit now, as it will help us operate on a small portion of the mesh easily.

    To create a vertex group to open the mouth, follow these steps:

  7. Go to the Side view and zoom in on the head of the character.
  8. Go to the Object Data window; under the Vertex Groups subpanel, add a new group and rename it mand (short for mandible).
  9. Press Ctrl + Tab to go into Weight Paint mode (or left-click on the mode button on the 3D window toolbar to switch from Edit Mode to Weight Paint mode); press Z to go into Wireframe viewport shading mode so that you can see the edges of the topology.
  10. By using a combination of vertex selection mode, both in Edit Mode and by painting with Weight and Strength as 1.000 in the Weight Paint mode, assign vertices to the group of the mandible area and the part of the neck; obviously, you have to include the vertices of the inner bottom jaw, as well as the tongue and bottom teeth:
    How to do it…

    The visualization of the mand vertex group

  11. Press Ctrl + Tab to exit the Weight Paint mode.

    Note that a vertex group can be edited at a later time, so it will be easier to set the exact amount of weight on the vertices by looking at the Lattice modifier feedback, which is the next step.

    So, to open the mouth, perform the following steps:

  12. Add an Empty object to the center of the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  13. Go to the Side view (press the 3 key on the numpad). Move the Empty to the position where the mandible should join the skull (to be precise, I placed it at this location: X = 0.0000, Y = -0.3206, and Z = 2.2644; go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and under the Transform subpanel, enter the values in the first three slots under the Location item).
  14. To ensure that the Empty cannot be moved anymore, click on the lock icon on the right-hand side of its slot in the Outliner and also rename it to Empty_rot_mand:
    How to do it…

    The Empty_rot_mand in place

  15. With the Empty still selected, press Shift + S | Cursor to Selected.
  16. Add a Lattice object to the scene (Shift + A | Lattice), and in the Object Data window, set Interpolation Type for U, V, and W to Linear; select the Gidiosaurus object and go to the Objects Modifier window; assign a Lattice modifier. Move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  17. In the Object field, select the Lattice item; in the Vertex Group field, select the mand item.
  18. In the Side view, select the Lattice object, go into Edit Mode, and select all the vertices and rotate them 35 degrees counterclockwise around the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Rotating the Lattice to open the mouth

    As you can see, the Lattice only affects the vertices inside the mand vertex group; however, there is a clear indentation on the throat where the mand vertex group ends abruptly, so now we must blur this boundary to keep the smooth curved transition from the bottom jaw to the neck, and remove the abrupt edge.

  19. Go back into the Weight Paint mode (Ctrl + Tab) and click on the Brush icon at the top of the Tools tab to switch the Draw brush with the Blur brush, and then start to blur the boundaries of the mand vertex group.
  20. Sometimes, blurring the edge weights is not enough, so go back to the Draw brush, set the Strength to 0.500 (or whatever value you find works best), and paint on the vertices; then refine the transition again with the Blur brush:
    How to do it…

    Blurring and painting the weights

  21. To make the job easier and faster, you can temporarily disable the Lattice modifier, as well as the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  22. When you are done, go out of the Weight Paint mode, apply the Lattice modifier, and delete the Lattice object.
  23. Make sure to keep the Empty_rot_mand, which that will turn out to be useful when rigging the character. For now, just hide or move it onto a different layer.

    At this point, we can obviously edit the throat area vertices as usual: relaxing and tweaking them and so on. Actually, this is the right moment to tweak all the vertices and any areas that couldn't be done before, such as the inside of the mouth, the inner cheeks, and so forth, because now we are going to do the last preparation task before the unwrapping.

    To mark seams for the unwrapping of the body, we have to perform the following steps. Because our low resolution mesh is actually still only one half side, we don't need to place seams as median cuts, we only need to divide different areas (for example, the inside of the mouth from the outside of the mouth) and unroll cylindrical parts such as the arms, fingers, and teeth:

  24. Go into Edit Mode and zoom in to the character's head; press Ctrl + Tab to call the Mesh Select Mode pop-up menu and select the Edge item, and then start to select the edge-loop inside the mouth (Alt + right-click to select an edge-loop); start from the bottom jaw, switching direction at the end of the mouth rim to go upward, and finish on the inside of the upper jaw:
    How to do it…

    The selected edge-loops inside the mouth

  25. Press Ctrl + E to open the Edges pop-up menu and select the Mark Seam item. Alternatively, click on the Shading / UVs tab in the Tool Shelf, to the left-hand side of the screen, and in the UVs subpanel, click on the Mark Seam button under the UV Mapping item:
    How to do it…

    Marking the seams

  26. Repeat the procedure for the arm; try to place the seams in the less visible areas:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the arm

  27. Do the same for the pelvis and leg; divide them into two parts with the seams and also try to place the seams inside the natural body folds, if possible:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the pelvis/leg parts

  28. It is important to try to place the seams to divide parts that would get unwrapped badly if treated as a single object; for example, the inner nostril and tongue from the inner mouth:
    How to do it…

    The seams inside the head

  29. The final seams to add are for the teeth and talons, which would otherwise get badly unwrapped as squares:
    How to do it…

    The seams of the small parts

  30. Save the file.

Getting ready

To be more precise, before the unwrapping, we must perform the following tasks in the right order:

  1. Join the teeth and talons to the body.
  2. Create the vertex group for the mandible.
  3. Open the mouth.
  4. Mark the seams to unwrap the body.

So, open the Gidiosaurus_retopology.blend file and deactivate the layer with the armor to hide it; select the Gidiosaurus object and save the file as Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend.

How to do it…

The simplest of the four tasks just so happens to be the first, joining the body with the teeth and talons.

To join the body parts, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Talons item in the Outliner, and then hold Shift and select the Fangs_bottom, Fangs_upper, and Gidiosaurus_lowres items.
  2. Press Ctrl + J to join them.
  3. Right away we will notice that, because the retopologized mesh didn't have any material assigned, the whole object gets the only material available, which is the Enamel material we had assigned to the talons and teeth earlier.
  4. To fix this, assign a new material, or you can also assign the already existing Body material, to the retopologized mesh before the joining operation.
  5. Alternatively, after the joining, click on the + icon to the side of the material names, and then select the New button in the Material window to create a new material. Now, enter Edit Mode, put the mouse pointer on the Gidiosaurus mesh, and press the L key to select all the connected vertices. Because the talons and teeth vertices are joined, but not connected to the face vertices, they don't get selected; for the same reason, you have to repeat the operation three times to select the head, arm, hips, and leg vertices:
    How to do it…

    The head, arm and hip/leg vertices selected in Edit Mode

  6. Click on the Assign button and go out of the Edit Mode. Now, edit the name and color of the new material or whatever, or else switch it with the Body one.

    The second task is a bit more complex and is covered in more detail in Chapter 7, Skinning the Low Resolution Mesh, which is about the skinning process. However, we need to explore this subject a little bit now, as it will help us operate on a small portion of the mesh easily.

    To create a vertex group to open the mouth, follow these steps:

  7. Go to the Side view and zoom in on the head of the character.
  8. Go to the Object Data window; under the Vertex Groups subpanel, add a new group and rename it mand (short for mandible).
  9. Press Ctrl + Tab to go into Weight Paint mode (or left-click on the mode button on the 3D window toolbar to switch from Edit Mode to Weight Paint mode); press Z to go into Wireframe viewport shading mode so that you can see the edges of the topology.
  10. By using a combination of vertex selection mode, both in Edit Mode and by painting with Weight and Strength as 1.000 in the Weight Paint mode, assign vertices to the group of the mandible area and the part of the neck; obviously, you have to include the vertices of the inner bottom jaw, as well as the tongue and bottom teeth:
    How to do it…

    The visualization of the mand vertex group

  11. Press Ctrl + Tab to exit the Weight Paint mode.

    Note that a vertex group can be edited at a later time, so it will be easier to set the exact amount of weight on the vertices by looking at the Lattice modifier feedback, which is the next step.

    So, to open the mouth, perform the following steps:

  12. Add an Empty object to the center of the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  13. Go to the Side view (press the 3 key on the numpad). Move the Empty to the position where the mandible should join the skull (to be precise, I placed it at this location: X = 0.0000, Y = -0.3206, and Z = 2.2644; go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and under the Transform subpanel, enter the values in the first three slots under the Location item).
  14. To ensure that the Empty cannot be moved anymore, click on the lock icon on the right-hand side of its slot in the Outliner and also rename it to Empty_rot_mand:
    How to do it…

    The Empty_rot_mand in place

  15. With the Empty still selected, press Shift + S | Cursor to Selected.
  16. Add a Lattice object to the scene (Shift + A | Lattice), and in the Object Data window, set Interpolation Type for U, V, and W to Linear; select the Gidiosaurus object and go to the Objects Modifier window; assign a Lattice modifier. Move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  17. In the Object field, select the Lattice item; in the Vertex Group field, select the mand item.
  18. In the Side view, select the Lattice object, go into Edit Mode, and select all the vertices and rotate them 35 degrees counterclockwise around the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Rotating the Lattice to open the mouth

    As you can see, the Lattice only affects the vertices inside the mand vertex group; however, there is a clear indentation on the throat where the mand vertex group ends abruptly, so now we must blur this boundary to keep the smooth curved transition from the bottom jaw to the neck, and remove the abrupt edge.

  19. Go back into the Weight Paint mode (Ctrl + Tab) and click on the Brush icon at the top of the Tools tab to switch the Draw brush with the Blur brush, and then start to blur the boundaries of the mand vertex group.
  20. Sometimes, blurring the edge weights is not enough, so go back to the Draw brush, set the Strength to 0.500 (or whatever value you find works best), and paint on the vertices; then refine the transition again with the Blur brush:
    How to do it…

    Blurring and painting the weights

  21. To make the job easier and faster, you can temporarily disable the Lattice modifier, as well as the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  22. When you are done, go out of the Weight Paint mode, apply the Lattice modifier, and delete the Lattice object.
  23. Make sure to keep the Empty_rot_mand, which that will turn out to be useful when rigging the character. For now, just hide or move it onto a different layer.

    At this point, we can obviously edit the throat area vertices as usual: relaxing and tweaking them and so on. Actually, this is the right moment to tweak all the vertices and any areas that couldn't be done before, such as the inside of the mouth, the inner cheeks, and so forth, because now we are going to do the last preparation task before the unwrapping.

    To mark seams for the unwrapping of the body, we have to perform the following steps. Because our low resolution mesh is actually still only one half side, we don't need to place seams as median cuts, we only need to divide different areas (for example, the inside of the mouth from the outside of the mouth) and unroll cylindrical parts such as the arms, fingers, and teeth:

  24. Go into Edit Mode and zoom in to the character's head; press Ctrl + Tab to call the Mesh Select Mode pop-up menu and select the Edge item, and then start to select the edge-loop inside the mouth (Alt + right-click to select an edge-loop); start from the bottom jaw, switching direction at the end of the mouth rim to go upward, and finish on the inside of the upper jaw:
    How to do it…

    The selected edge-loops inside the mouth

  25. Press Ctrl + E to open the Edges pop-up menu and select the Mark Seam item. Alternatively, click on the Shading / UVs tab in the Tool Shelf, to the left-hand side of the screen, and in the UVs subpanel, click on the Mark Seam button under the UV Mapping item:
    How to do it…

    Marking the seams

  26. Repeat the procedure for the arm; try to place the seams in the less visible areas:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the arm

  27. Do the same for the pelvis and leg; divide them into two parts with the seams and also try to place the seams inside the natural body folds, if possible:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the pelvis/leg parts

  28. It is important to try to place the seams to divide parts that would get unwrapped badly if treated as a single object; for example, the inner nostril and tongue from the inner mouth:
    How to do it…

    The seams inside the head

  29. The final seams to add are for the teeth and talons, which would otherwise get badly unwrapped as squares:
    How to do it…

    The seams of the small parts

  30. Save the file.

How to do it…

The simplest of the four tasks just so happens to be the first, joining the body with the teeth and talons.

