Creating the mouth
Extruding to form the mouth
This plane will become the edge of the mouth. We'll extrude it out and add some more vertices.
- In Edit Mode, delete the center vertex (RMB to select, X to delete). It's tough to see, since the center of the plane object (indicated by the filled pink circle) is directly on top of it.
- Move the middle-right vertex out 2 units or so in the X direction (G to grab, X to constrain in the X direction, 2 for two units) (Moving the middle vertex).
- A to select all vertices.
- Extrude the edge (E>>Edges Only).
- RMB to cancel move mode.
- Scale up the extruded vertices with S. The result should look something like After first extrusion.
- Repeat the extrusion and scaling three more times (E>>Edges Only, RMB , S, LMB ). The result should look something like After three more extrusions.
Now we're going to add some additional vertices using the Loop Cut tool.
- CtrlR for Loop Cut.
- Note #1:You'll see a purple line which allows you to select which loop to cut.
- Note #2: You don't have to have anything selected before making a loop cut.
- Note #3: You can make a loop cut using K>>Loop Cut.
- Select the loop as shown in Setting up the first loop cut. The cut you're going to make is shown by the purple line.
- LMB to confirm the selected loop.
- MMB to make the cut exactly in the middle of the loop.
- Make another loop cut on the bottom loop, as well, to end up with something like After the second loop cut
Shaping the mouth
Let's give the mouth some shape.
- In Front View (1 NumPad), select the right-most vertex
- O to enter proportional editing mode. While grabbing, rotating, or scaling in proportional editing mode, use the mousewheel to adjust the size of the sphere of influence.
- Switch to top view (7 NumPad, G to move the vertex up and in a little, to look something like Shaping the mouth.
- Note: Proportional editing O causes vertices nearby to those selected to be transformed as well. Just how nearby is determined by WheelUp for larger or WheelDown for a smaller "sphere of influence".
- Tip: In this case, I ended up making the sphere of influence pretty large to form this mouth shape in a single move.
A note on proportional editing
While we're here, it's worth noting that proportional editing can use different methods. You can select these methods from the dropdown box found in the 3D window header (Proportional edit menus,Proportional edit: connection, Proportional edit: method). Experiment to see how the different methods work. For most purposes, the default (On and Smooth Falloff) are sufficient. Switch to Connected for things like proportionally editing a face with [unconnected] teeth to prevent the teeth being transformed along with the face.
Set smooth and recalculating normals
Now it's time to make the mouth look smoother.
- ⇆ Tab to exit Edit Mode and enter Object Mode.
- With the mouth object selected, click the Set Smooth button in the Edit Buttons (Set Smooth button.
Here's how to fix it:
- ⇆ Tab to enter Edit Mode.
- A to select all vertices.
- CtrlN to Recalculate Normals.
- ⇆ Tab to get back to Object Mode.
- The result should look like Correct normals.
Adding a subsurf modifier
- Now with the mesh still selected, add another modifier - instead of a Mirror modifider, this time add a Subsurf modifier (Modifier stack) with the default settings.
- The result should look something like Subsurfed mouth.
- You can learn more about Subsurfaces in the Blender manual. Essentially, it's a way of getting a smooth-looking object from a relatively coarse base mesh. It makes your model look better without having to lots of vertices.
A note on modifiers
Each time you create a modifier, it's added to the modifier stack. Each modifier applied to a mesh can be seen in this stack (Modifier stack). Currently, this mesh has two modifiers: a Mirror modifier and a Subsurf modifier. Take a look at the icons next to the modifier name. If you roll your mouse over them, you can see what they do (Modifier details).
The most useful are right-most of the three buttons ("Enable modifier during editmode") and the gray circle to the right of the three buttons ("Apply modifier to editing cage during Editmode"), shown in Modifier details.These buttons are great for tweaking a mesh. Personally, I prefer to model in editmode without subsurf on. But when it's time to tweak a model, I turn it on so I don't have to keep jumping out into Object Mode to see how it looks subsurfed.
Extruding the rest of the face
Now that the mouth is mirrored, smoothed, and subsurfed, we'll make the rest of the face. This will basically just consist of extruding, scaling, and shaping.
