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Real Time Character Modeling Tutorial
Real Time Character Modeling Tutorial
Theremina, updated 2006-12-03 04:35:34 UTC 1,264,865 views  Rating:
(26 ratings)
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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.