To join the body parts, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Talons item in the Outliner, and then hold Shift and select the Fangs_bottom, Fangs_upper, and Gidiosaurus_lowres items.
  2. Press Ctrl + J to join them.
  3. Right away we will notice that, because the retopologized mesh didn't have any material assigned, the whole object gets the only material available, which is the Enamel material we had assigned to the talons and teeth earlier.
  4. To fix this, assign a new material, or you can also assign the already existing Body material, to the retopologized mesh before the joining operation.
  5. Alternatively, after the joining, click on the + icon to the side of the material names, and then select the New button in the Material window to create a new material. Now, enter Edit Mode, put the mouse pointer on the Gidiosaurus mesh, and press the L key to select all the connected vertices. Because the talons and teeth vertices are joined, but not connected to the face vertices, they don't get selected; for the same reason, you have to repeat the operation three times to select the head, arm, hips, and leg vertices:
    How to do it…

    The head, arm and hip/leg vertices selected in Edit Mode

  6. Click on the Assign button and go out of the Edit Mode. Now, edit the name and color of the new material or whatever, or else switch it with the Body one.

    The second task is a bit more complex and is covered in more detail in Chapter 7, Skinning the Low Resolution Mesh, which is about the skinning process. However, we need to explore this subject a little bit now, as it will help us operate on a small portion of the mesh easily.

    To create a vertex group to open the mouth, follow these steps:

  7. Go to the Side view and zoom in on the head of the character.
  8. Go to the Object Data window; under the Vertex Groups subpanel, add a new group and rename it mand (short for mandible).
  9. Press Ctrl + Tab to go into Weight Paint mode (or left-click on the mode button on the 3D window toolbar to switch from Edit Mode to Weight Paint mode); press Z to go into Wireframe viewport shading mode so that you can see the edges of the topology.
  10. By using a combination of vertex selection mode, both in Edit Mode and by painting with Weight and Strength as 1.000 in the Weight Paint mode, assign vertices to the group of the mandible area and the part of the neck; obviously, you have to include the vertices of the inner bottom jaw, as well as the tongue and bottom teeth:
    How to do it…

    The visualization of the mand vertex group

  11. Press Ctrl + Tab to exit the Weight Paint mode.

    Note that a vertex group can be edited at a later time, so it will be easier to set the exact amount of weight on the vertices by looking at the Lattice modifier feedback, which is the next step.

    So, to open the mouth, perform the following steps:

  12. Add an Empty object to the center of the scene (Shift + A | Empty | Plain Axes).
  13. Go to the Side view (press the 3 key on the numpad). Move the Empty to the position where the mandible should join the skull (to be precise, I placed it at this location: X = 0.0000, Y = -0.3206, and Z = 2.2644; go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and under the Transform subpanel, enter the values in the first three slots under the Location item).
  14. To ensure that the Empty cannot be moved anymore, click on the lock icon on the right-hand side of its slot in the Outliner and also rename it to Empty_rot_mand:
    How to do it…

    The Empty_rot_mand in place

  15. With the Empty still selected, press Shift + S | Cursor to Selected.
  16. Add a Lattice object to the scene (Shift + A | Lattice), and in the Object Data window, set Interpolation Type for U, V, and W to Linear; select the Gidiosaurus object and go to the Objects Modifier window; assign a Lattice modifier. Move it before the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  17. In the Object field, select the Lattice item; in the Vertex Group field, select the mand item.
  18. In the Side view, select the Lattice object, go into Edit Mode, and select all the vertices and rotate them 35 degrees counterclockwise around the x axis:
    How to do it…

    Rotating the Lattice to open the mouth

    As you can see, the Lattice only affects the vertices inside the mand vertex group; however, there is a clear indentation on the throat where the mand vertex group ends abruptly, so now we must blur this boundary to keep the smooth curved transition from the bottom jaw to the neck, and remove the abrupt edge.

  19. Go back into the Weight Paint mode (Ctrl + Tab) and click on the Brush icon at the top of the Tools tab to switch the Draw brush with the Blur brush, and then start to blur the boundaries of the mand vertex group.
  20. Sometimes, blurring the edge weights is not enough, so go back to the Draw brush, set the Strength to 0.500 (or whatever value you find works best), and paint on the vertices; then refine the transition again with the Blur brush:
    How to do it…

    Blurring and painting the weights

  21. To make the job easier and faster, you can temporarily disable the Lattice modifier, as well as the Subdivision Surface modifier.
  22. When you are done, go out of the Weight Paint mode, apply the Lattice modifier, and delete the Lattice object.
  23. Make sure to keep the Empty_rot_mand, which that will turn out to be useful when rigging the character. For now, just hide or move it onto a different layer.

    At this point, we can obviously edit the throat area vertices as usual: relaxing and tweaking them and so on. Actually, this is the right moment to tweak all the vertices and any areas that couldn't be done before, such as the inside of the mouth, the inner cheeks, and so forth, because now we are going to do the last preparation task before the unwrapping.

    To mark seams for the unwrapping of the body, we have to perform the following steps. Because our low resolution mesh is actually still only one half side, we don't need to place seams as median cuts, we only need to divide different areas (for example, the inside of the mouth from the outside of the mouth) and unroll cylindrical parts such as the arms, fingers, and teeth:

  24. Go into Edit Mode and zoom in to the character's head; press Ctrl + Tab to call the Mesh Select Mode pop-up menu and select the Edge item, and then start to select the edge-loop inside the mouth (Alt + right-click to select an edge-loop); start from the bottom jaw, switching direction at the end of the mouth rim to go upward, and finish on the inside of the upper jaw:
    How to do it…

    The selected edge-loops inside the mouth

  25. Press Ctrl + E to open the Edges pop-up menu and select the Mark Seam item. Alternatively, click on the Shading / UVs tab in the Tool Shelf, to the left-hand side of the screen, and in the UVs subpanel, click on the Mark Seam button under the UV Mapping item:
    How to do it…

    Marking the seams

  26. Repeat the procedure for the arm; try to place the seams in the less visible areas:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the arm

  27. Do the same for the pelvis and leg; divide them into two parts with the seams and also try to place the seams inside the natural body folds, if possible:
    How to do it…

    The seams on the pelvis/leg parts

  28. It is important to try to place the seams to divide parts that would get unwrapped badly if treated as a single object; for example, the inner nostril and tongue from the inner mouth:
    How to do it…

    The seams inside the head

  29. The final seams to add are for the teeth and talons, which would otherwise get badly unwrapped as squares:
    How to do it…

    The seams of the small parts

  30. Save the file.

UV unwrapping the mesh

At this point, everything is ready for the unwrapping.

Getting ready

Put the mouse pointer on the bottom or on the top horizontal borders of the 3D window. As the mouse pointer changes to a double-arrow icon, right-click and in the Area Options pop-up menu select the Split Area item; then, left-click to obtain two windows and switch the left one to UV/Image Editor.

Getting ready

The two windows

How to do it…

To unwrap the mesh in Blender, several options are available; however, the one we are going to use now is the basic unwrap, the result of which we will edit and refine later:

  1. Ensure that the UV/Image Editor window is not set to Render Result, otherwise it won't display the UV islands.
  2. Select the Gidiosaurus_lowres object and enter Edit Mode. Select all the vertices (A key) and press the U key; in the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the first item, Unwrap:
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping the mesh

    After a while, the UV layer of the unwrapped mesh appears in the UV/Image Editor window; as you can see, several things can be improved. Moreover, we are still using only half of a mesh.

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window; apply the Mirror modifier.
  4. Go back into Edit Mode and press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view; press Ctrl + R and place a median seam through the head part of the mesh, as well as through the pelvis part:
    How to do it…

    A new loop cut

  5. Press Ctrl + Tab to switch to vertex selection and press Z to go into the Wireframe viewport shading mode, and then box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the mesh (which is the side created by the Mirror modifier).
  6. Go to the UV/Image Editor window; if not already selected, press A to select all the UV islands of the UV layer, and then press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror these selected islands.
  7. Press G to move them (temporarily) outside the default U0/V0 tile space, as shown in the following screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The selected half body vertices and the corresponding UV islands outside the U0/V0 tile space

  8. Go to the 3D view and press A twice to select all the vertices; go to the UV/Image Editor window and press Ctrl + A to average the size of all the islands reciprocally.
  9. Select all the islands and press Ctrl + P to automatically pack all of them inside the UV tile.
  10. If you are not satisfied with the result of the Pack islands tool, adjust the position (G key), rotation (R key), and scale (S key) of the islands; group together the similar ones (for example, the teeth, talons, arms, and so on), but try to place them to fill the image tile space as much as possible. To select one island, just put the mouse over it and press L, and Shift + L to multiselect. Use the X and Y keys to constrain the movements of the islands on the corresponding axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the UV islands' position

  11. When you are done, ensure that all the vertices of all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window are selected, and click on the New button on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window; in the New Image pop-up panel, set Width and Height to 3072 pixels, and Generated Type should be set to UV Grid. Then, click on the OK button to confirm.
  12. Go to the 3D window and press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode. Then, go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel and under the Shading subpanel, check the Textured Solid item.
  13. Go out of the Edit Mode and save the file:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a grid image to the unwrapped UV islands

This should be enough; even if the halves of the mesh are disconnected, Blender can perfectly solve the mesh painting without visible seams.

However, if we look at the character shown in the Textured Solid mode in the 3D view, it's clear that the unwrap of some part of the mesh could be better; for example, you can see a difference in the size of the mapped grid in the head/neck area, inside the mouth, and on the arms and legs (look at the arrows in the following images):

How to do it…

Differences in the mapped grid image

Although this is not a very big issue, the unwrap can be refined further to avoid distortions as much as possible, as well as potential future problems when we'll paint the character textures; we are going to see this in the next recipe.

Getting ready

Put the mouse pointer on the bottom or on the top horizontal borders of the 3D window. As the mouse pointer changes to a double-arrow icon, right-click and in the Area Options pop-up menu select the Split Area item; then, left-click to obtain two windows and switch the left one to UV/Image Editor.

Getting ready

The two windows

How to do it…

To unwrap the mesh in Blender, several options are available; however, the one we are going to use now is the basic unwrap, the result of which we will edit and refine later:

  1. Ensure that the UV/Image Editor window is not set to Render Result, otherwise it won't display the UV islands.
  2. Select the Gidiosaurus_lowres object and enter Edit Mode. Select all the vertices (A key) and press the U key; in the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the first item, Unwrap:
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping the mesh

    After a while, the UV layer of the unwrapped mesh appears in the UV/Image Editor window; as you can see, several things can be improved. Moreover, we are still using only half of a mesh.

