Ant Tutorial – Part 1
This tutorial shows you how to create a simple ant character from start to finish in Maya. Here’s the finished product (without animation):
First we need to set the project directory so that all of the files can be organized for Maya. Download the .zip and extract it into the My Documents/maya/projects directory.
File -> Project -> Set…
Select the bug_tutorial folder and click Set
Open antStart.ma. This is a Maya scene, pretty much the default except there are reference sketches in the top and side views. We will just be using these references to approximate proportions, so you don’t need to try and capture every detail of the sketches.
Enlarge a view by tapping the space bar when the mouse is hovering above it, tap space again to go back.
Don’t try and model in the perspective view! It could look right from the camera angle, but will be way off once you look at it from a different angle.
- Tumble: alt + left mouse button
- Track: alt + middle mouse button
- Zoom: scroll or alt + right mouse button
Change menu sets using the drop down in the top left corner.
If you need help, the Maya help files are very useful. Just hit F1 or go to the Help menu.
- Create a box (create ->polygon primitive -> box) and drag on the grid for width/height
- Move (w) until it is approximately aligned with the sketch in side and top views
- In attribute editor, change the width, height, and depth settings to approximate size of the head (ctrl + middle mouse button over the value and drag to set it dynamically)
- Set subdivisions to 6x3x3
- Resize (r)/rotate (e) to approximately fit image
- Right click -> face
- Select faces on left side of the box in the top view, delete
- Right click -> vertex
- Select and move vertices (w) to match side view of the head, click + drag to select a row of vertices
- Then move vertices to match top view of the head, and try to make edge loops as smooth as possible.
- In face mode, select the two faces where the eye will be
- Edit mesh -> bevel
- Select the 2 outer vertices on one of the triangular faces around the eye (shift + click to select multiple items)(trigons and n-gons are bad for smoothing, quads are best)
- Edit mesh -> merge
- Repeat for the other triangles
- Select the eye faces
- Resize it (r) so that the two rings of edges around the eye are close together
- Edit mesh -> extrude and extrude out the eye, move it so that it comes out of the rest of the head
- Resize it smaller and move it back to the center if necessary, extrude and resize again
- Edit mesh -> insert edge loop tool
- Click + drag on the edges of the eye to cut a loop that divides the eye in half horizontally, then adjust vertices to round out the eye/head if needed
- Edit mesh -> insert edge loop tool
- Click + drag on the the long edges below the eye to cut a loop
- Select a face in the front of the ant’s head, edit mesh-> extrude and scale down, adjust vertices to make it more square if needed
- Extrude again, scale the new face down slightly so that the edge loops are still very close together
- Extrude again to start the antenna, rotate the face so that it is facing the path the antennae will be on
- Repeat for the rest of the antenna
- Pincers are pretty much the same technique, so we’ll skip that. The same technique can also be used for arms and legs
- Create a box and resize/move it like for the head, subdivide 1x1x2 (the body is basically spherical shapes, but spheres have poles that will make texturing complicated)
- Scale down the faces at the front and back end of the ant
- Mesh -> smooth, then repeat to get a round shape.
- Select the faces at the back of the midsection (in screenshot) and extrude them out slightly
- Repeat extruding those faces, resizing each time to shape the extruded faces into a round shape. if you need to adjust edge loops, right click -> edge mode and double click an edge to select its edge loop. you can – Resize edge loops in the x direction to adjust which direction the loops flow
Combining the body:
- Select the midsection and the tail
- Mesh -> combine
- In face mode, select the four faces on each the midsection and the tail that are facing each other as shown in the screenshot
- Delete those faces
- Go into edge mode, and select the border edge loops around the holes where the deleted faces were
- Edit mesh -> bridge -> options (the little box next to ‘bridge’)
- Set divisions to 2
- To merge on the head, go into face mode and delete the faces on the left side of the body
- Go into vertex mode, and select all of the vertices bordering the hole
- Click the snap to grid, snap to point icons in the status line right under the menu bar (the little magnets, hover to see which ones they are)
- Move the vertices to align them
- Go back to object mode, and select the head
- Move the head to align it with the rest of the body (snap will perfectly align them for merging)
- Be sure and turn off the snaps when you’re done, or funky things would happen
- In object mode, select both the body and the head
- Mesh -> combine
- Select the ant (it should all be one object now)
- Mesh -> mirror geometry -> options
- Set mirror direction to -X, make sure Merge with the original is checked, and Merge vertices is selected
- Click mirror
- The half of the ant we had should now be mirrored and merged as one
- Select the four faces between the head and the rest of the body as shown and delete them
- Select the edges around the holes, then edit mesh -> bridge -> options, set divisions to 1 (like for connecting the midsection and the tail)
- Create a new box, move it close to where a leg would start. Scale down the face away from the body.
- Like for the antenna, extrude out to form the leg, adjust the size and position of the extruded face as needed
- We only need to make one leg, select the leg in object mode, then go to edit -> duplicate
- Move the duplicate leg to where the middle leg would be
- Adjust vertices (I just selected and rotated faces of the leg) to make the leg look straighter.
- For the back leg, duplicate the front leg again and move it to where it should be
- Then make the scale value in the z axis negative in the attribute editor (ex: if it was 0.850, change it to -0.850) and the leg should flip to point backwards
Attaching the legs:
- Select the legs, then mesh -> smooth -> options.
- Set division levels to 1 and click smooth.
- Select the four faces around where the front leg would attach
- Extrude and scale those faces down
- Delete faces to leave a hole
- Select the faces on the front leg where it will attach and delete them
- Like for combining the body, select the body and front leg, then mesh -> combine
- Select the edge loops bordering the two holes and edit mesh -> bridge -> options, set divisions to 1
- Repeat for the other two legs
- For the legs on the other side, select all the faces on the left half of the ant
- Then in object mode, mirror the ant as we did earlier (mesh -> mirror geometry)
If you want, delete the image references as they were only there for loose reference. Do this by clicking View in the viewport where the image is visible, then Image Plane -> Image Plane Attributes -> imagePlane#, then hit the delete key