Preparing a surface for sculpting

Because a head is roughly spherical, you can create a primitive sphere as a quick starting point for creating a head and face.

To prepare a sphere for sculpting

  1. Make sure you’ve done the steps in Preparing for the lessons.
  2. Select Create > NURBS Primitives > Sphere > . In the options window, select Edit > Reset Settings, enter the following values, then click the Create button:
    • Radius: 6
    • Number of Sections: 30
    • Number of Spans: 30

    The Radius sets the sphere’s size in grid units. A value of 6 creates a sphere big enough to use the grid for size comparison.

    The Number of Sections sets the number of vertical curves, called isoparms, for the sphere. Isoparms show the outline of the surface shape. The more isoparms a surface has, the more CVs it has. (By default, CVs are not displayed.) More CVs means better precision as you edit a surface. The Number of Spans sets the number of horizontal isoparms.

    The drawback to having too many CVs is that you’ll have a harder time making smooth shape changes to broad regions. Lots of CVs also means slower processing time as you work with the surface. It’s best to make surfaces with as few CVs as necessary.

    We chose 30 Sections and Spans for this lesson because experience has shown that this allows adequate facial subtlety without slowing Maya operation on a workstation of modest processing power.

    NoteIn wireframe display mode, if you select Display > NURBS > Fine or Medium, more isoparms appear than there are actual spans and sections. The surface is visually displayed with extra precision, but the extra isoparms have no CVs and cannot be edited.
  3. Name the sphere Egghead.
  4. Rotate the sphere 90 degrees on its side (Rotate Z: 90). This positions the sphere’s CVs well for modeling a simple head and face. You’ll learn why later in this lesson.

  5. To give Egghead an oval shape, set the ScaleX for the sphere to 1.3 or so. Optionally, you can move Egghead above the grid so the grid doesn’t interfere with your view of Egghead. Also, position the perspective view so the Z-axis of the View Axis points toward you.

Modifying the surface material for easier viewing

Because you will do subtle surface modeling in this lesson, it’s helpful to display Egghead with bright highlights so you can clearly see the effects of the changes you make. In the next steps, you’ll assign a Blinn material to Egghead to give its surface bright highlights. The steps have no explanations, as the shading subject matter is the focus of a later lesson.

To assign a Blinn surface material

  1. With Egghead selected, press 5 to display the surface with smooth shading.
  2. Right-click Egghead and select Assign New Material > Blinn.

    The Attribute Editor will immediately be displayed for the Blinn material.

  3. Drag the Color attribute slider roughly 3/4 of the way to the right, set Eccentricity to 0, and close the window.