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window; apply the Mirror modifier.
  4. Go back into Edit Mode and press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view; press Ctrl + R and place a median seam through the head part of the mesh, as well as through the pelvis part:
    How to do it…

    A new loop cut

  5. Press Ctrl + Tab to switch to vertex selection and press Z to go into the Wireframe viewport shading mode, and then box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the mesh (which is the side created by the Mirror modifier).
  6. Go to the UV/Image Editor window; if not already selected, press A to select all the UV islands of the UV layer, and then press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror these selected islands.
  7. Press G to move them (temporarily) outside the default U0/V0 tile space, as shown in the following screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The selected half body vertices and the corresponding UV islands outside the U0/V0 tile space

  8. Go to the 3D view and press A twice to select all the vertices; go to the UV/Image Editor window and press Ctrl + A to average the size of all the islands reciprocally.
  9. Select all the islands and press Ctrl + P to automatically pack all of them inside the UV tile.
  10. If you are not satisfied with the result of the Pack islands tool, adjust the position (G key), rotation (R key), and scale (S key) of the islands; group together the similar ones (for example, the teeth, talons, arms, and so on), but try to place them to fill the image tile space as much as possible. To select one island, just put the mouse over it and press L, and Shift + L to multiselect. Use the X and Y keys to constrain the movements of the islands on the corresponding axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the UV islands' position

  11. When you are done, ensure that all the vertices of all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window are selected, and click on the New button on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window; in the New Image pop-up panel, set Width and Height to 3072 pixels, and Generated Type should be set to UV Grid. Then, click on the OK button to confirm.
  12. Go to the 3D window and press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode. Then, go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel and under the Shading subpanel, check the Textured Solid item.
  13. Go out of the Edit Mode and save the file:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a grid image to the unwrapped UV islands

This should be enough; even if the halves of the mesh are disconnected, Blender can perfectly solve the mesh painting without visible seams.

However, if we look at the character shown in the Textured Solid mode in the 3D view, it's clear that the unwrap of some part of the mesh could be better; for example, you can see a difference in the size of the mapped grid in the head/neck area, inside the mouth, and on the arms and legs (look at the arrows in the following images):

How to do it…

Differences in the mapped grid image

Although this is not a very big issue, the unwrap can be refined further to avoid distortions as much as possible, as well as potential future problems when we'll paint the character textures; we are going to see this in the next recipe.

How to do it…

To unwrap the mesh in Blender, several options are available; however, the one we are going to use now is the basic unwrap, the result of which we will edit and refine later:

  1. Ensure that the UV/Image Editor window is not set to Render Result, otherwise it won't display the UV islands.
  2. Select the Gidiosaurus_lowres object and enter Edit Mode. Select all the vertices (A key) and press the U key; in the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the first item, Unwrap:
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping the mesh

    After a while, the UV layer of the unwrapped mesh appears in the UV/Image Editor window; as you can see, several things can be improved. Moreover, we are still using only half of a mesh.

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and go to the Object Modifiers window; apply the Mirror modifier.
  4. Go back into Edit Mode and press 1 on the numpad to go to the Front view; press Ctrl + R and place a median seam through the head part of the mesh, as well as through the pelvis part:
    How to do it…

    A new loop cut

  5. Press Ctrl + Tab to switch to vertex selection and press Z to go into the Wireframe viewport shading mode, and then box-select the vertices on the left-hand side of the mesh (which is the side created by the Mirror modifier).
  6. Go to the UV/Image Editor window; if not already selected, press A to select all the UV islands of the UV layer, and then press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror these selected islands.
  7. Press G to move them (temporarily) outside the default U0/V0 tile space, as shown in the following screenshot:
    How to do it…

    The selected half body vertices and the corresponding UV islands outside the U0/V0 tile space

  8. Go to the 3D view and press A twice to select all the vertices; go to the UV/Image Editor window and press Ctrl + A to average the size of all the islands reciprocally.
  9. Select all the islands and press Ctrl + P to automatically pack all of them inside the UV tile.
  10. If you are not satisfied with the result of the Pack islands tool, adjust the position (G key), rotation (R key), and scale (S key) of the islands; group together the similar ones (for example, the teeth, talons, arms, and so on), but try to place them to fill the image tile space as much as possible. To select one island, just put the mouse over it and press L, and Shift + L to multiselect. Use the X and Y keys to constrain the movements of the islands on the corresponding axis:
    How to do it…

    Adjusting the UV islands' position

  11. When you are done, ensure that all the vertices of all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window are selected, and click on the New button on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window; in the New Image pop-up panel, set Width and Height to 3072 pixels, and Generated Type should be set to UV Grid. Then, click on the OK button to confirm.
  12. Go to the 3D window and press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode. Then, go to the Properties 3D view sidepanel and under the Shading subpanel, check the Textured Solid item.
  13. Go out of the Edit Mode and save the file:
    How to do it…

    Assigning a grid image to the unwrapped UV islands

This should be enough; even if the halves of the mesh are disconnected, Blender can perfectly solve the mesh painting without visible seams.

However, if we look at the character shown in the Textured Solid mode in the 3D view, it's clear that the unwrap of some part of the mesh could be better; for example, you can see a difference in the size of the mapped grid in the head/neck area, inside the mouth, and on the arms and legs (look at the arrows in the following images):

How to do it…

Differences in the mapped grid image

Although this is not a very big issue, the unwrap can be refined further to avoid distortions as much as possible, as well as potential future problems when we'll paint the character textures; we are going to see this in the next recipe.

Editing the UV islands

We are now going to join the two UV islands' halves together, in order to improve the final look of the texturing; we are also going to modify, if possible, a little of the island proportions in order to obtain a more regular flow of the UV vertices, and fix the distortions we have seen in the last image of the previous recipe.

We are going to the use the pin tool, which is normally used in conjunction with the Live Unwrap tool.

Getting ready

First, we'll try to recalculate the unwrap of some of the islands by modifying the seams of the mesh.

Before we start though, let's see if we can improve some of the visibility of the UV islands in the UV/Image Editor:

  1. Put the mouse cursor in the UV/Image Editor window and press the N key.
  2. In the Properties sidepanel that appears by pressing the N key on the right-hand side of the window, go to the Display subpanel and click on the Black or White button (depending on your preference) under the UV item. Check also the Smooth item box.
  3. Also, check the Stretch item, which even though it was made for a different purpose, can increase the visibility of the islands a lot.
  4. Press N again to get rid of the Properties sidepanel.

All these options enabled should make the islands more easily readable in the UV/Image Editor window:

Getting ready

The UV islands made more easily readable by the enabled items

How to do it…

Now we can start with the editing; initially, we are going to freeze the islands that we don't want to modify because their unwrap is either satisfactory, or we will deal with it later. So, perform the following steps:

  1. Press A to select all the islands, then by putting the mouse pointer on the two pelvis island halves and pressing Shift + L, multi-deselect them; press the P key to pin the remaining selected UV islands and then A to deselect everything:
    How to do it…

    To the right-hand side, the pinned UV islands

  2. Zoom in on the islands of the pelvis, select both the left and right outer edge-loops, as shown in the following left image, and press P to pin them.
  3. Go to the 3D view and clear only the front part of the median seam on the pelvis. To do this, start to clear the seam from the front edges, go down and stop where it crosses the horizontal seam that passes the bottom part of the groin and legs, and leave the back part of the vertical median seam still marked:
    How to do it…

    Pinning the extreme vertices in the UV/Image Editor, and editing the seam on the mesh

  4. Go into Face selection mode and select all the faces of the pelvis; put the mouse pointer in the 3D view and press U | Unwrap (alternatively, go into the UV/Image Editor and press E):
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping again with the pinning and a different seam

    The island will keep the previous position because of the pinned edges, and is now unwrapped as one single piece (with the obvious exception of the seam on the back).

  5. We won't modify the pelvis island any further, so select all its vertices and press P to pin all of them and then deselect them.
  6. Press A in the 3D view to select all the faces of the mesh and make all the islands visible in the UV/Image Editor. Note that they are all pinned at the moment, so just select the vertices you want to unpin (Alt + P) in the islands of the tongue and inner mouth. Then, clear the median seam in the corresponding pieces on the mesh, and press E again:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping the tongue and inner mouth areas

  7. Select the UV vertices of the resulting islands and unpin them all; next, pin just one vertex at the top of the islands and one at the bottom, and unwrap again. This will result in a more organically distributed unwrap of the parts:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping again with a different pinning

  8. Select all the faces of the mesh, and then all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window. Press Ctrl + A to average their relative size and adjust their position in the default tile space:
    How to do it…

    The rearranged UV islands

    Now, let's work on the head piece that, as in every character, should be the most important and well-finished piece.

    At the moment, the face is made using two separate islands; although this won't be visible in the final textured rendering of our character, it's always better, if possible, to join them in order to have a single piece, especially in the front mesh faces. Due to the elongated snout of the character, if we were to unwrap the head as a single piece simply without the median seam, we wouldn't get a nice evenly mapped result, so we must divide the whole head into more pieces.

    Actually, we can take advantage of the fact that the Gidiosaurus is wearing a helmet and that most of the head will be covered by it; this allows us to easily split the face from the rest of the mesh, hiding the seams under the helmet.

  9. Go into Edge selection mode and mark the seams, dividing the face from the cranium and neck as shown in the following screenshots. Select the crossing edge-loops, and then clear the unnecessary parts:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 1

  10. Also clear the median seam in the upper face part, and under the seam on the bottom jaw, leaving it only on the front mandible and on the back of the cranium and neck:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 2

  11. Go in the Face selection mode and select only the face section of the mesh, and then press E to unwrap. The new unwrap comes upside down, so select all the UV vertices and rotate the island by 180 degrees:
    How to do it…

    The character's face unwrapped

  12. Select the cranium/neck section on the mesh and repeat the process:
    How to do it…

    The rest of the head mesh unwrapped as a whole piece

  13. Now, select all the faces of the mesh and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor, and press Ctrl + A to average their reciprocal size.
  14. Once again, adjust the position of the islands inside the UV tile (Ctrl + P to automatically pack them inside the available space, and then tweak their position, rotation, and scale):
    How to do it…

    The character's UV islands packed inside the default U0/V0 tile space

How it works…

Starting from the UV unwrap in the previous recipe, we improved some of the islands by joining together the halves representing common mesh parts. When doing this, we tried to retain the already good parts of the unwrap by pinning the UV vertices that we didn't want to modify; this way, the new unwrap process was forced to calculate the position of the unpinned vertices using the constraints of the pinned ones (pelvis, tongue, and inner mouth). In other cases, we totally cleared the old seams on the model and marked new ones, in order to have a completely new unwrap of the mesh part (the head), we also used the character furniture (such as the armor) to hide the seams (which in any case, won't be visible at all).

There's more…

At this point, looking at the UV/Image Editor window containing the islands, it's evident that if we want to keep several parts in proportion to each other, some of the islands are a little too small to give a good amount of detail when texturing; for example, the Gidiosaurus's face.

A technique for a good unwrap that is the current standard in the industry is UDIM UV Mapping, which means U-Dimension; basically, after the usual unwrap, the islands are scaled bigger and placed outside the default U0/V0 tile space.

Look at the following screenshots, showing the Blender UV/Image Editor window:

There's more…

The default U0/V0 tile space and the possible consecutive other tile spaces

On the left-hand side, you can see, highlighted with red lines, the single UV tile that at present is the standard for Blender, which is identified by the UV coordinates 0 and 0: that is, U (horizontal) = 0 and V (vertical) = 0.

Although not visible in the UV/Image Editor window, all the other possible consecutive tiles can be identified by the corresponding UV coordinates, as shown on the right-hand side of the preceding screenshot (again, highlighted with red lines). So, adjacent to the tile U0/V0, we can have the row with the tiles U1/V0, U2/V0, and so on, but we can also go upwards: U0/V1, U1/V1, U2/V1, and so on.

To help you identify the tiles, Blender will show you the amount of pixels and also the number of tiles you are moving the islands in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window. In the following screenshot, the arm islands have been moved horizontally (on the negative x axis) by -3072.000 pixels; this is correct because that's exactly the X size of the grid image we loaded in the previous recipes. In fact, in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, while moving the islands we can read D: -3072.000 (pixels) and (inside brackets) 1.0000 (tile) along X; effectively, 3072 pixels = 1 tile.

There's more…

Moving the arm islands to the U1/V0 tile space

When moving UV islands from tile to tile, remember to check that the Constrain to Image Bounds item in the UVs menu on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window is disabled; also, enabling the Normalized item inside the Display subpanel under the N key Properties sidepanel of the same editor window will display the UV coordinates from 0.0 to 1.0, rather than in pixels. More, pressing the Ctrl key while moving the islands will constrain the movement to intervals, making it easy to translate them to exactly 1 tile space.