I'm going to be modeling the face with Subsurf off in Edit Mode (turn off the third button next to the modifier name).
- First, AltRMB to loop-select the outer edge loop.
- 3 NumPad for Side View.
- O to turn off proportional editing for now.
- Then do some more extrusions:
- After each extrusion, hit O to use proportional editing again, and give the face some shape. Before doing another extrude, O to turn off proportional editing again.
- The images below show the results of a couple minutes of shaping the mesh.
This is where you can give your character some, well, character. I'm going to keep it simple in order to focus on the tools rather than the modeling. (For example, I'm not going to worry about a nose - it'll be more of a cartoon character). Since you move the mouse differently than I do and will therefore shape the face differently than me, from here on out the model in this tutorial might look a little different from yours.
Adding the eyes
Making room for the eyes
The mesh will take a little prep work to make the eye fit properly. Here are the steps I took to make an eye socket:
- CtrlR to make a loop cut as in Loop-cutting for the eye socket.
- Select the two vertices -but don't delete the vertices, as shown in Deleting edge. This time, instead of deleting the selected vertices, we'll delete the selected edge. You do this by choosing X>>Edges.
- This makes a hole in the mesh
while we're on the delete menu X, take a look at the different components you can delete. You first learned how to delete vertices. Here you just learned how to delete an edge, while leaving the vertices alone. Similarly, you can delete just a face while leaving both the vertices and edges alone. Try playing around with the different options (and don't forget to undo with CtrlZ!) to see how they act.
Adding an eye
- ⇆ Tab for Object Mode
- 1 NumPad to make sure you're in Front View
- Space>>Add>>Mesh>>UV Sphere to add an eyeball with 8 Segments and 8 Rings.
The view makes a difference when adding a mesh. The mesh object will be created to point directly at you. This doesn't make a difference in symmetrical objects like a cube, but for the UV Sphere, we want the pole pointing toward the front - hence making sure you're in Front View 1 NumPad.
You can use however many Segments and Rings you'd like; in this case I'm using 8. We can always subsurf it to make it look as smooth as we want. If the UV sphere has too many vertices, it may get difficult to work with. The default of 32 is too many - we don't need that kind of complexity for an eye.
- ⇆ Tab for Object Mode.
- If you move the eye while in Edit Mode, the center will stay where it was created. We want the center of the object to remain in the center of the eye, so that's why we go out to Object Mode.
- G to position and S to scale the eyeball to where you ultimately want it to be.
- In subsequent steps, we'll make the face mesh fit the eye - don't worry about any gaps now.
- The result should look something like Positioning the eye.
- Use Set Smooth (in the Edit Buttons) and add a Subsurf modifier to make the eye smooth, just as you did for the face.
Duplicating and Mirroring the eye
When you're happy with where the eye is, then we can make a duplicate and mirror it across the X-axis.
When NOT to use a Mirror modifier
You've already learned how to use the Mirror modifier to symmetrically mirror a mesh. In this case, we don't want to mirror the eye - we want a separate object for the other eye, because we want the eyes to be able to move around independently of each other.
- Make sure you're in Object Mode.
- Make sure the cursor is in the middle of the face. If you haven't moved it, it should still be there. If not, select the face and use ⇧ ShiftS>>Cursor to Selection to snap the cursor to the center of the face.
- Select the eye.
- From the Pivot Center menu (Pivot center menu), select 3D cursor.
- With the eye still selected, use ⇧ ShiftD to Duplicate the eye.
- RMB to cancel the automatic move mode (just like extruding).
- CtrlM>>X Local to mirror the duplicated eye.
- From the Pivot Center menu (Pivot center menu), go back to the default mode, Median Point.
- It should now look something like Mirrored, duplicate eye.
The 3D Cursor
Forming the eye socket
Now we'll get back to pushing vertices around to accomodate our character's new eyes. We'll have to add some more vertices to work with, and seal off the holes surrounding the eyes. The goal is to have enough geometry around the eyes that the eyelids can close - we'll be making the character blink as well as have other expressions that involve the eyes.
