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Jay 02-01-2007 02:23 PM

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Hey All

Lets Use this thread as a discussion for character topology. Post up your images of your character meshes in here to get some advice for your own WiP's

I'll start this off with one of my own on a head....The base mesh before a level 1 Subdivision Surface conversion


marlonjohn 02-01-2007 04:20 PM

Here is mine,

A question from me Jay, ived always wanted to know and maybe some other people, what is with all that level 1-5 i think mesh etc?


enhzflep 02-01-2007 05:00 PM

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And here's another.. 572 faces - way to many of them triangles, I reckon.

gster123 02-01-2007 05:35 PM

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Well, heres the head that I did a while back, i've not changed much just cleaned up the geometry a bit and then went on to modeling the torso.

Think it could be more efficient and better with more ref, but as this was my first "proper" go I thought it came out ok.

gster123 02-01-2007 05:39 PM

Jay, gotta say I love the flow round the jaw area on yours, looks very efficent.

Do you keep it all quads or do you let the odd tri in as your post on Cgtalk? Or is it just for what your going to do with it?

Joining 3dsk soon so when I get some good ref i'm gonna give a head/human another crack, trying to keep the mesh efficient.


vladimirjp 02-01-2007 06:17 PM

cool thread
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nice base mesh Jay.

but i personally shy away from poles [5 faces sharing a single vert]
rigging it is sometimes fustrating; trying to equaly distribute weights accross 5 faces. thats a main reason why perfect squares are preferred. they sometimes look odd when deformed at extreme poses [on cartoony characters for instance]
also poles on Sub D especially, give bad specular highlights.

i would tweak a few more spots myself. nice start tho.
as for N-gons, i have not yet had any bad experiences with them when i do poly smooths instead of subD.
so , i love n-gons because of the flexibility

marlonjohn 02-01-2007 06:26 PM

hey vlad, just out of curiousity... is it possible to have all quad faces instead of having a couple 5 sided faces sharing 1 vertex as you said about jays mesh? never really seen one to be honest,

vladimirjp 02-01-2007 07:13 PM

sure its possible. but not worth having.
but its best to place them in areas that dont deform much or in areas that naturally collapse on themselves like corner of the nosewhere the nostrils are.
this is not written in stone. its just my preference when modeling for animation.

Jay 02-01-2007 07:28 PM

Wow a great start to the thread...excellent.

I'll answer as much as I can now as Im at work.

Marlon John: Levels of division etc... There are 2 ways to look at these. 1) If you are modeling on a subd surface, you can right click over the mesh and select Finer, this will then place Level edits to your mesh ie; level 1 upwards, allowing you to model in more detail. However these can cause problems when you go back to a base poly mesh you can lose the detail and when/if you convert to a poly for the final model the mesh would simply be too dense, in those Level Edit areas. 2) Levels of Subdivision are also when you choose to add more geometry to a lower res poly model, you can either choose subdivide or poly smooth the mesh by typing in a value from 1 upwards. I hope this all makes sense.

gster: Good effort though I think less geometry would be good and work on those loops. Thanks dude, Everything is quad in ALL my models there are no tris at all, not even at CGTalk, its probably the angle.

Vlad: Cheers dude, I dont have a prob with the poles, the one on the lower jaw isnt thats the angle (again on that) I'll post up a close up later once Im home. As I do blend shapes for my facial expressions I know what the rig is doing as opposed to having joint deform the face, and NGons too I dont have a prob with, I think theres plenty in the ears LOL. Looking at a lot of Stahlbergs work he has 5 siders in some strange places, even on the face in areas such as cheeks, he doesnt worry about those, just as well really hiswork is pretty darn good.

Anyways lets keep this rolling


Jay 02-01-2007 07:44 PM

LOL Vlad, my bad that is a pole on the jaw LOL, apologies dude...


gster123 02-01-2007 07:52 PM

Cheers Jay,

As you said about the geometry and loops, i'm keeping that in mind for my next go.

I think its something that comes with practice starting over and trying to tweek as much out of the basic shapes right from the start and not going for the split poly tool (or whatever method peeps use) right away to add detail and loops (which is what I did and then came a cropper and went back to try and reduce the geo and readjust the loops!!) which I think looking at other posts, it affects other "organic starters" too.

Cheers for posting yours Jay, i'll be refering to it when i'm giving my next model a go! LOL, which I will be posting in here when I get it going (might be a while as i'm gathering info for it at the mo)

As you say about Stahlbergs work, he has a few ngons and tri's, suppose its just a matter of knowing your job and getting them in the right places.

vladimirjp 02-01-2007 07:56 PM

cool man.
this shtread might motivate me to model again, i havent done that in months. :)
ill probably make something like a cartoony guy.

