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Real Time Character Modeling Tutorial
Real Time Character Modeling Tutorial
Theremina, updated 2006-12-03 04:35:34 UTC 1,257,294 views  Rating:
(26 ratings)
Page 2 of 4

Before we add these we need to join the arm and leg to the torso. Start by raising the arm if need be, then move the vertices at the joining ends so that they lie where the joints would crease. Try to get vertices to line up with each other.

You should start to notice areas where you may need to add an extra vertex, or you could remove some faces to get the limbs to join properly. This is the next stage. Using the Split Polygon Tool to add the vertices, and deleting any unwanted faces make sure the vertices all line up perfectly, then combine the three pieces and weld the vertices.

You should now have a basic body although it may need tweaking slightly to get it back to a desired shape. Also at this stage add any extra bits, like breasts, and attach these to the basic model.


To be honest at this early stage I sometimes don't bother roughing in the hands. If I do need to, to get a better idea of proportions, a few cubes will suffice.


To create rough feet I simply extrude the edges at the base of the leg cylinder. Then I extrude the front of the newly created faces forward, usually having two divisions. It's just a case of editing the vertices then until you get a basic foot you are happy with.

Head and Neck

At this point the neck can simply be a low polygon cylinder, subdivision axis to 8 and the subdivision height to 3, adjusted, like the torso, to fit the neck in the image plane.

The head should begin as a cube with a few subdivisions, again adjusting the vertices to fit the general shape of the reference head. We don't add any detail to the head at this stage. Once done, weld the head to the neck and then the neck to the body, as we did previously with the torso and limbs.

Adding Details

By now you have your basic model filled out, it has all the limbs needed as well as a rough head, feet and maybe even hands.

You can now do one of two things, optimise this model for in game use, removing strips of polygons and adjusting it to look like a low resolution version of your character, or you can go in and refine the model, add more detail and fill out the shape until it looks exactly like the reference material.

Below are suggestions on the best way to achieve such details.

Note: You can achieve alot of detail with the texture on your character, don't rely solely on polygons.

Muscle Structure

Keep an eye on where the muscles lie on your character, placing edges along the muscle lines will result in a much more natural deformation as well as making your model look better.

Muscle Structure

Note: It may be worth spending some time mapping the lines onto your model, (as pictured below). Simply go around it and use hard edges as I have done, in some cases you will need to use the Split Polygon Tool but don't be afraid to add a few polygons at this stage.


An area most people struggle with is the shoulder. As you can see in the image below, when the arms are raised the shoulder muscle (deltoid) is more pronounced, bulging higher than the collar muscles (trapezius). Also notice that the big back muscle, (latissimus dorsi) acts like a fan, opening up when the arm is raised and closing again when the arm is relaxed.


Remember that the armpit recesses into the body slightly.

Bicep Twist

This is a trouble area if modelled incorrectly. When a twist is applied it can collapse and deform horribly but this can be avoided if you keep the polygons around this area in strips.

Bending Areas

An important part of any character is the areas where it needs to bend, i.e. elbows, knees etc. So go around your model and make sure to put in extra polygons in these areas.

As with the elbow pin point the pivot area and create the polygons behind that point.


  • vijay chougule

    vijay chougule said over 8 years ago:

    mast mast............ Really very usefull..... I like it.... to much
  • Namo Kun

    Namo Kun said over 8 years ago:

    this tutorial is usefull for likes of me for lessons great thanx a bunch
  • Aliaa Sami

    Aliaa Sami said over 8 years ago:

    good work
  • Chumba Wumba

    Chumba Wumba said over 8 years ago:

    There are a few passages not very clear to me... 1: what tool is to be used to combine the arm,torso and the leg? with combine i get a single mesh but the edges and the parts are still different objects, and if i use boolean -> unions the meshes disappear. 2: in the part where i should map the lines with hard edges i can't get what should i do.. i'm quite a newbie and i don't know how to map without using a split polygons for every hard edge. Can someone explain a little more deeply these passages? Tnx in advance :)
  • Dave G

    Dave G said over 8 years ago:

    This is great, tyvm!
  • Sea D

    Sea D said over 8 years ago:

    Great tutorial thanks! just one thing- I only vaguelly remember how to set hard edges in maya, could you advise me on how to do this step in a bit more detail? :) cheers. Sea
  • prrbutler

    prrbutler said about 8 years ago:

    great tutorial, to answer Chumba, to combine the two polygons you should shift click them both select mesh>combine. they will become one polygon where you can then merge the verts because merging verts can only happen with the same polygon
  • aksforanimation

    aksforanimation said almost 8 years ago:

    Awesome Tut!
  • vbc chary

    vbc chary said almost 8 years ago:

    thank u sir

    PATAR F C P N said almost 8 years ago:

