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Modeling & Rigging a Cartoon Parrot In Maya: Part 1

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Firstof all, we will setup the reference images in the Front and Side viewports.So let’s import the front and side reference images by going to View > Image Plane > ImportImage

Afterimporting the front and side reference images, it should look like the followingimage.

With theFront profile image selected in the Perspective view, press Ctrl-A to open the Attribute Editorand type -18.710 into the X axis box. This value may be differentin your case. Now both image planes are separate and away from eachother.

For hiding thereference images in the Perspective view, we need to turn off the Looking through camera option as shownin the following image.

Now you cansee the reference images in the Front and Side views, but not in the Perspectiveview.

Nowwe will start the modeling process. We will model the parrot from a polygonobject. First of all, go to Create >Polygon Primitives and turn off the Interactive Creation check box, as shownin the following image.

Go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cone and click on its Option box.

In the Polygon Cone Options box, keep the Axis Divisions set to 8, Height Divisions at 2 and then click on the Create button to create the conepolygon primitive.

Now, you cansee a Cone polygon primitive has been created at the center grid, as shown in the following image.

Jump into theSide view and then Rotate and place the Cone at the end of the tail accordingto the reference image.

In the sidepanel menu bar, click on the Shadingmenu and then turn on X-Ray mode. Thiswill make the polygon mesh partially transparent in the viewport, so we won'thave any problems modeling against our reference images.  

Now we canstart editing the cone polygon primitive. Right Click on the Cone primitive and choose Vertex mode.Alternatively you can press the F9 key alsofor vertex selection mode.

With theCone primitive selected, go to Edit Mesh> Insert Edge Loop Tool.

Insert2 edge loops and also edit the vertices to match the reference image shown inthe background.

In theFront view, press F11 for theFace selection mode. Select one half of the mesh and then press the Delete key to delete the selected faces.

Press F8 to enter Object mode, and go to the Edit menu and click on the Duplicate Special Option box.

In the Duplicate Special Options window, turn on the Instanceradio button and change the Scale X valueto -1 and then click on the Duplicate Special button.

In theFront view, try to adjust the vertices of one side according to the referenceimage. The changes will be symmetrical copied to the opposite side as well.

In thePerspective view, press F10 for Edge selection mode and then select the border edges as shown.

Now, againjump into the Side view and press Shift and Right Click on the selected edges, and choose Extrude Edge from the fly-out menu.

Afterextruding the border edges, adjust the vertices to match the reference image.

Jump into theFront view and adjust the vertices of the mesh according to the Front referenceimage as well.

KeepExtruding the border edges according to the reference images.

In this way, work your way up to the Parrot's neck following the reference images.

ContinueExtruding the edges to the head of the parrot.

We now need to cap the open head mesh. So, while in Edge selection mode, select the twoindicated vertices shown in the image below. Then go to Edit Mesh > Bridge.

Afterbridging the edges together, select the rest of the open border edges, and go to Mesh > Fill Hole to cap, or fill the gap.

Next, go to Edit Mesh > Split Polygon Tool.

With thehelp of the Split Polygon Tool, insert the needed edges into the head.

In this way, we have completed the main body of the parrot according tothe reference images.

Now, we willmodel the Parrot's beak. So jump into the Side view and then go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cone.

After creatingthe new Cone primitive, place it at the upper beak area according to the referenceimage. In Vertex selection mode, adjust the main shape according to thebeak’s flow.

Insertseveral edge loops and adjust the vertices to match the beak’s flow with thereference image.

Press F11 to jump into Face selection mode and then with one half of the beak meshselected, just press the Delete key.

After deleting the selected faces, it should look like the following image.

Select theindicated bottom row faces and Delete them also.

In the same way we made the upper beak, we will create the lower beak. So let’s create another newCone primitive.

Place theCone at the lower beak area as shown in the following image.  

Insertseveral edge loops and then adjust the vertices according to the referenceimage.

It should now look like this.

To connect the beak mesh with the head mesh, we need to keep the same numberof edges or vertices for both the beak and the connecting area. So with the Parrot’sbody mesh selected, go to Edit Mesh >Split Polygon Tool.

Beforesplitting the edges, we need to have the body mesh in Isolation mode. So withthe body mesh selected, go to the Showmenu in the panel menu bar and enable the View Selected check box.

Now withthe Split Polygon tool selected, splitthe edges as shown in the following image.

Split theindicated edges once again with the SplitPolygon tool, as shown in the following image.

Next, weneed to delete some faces, so we can connect it to the beak mesh. So with theThree indicated faces selected, press the Deletekey.

After deleting the faces, go to the Show menu in the Perspective panelmenu bar and then turn off the View Selected check box. Next, select the lower and upper beaks and thebody mesh together, and go to Mesh> Combine to combinethe meshes into one.

Next, press F9 for Vertex selection mode and thengo to Edit Mesh > Merge Vertex Tool.

With the Merge Vertex Tool selected, select one vertexof the beak mesh and then drag the cursor to its corresponding vertex, to mergethem together as shown in the following image.

Followingthis process, merge all vertices together.

Now, jump into the Side view and while in Face selection mode, select the Two indicated facesaround the eye area as shown in the following image.  