Because at the moment Blender doesn't support the UDIM UV Mapping standard, simply moving an island outside the default U0/V0 tile, for example to U1/V0, will repeat the image you loaded in the U0/V0 tile and on the faces associated with the moved islands. To solve this, it's necessary, after moving the islands, to assign a different material, if necessary with its own different image textures, to each group of vertices/faces associated with each tile space. So, if you shared your islands over 4 tiles, you need to assign 4 different materials to your object, and each material must load the proper image texture.

The goal of this process is obviously to obtain bigger islands mapped with bigger texture images, by selecting all the islands, scaling them bigger together using the largest ones as a guide, and then tweaking their position and distribution.

One last thing: it is also better to unwrap the corneas and eyes (which are separate objects from the Gidiosaurus body mesh) and add their islands to the tiles where you put the face, mouth, teeth, and so on (use the Draw Other Objects tool in the View menu of the UV/Image Editor window to also show the UV islands of the other nonjoined unwrapped objects):

There's more…

UV islands unwrapped, following the UDIM UV Mapping standard

In our case, we assigned the Gidiosaurus body islands to 5 different tiles, U0/V0, U1/V0, U2/V0, U0/V1, and U1/V1, so we'll have to assign 5 different materials. However, we will cover this in a later recipe.

Note that for exposition purposes only, in the preceding screenshot, you can see the cornea and eye islands together with the Gidiosaurus body islands because I temporarily joined the objects; however, it's usually better to maintain the eyes and corneas as separate objects from the main body.

Getting ready

First, we'll try to recalculate the unwrap of some of the islands by modifying the seams of the mesh.

Before we start though, let's see if we can improve some of the visibility of the UV islands in the UV/Image Editor:

  1. Put the mouse cursor in the UV/Image Editor window and press the N key.
  2. In the Properties sidepanel that appears by pressing the N key on the right-hand side of the window, go to the Display subpanel and click on the Black or White button (depending on your preference) under the UV item. Check also the Smooth item box.
  3. Also, check the Stretch item, which even though it was made for a different purpose, can increase the visibility of the islands a lot.
  4. Press N again to get rid of the Properties sidepanel.

All these options enabled should make the islands more easily readable in the UV/Image Editor window:

Getting ready

The UV islands made more easily readable by the enabled items

How to do it…

Now we can start with the editing; initially, we are going to freeze the islands that we don't want to modify because their unwrap is either satisfactory, or we will deal with it later. So, perform the following steps:

  1. Press A to select all the islands, then by putting the mouse pointer on the two pelvis island halves and pressing Shift + L, multi-deselect them; press the P key to pin the remaining selected UV islands and then A to deselect everything:
    How to do it…

    To the right-hand side, the pinned UV islands

  2. Zoom in on the islands of the pelvis, select both the left and right outer edge-loops, as shown in the following left image, and press P to pin them.
  3. Go to the 3D view and clear only the front part of the median seam on the pelvis. To do this, start to clear the seam from the front edges, go down and stop where it crosses the horizontal seam that passes the bottom part of the groin and legs, and leave the back part of the vertical median seam still marked:
    How to do it…

    Pinning the extreme vertices in the UV/Image Editor, and editing the seam on the mesh

  4. Go into Face selection mode and select all the faces of the pelvis; put the mouse pointer in the 3D view and press U | Unwrap (alternatively, go into the UV/Image Editor and press E):
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping again with the pinning and a different seam

    The island will keep the previous position because of the pinned edges, and is now unwrapped as one single piece (with the obvious exception of the seam on the back).

  5. We won't modify the pelvis island any further, so select all its vertices and press P to pin all of them and then deselect them.
  6. Press A in the 3D view to select all the faces of the mesh and make all the islands visible in the UV/Image Editor. Note that they are all pinned at the moment, so just select the vertices you want to unpin (Alt + P) in the islands of the tongue and inner mouth. Then, clear the median seam in the corresponding pieces on the mesh, and press E again:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping the tongue and inner mouth areas

  7. Select the UV vertices of the resulting islands and unpin them all; next, pin just one vertex at the top of the islands and one at the bottom, and unwrap again. This will result in a more organically distributed unwrap of the parts:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping again with a different pinning

  8. Select all the faces of the mesh, and then all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window. Press Ctrl + A to average their relative size and adjust their position in the default tile space:
    How to do it…

    The rearranged UV islands

    Now, let's work on the head piece that, as in every character, should be the most important and well-finished piece.

    At the moment, the face is made using two separate islands; although this won't be visible in the final textured rendering of our character, it's always better, if possible, to join them in order to have a single piece, especially in the front mesh faces. Due to the elongated snout of the character, if we were to unwrap the head as a single piece simply without the median seam, we wouldn't get a nice evenly mapped result, so we must divide the whole head into more pieces.

    Actually, we can take advantage of the fact that the Gidiosaurus is wearing a helmet and that most of the head will be covered by it; this allows us to easily split the face from the rest of the mesh, hiding the seams under the helmet.

  9. Go into Edge selection mode and mark the seams, dividing the face from the cranium and neck as shown in the following screenshots. Select the crossing edge-loops, and then clear the unnecessary parts:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 1

  10. Also clear the median seam in the upper face part, and under the seam on the bottom jaw, leaving it only on the front mandible and on the back of the cranium and neck:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 2

  11. Go in the Face selection mode and select only the face section of the mesh, and then press E to unwrap. The new unwrap comes upside down, so select all the UV vertices and rotate the island by 180 degrees:
    How to do it…

    The character's face unwrapped

  12. Select the cranium/neck section on the mesh and repeat the process:
    How to do it…

    The rest of the head mesh unwrapped as a whole piece

  13. Now, select all the faces of the mesh and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor, and press Ctrl + A to average their reciprocal size.
  14. Once again, adjust the position of the islands inside the UV tile (Ctrl + P to automatically pack them inside the available space, and then tweak their position, rotation, and scale):
    How to do it…

    The character's UV islands packed inside the default U0/V0 tile space

How it works…

Starting from the UV unwrap in the previous recipe, we improved some of the islands by joining together the halves representing common mesh parts. When doing this, we tried to retain the already good parts of the unwrap by pinning the UV vertices that we didn't want to modify; this way, the new unwrap process was forced to calculate the position of the unpinned vertices using the constraints of the pinned ones (pelvis, tongue, and inner mouth). In other cases, we totally cleared the old seams on the model and marked new ones, in order to have a completely new unwrap of the mesh part (the head), we also used the character furniture (such as the armor) to hide the seams (which in any case, won't be visible at all).

There's more…

At this point, looking at the UV/Image Editor window containing the islands, it's evident that if we want to keep several parts in proportion to each other, some of the islands are a little too small to give a good amount of detail when texturing; for example, the Gidiosaurus's face.

A technique for a good unwrap that is the current standard in the industry is UDIM UV Mapping, which means U-Dimension; basically, after the usual unwrap, the islands are scaled bigger and placed outside the default U0/V0 tile space.

Look at the following screenshots, showing the Blender UV/Image Editor window:

There's more…

The default U0/V0 tile space and the possible consecutive other tile spaces

On the left-hand side, you can see, highlighted with red lines, the single UV tile that at present is the standard for Blender, which is identified by the UV coordinates 0 and 0: that is, U (horizontal) = 0 and V (vertical) = 0.

Although not visible in the UV/Image Editor window, all the other possible consecutive tiles can be identified by the corresponding UV coordinates, as shown on the right-hand side of the preceding screenshot (again, highlighted with red lines). So, adjacent to the tile U0/V0, we can have the row with the tiles U1/V0, U2/V0, and so on, but we can also go upwards: U0/V1, U1/V1, U2/V1, and so on.

To help you identify the tiles, Blender will show you the amount of pixels and also the number of tiles you are moving the islands in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window. In the following screenshot, the arm islands have been moved horizontally (on the negative x axis) by -3072.000 pixels; this is correct because that's exactly the X size of the grid image we loaded in the previous recipes. In fact, in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, while moving the islands we can read D: -3072.000 (pixels) and (inside brackets) 1.0000 (tile) along X; effectively, 3072 pixels = 1 tile.

There's more…

Moving the arm islands to the U1/V0 tile space

When moving UV islands from tile to tile, remember to check that the Constrain to Image Bounds item in the UVs menu on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window is disabled; also, enabling the Normalized item inside the Display subpanel under the N key Properties sidepanel of the same editor window will display the UV coordinates from 0.0 to 1.0, rather than in pixels. More, pressing the Ctrl key while moving the islands will constrain the movement to intervals, making it easy to translate them to exactly 1 tile space.

Because at the moment Blender doesn't support the UDIM UV Mapping standard, simply moving an island outside the default U0/V0 tile, for example to U1/V0, will repeat the image you loaded in the U0/V0 tile and on the faces associated with the moved islands. To solve this, it's necessary, after moving the islands, to assign a different material, if necessary with its own different image textures, to each group of vertices/faces associated with each tile space. So, if you shared your islands over 4 tiles, you need to assign 4 different materials to your object, and each material must load the proper image texture.

The goal of this process is obviously to obtain bigger islands mapped with bigger texture images, by selecting all the islands, scaling them bigger together using the largest ones as a guide, and then tweaking their position and distribution.

One last thing: it is also better to unwrap the corneas and eyes (which are separate objects from the Gidiosaurus body mesh) and add their islands to the tiles where you put the face, mouth, teeth, and so on (use the Draw Other Objects tool in the View menu of the UV/Image Editor window to also show the UV islands of the other nonjoined unwrapped objects):

There's more…

UV islands unwrapped, following the UDIM UV Mapping standard

In our case, we assigned the Gidiosaurus body islands to 5 different tiles, U0/V0, U1/V0, U2/V0, U0/V1, and U1/V1, so we'll have to assign 5 different materials. However, we will cover this in a later recipe.

Note that for exposition purposes only, in the preceding screenshot, you can see the cornea and eye islands together with the Gidiosaurus body islands because I temporarily joined the objects; however, it's usually better to maintain the eyes and corneas as separate objects from the main body.

How to do it…

Now we can start with the editing; initially, we are going to freeze the islands that we don't want to modify because their unwrap is either satisfactory, or we will deal with it later. So, perform the following steps:

  1. Press A to select all the islands, then by putting the mouse pointer on the two pelvis island halves and pressing Shift + L, multi-deselect them; press the P key to pin the remaining selected UV islands and then A to deselect everything:
    How to do it…

    To the right-hand side, the pinned UV islands

  2. Zoom in on the islands of the pelvis, select both the left and right outer edge-loops, as shown in the following left image, and press P to pin them.
  3. Go to the 3D view and clear only the front part of the median seam on the pelvis. To do this, start to clear the seam from the front edges, go down and stop where it crosses the horizontal seam that passes the bottom part of the groin and legs, and leave the back part of the vertical median seam still marked:
    How to do it…

    Pinning the extreme vertices in the UV/Image Editor, and editing the seam on the mesh

  4. Go into Face selection mode and select all the faces of the pelvis; put the mouse pointer in the 3D view and press U | Unwrap (alternatively, go into the UV/Image Editor and press E):
    How to do it…

    Unwrapping again with the pinning and a different seam

    The island will keep the previous position because of the pinned edges, and is now unwrapped as one single piece (with the obvious exception of the seam on the back).

