Lex's dark arts on designing anime figures

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Lex, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    --Right, anyone tell me how to insert an image into the post please?... :confused:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    After seeing a rapid increase in the number of designers and great design tutorials recently, Lex was tempted to finally write one himself, for the good of the public mass :rolleyes: Not sure if I'll finish it, plus I'm not good at explaining things, but, I will do my best ^^ --Let's make a start shall we?

    ==Useless Intro==

    Some of you reading this might have felt the same as I had felt half a year ago: seeing so many figurines coming out on the Pepakura website (and else), that I started wondering, I can design aircrafts, spaceships, and all sorts of other stuff, but a mere human figure proved to be an unbeatable obstacle for a designer...wall1 Well, it's not that hard as I found, if there's something we can't do, learn it!

    So, this tutorial is for those who:
    --Eagerly wants to design a figure. (anime-style)
    --Has basic experience on a polygon modeler software (Meta, Sketchup, anything. But not Rhino, haven't figured out how to do it with curves yet...) This is simply to check you don't sit there and wonder how to create a surface... :mrgreen:
    --Knows a tiny little bit of photoshop, so that texturing is not a problem. If some reckon that this could be done in Paint that's just fine.
    --Manga drawing skills is helpful, but not necessary. (Plenty of tutorials on the net anyway) Either way it's a figure we're designing and the last thing to happen is to get the body proportions wrong...

    Um, well, I'm saying this because I don't do things on a step-by-step basis, that's all.

    ==Useless Intro Ends Here==

    1, The Head and the Face

    Before talking anything else (even body proportions), let's discuss about face... Since from my experience, if someone knows how to design the entire human head, that's half the total job done. Because once a person sees a figure, the attention immediately focuses on the face first. Therefore no matter how wonderful the body is, a bad-looking face really ruins everything.sign1

    The first picture is how one would draw a human face in anime-style (ignore the hair for the moment):

    [​IMG]
    This picture only gives a general impression on how an anime face looks like, I could not help on actually drawing one since that requires practice (read: try-and-error...:mrgreen: )
    It might be the case that most of the head is not visible, since they are normally concealed by hair. But they do have some rules governing their shape, otherwise the head would seem unatural. The head can be considered as mostly a sphere, with the face somewhat "protruding out" from the basic spherical shape. Sphere is not interesting, give it a shape primitive and we're all set.:rolleyes: It's this irregular-shaped human face that we're interested in.

    Taking a closer look at the shape of the face then:

    [​IMG]
    We can make out two lines from this drawing, the green line, which is the central line of the face, governs how the face looks like from the side. That one is simple, simply tracing the line in the side view will do, since this line is flat when viewed from the front. The other line is the red line, which governs the shape of the face when viewed form the side. This one is slightly complicated, since it is not flat when viewed from the side. It's approximate shape is shown in the side view. (this shape depends on personal preference, different shape gives different styles) With these two lines as fixed reference, we have the basic framework to design our face in 3D space.:wave: (P: This picture itself can be a good reference in face design)

    We now need to fill in the gap between those two lines, and we need the prospective view for that. Please bear in mind that it's a cardmodel we're designing, so the model must be buildable as well as realistic. There's no point in using a 3D artist's high-poly approach to design, since the parts would unfold into a jumbled mess on any figure less than 20cm in height. Rather, we're looking at something simpler.

    I listed here 3 choices of design, but of course, a designer is free to choose or develop his/her own styles. So these are more like a guide than anything else.

    The simplest we can get is Hako, that's 100% easy to build, but a square face is as unappealing as it gets. However using the Hako's philosophy, we can directly connect the central line to the side line, as shown in this picture:
    [​IMG]
    And to make things more fitting, the nose in modeled as a small protruding part from the face (optional, if the size is too small, the nose can be neglected without comptomising the final effect too much). The eyes and mouth however, are all done with tetxtures and not as 3D shapes (which essentially is the philosophy of anime-type face). This design looks good from front and side, reasonably fine from prospective. And it only gives 2 or 3 parts when unfolded, buildable even by low-skilled modelers and is found on a lot of figurine models.

    A slightly more complicated design is found on Suiraku's models. These offer an ever higher degree of realism, even when viewed from any angle.
    [​IMG]
    This is essentially obtained from deforming a sphere, fitting it to the shape of the face. It's drawback however, is that no matter how you unfold it, it unfolds into more than 6 parts with seams running across visible regions of the face, and without proper skills often give a "mummy" look on the completed model. Again, the eyes and mouth are done with textures.

    Running further into the "realism" direction, is a render-style face, now we have reached the stage when eyes and mouth can not be treated as flat shapes and must be modeled in detail. I don't have much experience in this one, so please check other tutorials for render-type face design on the net, --and by all means, our Kezn's Batman thread is a good reference.:thumb:

    Pictures follow shortly.........

