As a way to settle on my next project, I decided to do some character prototyping. It’s something I haven’t done in a while, and it seemed like a good time to try a more in-depth 3D modeling project.
The human form is, as you might imagine, a fairly complex thing to model. It’s easier with a solid reference drawing, but I’m not a particularly skilled artist either. So, armed with a basic line drawing enough skills to be dangerous, I set out to figure a way to cut some corners.
After some digging for a free alternative to Poser, I stumbled on a relatively new, open-source product called MakeHuman, a free piece of software designed to help people create 3D models of the human form. Turns out it’s not quite complete, but I think it’s going to be pretty effective for my purposes.
Upon first opening the program, though, my first thought was, Wow, that’s quite an androgynous figure. This might not work at all. The model had kind of a masculine face and a vaguely female body. It turns out, though, that MakeHuman takes an interesting approach to body shape. Rather than selecting “male” or “female” when you start, you get to adjust the values along several continua, including male/female, age, muscle mass, body shape, and weight. The default model happens to lie right in the middle of the male/female spectrum.
After tweaking parameters for an hour or so, I had a character that I thought looked decent, so I exported a model to fine-tune in Cheetah. I’ve been working the last few days to dress it and simplify the mesh.
The only hitch so far has been that MakeHuman outputs a fairly high-resolution model with about 12,000 polygons. I ultimately want one that has four or five thousand, which should provide plenty of detail. Though Cheetah doesn’t have a method for polygon reduction, Blender has a good one, so I used that first to get things down to a reasonable level. Despite the extra step, I’m hoping to end up with a decent model that doesn’t require building a human form (particularly the head and face) from scratch.
It remains to be seen whether MakeHuman provides a shortcut that’s actually shorter, but so far it looks like it will be a huge help in modeling.