MODELING A CHARACTER IN 3DS MAX by Paul Steed (1964 – 2012)
Like most of my peers in the computer game industry, I’m self-taught in what I do. I’ve learned how to create art with a computer by reading manuals, doing tutorials, and simply putting in the hours working in the gaming industry. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for some great companies and with some great artists. I’d like to say I’ve learned a lot from those artists, but unfortunately I haven’t. I’ve learned to get faster because the other artist next to me is cranking the stuff out faster than I can. I’ve learned just how bad my latest masterpiece sucks because of how cool the stuff is that other people around me are doing. Many of those artists would love to sit down and tutor others in their ways, but unfortunately there’s barely time to learn, let alone teach. There’s just not enough time in the day to get your work done and be both student and teacher. Time is a luxury and a very hot commodity in the game development world.
While I can’t point to any one person as a mentor or teacher, I have definitely picked up tips and tricks by simply watching others do art on the computer. That’s how I’ve approached this book. I want you to watch me do my thing. I want to share what I’ve learned and hopefully teach you a few things in the process. I want to share what I’ve stuffed into my head and fingers over the past nine years, four companies, and nine games because I know how hard that kind of information is to come by. Even if you’re experienced at modeling and creating characters, I guarantee you’ll learn a trick or two from just observing how someone else does it.
By purchasing this book you’ve decided to see if someone else can help teach you to teach yourself. Specifically you want help in learning how to create great, low-poly characters in Max. I’m betting that someone (me) can. Be forewarned, though, I’m not just adding another didactic, strictly educational, dry technical manual to your collection. I wanted this book to reflect a little more personality. I’ve included occasional anecdotal “authorized digressions” or small tales of life “in the trenches” as a developer. I’ve also included FYIs, For Your Information factoids or observations that pertain to the material being covered. File them away for reference or skip past them—it’s up to you.
The computer books on my shelf that I like the most and recommend to others are the ones that focus on completing a specific task or project. That’s why I’ve written this book the way that I have. I wanted to make a useful guide for creating a low-polygon character in Max for use in a real-time game like Quake III: Arena. Don’t look for this book to cover lighting and rendering techniques. Although I do get pretty basic at times, Modeling a Character in 3DS Max is not a replacement for your Max manuals and tutorials… it’s a companion to them.
I’ve tried to satisfy both the novice and experienced modeler, but I have taken for granted you’ve bought this book because you’re new to creating low-poly characters. If you want to completely re-create the character I’ve built following along exactly, great! By all means do that. If, however, you’re somewhat experienced and/or learn like I do by riding tangent to the beaten path instead of in its ruts, you’ll use what I’ve laid out as a workbook to build your own character. This last approach is going to benefit you the most, but depends on your learning ability and experience level. In other words, if you’re experienced, you may just want it as a reference guide, skipping to whatever sections you need.
Since I’m an artist I’ve probably included more illustrations than a typical book on Max. This is because I have a pet peeve with some books not having enough illustrations, but it’s also because I wanted to make it readable. That is, you can learn from it even if you don’t have Max running in front of you. It’s instructional and conversational. If you’re tired of huddling in your office poring over the words and images printed here, sit on a park bench out of the office somewhere and read over the material at your leisure. You’ll feed your brain, and remember what sunlight feels like on your skin and what birds sound like when they chirp. As far as building a buxom female character instead of a male or creature character. . . it was just a personal decision. Any and all of the methods I introduce will work on whatever gender or species you prefer.
It’s my fervent hope that you’ll find this book useful in your self-education and not just another addition to that row of books on your shelf that look good but never get read. Good luck and good modeling!
Paul H. Steed Jr. (1964 – 2012)