    Okay that's all for now, will add more as time goes.

    Attached Files:

  2. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Great start here Lex!!!!

    I understand what you're saying completely. I used to be an A-Level art student and for a short time studied how to draw comic characters.

    My dilemna is the practical design of an anim figure. To be more specific, how do I get it off the ground. I'm going to learn Meta for this prupose. I understand the images you posted, for me the problem is just getting started in meta to assemble a wireframe of the head?

    Any pointers here?

    Thanks for taking the time here. I truly appreciate it. ;)
  3. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Hey Lex.

    Thanks for the first part of this tutorial. :)

    I had a play around with Meta. I used a primative sphere, then moved the verts around to try and get that anime head. My first attempt isn't perfect but not too bad I think.

    Check your emails. ;)

    Looking forward to learning more buddy.
  4. silentbrain

    silentbrain New Member

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    Nice tut there! There is a button on the toolbar (next to the hyperlink button) that looks like a postcard with a picture of a mountain on it, you can use that to hotlink images. Anyway I will keep watch on this one!

    [​IMG]


    vroom vrooooom
  5. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

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    thats one lazy cat... laaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
  6. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Haha!! I love that cat!!!!...

    ...Yea, more tutorial follows shortly... :D
  7. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    ...yea, now it's time to actually model a face from scratch. Again this will not be a step-by-step guide, but rather to run through the process of modeling.

    I'll be doing the first type of face, which is the simpler one. The first step is to create the lines that will make up our face. Click the "create face" button, then select "Lines" in the pop-up, and the trace the outlines as indicated in the drawing before. Each of the control points can be edited after you finish drawing the line, so adjust their shape until satisfied. --Don't worry about having too many points, we don't need to use them all.
    [​IMG]

    And then, create some faces for the face >_<... Click the "Tri" (ie triangle) button in the pop-up, and create your triangle by clicking its 3 vertices. (Clicking "Face" instead will create 4-cornered faces) There's the first one:
    [​IMG]

    Keep going until you have the entire face modeled:
    [​IMG]

    If you're not satisfied with the way those triangles / faces are laid out, you can manipulate the faces with the mesh operations command:
    [​IMG]
    (from top: add a vertice, divide a face into two triangles, insert a new vertice at an edge / face, swap the joint direction of the triangle, erase an edge to form a face.)

    It can be seen that we don't have much of a nose yet, we'll use the "insert vertex" operation to create our nose, to do so, we click on the edge where the nose should have been, so that we have a new vertex, then move this vertex around so that you're satisfied with the shape of the nose.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  8. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Further operations with faces:
    [​IMG]

    Now we extrude the side of the face with "extrude" command:
    [​IMG]

    Select all the edges you want to extrude and then simply drag:
    [​IMG]
    Now the face is coming into shape, right-click on the object in the object list, and select "mirror separated", so that we have a mirror image along the vertical, this helps to get a complete image of the face, and from the prospective view we can perform further adjustments to the shape until satisfied. Final result:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  9. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Great stuff Lex! The one I first created was by derforming a sphere. I'll try this method later on when I have some time. ;)

    Thanks for the much needed help. :)
  10. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    --Does that mean I can stop doing that deformed sphere one now? ;)

    On second thought, still, I'd better complete that... :D
  11. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    LOL, yeah, it'd be good to see what you have to say on it, there may be an easier way. I was just feeling my way around with no real direction at all.
  12. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Well, I think "feeling your way through" is the right way to model design... I mean, there's no rules regarding the designing process, everyone is free to develop his own ways to the goal.

    Right, continuing the tutorial... This time we start with a sphere (okay, quarter-sphere) created from primitive shapes:
    [​IMG]

    Using the side view, trace the outline of the face from the side, by dragging the control points:
    [​IMG]

    Bearing in mind how many control points does each section need, ending up with too many would be a nightmare... Now for the second column:
    [​IMG]

    These steps require "feeling" than anything else, but bearing the shape of the face in mind, it's not that difficult
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  13. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    it might look alright from the side, but at a prospective the face looks awful... :eek:
    [​IMG]

    So now we switch to the front view, and adjust the control points in the horizontal direction, following the same process as before
    [​IMG]

    At this stage, the face looks alright from both the front and the side. The only thing left is minor adjustments in the prospective view, to do this rotate the prospective view to different angles and move any offending vertices (ie protruding/retracting from the general shape) to where it belong. Do this until the face looks good whichever angle you view it.:rolleyes:
    [​IMG]

    PS: The design shown here is in the style of M'Gakuen models, it's seen that the shape of the nose doesn't quite match the real thing... but result? One of the most recognized designs in the anime community... So feel free to develop your own designs rather than sticking to rules, as long as it looks good, it will be good.