  5. We won't modify the pelvis island any further, so select all its vertices and press P to pin all of them and then deselect them.
  6. Press A in the 3D view to select all the faces of the mesh and make all the islands visible in the UV/Image Editor. Note that they are all pinned at the moment, so just select the vertices you want to unpin (Alt + P) in the islands of the tongue and inner mouth. Then, clear the median seam in the corresponding pieces on the mesh, and press E again:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping the tongue and inner mouth areas

  7. Select the UV vertices of the resulting islands and unpin them all; next, pin just one vertex at the top of the islands and one at the bottom, and unwrap again. This will result in a more organically distributed unwrap of the parts:
    How to do it…

    Re-unwrapping again with a different pinning

  8. Select all the faces of the mesh, and then all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window. Press Ctrl + A to average their relative size and adjust their position in the default tile space:
    How to do it…

    The rearranged UV islands

    Now, let's work on the head piece that, as in every character, should be the most important and well-finished piece.

    At the moment, the face is made using two separate islands; although this won't be visible in the final textured rendering of our character, it's always better, if possible, to join them in order to have a single piece, especially in the front mesh faces. Due to the elongated snout of the character, if we were to unwrap the head as a single piece simply without the median seam, we wouldn't get a nice evenly mapped result, so we must divide the whole head into more pieces.

    Actually, we can take advantage of the fact that the Gidiosaurus is wearing a helmet and that most of the head will be covered by it; this allows us to easily split the face from the rest of the mesh, hiding the seams under the helmet.

  9. Go into Edge selection mode and mark the seams, dividing the face from the cranium and neck as shown in the following screenshots. Select the crossing edge-loops, and then clear the unnecessary parts:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 1

  10. Also clear the median seam in the upper face part, and under the seam on the bottom jaw, leaving it only on the front mandible and on the back of the cranium and neck:
    How to do it…

    New seams for the character's head part 2

  11. Go in the Face selection mode and select only the face section of the mesh, and then press E to unwrap. The new unwrap comes upside down, so select all the UV vertices and rotate the island by 180 degrees:
    How to do it…

    The character's face unwrapped

  12. Select the cranium/neck section on the mesh and repeat the process:
    How to do it…

    The rest of the head mesh unwrapped as a whole piece

  13. Now, select all the faces of the mesh and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor, and press Ctrl + A to average their reciprocal size.
  14. Once again, adjust the position of the islands inside the UV tile (Ctrl + P to automatically pack them inside the available space, and then tweak their position, rotation, and scale):
    How to do it…

    The character's UV islands packed inside the default U0/V0 tile space

How it works…

Starting from the UV unwrap in the previous recipe, we improved some of the islands by joining together the halves representing common mesh parts. When doing this, we tried to retain the already good parts of the unwrap by pinning the UV vertices that we didn't want to modify; this way, the new unwrap process was forced to calculate the position of the unpinned vertices using the constraints of the pinned ones (pelvis, tongue, and inner mouth). In other cases, we totally cleared the old seams on the model and marked new ones, in order to have a completely new unwrap of the mesh part (the head), we also used the character furniture (such as the armor) to hide the seams (which in any case, won't be visible at all).

There's more…

At this point, looking at the UV/Image Editor window containing the islands, it's evident that if we want to keep several parts in proportion to each other, some of the islands are a little too small to give a good amount of detail when texturing; for example, the Gidiosaurus's face.

A technique for a good unwrap that is the current standard in the industry is UDIM UV Mapping, which means U-Dimension; basically, after the usual unwrap, the islands are scaled bigger and placed outside the default U0/V0 tile space.

Look at the following screenshots, showing the Blender UV/Image Editor window:

There's more…

The default U0/V0 tile space and the possible consecutive other tile spaces

On the left-hand side, you can see, highlighted with red lines, the single UV tile that at present is the standard for Blender, which is identified by the UV coordinates 0 and 0: that is, U (horizontal) = 0 and V (vertical) = 0.

Although not visible in the UV/Image Editor window, all the other possible consecutive tiles can be identified by the corresponding UV coordinates, as shown on the right-hand side of the preceding screenshot (again, highlighted with red lines). So, adjacent to the tile U0/V0, we can have the row with the tiles U1/V0, U2/V0, and so on, but we can also go upwards: U0/V1, U1/V1, U2/V1, and so on.

To help you identify the tiles, Blender will show you the amount of pixels and also the number of tiles you are moving the islands in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window. In the following screenshot, the arm islands have been moved horizontally (on the negative x axis) by -3072.000 pixels; this is correct because that's exactly the X size of the grid image we loaded in the previous recipes. In fact, in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, while moving the islands we can read D: -3072.000 (pixels) and (inside brackets) 1.0000 (tile) along X; effectively, 3072 pixels = 1 tile.

There's more…

Moving the arm islands to the U1/V0 tile space

When moving UV islands from tile to tile, remember to check that the Constrain to Image Bounds item in the UVs menu on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window is disabled; also, enabling the Normalized item inside the Display subpanel under the N key Properties sidepanel of the same editor window will display the UV coordinates from 0.0 to 1.0, rather than in pixels. More, pressing the Ctrl key while moving the islands will constrain the movement to intervals, making it easy to translate them to exactly 1 tile space.

Because at the moment Blender doesn't support the UDIM UV Mapping standard, simply moving an island outside the default U0/V0 tile, for example to U1/V0, will repeat the image you loaded in the U0/V0 tile and on the faces associated with the moved islands. To solve this, it's necessary, after moving the islands, to assign a different material, if necessary with its own different image textures, to each group of vertices/faces associated with each tile space. So, if you shared your islands over 4 tiles, you need to assign 4 different materials to your object, and each material must load the proper image texture.

The goal of this process is obviously to obtain bigger islands mapped with bigger texture images, by selecting all the islands, scaling them bigger together using the largest ones as a guide, and then tweaking their position and distribution.

One last thing: it is also better to unwrap the corneas and eyes (which are separate objects from the Gidiosaurus body mesh) and add their islands to the tiles where you put the face, mouth, teeth, and so on (use the Draw Other Objects tool in the View menu of the UV/Image Editor window to also show the UV islands of the other nonjoined unwrapped objects):

There's more…

UV islands unwrapped, following the UDIM UV Mapping standard

In our case, we assigned the Gidiosaurus body islands to 5 different tiles, U0/V0, U1/V0, U2/V0, U0/V1, and U1/V1, so we'll have to assign 5 different materials. However, we will cover this in a later recipe.

Note that for exposition purposes only, in the preceding screenshot, you can see the cornea and eye islands together with the Gidiosaurus body islands because I temporarily joined the objects; however, it's usually better to maintain the eyes and corneas as separate objects from the main body.

How it works…

Starting from the UV unwrap in the previous recipe, we improved some of the islands by joining together the halves representing common mesh parts. When doing this, we tried to retain the already good parts of the unwrap by pinning the UV vertices that we didn't want to modify; this way, the new unwrap process was forced to calculate the position of the unpinned vertices using the constraints of the pinned ones (pelvis, tongue, and inner mouth). In other cases, we totally cleared the old seams on the model and marked new ones, in order to have a completely new unwrap of the mesh part (the head), we also used the character furniture (such as the armor) to hide the seams (which in any case, won't be visible at all).

There's more…

At this point, looking at the UV/Image Editor window containing the islands, it's evident that if we want to keep several parts in proportion to each other, some of the islands are a little too small to give a good amount of detail when texturing; for example, the Gidiosaurus's face.

A technique for a good unwrap that is the current standard in the industry is UDIM UV Mapping, which means U-Dimension; basically, after the usual unwrap, the islands are scaled bigger and placed outside the default U0/V0 tile space.

Look at the following screenshots, showing the Blender UV/Image Editor window:

There's more…

The default U0/V0 tile space and the possible consecutive other tile spaces

On the left-hand side, you can see, highlighted with red lines, the single UV tile that at present is the standard for Blender, which is identified by the UV coordinates 0 and 0: that is, U (horizontal) = 0 and V (vertical) = 0.

Although not visible in the UV/Image Editor window, all the other possible consecutive tiles can be identified by the corresponding UV coordinates, as shown on the right-hand side of the preceding screenshot (again, highlighted with red lines). So, adjacent to the tile U0/V0, we can have the row with the tiles U1/V0, U2/V0, and so on, but we can also go upwards: U0/V1, U1/V1, U2/V1, and so on.

To help you identify the tiles, Blender will show you the amount of pixels and also the number of tiles you are moving the islands in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window. In the following screenshot, the arm islands have been moved horizontally (on the negative x axis) by -3072.000 pixels; this is correct because that's exactly the X size of the grid image we loaded in the previous recipes. In fact, in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, while moving the islands we can read D: -3072.000 (pixels) and (inside brackets) 1.0000 (tile) along X; effectively, 3072 pixels = 1 tile.

There's more…

Moving the arm islands to the U1/V0 tile space

When moving UV islands from tile to tile, remember to check that the Constrain to Image Bounds item in the UVs menu on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window is disabled; also, enabling the Normalized item inside the Display subpanel under the N key Properties sidepanel of the same editor window will display the UV coordinates from 0.0 to 1.0, rather than in pixels. More, pressing the Ctrl key while moving the islands will constrain the movement to intervals, making it easy to translate them to exactly 1 tile space.

Because at the moment Blender doesn't support the UDIM UV Mapping standard, simply moving an island outside the default U0/V0 tile, for example to U1/V0, will repeat the image you loaded in the U0/V0 tile and on the faces associated with the moved islands. To solve this, it's necessary, after moving the islands, to assign a different material, if necessary with its own different image textures, to each group of vertices/faces associated with each tile space. So, if you shared your islands over 4 tiles, you need to assign 4 different materials to your object, and each material must load the proper image texture.

The goal of this process is obviously to obtain bigger islands mapped with bigger texture images, by selecting all the islands, scaling them bigger together using the largest ones as a guide, and then tweaking their position and distribution.

One last thing: it is also better to unwrap the corneas and eyes (which are separate objects from the Gidiosaurus body mesh) and add their islands to the tiles where you put the face, mouth, teeth, and so on (use the Draw Other Objects tool in the View menu of the UV/Image Editor window to also show the UV islands of the other nonjoined unwrapped objects):

There's more…

UV islands unwrapped, following the UDIM UV Mapping standard

In our case, we assigned the Gidiosaurus body islands to 5 different tiles, U0/V0, U1/V0, U2/V0, U0/V1, and U1/V1, so we'll have to assign 5 different materials. However, we will cover this in a later recipe.

Note that for exposition purposes only, in the preceding screenshot, you can see the cornea and eye islands together with the Gidiosaurus body islands because I temporarily joined the objects; however, it's usually better to maintain the eyes and corneas as separate objects from the main body.

There's more…

At this point, looking at the UV/Image Editor window containing the islands, it's evident that if we want to keep several parts in proportion to each other, some of the islands are a little too small to give a good amount of detail when texturing; for example, the Gidiosaurus's face.

A technique for a good unwrap that is the current standard in the industry is UDIM UV Mapping, which means U-Dimension; basically, after the usual unwrap, the islands are scaled bigger and placed outside the default U0/V0 tile space.

Look at the following screenshots, showing the Blender UV/Image Editor window:

There's more…

The default U0/V0 tile space and the possible consecutive other tile spaces

On the left-hand side, you can see, highlighted with red lines, the single UV tile that at present is the standard for Blender, which is identified by the UV coordinates 0 and 0: that is, U (horizontal) = 0 and V (vertical) = 0.

Although not visible in the UV/Image Editor window, all the other possible consecutive tiles can be identified by the corresponding UV coordinates, as shown on the right-hand side of the preceding screenshot (again, highlighted with red lines). So, adjacent to the tile U0/V0, we can have the row with the tiles U1/V0, U2/V0, and so on, but we can also go upwards: U0/V1, U1/V1, U2/V1, and so on.

To help you identify the tiles, Blender will show you the amount of pixels and also the number of tiles you are moving the islands in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window. In the following screenshot, the arm islands have been moved horizontally (on the negative x axis) by -3072.000 pixels; this is correct because that's exactly the X size of the grid image we loaded in the previous recipes. In fact, in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, while moving the islands we can read D: -3072.000 (pixels) and (inside brackets) 1.0000 (tile) along X; effectively, 3072 pixels = 1 tile.