- With the face selected, ⇆ Tab for Edit Mode
- Move the vertices surrounding the eye into more of a circular shape Forming the eye 1.
- Select the eye socket with AltRMB and scale it up a little with S as in Forming the eye 2.
- With the eye socket still selected, extrude it and scale it down, far enough that it goes into the eye. There shouldn't be any visible holes now (Forming the eye 3. You can more clearly see the size of the scaled ring with Z to enter Wireframe mode (Eye socket in wireframe mode).
Up until now, we've been using Shaded draw mode. That's when you see the solid faces of the mesh. Often, however, we need to see inside of a mesh. That's when you use Wireframe draw mode. Z toggles between the draw modes.
A similar method is to use the button shown below (the back-face visiblity button).
On by default, this button is only available in Shaded draw mode. It keeps the view uncluttered by hiding any vertices that are behind the mesh you're viewing. Sometimes you need to see those vertices; you can either hit Z for Wireframe, or click this button while in Shaded draw mode to see the vertices hidden from view.
OK, now for a little more shaping to make some eyelids.
- Loop-cut the ring around the eye socket to get some more vertices to work with (Loop cutting the eye socket).
- Pull those new vertices forward and down a little to start forming the eyelid, as in Forming the eyelid 1.
- Make another loop cut to get more vertices, and move them around to give the eyelid some more body (pull the top vertices up a little bit, and the bottom vertices down a little bit) something like Forming the eyelid 2.
Modeling the rest of the head
Now we'll finish modeling the head. It will consist of several extrusions
- AltRMB to loop-select the outside edge, as in Head vertices to extrude.
- E to extrude, as in Head extrusion 1.
- Move vertices so they're a little closer to the same plane (Adjusting vertices).
- AltRMB to loop-select the new outside edge, and extrude again (E) as in Head extrusion 2.
- Select just the middle four vertices and extrude them backward (Head extrusion 3).
- Switch to Rear View (Ctrl1 NumPad
- Move G the newly extruded vertices toward the center of the head. Thanks to the Mirror modifier and Do Clipping, they can't go any farther than the center plane (Merging the back of the head.
- Close off the holes by making faces: select four vertices (RMB ) and create a face (F. See Finishing head 1, Finishing head 2, and Finishing head 3.
Making the inside of the mouth
The next step is to close up the mouth. To do that we'll have to extrude the lips inward to form the inside of the mouth. We'll use a new feature, AltB, to work on the inside of the mesh.
- 3 NumPad for side view
- AltB and drag a box around the lower front part of the head (Clipping the view).
New concept - Clipping Border to clip the view
Clipping the view with AltB is a valuable tool for working with complex meshes. It is a way of hiding parts of a mesh you don't need to see. It might take a little practice to figure out how to get the view you want, but once you figure it out it's very helpful.
- Now rotate the view to see the inside of the head. You can always hit AltB again to get out of clipped view.
- AltRMB to loop select the lips, as in Lips selected in clipped view.
- 3 NumPad for side view, and Z for wireframe mode.
- Extrude these vertices straight back (Extruding lips backward).
- Z for shaded mode.
- Make faces from the extruded vertices (F to make a face out of three or four vertices, Closing off the back of the mouth).
- CtrlR to loop-cut the inside of the mouth, as in Loop cutting the inside of the mouth.
- Shape the inside of the mouth by enlarging the newly cut vertices, narrowing the newly created faces at the back of the mouth, and lowering the back of the mouth, as in Shaping the inside of the mouth.
Finishing the mouth
- Make two more loop cuts: one on the front of the face (A loop cut on the front) and one on the inside of the mouth (Another loop cut on the inside of the mouth. By having several vertex loops close to each other like this, the transition between face, lips, and mouth will be more distinct.
- Now we'll make things easier for ourselves later on by saving selections of vertices as vertex groups. Later, when we want to select just the upper lip, we can just select the vertex group. Select the vertices that make up the upper lips (Upper lip vertices).
- In the edit buttons, choose New to create a new vertex group (Vertex group buttons).
