“Mira” was the first character model & rig I ever created and served as the final project for my introduction to Maya class.
I knew from the start that I wanted to go stylized/cartoony instead of a more grounded or realistic approach. This style always appealed to me more in films and it seemed like a more reasonable first attempt.
I took one of my many character doodles and made a full turnaround. In the end, this was mostly a style reference and wasn’t as useful as I would have liked for the actual modeling.
My initial plan was to use Ncloth simulations for the clothing, so i modeled the limbs & torso first. I followed some tutorials to get the base shapes and then continually experimented and tweaked them until I was happy with the shape.
I intended to do the face next, but quickly realized different features like eye size & teeth shape would affect different proportions in the face, so I modeled these first.
The head was where a large amount of total project time went. I had never attempted anything humanoid in 3D before, & even with the stylized aesthetic, it is very easy to enter the uncanny valley. Ultimately constant tweaking & iteration led to the final result. The eyebrows added a bit of humanity as well.
The crocs took equally long. With how organic & flowing the shapes are it would have been more suited to NURBS than hard surface modeling. I am very happy with the end results though. They look how I imagined & deform well in animation.
The original plan for simulating the clothing with nCloth didn’t end up panning out. Too much trouble for mediocre results. Just properly weight painting the mesh ended up looking great when deforming.
The differences between iterations on the sweater are less pronounced, but a lot of tweaking during this phase was on overall proportions for all clothing.
At the same time, I began working on the hair. I decided to make my first venture into Maya’s sculpting tools. They are fairly basic, and I had no digital sculpting experience, but I was able to make a shape that I felt matched the quirky shape of my drawing. The diagonal patterns add some interesting depth & perspective effects when viewing it.
With all the mesh finished I moved on to my first every character rig. We had barely begun diving into bones & weight painting at this point in the class, so the majority simply came together by combining different tutorials together to create something useful.
We were informed about the importance of a clean bone hierarchy, so I took it to heart and kept everything logically named & well kept. The last lesson was given on Drivers and I used this newfound knowledge to create some Maya inputs for the fingers to curl, without needing to manipulate handles.
I decided to go with IK legs and FK for the arms & hands. Weight painting wasn’t too bad in the end, with the mesh still being fairly low poly. The body & limbs all deform very well & move in a natural way.
The final experiment was switching the shaders & textures from basic lamberts to full-on Maya Toon Shaders. I did feel it added a great deal to the final product & made it seem more cartoony, but I could tell that for actual production it would take a lot more tweaking. I’ve learned a lot since this project & may revisit it again or do an updated version.