There's more…

Moving the arm islands to the U1/V0 tile space

When moving UV islands from tile to tile, remember to check that the Constrain to Image Bounds item in the UVs menu on the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window is disabled; also, enabling the Normalized item inside the Display subpanel under the N key Properties sidepanel of the same editor window will display the UV coordinates from 0.0 to 1.0, rather than in pixels. More, pressing the Ctrl key while moving the islands will constrain the movement to intervals, making it easy to translate them to exactly 1 tile space.

Because at the moment Blender doesn't support the UDIM UV Mapping standard, simply moving an island outside the default U0/V0 tile, for example to U1/V0, will repeat the image you loaded in the U0/V0 tile and on the faces associated with the moved islands. To solve this, it's necessary, after moving the islands, to assign a different material, if necessary with its own different image textures, to each group of vertices/faces associated with each tile space. So, if you shared your islands over 4 tiles, you need to assign 4 different materials to your object, and each material must load the proper image texture.

The goal of this process is obviously to obtain bigger islands mapped with bigger texture images, by selecting all the islands, scaling them bigger together using the largest ones as a guide, and then tweaking their position and distribution.

One last thing: it is also better to unwrap the corneas and eyes (which are separate objects from the Gidiosaurus body mesh) and add their islands to the tiles where you put the face, mouth, teeth, and so on (use the Draw Other Objects tool in the View menu of the UV/Image Editor window to also show the UV islands of the other nonjoined unwrapped objects):

There's more…

UV islands unwrapped, following the UDIM UV Mapping standard

In our case, we assigned the Gidiosaurus body islands to 5 different tiles, U0/V0, U1/V0, U2/V0, U0/V1, and U1/V1, so we'll have to assign 5 different materials. However, we will cover this in a later recipe.

Note that for exposition purposes only, in the preceding screenshot, you can see the cornea and eye islands together with the Gidiosaurus body islands because I temporarily joined the objects; however, it's usually better to maintain the eyes and corneas as separate objects from the main body.

Using the Smart UV Project tool

Now, we are going to use a much easier and faster method to do the unwrapping of the Armor: the Smart UV Project tool.

Getting ready

The first thing to do is to prepare the armor pieces for the unwrap process, so perform the following steps:

  1. Starting from the last Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend file you saved, click on the 13th scene layer to reveal the armor and at the same time, hide the Gidiosaurus_lowres object.
  2. Go to the Outliner and select the first item, the Breastplate; then, use Shift to multiselect all the other visible objects.
  3. Press Ctrl + J to join them into a single object, and then in the Outliner, rename the result as Armor.
  4. Go to the Object Modifiers window and expand the Mirror modifier subpanel; be sure that the Clipping item is activated and click on the Apply button:
    Getting ready

    The Armor as a single object and the Mirror modifier

How to do it…

Here is the unwrap process:

  1. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and press the A key to select all the vertices of the Armor.
  2. With the mouse cursor in the 3D view, press the U key, and in the UV Mapping pop-up menu that just appeared, select the second item from the top, Smart UV Project.
  3. A second pop-up appears with some options that you can leave as they are, besides Angle Limit (the maximum angle in the mesh used by the tool to separate the islands), which by default is set to 66.00; raise it to the maximum, which is 89.00, and then click on the big OK button:
    How to do it…

    The Smart UV Project tool

    The mesh has been divided into several smaller unwrapped parts and is automatically packed inside the U0/V0 UV tile.

  4. Select all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, click on the small double-arrow icon on the toolbar, close to the New and Open buttons, and select the Untitled.001 image (the same grid image we used for the Gidiosaurus unwrap).
  5. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The unwrapped Armor

Considering the amount of tiny islands that the tool created, it's better to separate the big armor parts (basically, the plates) from the smaller ones (belts, borders, and so on) and re-unwrap them with the Smart UV Project tool, as we did for the Gidiosaurus body in the previous recipe; then, place them into two adjacent tiles:

How to do it…

The Armor islands inside the U0/V0 and U1/V0 tiles

Getting ready

The first thing to do is to prepare the armor pieces for the unwrap process, so perform the following steps:

  1. Starting from the last Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend file you saved, click on the 13th scene layer to reveal the armor and at the same time, hide the Gidiosaurus_lowres object.
  2. Go to the Outliner and select the first item, the Breastplate; then, use Shift to multiselect all the other visible objects.
  3. Press Ctrl + J to join them into a single object, and then in the Outliner, rename the result as Armor.
  4. Go to the Object Modifiers window and expand the Mirror modifier subpanel; be sure that the Clipping item is activated and click on the Apply button:
    Getting ready

    The Armor as a single object and the Mirror modifier

How to do it…

Here is the unwrap process:

  1. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and press the A key to select all the vertices of the Armor.
  2. With the mouse cursor in the 3D view, press the U key, and in the UV Mapping pop-up menu that just appeared, select the second item from the top, Smart UV Project.
  3. A second pop-up appears with some options that you can leave as they are, besides Angle Limit (the maximum angle in the mesh used by the tool to separate the islands), which by default is set to 66.00; raise it to the maximum, which is 89.00, and then click on the big OK button:
    How to do it…

    The Smart UV Project tool

    The mesh has been divided into several smaller unwrapped parts and is automatically packed inside the U0/V0 UV tile.

  4. Select all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, click on the small double-arrow icon on the toolbar, close to the New and Open buttons, and select the Untitled.001 image (the same grid image we used for the Gidiosaurus unwrap).
  5. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The unwrapped Armor

Considering the amount of tiny islands that the tool created, it's better to separate the big armor parts (basically, the plates) from the smaller ones (belts, borders, and so on) and re-unwrap them with the Smart UV Project tool, as we did for the Gidiosaurus body in the previous recipe; then, place them into two adjacent tiles:

How to do it…

The Armor islands inside the U0/V0 and U1/V0 tiles

How to do it…

Here is the unwrap process:

  1. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and press the A key to select all the vertices of the Armor.
  2. With the mouse cursor in the 3D view, press the U key, and in the UV Mapping pop-up menu that just appeared, select the second item from the top, Smart UV Project.
  3. A second pop-up appears with some options that you can leave as they are, besides Angle Limit (the maximum angle in the mesh used by the tool to separate the islands), which by default is set to 66.00; raise it to the maximum, which is 89.00, and then click on the big OK button:
    How to do it…

    The Smart UV Project tool

    The mesh has been divided into several smaller unwrapped parts and is automatically packed inside the U0/V0 UV tile.

  4. Select all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, click on the small double-arrow icon on the toolbar, close to the New and Open buttons, and select the Untitled.001 image (the same grid image we used for the Gidiosaurus unwrap).
  5. Press Tab to go out of Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The unwrapped Armor

Considering the amount of tiny islands that the tool created, it's better to separate the big armor parts (basically, the plates) from the smaller ones (belts, borders, and so on) and re-unwrap them with the Smart UV Project tool, as we did for the Gidiosaurus body in the previous recipe; then, place them into two adjacent tiles:

How to do it…

The Armor islands inside the U0/V0 and U1/V0 tiles

Modifying the mesh and the UV islands

At this point, when we look at the Gidiosaurus mesh, we realize that some detail in the model is still missing; for example, the lower teeth. In fact, we modeled the mouth closed and the lower teeth, enclosed in the upper mouth rim, weren't visible.

It's now time to add them; in fact, even though we have already done the unwrapping stage, it's still possible to modify the mesh further and also update the UV islands accordingly.

Getting ready

Start from the last Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend file you saved:

  1. Press N to open the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and disable the Textured Solid item under the Shading subpanel.
  2. Click on the 11th scene layer button to reveal the Gidiosaurus_lowres object and select it; go into the Side view, zoom in to the head, and enter Edit Mode. Press the A key to select all the vertices of the mesh.
  3. Put the mouse pointer inside the UV/Image Editor, select all the UV vertices (again the A key), and pin them by pressing the P key; then deselect everything (the A key once more).

How to do it…

We can now start to add new teeth:

  1. Select the vertices of one lower tooth and press Shift + D to duplicate it; using the Transform Orientation widget set to Normal, scale it smaller, rotate and modify it a bit, and then move it in a new position along the mandible rim:
    How to do it…

    The new added tooth

  2. Repeat the process to create the bottom teeth row on the left-hand side of the mandible:
    How to do it…

    Adding the missing teeth

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and put the 3D Cursor at the pivot point of the mesh (coincidentally, at the center of the scene), and then press the period key (.) to set the Pivot Point around the 3D Cursor.
  4. Press 1 on the numpad to go in the Front view, enter Edit Mode again, and select all the new teeth; press Shift + D to duplicate them, and then right-click; then, press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror them on the x axis to the right-hand side of the mandible.
  5. Press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and go out of the Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The new teeth mirrored on the x axis

    Now, we must adjust the rim of the mandible where we added the new teeth, in order to create the alveoli.

  6. Go back into the Edit Mode and start to add vertical edge-loops on the lower mouth rim, in order to create more geometry for the alveoli:
    How to do it…

    Adding new edge-loops

  7. Click on the Options tab under the Tool Shelf to the left-hand side of the 3D window and enable the X Mirror item under the Mesh Options subpanel.
  8. Tweak the vertices to create the alveoli around the new teeth; enable the Subdivision Surface modifier visibility during Edit Mode in order to have better feedback:
    How to do it…

    Modeling the alveoli

  9. Press Alt + S to scale the teeth vertices on their normals, in order to thicken them, and add edge-loops where needed to make the transition from the alveoli to inner mouth as natural as possible.

    When you are done, it's time to update the unwrapped UV layer with the new modifications.

  10. In Edit Mode, first select the vertices of the new teeth. Because we made them by duplicating one of the already unwrapped fangs, the new teeth will share the same UV island. In the UV/Image Editor, press A to select all their UV vertices and Alt + P to unpin them, and then press E for a new unwrap.
  11. Scale the new teeth islands to 0.200, and then select the original teeth on the mesh; adjust the size and position of the new islands based on the old ones and then pin them.
  12. Now, switch to the Face selection mode and select the Gidiosaurus face; in the UV/Image Editor window, unpin all the vertices of its island (Alt + P), and then pin only the vertices of certain areas such as the eyes, nose, and upper outside edge-loop (P key).

With this method, the unwrap of all the new geometry gets recalculated together with the old one. Thanks to the pinned UV vertices, it will keep the previous size and position as much as possible. In the following image, you can see the face island before (left) and after (right):

How to do it…

The updated unwrap

Note that you need to recalculate the unwrap for all the islands involved in the mesh's modification, and then save the file.

Getting ready

Start from the last Gidiosaurus_unwrap.blend file you saved:

  1. Press N to open the Properties 3D view sidepanel, and disable the Textured Solid item under the Shading subpanel.
  2. Click on the 11th scene layer button to reveal the Gidiosaurus_lowres object and select it; go into the Side view, zoom in to the head, and enter Edit Mode. Press the A key to select all the vertices of the mesh.
  3. Put the mouse pointer inside the UV/Image Editor, select all the UV vertices (again the A key), and pin them by pressing the P key; then deselect everything (the A key once more).

How to do it…

We can now start to add new teeth:

  1. Select the vertices of one lower tooth and press Shift + D to duplicate it; using the Transform Orientation widget set to Normal, scale it smaller, rotate and modify it a bit, and then move it in a new position along the mandible rim:
    How to do it…

    The new added tooth

  2. Repeat the process to create the bottom teeth row on the left-hand side of the mandible:
    How to do it…

    Adding the missing teeth

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and put the 3D Cursor at the pivot point of the mesh (coincidentally, at the center of the scene), and then press the period key (.) to set the Pivot Point around the 3D Cursor.
  4. Press 1 on the numpad to go in the Front view, enter Edit Mode again, and select all the new teeth; press Shift + D to duplicate them, and then right-click; then, press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror them on the x axis to the right-hand side of the mandible.
  5. Press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and go out of the Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The new teeth mirrored on the x axis

    Now, we must adjust the rim of the mandible where we added the new teeth, in order to create the alveoli.

