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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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First off, if someone on your team, or even in the studio has already modelled a decent hand, use it. There is no point reinventing the wheel and making more work for you, even if it isn't the right style the structure should be sound enough for you to work with and adjust.

Before you build the hands you need to know what the character is to be used for. If its in game the chances are it won't need separate fingers, just maybe a separate thumb, if its a character for a cut scene then all fingers will need to be modelled.

When starting the hand I always begin with a finger, spend time creating a good finger and you can then copy and adjust it for the other three and the thumb. Again, get some images of hands scanned in and use them as image planes.

Start with a cube: Width 6, Subdivision Width 3, Subdivision Height 2.

Using the Split Polygon Tool we now add some details to the finger. For the moment you just want to define the knuckle areas, these just need to be on the top half of the finger (add as much or as little detail as you require, the images represent a medium resolution finger.)

Once done you can play around with the finger to get a general shape you are happy to start working with. Make sure you use the image you scanned in as a guide.

When you are happy with the shape of the finger, duplicate it and adjust it to fit the other three fingers.

You should now have your basic fingers to work with, duplicate one of the other fingers and adjust it to fit the thumb. Then, using your modelling skills and the reference images add some more details and the rest of the hand. You should end up with something like this -

A few things to consider:
1. Its better to initially model the hand flat, this makes it easier to texture. Then you can adjust it later for the final pose.
2. The base of the finger, where it meets the hand, is slanted not flat. If you look in between your own fingers you will notice a small webbing area.
3. Your fingers are not straight so do not model them like that. They are most likely slightly crooked.
4. In women, the ring finger and the index finger tend to be the same length. But with men, the index finger is shorter than the ring finger.

Final Pose

click for larger version

Before you finalise your model and begin texturing it is probably a good idea to bung in a rough rig and check the mesh deforms correctly. I guarantee you will find a few areas that need tweaking and if you have spent time texturing you will need to alter some UV`s.

The aim is to get the final model in as much of a relaxed state as possible, this way when the character is rigged and animated in a relaxed state it will look more natural and as the modeller intended. Having the elbows and knees bent not only helps with rigging but also allows the modeller to refine the look of the joints.

Note - You should make sure your model is finished and signed off before putting it into this pose, unless you intend to do a preview bind, in which case save it as a separate file.

Your characters final pose should be as follows and NOT in the standard crucifixion poses:
* Arms - Out to the sides but slightly lowered, (about 35 degrees)
* Elbows - Should be bent inwards at an angle of about 40 degrees.
* Hands & Fingers - Should be in a relaxed position with the fingers slightly bent. The palms should be facing forwards.
* Legs - These should be slightly bent, as if the character is in a slight crouching position.
* Face - The head should be in a rest pose, closed mouth and open eyes.

Please let me know if you found this tutorial useful by visiting my forum. You can even upload an image showcasing your own creation.