    Awesome thanks!!
  • daemon thorne

    daemon thorne said almost 8 years ago:

    too many tris on the model.
  • Spaetten1

    Spaetten1 said over 7 years ago:

    How do I weld the vertices together?
  • mtrfkr

    mtrfkr said over 7 years ago:

    Really great very simple but triangles is a fail, but this tut is so fast metod to model body thanks
  • Scourged

    Scourged said over 7 years ago:

    Is there any high-res reference?
  • divya tanwar

    divya tanwar said over 7 years ago:

    Sir , I liked this character modeling , bcoz it makes our modeling more easier . I'm having problem in modeling Taj Mahal in 3d Maya . So can u send me the tutorial of modeling Taj Mahal , as sone as posibble
  • Digm

    Digm said over 7 years ago:

    Great tutorial. Not worried about the tris, that's something easily fixable after the model is completed. Thanks for putting this up!
  • huang poyi

    huang poyi said over 7 years ago:

    i am a beginner of maya, i would like to know how you place the picture into the maya programme. Can i do it the same for a dog, as i am trying to model a dog using maya.
  • rashmi gangal

    rashmi gangal said about 7 years ago:

    Thanks a lot sir.Great Tut!Very helpful.
  • akki sharma

    akki sharma said about 7 years ago:

    very great thanks for this tutorial it's very useful for me. thanks again
  • satendra rathi

    satendra rathi said over 6 years ago:

    toooo .....................much i like it ........................
  • c.murray

    c.murray said about 7 years ago:

    anyone know how to actually join the vertices together???? u forgot to mention that bit!!
  • 5kullc4ndy

    5kullc4ndy said about 7 years ago:

    I missed my classes in animation institue.. thanx for the tutorial buddy :) I am starting to model it rite now... :D
  • EdgElite

    EdgElite said almost 7 years ago:

    Anyone mind telling me how the hell he duplicated the whole right side of the body onto the left! I've tried to duplicate it too but when I try rotating it, it rotates and the back part faces forward. How can I just flip it?
  • Kevin Barton

    Kevin Barton said almost 7 years ago:

    where have the pictures gone? They were still here yesterday ... :-\ this is worth nothing without pictures .-\
  • Kevin Barton

    Kevin Barton said almost 7 years ago:

    @EdgElite: after you duplicated it, change the x-scale from 1.000 to -1.000
  • sajones

    sajones said almost 7 years ago:

    Kevin, Try changing https:// to https:// then the images are there.
  • sidkeepmenheart

    sidkeepmenheart said almost 7 years ago:

    really its very usefull
  • Ronald Reed-Diaz

    Ronald Reed-Diaz said about 6 years ago:

    saying that I'm impressed, just doesn't express the gratitude or the appreciation that I am feeling at this moment. Very helpful, I will mention your help when I put my first models up.
  • Jatin Barai

    Jatin Barai said almost 6 years ago:

    Yes, this was helpful enough. Thanks a lot this is the first time I've logged in into this website and am looking forward to know some more people who could guide me in this field as I'm very new to this field.... Thanks much appreciated....
  • h3llbilly

    h3llbilly said over 5 years ago:

    To answer some questions I saw in the comments: To merge vertices you have to be in polygon modelling tab and go to (Edit Polygons-Merge) A way to get rid of small triangles that don't impact the meshes surface too much is to select all three vertices and(Edit mesh- Merge to centre) only on smaller tri's though otherwise it could lead to more tri's if done on bigger faces. To setup a new image plane you can do the following: 1. Go to (View - Image Plane - Import Image) And edit its position and size in its attributes 2. Go to (Create - Polygon Primitives - Plane) scale the plane up a bit and hold down the right click button then go to (Assign New Material - Lambert) then in material attributes go to color and click on the white and black square next to color and click on "File" and the select an image to import . Then scale your plane to match the original images proportions. :)
  • Cristina Spiteri

    Cristina Spiteri said over 5 years ago:

    Hi there, I'm working through this tutorial now but all the image links seem to be broken, is there any way to see the images you've posted to go along side this tutorial? Many Thanks Cristina
  • br3nna

    br3nna said over 5 years ago:

    Hi! I seem to be having the same issues with broken images as Cristina. I would love to be able to reference this again! Brenna
  • cc67

    cc67 said over 4 years ago:

    Really useful... other character modeling tutorials I have seen on the web is not like this... useful for me, a Maya beginner
  • davidrfloyd

    davidrfloyd said about 4 years ago:

    I accidentally gave it 3 stars when it deserves 5. Anyone know how to change the unintentional vote? Great tutorial/reference!
  • Winter_maiden

    Winter_maiden said over 3 years ago:

    how did you make the hair??

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