  6. Go back into the Edit Mode and start to add vertical edge-loops on the lower mouth rim, in order to create more geometry for the alveoli:
    How to do it…

    Adding new edge-loops

  7. Click on the Options tab under the Tool Shelf to the left-hand side of the 3D window and enable the X Mirror item under the Mesh Options subpanel.
  8. Tweak the vertices to create the alveoli around the new teeth; enable the Subdivision Surface modifier visibility during Edit Mode in order to have better feedback:
    How to do it…

    Modeling the alveoli

  9. Press Alt + S to scale the teeth vertices on their normals, in order to thicken them, and add edge-loops where needed to make the transition from the alveoli to inner mouth as natural as possible.

    When you are done, it's time to update the unwrapped UV layer with the new modifications.

  10. In Edit Mode, first select the vertices of the new teeth. Because we made them by duplicating one of the already unwrapped fangs, the new teeth will share the same UV island. In the UV/Image Editor, press A to select all their UV vertices and Alt + P to unpin them, and then press E for a new unwrap.
  11. Scale the new teeth islands to 0.200, and then select the original teeth on the mesh; adjust the size and position of the new islands based on the old ones and then pin them.
  12. Now, switch to the Face selection mode and select the Gidiosaurus face; in the UV/Image Editor window, unpin all the vertices of its island (Alt + P), and then pin only the vertices of certain areas such as the eyes, nose, and upper outside edge-loop (P key).

With this method, the unwrap of all the new geometry gets recalculated together with the old one. Thanks to the pinned UV vertices, it will keep the previous size and position as much as possible. In the following image, you can see the face island before (left) and after (right):

How to do it…

The updated unwrap

Note that you need to recalculate the unwrap for all the islands involved in the mesh's modification, and then save the file.

How to do it…

We can now start to add new teeth:

  1. Select the vertices of one lower tooth and press Shift + D to duplicate it; using the Transform Orientation widget set to Normal, scale it smaller, rotate and modify it a bit, and then move it in a new position along the mandible rim:
    How to do it…

    The new added tooth

  2. Repeat the process to create the bottom teeth row on the left-hand side of the mandible:
    How to do it…

    Adding the missing teeth

  3. Go out of the Edit Mode and put the 3D Cursor at the pivot point of the mesh (coincidentally, at the center of the scene), and then press the period key (.) to set the Pivot Point around the 3D Cursor.
  4. Press 1 on the numpad to go in the Front view, enter Edit Mode again, and select all the new teeth; press Shift + D to duplicate them, and then right-click; then, press Ctrl + M | X | Enter to mirror them on the x axis to the right-hand side of the mandible.
  5. Press Ctrl + N to recalculate the normals and go out of the Edit Mode:
    How to do it…

    The new teeth mirrored on the x axis

    Now, we must adjust the rim of the mandible where we added the new teeth, in order to create the alveoli.

  6. Go back into the Edit Mode and start to add vertical edge-loops on the lower mouth rim, in order to create more geometry for the alveoli:
    How to do it…

    Adding new edge-loops

  7. Click on the Options tab under the Tool Shelf to the left-hand side of the 3D window and enable the X Mirror item under the Mesh Options subpanel.
  8. Tweak the vertices to create the alveoli around the new teeth; enable the Subdivision Surface modifier visibility during Edit Mode in order to have better feedback:
    How to do it…

    Modeling the alveoli

  9. Press Alt + S to scale the teeth vertices on their normals, in order to thicken them, and add edge-loops where needed to make the transition from the alveoli to inner mouth as natural as possible.

    When you are done, it's time to update the unwrapped UV layer with the new modifications.

  10. In Edit Mode, first select the vertices of the new teeth. Because we made them by duplicating one of the already unwrapped fangs, the new teeth will share the same UV island. In the UV/Image Editor, press A to select all their UV vertices and Alt + P to unpin them, and then press E for a new unwrap.
  11. Scale the new teeth islands to 0.200, and then select the original teeth on the mesh; adjust the size and position of the new islands based on the old ones and then pin them.
  12. Now, switch to the Face selection mode and select the Gidiosaurus face; in the UV/Image Editor window, unpin all the vertices of its island (Alt + P), and then pin only the vertices of certain areas such as the eyes, nose, and upper outside edge-loop (P key).

With this method, the unwrap of all the new geometry gets recalculated together with the old one. Thanks to the pinned UV vertices, it will keep the previous size and position as much as possible. In the following image, you can see the face island before (left) and after (right):

How to do it…

The updated unwrap

Note that you need to recalculate the unwrap for all the islands involved in the mesh's modification, and then save the file.

Setting up additional UV layers

Up until now, we have set just one UV layer whose name is, by default, UVMap (go to the Object Data window and look under the UV Maps subpanel):

Setting up additional UV layers

The UV Maps subpanel with the UV Map coordinates layer

Actually, in Blender, it is possible to set more than one UV coordinates layer on the same object in order to mix different UV projections that can eventually also be baked into a single image map.

The names of the UV layers under the UV Maps subpanel are important, because they specify which one of the projections a material has to use for the mapping of a texture. By clicking on the + icon to the side of the UV Maps subpanel, it is possible to add a new UV layer (whose name, in this case, will be UVMap.001 by default; of course it's possible to change these names by using Ctrl + clicking on them and typing the new ones).

Getting ready

We are now going to add a new UV layer to the Gidiosaurus object:

  1. Ensure that the Gidiosaurus object is selected and go to the Object Data window under the main Properties panel to the right-hand of the screen.
  2. Go to the UV Maps subpanel and click on the + icon to the right-hand side of the names window; a new UV layer is added to the list, right under the first one, and its name is UVMap.001 (in case you don't see it, it may be because the window is too small; just put the mouse cursor on the = sign at the bottom of the window and drag it down to enlarge it):
    Getting ready

    The new UV coordinates layer

  3. Use Ctrl + left-click on the UVMap.001 item and rename it as UVMap_scales. Then, press Enter to confirm.

How to do it…

Now we must set the projection of the UV layer:

  1. Go into Edit Mode, switch to the Face selection mode, put the mouse pointer on the mesh, and press the L key to select all the faces of the skin of the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  2. Go to the UV/Image Editor window, select all the visible islands and unpin them (Alt + P).
  3. Click on the Image item on the toolbar and select the Open Image item in the pop-up menu (or else, put the mouse cursor in the UV/Image Editor window and press Alt + O); browse to the textures folder and load the scales_tiles.png image.
  4. With the mouse pointer in 3D view, press U and from the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the Cube Projection item.
  5. In the UV/Image Editor window, select all the islands and scale them 5 times bigger (A | S | 5 | Enter):
    How to do it…

    The Cube Projection mapping

  6. Go out of the Edit Mode and into the Properties 3D view sidepanel, enable the Textured Solid item under the Shading subpanel to see the result of the unwrapping in the 3D viewport:
    How to do it…

    The scales_tiles.png image mapped on the model using the second UV coordinates layer

    At this point, as you can see in the UV Maps subpanel, the Gidiosaurus object has 2 different UV coordinate layers, UVMap and UVMap_scales. We will use the UVMap_scales layer to map the scales image texture on the body and thereby to bake it on the first UVMap layer; this will be the one we'll use in the end for the rendering of the model. However, we'll see this in detail in the texturing and baking recipes.

    Repeat the process for the Armor.

  7. Add a new UV layer and rename it UVMap_rust; go into Edit Mode, select all the vertices and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, and load the iron_tiles.png image.
  8. Switch to the Face selection mode, and in the 3D view, press U and select Reset (the last item) from the pop-up menu. Then press U again, and this time select the Cube Projection item.
  9. Go out of Edit Mode.

As you can see, there are a few visible seams. This will be easily fixed during the texturing stage, but for the moment we are done:

How to do it…

The second UV coordinates layer for the Armor

Getting ready

We are now going to add a new UV layer to the Gidiosaurus object:

  1. Ensure that the Gidiosaurus object is selected and go to the Object Data window under the main Properties panel to the right-hand of the screen.
  2. Go to the UV Maps subpanel and click on the + icon to the right-hand side of the names window; a new UV layer is added to the list, right under the first one, and its name is UVMap.001 (in case you don't see it, it may be because the window is too small; just put the mouse cursor on the = sign at the bottom of the window and drag it down to enlarge it):
    Getting ready

    The new UV coordinates layer

  3. Use Ctrl + left-click on the UVMap.001 item and rename it as UVMap_scales. Then, press Enter to confirm.

How to do it…

Now we must set the projection of the UV layer:

  1. Go into Edit Mode, switch to the Face selection mode, put the mouse pointer on the mesh, and press the L key to select all the faces of the skin of the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  2. Go to the UV/Image Editor window, select all the visible islands and unpin them (Alt + P).
  3. Click on the Image item on the toolbar and select the Open Image item in the pop-up menu (or else, put the mouse cursor in the UV/Image Editor window and press Alt + O); browse to the textures folder and load the scales_tiles.png image.
  4. With the mouse pointer in 3D view, press U and from the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the Cube Projection item.
  5. In the UV/Image Editor window, select all the islands and scale them 5 times bigger (A | S | 5 | Enter):
    How to do it…

    The Cube Projection mapping

  6. Go out of the Edit Mode and into the Properties 3D view sidepanel, enable the Textured Solid item under the Shading subpanel to see the result of the unwrapping in the 3D viewport:
    How to do it…

    The scales_tiles.png image mapped on the model using the second UV coordinates layer

    At this point, as you can see in the UV Maps subpanel, the Gidiosaurus object has 2 different UV coordinate layers, UVMap and UVMap_scales. We will use the UVMap_scales layer to map the scales image texture on the body and thereby to bake it on the first UVMap layer; this will be the one we'll use in the end for the rendering of the model. However, we'll see this in detail in the texturing and baking recipes.

    Repeat the process for the Armor.

  7. Add a new UV layer and rename it UVMap_rust; go into Edit Mode, select all the vertices and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, and load the iron_tiles.png image.
  8. Switch to the Face selection mode, and in the 3D view, press U and select Reset (the last item) from the pop-up menu. Then press U again, and this time select the Cube Projection item.
  9. Go out of Edit Mode.

As you can see, there are a few visible seams. This will be easily fixed during the texturing stage, but for the moment we are done:

How to do it…

The second UV coordinates layer for the Armor

How to do it…

Now we must set the projection of the UV layer:

  1. Go into Edit Mode, switch to the Face selection mode, put the mouse pointer on the mesh, and press the L key to select all the faces of the skin of the Gidiosaurus mesh.
  2. Go to the UV/Image Editor window, select all the visible islands and unpin them (Alt + P).
  3. Click on the Image item on the toolbar and select the Open Image item in the pop-up menu (or else, put the mouse cursor in the UV/Image Editor window and press Alt + O); browse to the textures folder and load the scales_tiles.png image.
  4. With the mouse pointer in 3D view, press U and from the UV Mapping pop-up menu, select the Cube Projection item.
  5. In the UV/Image Editor window, select all the islands and scale them 5 times bigger (A | S | 5 | Enter):
    How to do it…

    The Cube Projection mapping

  6. Go out of the Edit Mode and into the Properties 3D view sidepanel, enable the Textured Solid item under the Shading subpanel to see the result of the unwrapping in the 3D viewport:
    How to do it…

    The scales_tiles.png image mapped on the model using the second UV coordinates layer

    At this point, as you can see in the UV Maps subpanel, the Gidiosaurus object has 2 different UV coordinate layers, UVMap and UVMap_scales. We will use the UVMap_scales layer to map the scales image texture on the body and thereby to bake it on the first UVMap layer; this will be the one we'll use in the end for the rendering of the model. However, we'll see this in detail in the texturing and baking recipes.