    Next part of the tutorial: Give it some textures sign1 ^^
  14. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Very nice Lex. I was on the right sort of track judging by what you've just said. Thanks for explaining it better for me though.

    Looking forward to textures!!
  15. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Hey Lex, Is there more coming to this greatly informative thread??

    I'm looking forward to learning more and puttng it into practice. Things like modellin bodies, hair and clothing. :)
  16. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Your questions answered! Now to make our model look better, it's time for some textures! Before getting carried away with UV and stuff, I suggest checking Jay's thread on mapping in Meta. ("We know about texturing 100 times better than you Lex!" --Just checking... ^^)

    We start with creating a material for the face, (called "face"...)
    [​IMG]

    Select all surfaces in the face, and in the menu, select "set materials to faces"
    [​IMG]

    Now we can start mapping, a slight difference to Jay's method here, we are going to draw our texture AFTER having the image mapped onto the model. Click here...
    [​IMG]

    Now we have 3 options to start with, one is planar mapping, another is cylindrical mapping, and the last one is spherical. These have been explained in Jay's tutorial so I'll not go on with them here. Contrary to common sense, we're going to use the simple and dirty planar mapping here. The reason being this is not a full-fledged render-type face which you have to colour carefully, and plus this one is easiest to position eyes in their right places.
    (Don't worry if you get a message about losing UV coordinates -- there isn't any to start with anyway)
    [​IMG]

    Move the projection face to the desired location, making sure all of the faces are enclosed in the edges when viewed from front, otherwise the texture is going to be cropped.
    [​IMG]

    Fix the UV coordinates by changing the projection to "UV", just like in Jay's tutorial
    [​IMG]

    Now we're ready to edit the coordinates in UV space: Click the "UV" button
    [​IMG]

    You'll see this:
    [​IMG]

    You can see the faces at the back are overlapping with those at the front, and there's no way the faces at the side are going to be mapped properly. Being lazy, I normally go about this just by setting the faces at the back to a monotonic skin tone, but the "proper" way is to move those out of the way. Click "Vert(ices)" in the popup, and move each vertex individually.

    End result:
    [​IMG]

    Now the UV coordinates are sorted, the only thing left is to export the UV map to a png image. (--yes PNG rocks! Jpeg and bmp is for losers :rolleyes:)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And so, the UV map is now left to the mercy of the all-mighty Photoshop! (or Gimp, if you feel like open-source :cool:) --And I assume everyone reading this has adequate photoshop skills... Experience tells Lex that learning Photoshop in-situ is not fun >_<
    [​IMG]

    The reason I've used planar mapping is because now you can draw the eyes just like how you'd draw them on a manga, and you have the outline of the face already available (black line above), whereas if we used cylindrical or spherical mapping instead we would be scratching our head by now trying to figure out where exactly should the pupil be...

    It's all too well to do a quick and dirty free transformation on an existing image of the character you're modelling, but there's always the problem of symmetry and resolution, so Lex always draw the face from scratch... So, unleash your artistic talent and we've reached the finish line!
    [​IMG]

    Now the final step is to export the image again (without the UV lines of course), and set it to be the texture image of the material ("face") by clicking "properties" in the material panel. You can do this even while you're still drawing up the texture, to see if the eyes are in the right place with the right size.
    [​IMG]

    --And don't worry if the texture looked a little jumbled up here, it's just a small glitch in Meta, everything is fine when you export into Pepa. If you still don't believe me, do a rendering of the model, see? I was right ^^
    [​IMG]
  17. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    THANKS VERY MUCH LEX!!! Somethng else for me to try tonight now. :)

    You ROCK buddy! Thanks again.

    Oh, Do I see hair on that model? ;)
  18. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Yes that is an actual WIP I'm working on... More on the hair later ^^

    (Fixed the images in previous threads, how they're embedded into the post. The Gallery is of some use after all >_<)
  19. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    No worries Lex. I can wait on the hair while I get to grips with what you've just shown me.

    THIS is what I've wanted to learn for a while now. I understand what Jay showed us in his thread as I'd done it in Truespace, but this is the stage I really wanted to get to grips with.

    Thanks dude. ;)
  20. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Hey Lex,

    Just me being a pest again. So is there anything new you can teach me?

    I've been playing around with what you've shared so far but I'd love to learn more. Modelling a body from scratch would be great! I've been studying existing meshes for tips but just don't know where to start.

    Also, hair. I have an idea how to do the simple bob style haircuts, but what about wavy hair? Like Lacus Clyne?

    Appreciate you may be busy, just wanted to let you know hat I for one am still intersted in learning more. ;)