- Name the new vertex group descriptively (Lip_Upper or something similar).
- Choose the Assign button in the vertex group button group (Vertex group buttons) to assign the selected vertices to the Lip_Upper group.
- Make a new vertex group, call it something like Lip_Lower.
- Select only the lower lip vertices (Lower lip vertices), and Assign them to the new vertex group.
New concept - Vertex groups
Here, we're creating vertex groups as a way of saving a selection for easy re-selection later on - in this case, upper and lower lips are in separate groups.
Vertex groups are used in many different ways in Blender. They're a way of specifying subsets of vertices within a single mesh. For example, later on we'll use vertex groups to tell which bones to move which parts of our character. The character will be one big mesh, but the creation of vertex groups will allow different parts of the mesh to be acted upon differently.
Using vertex group buttons
Closing the mouth
Now we're ready to close the mouth. This is basically just grabbing vertices and moving them. There are a couple of things you should be aware of.
- The final character is going to have the Subsurf modifer applied (it will be "subsurfed") to make it look nice and smooth.
- Meshes look different depending on whether they are subsurfed or not. We need to make sure the mouth is closed when the mesh is subsurfed.
- To do this, use the Subsurf modifier while in edit mode, and make it apply to the editing cage (to learn how to do this, see the Note below on Subsurf in Edit Mode). If you don't turn on subsurf in edit mode, you'll find that it's difficult to know when the mouth is fully closed.
- Tip: As you're closing the mouth, don't just grab the vertices in the edge loop at the "edge" of the lips - grab the vertices in the edge loop just inside the mouth as well. You'll get a better shape that way.
- Tip: Try to make the expression of the face "bored". We will be forming mouth shapes and expressions later on, and it's best to start with a face with no expressions - no smile or frown or anything on the shape we're building now.
Subsurf in Edit Mode
The series of images below shows the progressive closing of the mouth, with Subsurf turned on in Edit Mode. First the top lip was moved down, then the bottom lip moved up, and then the sides of the mouth were brought in a little bit.
Comparison between having subsurf on and off
Turning off Subsurf in Edit Mode shows the underlying editing cage, as in Subsurf modifier turned off. You can see that the upper lip of the editing cage appears to be pulled down past the lower lip - you can't even see some of the lower lip vertices, because they're covered by the upper lip.
A subsurfed surface is always smaller than its editing cage. We want the subsurfed faces to touch each other; in order to do that we have to actually cross the un-subsurfed upper lip and lower lip vertices.
That crossing of vertices sometimes makes it difficult to make selections. Luckily, we've saved the upper lip and lower lip vertices as separate vertex groups for quick and easy selection later.
Tweaking extreme angles
With Subsurf turned off, you can see a dark area around the upper lip. This dark area is often caused by extreme stretching or bending of the editing cage. This often happens if you shape your mesh exclusively with Subsurf turned on.
To fix it, either add more vertices or move nearby vertices closer. Luckily, you made that loop cut a couple steps back to give yourself more vertices to work with. If you move the next row of vertices down a little (as in Fixing the extreme angles by moving nearby vertices), you can smooth out the mesh a little more.
The finished face looks like Finished face 1 and Finished face 2. The difference between the two that (1) is in orthographic view, and (2) is in perspective view. You switch between them with 5 NumPad.
Ortho vs perspective views
Orthographic view is the default view. In orthographic view, all planes in the view are perpendicular to each other - there's no perspective, no "vanishing points", no taking distance into account. Ortho view is handy for when you want to transform vertices only in one plane, when you want to model mechanical objects, or when you're trying to be more exact in how the vertices are moved.
Perspective view is a "real-life" kind of view - distance is taken into account. It's also the default view for the camera, so when you render a project the final image will be in perspective view. So this view more realistic, and is useful for getting the final shape of objects.
You can toggle between the two view types with 5 NumPad.
That's it! Now you have a face with enough geometry that you can animate facial expressions. Next, we'll create a body for the character, before moving on to rigging and animation.
You can download the .blend file for the head here: Media:Tutorial_head.blend
On to Part III: Modeling the body!