    Repeat the process for the Armor.

  7. Add a new UV layer and rename it UVMap_rust; go into Edit Mode, select all the vertices and all the islands in the UV/Image Editor window, and load the iron_tiles.png image.
  8. Switch to the Face selection mode, and in the 3D view, press U and select Reset (the last item) from the pop-up menu. Then press U again, and this time select the Cube Projection item.
  9. Go out of Edit Mode.

As you can see, there are a few visible seams. This will be easily fixed during the texturing stage, but for the moment we are done:

How to do it…

The second UV coordinates layer for the Armor

Exporting the UV Map layout

In this last recipe, we are going to see how to export the UV coordinate layers outside Blender, in order to be used as a guide to paint textures inside any 2D image editing software.

Getting ready

We have seen that the Gidiosaurus object and also the Armor object have more than one UV coordinate layer, so the first thing to do is to be sure to have set the right layer as the active one.

To do this, simply click on the name of the chosen layer inside the UV Maps subpanel under the Object Data window; if you are in Edit Mode, by clicking on the different names, you can also see the different layers switch in real time in the UV/Image Editor window.

How to do it…

After you have selected the desired UV layer, do the following:

  1. Click on the UVs item in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, and from the menu, select the Export UV Layout item (the top item).
  2. You can browse the directory where the .blend file is saved, as the directory opens, at the bottom-left side of the screen is the Export UV Layout option panel where you can decide on several items: the size and format of the exported image, and the opacity of the islands (by default, for mysterious reasons, it is set to 25 percent rather than 100 percent). Moreover, you can decide if you want to export all the islands of the selected object or only the visible ones, and also if you want the modifiers applied to the islands (for example, the Subdivision Surface modifier).
  3. Browse to the folder where you decided to save the UV layout of your model, or click on the side of the path in the upper line after the slash, and write the name of a new directory. Press Enter and click on the pop-up panel with the OK? Create New Directory message to confirm (this actually creates a brand new directory).
  4. Write the name of the UV layout in the second line and click on the Export UV Layout button at the top-right of the screen.

Note that if you want to export all the different tiles placed outside of the default U0/V0 tile space, as illustrated in the There's more… section of the Editing the UV islands recipe, at least for the moment, you have to temporarily (using Ctrl) move each island at a time to the default U0/V0 tile space and export it.

Getting ready

We have seen that the Gidiosaurus object and also the Armor object have more than one UV coordinate layer, so the first thing to do is to be sure to have set the right layer as the active one.

To do this, simply click on the name of the chosen layer inside the UV Maps subpanel under the Object Data window; if you are in Edit Mode, by clicking on the different names, you can also see the different layers switch in real time in the UV/Image Editor window.

How to do it…

After you have selected the desired UV layer, do the following:

  1. Click on the UVs item in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, and from the menu, select the Export UV Layout item (the top item).
  2. You can browse the directory where the .blend file is saved, as the directory opens, at the bottom-left side of the screen is the Export UV Layout option panel where you can decide on several items: the size and format of the exported image, and the opacity of the islands (by default, for mysterious reasons, it is set to 25 percent rather than 100 percent). Moreover, you can decide if you want to export all the islands of the selected object or only the visible ones, and also if you want the modifiers applied to the islands (for example, the Subdivision Surface modifier).
  3. Browse to the folder where you decided to save the UV layout of your model, or click on the side of the path in the upper line after the slash, and write the name of a new directory. Press Enter and click on the pop-up panel with the OK? Create New Directory message to confirm (this actually creates a brand new directory).
  4. Write the name of the UV layout in the second line and click on the Export UV Layout button at the top-right of the screen.

Note that if you want to export all the different tiles placed outside of the default U0/V0 tile space, as illustrated in the There's more… section of the Editing the UV islands recipe, at least for the moment, you have to temporarily (using Ctrl) move each island at a time to the default U0/V0 tile space and export it.

How to do it…

After you have selected the desired UV layer, do the following:

  1. Click on the UVs item in the toolbar of the UV/Image Editor window, and from the menu, select the Export UV Layout item (the top item).
  2. You can browse the directory where the .blend file is saved, as the directory opens, at the bottom-left side of the screen is the Export UV Layout option panel where you can decide on several items: the size and format of the exported image, and the opacity of the islands (by default, for mysterious reasons, it is set to 25 percent rather than 100 percent). Moreover, you can decide if you want to export all the islands of the selected object or only the visible ones, and also if you want the modifiers applied to the islands (for example, the Subdivision Surface modifier).
  3. Browse to the folder where you decided to save the UV layout of your model, or click on the side of the path in the upper line after the slash, and write the name of a new directory. Press Enter and click on the pop-up panel with the OK? Create New Directory message to confirm (this actually creates a brand new directory).
  4. Write the name of the UV layout in the second line and click on the Export UV Layout button at the top-right of the screen.

Note that if you want to export all the different tiles placed outside of the default U0/V0 tile space, as illustrated in the There's more… section of the Editing the UV islands recipe, at least for the moment, you have to temporarily (using Ctrl) move each island at a time to the default U0/V0 tile space and export it.

 

Chapter 6. Rigging the Low Resolution Mesh

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Building the character's Armature from scratch
  • Perfecting the Armature to also function as a rig for the Armor
  • Building the character's Armature through the Human Meta-Rig
  • Building the animation controls and the Inverse Kinematic
  • Generating the character's Armature by using the Rigify add-on

Introduction

To be able to animate our character, we have to build the rig, which in Blender is commonly referred to as an Armature, and this is the skeleton that will deform the Gidiosaurus low resolution mesh.

The rigging process in Blender can be accomplished basically in two different ways:

  • By building the Armature by hands from scratch
  • By using the provided Human Meta-Rig or the Rigify add-on

Building the Armature manually by hand can be a lot of work, but in my opinion, is the only way to really learn and understand how a rig works; on the other hand, the Rigify add-on gives several tools to speed up and automate the rig creation process, and this in many occasions, can be very handy.

Building the character's Armature from scratch

So, the first recipe of this chapter is about the making of the Armature by hands for our Gidiosaurus.

Getting ready

In this first recipe, we are going to build by hands the basic rig, which is the skeleton made only by the deforming bones.

However, first, let's prepare a bit the file to be worked:

  1. Start Blender and open the Gidiosaurus_unwrap_final.blend file.
  2. Disable the Textured Solid and Backface Culling items in the 3D view Properties sidepanel, join the 3D window with the UV/Image Editor window, and click on the 11th scene layer to have only the Gidiosaurus mesh visible in the viewport.
  3. Go to the Object window under the Display subpanel and enable the Wire item. This will be useful in the process in order to have an idea of the mesh topology when in Object Mode and Solid viewport shading mode. However, for the moment, press the Z key to go in the Wireframe viewport shading mode.
  4. Press 1 on the numpad to go in the Front view, and press 5 on the numpad again to switch to the Ortho view.
  5. Save the file as Gidiosaurus_rig_from_scratch_start.blend.

How to do it…

Let's start:

  1. Be sure that the 3D Cursor is at the origin pivot point of the Gidiosaurus mesh. Put the mouse pointer in the 3D view, press Shift + A, and in the Add pop-up menu, select Armature | Single Bone:
    How to do it…

    Adding the first Armature's bone

  2. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and select the whole bone by right-clicking on its central part; move the bone upwards to the Gidiosaurus's hips area (G | Z | Enter or left-click to confirm), and then go in the Side view (3 key on the numpad) and center its position by moving it on the y axis:
    How to do it…

    Positioning the bone in Edit Mode

  3. Right-click on the Head of the bone to select it and by pressing G to move it, scale the bone size to fit the pelvis area:
    How to do it…

    Scaling the bone in Edit Mode

  4. Go to the Item subpanel under the 3D view Properties sidepanel, or in the Bone window under the main Properties panel to the right-hand side of the screen, and rename Bone (default name) as hips:
    How to do it…

    Renaming the bone

  5. Press Z to go in the Solid viewport shading mode, and then go to the Object Data window and enable the X-Ray item under the Display subpanel.
  6. With the tip of the bone selected (the Head), press the E key to extrude it. By this process, and by following the wire topology visible on the mesh as a guide, go upwards to build the Gidiosaurus spine (2 bones), chest (1 bone), and neck (1 bone); as much as possible, try to place the Heads (the tips/joints) of the bones aligned with the transversal edge-loops on the mesh's articulation:
    How to do it…

    Extruding the bone to build the spine

  7. Go again to the Object Data window under the Display subpanel, and enable the Names item (in the following screenshot, all the bones have been selected just to highlight them and their respective names). As you can see in the screenshot, the extruded bones get their names from the previous one, so we have hips, then hips.001, hips.002, and so on:
    How to do it…

    The bones' names

  8. Select the hips.001 bone and rename it spine.001; select the hips.002 bone and rename it spine.002.
  9. Select the hips.003 bone and rename it chest; select the hips.004 bone and rename it neck.
  10. Select the tip of the neck bone and extrude it; rename the new bone (neck.001) as head:
    How to do it…

    The renamed bones and the head bone

    So, now we have built the spine - neckhead part of the Armature; actually, one thing is still missing: the bone to animate the mandible.

  11. Press Tab to get out of Edit Mode. In the Side view, enable the 15th scene layer on the 3D viewport toolbar, in order to show the Empty_rot_mand object; select it and press Shift + S to call the Snap pop-up menu. Then, select the Cursor to Selected item.
  12. Reselect the Armature and go again into Edit Mode. Press Shift + A to add a new bone; move its Head to resize and fit it inside the mandible of the Gidiosaurus:
    How to do it…

    The mandible's bone

  13. Rename it mand and in the Bone window under the main Properties panel, in the Relations subpanel, click on the Parent slot to select the head item from the pop-up menu with the bones list. Leave the Connected item unchecked:
    How to do it…

    The Parent slot and the pop-up menu to select the parent bone

    At this point, we can already see some particular setting to be applied to the bones.

  14. Go to the Object Data window under the Properties panel and in the Display subpanel, switch from the default Octahedral to the B-bone button:
    How to do it…

    The bones visualized as B-bones

  15. Press A to select all the bones, and then press Ctrl + Alt + S (or go to the Armature item in the window toolbar, and then go to Transform | Scale Bbone) and scale the B-bones to 0.200 (hold the Ctrl key to constrain the scaling values; the B-bones scaling works both in Edit Mode and Pose Mode).
  16. Select only the chest bone and scale it bigger to 2.500; select the head bone and scale it to 4.000:
    How to do it…

    The B-bones scaled for better visualization

  17. Go to the Object window and under the Display subpanel, click on the Maximum Draw Type slot (set to Textured by default) and switch it to Wire.
  18. Press Ctrl + Tab to switch the Armature directly from Edit Mode to Pose Mode. Right-click on the chest bone to select it and go to the Bone window under the main Properties panel; in the Deform subpanel, set Segments under the Curved Bones item to 3:
    How to do it…

    The chest B-bone with 3 curved segments

  19. Select the spine.002 and spine.001 bones and set Segments to 2. Select the neck bone and set Segments to 3.
  20. Select the Gidiosaurus mesh, go to the Object window, and disable the Wire item under the Display subpanel:
    How to do it…

    The rig so far

  21. Press Ctrl + Tab to go out of the Pose Mode, and then Shift + S | Cursor to Selected to put the 3D Cursor at the rig/mesh/center of the scene pivot point.
  22. Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and press the 1 key o