Jay 02-01-2007 10:43 PM

Hey Vlad
yeah do it dude!!

No probs, it helps to actually draw your meshes too so you have an idea where to begin. As Vlad said earlier nothing is set in stone in terms of the 'right way' its a preferred way.

I would also recommend looking at the main muscle groups in the face and how edge loops resemble those, it makes more sense when you see it this way, you then understand how things work and the benefits of edge loops for animation purposes.


Jay 02-01-2007 10:51 PM

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Ive attached a diagram of different types of quad possibilties. Obviously the first one is the desired one but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and go a different route. The second and third option work well in a manner of areas, obviously not overly desirable where deforming of the mesh is concerned but as I said sometime you gotta bite the bullet, and lastly the 5 sided poly, again not one for deforming areas (preferably) although it can be, but use sparingly, ideal for terminating edges when you dont want to add even more geometry.


gster123 02-01-2007 10:53 PM

Cheers Jay, I'll keep the drawing in mind and do a few scetches over some reference pics prior to opening maya in my next project.

Ive got the "Maya secrets of the pros" book, which covers a lot of the loops, muscles etc, but I really need to get into animating facial rigs etc as I've only ever animated "solid" object interations, I think thats when the the button will click in the old brain!

Jay 02-01-2007 10:55 PM


Heres a diagram ofthe facial muscels, look how the layout ofthe muscles resembles that of edge loops, around the mouth, the eyes and nose with the joining at the cheeks


publicFunction 02-01-2007 11:46 PM

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Here is my effort at this typically hard subject...

marlonjohn 03-01-2007 07:11 AM

cool, thanks for the reply vlad...
you havnt modeled in months!?! what have you been doing, i think it was in cg where i saw your work and it was too good to believe. if i was at that stage at modeling, i woudnt leave my computer lol..

ohh i finally see how it works now...thanks for that jay, cleared it up in my head alot.


marlonjohn 03-01-2007 07:12 AM

wow jay, the two pictures are a great amount of help already especially the muscles to edgeloops..

heres another question from me which i have always wondered, when your model is in subdiv and then you check out the wireframe and it shows them extra lines.. what are they for? is there a way to get rid of them without spit poly tool? this has also resulted me into split poly tool to get rid of them but then ending up having a heavy mesh... thanks, marlon

heres a picture:

gster123 03-01-2007 09:49 AM

Have you tries pressing 1 on the keyboard, I think, if I remember rightly, its the display quality of the surface (like in NURBS).

marlonjohn 03-01-2007 10:14 AM

hmm i dont get what you mean really but i tried what you said and no help really ... arrgh!

anyone else have any ideas?

Jay 03-01-2007 11:58 AM

With a SubD selected, pressing 1, 2 0r 3 on the keyboard displays different levels of detail, with 3 being the smoothest.

The patching you have around your nose is not uncommon in subd work but if you want to get rid of it, its a case of adjusting the polys, getting them to flow and/or join differently.

R@nSiD: Dude alot of work is needed to tidy the mesh up, get rid of those tris and 5 siders, its not really usuable right now for anything. I dont want to sound like Im putting you down, but dont rush it, take a step back a be a bit more methodical in your approach


publicFunction 03-01-2007 12:11 PM

Jay, totaly true. This is my weakest area, and the human face is soo difficult to get 100% correct as we look at them everyday. I need to sort the areas around the mouth and eye. The tips you have given here wll help loads :)

DJbLAZER 03-01-2007 04:10 PM

If you have those extra lines that's because you have polygons that aren't 4-sided. If you want a totally "clean" sub-D-model you'll have to have only 4-sided polys.

Jay 03-01-2007 04:16 PM


this can happen with 4 sided polys, depending on there placement


gster123 03-01-2007 04:45 PM

Yeah Jay, ive had theose on a all quad model.

How do you go about getting rid of them? Do you bother or just work with them?

Jay 03-01-2007 08:14 PM


My workflow is this:

create the base mesh in poly and block it out as best possible adding geometry when and where necessary (obviously) then once Im happy with the overall base mesh and its all quads, be them N sided or normal quads I'll convert to a Subd and really go to town tweaking the model until Im happy or sick of it LOL. Then once thats done I'll go over the mesh again back and forth between SD and poly, ironing out bits and pieces that I feel may cause problems when creating blendshapes. Sometimes I'll re-route the edge flow around the cheek/nose area and jawline too, (around about where Vlad has marked on the mesh) just to make sure its all working for me, but as far as the 'patching' goes I dont worry really as they'll go once Ive done the final convert to hi res poly. Then its uv time. Once those are done I'll go back to the base poly mesh and create the actual blendshapes especially since the mesh is so low, it makes the job easier. Again I'll jump back and forth between Sds again while creating the shapes so I can check the forms of the expressions.

