The Maya Journal: Modeling the mech's lower body
Building hipsBefore beginning to model a leg for the mech, we need to build a structure for attaching them. It needs to serve as a base for articulation, similar to the way our hips function for our own legs. For this base, we'll use a simple polygon sphere. Below I've given you a perspective view of the back and side of the mech's torso to give you some idea of the size and placement of the sphere. For aesthetic reasons, you may also want to include an undercarriage to the torso that hides the various parts and gives the body some volume. We can do this by first creating a cube and locating it near the sphere we just created. Next, we'll want to add 3 subdivisions within the depth so that we can alter its shape easily. Below is a side view of my cube's shape and location. You may want to insert some edge loops around the cube's edges so that it maintains a cube-like shape. The cube's shape and size doesn't need to be perfect right now because we'll probably be re-sizing it later. Here is the smoothed version of mine: We're now ready to build a hip joint socket that's attached to our sphere. This is what our upper leg joint socket will sit in later. Build the socket out of a cylinder and place/rotate it where the mech's upper leg will attach. Again, just make a rough estimate of its size and placement. You can always adjust it later. Next, select the front vertices on the outside of the hip socket and slightly taper it. Then extrude the outside faces inwards to form a lip and push back to create a recess (i.e. socket) where the leg joint will sit. Finally, use the orthogonal side view to align the socket with the angle of the leg. You'll also want to add some edge loops to the socket's circumference so that its edges stay sharp. Instead of making another hip socket for the opposite side (i.e. right side), you can duplicate this one and change its position in the Channel Box. Doing this is fairly easy with the following steps:
- First make sure the duplicated socket is selected. Use your Outliner to select it if needed. Once it’s selected, hit Ctrl+G to put it in a group.
- Second, hit Ctrl+D to make a duplicate of that hip socket group.
- Third, with the Channel Box open and the duplicate group (i.e. group2) selected, change the value of its Scale X to -1 and hit Enter on your keyboard.
Modeling the upper legInstead of starting from scratch to build the upper leg, we can use existing geometry we've already created in the upper arm. This is another time saving procedure:
- First, select the two components of the upper arm and group them if they’re not already grouped.
- Second, duplicate that group as we did with the hip socket and hoses. These two duplicate shapes will make up our upper leg.
- Third, scale and position them appropriately.
Modeling the lower legTo build the lower leg, we’ll again use existing elements, this time from the lower arm:
- First, duplicate the two lower arm pieces (i.e. sphere and cylinder minus the claws).
- Second, hit Shift+P to remove the sphere and cylinder from any hierarchies that may contain them.
- Third, delete any of the interior elements within the cylinder that we added previously when building the claw.
- Fourth, position the sphere and cylinder (i.e. now the lower leg sections) under the upper leg.
Building the feetEach foot for the mech is made from a front piece and back piece. Both pieces join back-to-back in the center of the lower leg. We can build the front piece first from a cube:
- First, create a cube and bring it into position near the recess we just created.
- Second, size and scale its height and length until it resembles a rough foot and fills up the recess.
- Third, add three subdivisions to the cube's depth so you can manipulate its shape.
- Fourth, taper the toes inwards as well as downwards, refining further the foot's shape.
Finishing up the mechNow that we've got all of the parts built for the left side of the mech, we can begin to group these various parts together in the Outliner. This organization will help us find larger sections later when we begin rigging and animating the mech. Here is how I grouped my mech's parts:
- First, I began by selecting all of the parts of the left arm and grouping them together, naming each individual piece (i.e. Lower_Arm_Left, Upper_Arm_Left, etc.). The group I labeled Left Arm. It’s worth pointing out that Maya doesn’t like spaces in its object names, so when you create a name with a space Maya will automatically add underscores. So my Left Arm group becomes Left_Arm.
- Second, I duplicated the entire Left_Arm group and changed the copy's X axis from a 1 to a -1 just like the hip sockets and hoses.
- Third, I labeled that duplicated group Right_Arm.
- Fourth, I grouped the Left_Arm and Right_Arm groups into an overall Arms group.