Use Extrude and then Scale thefaces down a little bit.

Now Deletethe selected faces and insert 1 edge loop using the Insert Edge Loop Tool, as shown in the following image.

In Vertex selection mode, arrange the vertices to match the eye shape shownin the reference image.

You can seethe complete mesh we've made so far below in wireframe and smooth shaded mode.

Next, withthe parrot body mesh selected, go to Edit> Duplicate Special tomake a duplicate and mirrored mesh on the opposite side.

Now we will start modeling the leg of the parrot. So go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cylinder and click on the Option box.

This opens thePolygon Cylinder Options window. Here set the values of Axis divisions to 8, Height division to 2 and Cap division to 1, and then click on the Create button to create the cylinder inthe viewport.

Place theCylinder primitive at the starting point of the leg according to the referenceimages.

In thePerspective view, press F11 to enter Face selection mode and then select the upper and lower cap faces of thecylinder and Delete them.

After deletingthe cap faces, press F10 forEdge selection mode and then select the bottom border edges.

With theborder edges selected, Extrude twice as per the reference images.

KeepExtruding the border edges according to the leg's flow as shown in the referenceimages. And also keep adjusting the vertices accordingly.

In thePerspective view, select the lower border edges of the thigh.

With theborder edges selected, go to Mesh >Fill Hole.  

Afterfilling the hole, use the Split Polygon Toolto make the cuts shown in the following image.

Adjust thevertices of the thigh according to the reference images.

Let’s createanother Cylinder polygon primitive with the value of the Axis divisions set to 8.

Put thiscylinder around the leg area, and while in Vertex selection mode, adjust thevertices according to the leg's flow shown in the reference images.

Delete the upper and lower cap faces as well.

Now we willmake the claws of the parrot. So create a new Sphere with the Subdivision Axis set to 8and the Subdivision Height set to 4, and place it where the claw will be. 

Create 4more Spheres and place them as shown in the following image, and adjusttheir vertices accordingly.

With allFive spheres selected, go to Mesh >Combine to combine all of them into one.

Aftercombining the sphere meshes, Delete all of the cap faces. Now, with the twocorresponding border edges selected, go to EditMesh > Bridge and click onthe Option box.

In the Bridge Options window, set the Bridge Type to Linear path with the Divisionsset to 1, and then click on the Bridgebutton.

Using the same technique. I have bridged the sphere polygon meshes from both ends.

To create the nails, create a new Cone with the SubdivisionAxis set to 8 and the Subdivision Height set to 2. Then position the cone at the nail area.

Adjust thevertices or the nail mesh according to the reference image.

Now, Deletethe cap faces of the nail mesh, just like we did with the toes.

With theborder edges of the toe selected, use Extrude and Scale it down as shown in the following image. Then Bridge the nailwith the claw’s toe.

Through this process,we have completed the toe and nail. Now, make 2 more copies of the toe and Scale and place each of them accordingly.

The basic setupof the claw is ready and now we need to combine all the toes together. Sowith all the toes selected, go to Mesh> Combine, to combine the selected meshes together.

Aftercombining all the toe meshes, Merge them together as we have donepreviously. It should now look like the following image.

Now, it’s time to combine the claws with the leg. With the claw and legmesh selected, go to Mesh > Combine and combine the selectedmeshes.

FinallyMerge the claw and the leg verticies together.

Next, first selectthe body mesh and then select the leg mesh and go to Mesh > Booleans > Union.

After applying the Boolean command, you can see that the mesh no longer has the proper flow. So, we'll have to maintain the quad flow.

With thecorresponding and nearest vertices selected, go to Edit Mesh > Merge andclick on the Option box.

In the Merge Vertices Options window, set the Threshold value to 1.3 (or above) and turn off the Alwaysmerge for two vertices check box,  then click on the Merge button.

In this way,we have reduced the unnecessary vertices and also adjusted the mesh properly.

Now, for a better mesh flow, we need to delete the extra triangulated edges.So while in Edge selection mode, select and Delete the unnecessarytriangulated edges.

After doing this, the body and leg are now complete. You can see theresult in smooth shaded mode below.

Now let’s make the parrot’s arms. We will make them using a cylinder. Socreate a new Cylinder with the Subdivision Axis set to 8 and position it over the arm as shown on the reference images.

In Vertex selection mode, adjust the vertices ofthe Cylinder to match the shape of the arm shown in the reference image.

Insert 3 edge loops as shown below.

Afterinserting the edge loops, continue sculpting the arm as per the shape of the arm shown in the reference image.

To attach the arm with the body mesh, select the Four indicated faces on the body at the arm joint. Use Extrude to extrude and then Scale down the faces as shown in the image below.Then Delete these faces.

Use the Combine command to combine the body andarm meshes together. After that, use the Mergecommand to merge the corresponding vertices together, just like we didpreviously.

Next, selecta vertex around the nostril area and then go to Edit Mesh > ChamferVertex to chamfer the vertex.

Split theedges further to make the nostril hole.

We have now completed the parrot’s base mesh in its low poly form. In the next part of thetutorial, we will learn unwrapping in detail, which is highly required forsculpting later.



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