Friday, September 2, 2011

Simple Shapes and Topology – How I Understand My Model.

When I look at something I see topology. My imagination draws and connects lines over surfaces. I’ve been doing this since kindergarten, only back then I didn’t know it was called topology. I simply called them “computer lines.”

I think I developed this way of seeing the world out of necessity. In the mornings when my kindergarten class was asked to say the pledge of allegiance and place their right hand over their heart, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know which hand to use.

For some reason or another, I’ve always had trouble discerning right from left. It still haunts me to this day; if I’m driving and my passenger says turn right, I’ll turn left. At the time it made me feel stupid. I would look at the other kids and I just couldn’t figure out which hand they were using. I got in trouble for it, but the teacher thought I was just fooling around.

That night when I went home, I sat in my room and tried to understand the concepts of left and right. I think what was throwing me off was that these things are relative. Without right, you can’t have left. At the time my little brain just couldn’t grasp that. Then with my imagination I started to draw lines on the walls. For the first time ever I saw myself in 3D space.

Everything became absolute. Everything I saw had a line and orientation. It was a good feeling.
One of the awesome things about 3D modeling is that it forces your eye to see simple shapes and topology. No matter how complex a model may seem, it still can be broken down into simple form. It’s a lot like creating a puzzle and putting it together all in one step. In the picture below, you can see how I start with very basic shapes to “block out” the form.

This isn’t anything special, most 3D artist do the same thing, but the challenge comes in thinking ahead of the form. If you’re going to lay down a sphere, it’s good practice to understand how that topology is going to tie into a different form, like a square for example.

Pulling topology together is an art form in itself and in my opinion it’s grossly underrated and unappreciated.

 People that don’t know much about 3D modeling just assume that the program is doing it for you, but this is not true. Good topology is a result of a good 3D artist. I’m nowhere near mastering my topology game, but I’m finding Maya’s interface much more intuitive over Max’s.

The tools built inside of Maya quickly let me zip through different options until I find one that works best.

A lot of artists will say that topology isn’t that important – you can hide bad topology with the right lighting and shadows, and they might be right, but that’s not going to stop me from striving toward topological excellence. Ha.

Below you can see I’m almost done with Vikky’s gun.
In my next post, I should have the whole thing finished.


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