Lightwave Modeling
By Mathew Duafala

Part 1     *Part 2      Part 3     Part 4

Well, I hope that everyone tried to model as much as they could by themselves. I’m sure that the shape of the head wasn’t much trouble using the techniques that we covered last time. However, those of you who are new to MetaNurbs probably had a bit of trouble with the eyes and horns. Maybe you modeled them but they just didn’t look quite real. Well in this installment that’s what I’m going to cover. Load the head model from last time and let’s get started.

Just to make things easier to work on we will first select the polygon that we want to pull into a horn and cut that and paste it into another layer. Fig 1 shows the poly pasted into layer 2 with the rest of the head as a background in layer 1.

Fig 1

As you probably notice the patch itself is rather messed up. This is okay as when we past it back in and merge points it will repair itself quite nicely. This is assuming of course that we don’t move the original points.

First I select the poly and either smooth shift it or use the bevel command. Either option works it just depends on how comfortable you are with one or the other. I will do this several more time each time stretching it so that it resembles the shape we want. The two things that you have to remember here are don’t move the original points like I said earlier and you have to grab all the points on the inside and set them to x=0. This is because when we mirror it we don’t want two horns, or maybe we do. I have actually used that method on another creature and it looked really cool. Try modeling your horn to look like the one in fig 2.

Fig 2

The trick to getting the horn to look recessed in the skin is as follows. The example in fig 3 is highly exaggerated to give you the basic idea.

Fig 3

This technique works well for horns, teeth, and just about any other type of protrusion that you can think of up for your next character.

As for the horns on the back of the neck I would actually suggest waiting and modeling those later when we might have some more subdivisions to work with. Assuming that you weren’t going to be using MetaMation, you could just wait until you froze the spline patch and them model them with all the extra detail. However I plan on showing you how to animate using the MetaMation plugin. Here his how I would resolve this little dilemma. Make another strip of four point polys in another layer. Use the technique I just outlined for making the little horns. Then once that is all done past that layer back into the main layer and start welding points. The thing that saves us here is the fact that MetaNurbs now works with three point polygons as well as four. Once you start welding make sure that the resulting polys are three point polys as shown in fig 4.

Fig 4

You will need to be careful with this method as three point polys with MetaNurbs give unpredictable results. But with a little point pushing you should be able to get a nice looking patch with no visible seams. Another thing that you have to remember is that the OpenGL preview, while good, doesn’t really show you what is going to be in the final rendered image. If there do happen to be seams that you can’t get rid of then the judicious use of mapping will almost certainly take care of them.

Now, on to the eye. The eye is pretty straight forward once you see how the horn works. The eye socket is pretty much the same except that instead of have the horn come out you simply have the socket keep going into the head to make room for the eye.

First off select the polys where you want the eye and smooth shift them. Stretch them more into the shape that you want and move some points if need be to get the outline of the eye just right. Then smooth shift it again and pull it back into the head a little bit to give the eyelid some depth. Then smooth shift it again and move the area further back into the skull and stretch it out so that it looks like the back of the eyelids. Once that is done simply smooth shift it one more time and pull that into the head to make room for the eyeball. If you want to get really crazy you can even use the planemeta splitter to give some more depth at the tips of the eyelids and then add some eyelashes. Admittedly this isn’t appropriate for this character, but you always need to add to your bag of tricks.

You probably noticed that I didn’t bother to give examples of the eyeball portion of the tutorial as I figured that once you start to see how MetaNurbs works, it really isn’t very difficult to model whatever you can see in your minds eye.

Well, in the next installment of the series we will go into making the mouth and teeth. Let’s see if you can figure out how to make them using the techniques that I already covered. I am going to be pulling a new trick out of my bag next time, so stay tuned.