Once Ive done all my shapes I'll save two versions out, one with all the shapes in Low poly and then one set thats been converted from a SubD to a hi res poly version ready for animating

if you feel the need to re-route edges etc try the spin faces script from highend3d its a time saver, youcan select two faces at a time and spin them in another direction without recutting geometry

Hope this is clear

DJbLAZER 05-01-2007 08:54 PM


Originally posted by Jay

this can happen with 4 sided polys, depending on there placement


Really? That's strange, since the wire in sub-D should be exactly the same as the polywire with the difference that it's smoothed. So if my model has all quads it shouldn't touch the wire... I mean it shouldn't add more lines..?

Jay 06-01-2007 04:12 PM

As asked for...

DJ: As you can see four sided (possible from NGons causing the patches)


vladimirjp 06-01-2007 07:05 PM

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might as well post this.
this thing helped me out a lot when i was learning to model humanoid heads. its a great ref for clean and rigging-friendly face modeling

arran 07-01-2007 12:17 AM

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Hey - excellent idea for a thread Jay - lots of useful info so far.

:beer: :beer:

I thought I might post this low poly zombie which I have been working on for the last week. the ears haven't been attached yet.

it would be good to hear any advice for working on game characters as well.

DJbLAZER 07-01-2007 01:03 AM


Originally posted by Jay

DJ: As you can see four sided (possible from NGons causing the patches)

I see that it's dividing the four sided sometimes yes... but I wonder why... that's just making it less clean to look at. But what do you mean with "possible from NGons casuing the patches"? An NGon usually means a polygon with more than 4 sides and as far I can see this model has only four sided polys.

publicFunction 07-01-2007 01:44 AM


Originally posted by arran
it would be good to hear any advice for working on game characters as well.
Mike would be the best man for that, but from what I learned on my 8 monh stint on an Indie Project, was if a texture can do the job don't model it. The eyes for example can be part of a facial texture, so there is little need to go into mass detail on the face, save the poly count for something else.

If you have Steam and own HL2 get the SDK and have a look at some of the models (7,000+ polycounts), the textures are great and if you have XSI you can import them for a more detailed look. Modelling for games is all about limitation and your budget. How many polys we can spend on each main character? How many polys we can spend oneach secondary character? How many polys the engine will allow on screen at anyone time? the list is endless. But hey thats why Art Directors get paid the big bucks :p

Jay 07-01-2007 09:56 AM


Go back to page 1 of the thread (I think) you'll see a layout of polys I did for this thread, N Gons are there...

Vlad: thanks for posting that up, I have that too, I believe Stahlberg had his 'fingers in the pie' on that one, in fact yes it mentions it at the bottom of the image. Its a good image to use. I started out looking at that and stuff by Bay Raitt (The Edge Loop Master) and just worked my own theory from the two.

Arran: Great stuff, we should mix the thread up with Game and Hi res meshes, Im sure people would apprecaite it here. And yeah lets give Mike a shout



arran 07-01-2007 10:07 PM

thanks for the tips R@nSiD.:beer:

Yeah, Ive got HL2 and have been meaning to download the sdk. I don't have XSI, but I remember that some guy had imported a half life model into maya a while back...

It'd be good to see some other low poly models in this thread.

marlonjohn 08-01-2007 09:46 AM

Sorry bout the late reply, had to format computer and reinstall everything :S what a hassel, luckily i backed up my maya things ;)

Thanks jay, appreicate it ;) this will help me alot for when i start to model lower res models. especially this topology i like even more, soo smooth and clean lol.

hey R@nSiD, are you telling me there is a way to see HL2 models? how awesome! where abouts can i get sdk...


arran 08-01-2007 04:05 PM

I just happened to be looking in to it a minute ago. It's still a bit beyond me, but I might give it a go this weekend.

Jay 09-01-2007 08:02 AM

Hey Guys

Nice SDK stuff but a little off topic, try not to let it spiral...


arran 11-01-2007 10:51 AM

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ok - let's see your palms!

just wondering how you resolve the underside of the hand - this is a picture of my palm from the current challenge - keep in mind i haven't really done too much to it yet, but I am just curious to see how others have handled the same area.

Jay 11-01-2007 11:50 AM

All the best with it Arran


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