How to Create an Alice Character Model

By Rebecca Rose Scully

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a simple Alice character model:

This tutorial is geared for beginners with the software. I will show how to create a model in Maya, export it into 3DS Max for some tweaking, and then import it into Alice. You can create character models in 3DS Max as well - which program you choose to use is a personal preference.

You will need Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3DS Max, Adobe Photoshop, and Alice. Alice can be downloaded for free from www.alice.org. In addition to that you will need a 3-button mouse for some of the programs. I used Maya 2008, Photoshop CS3, 3DS Max Design 2009, and Alice 2.2.

In Alice, each character has subparts that you can move in an animation. The subparts are listed underneath the character’s name when expanded as such:

Each subpart is a separate piece of geometry. Here is an image of a wireframe version of that same model.

Setting up

To start, open up Maya. Make sure you are in Polygons mode before starting.

If you do not have the above setup, click on the  button on the left panel of the screen.

Creating geometry

Next, go to Create -> Polygon Primitives -> Cylinder. Then click in the middle of the grid in the top viewport and drag to the right. This creates the circumference of your cylinder. Release the click and then click again and drag upwards to give the cylinder its height.
This will be the torso of your character.

Now go to the attributes editor on the top right of the window and click on the polyCylinder1 tab. Change Subdivision Axis to 8, and Subdivisions Height to 4.

Navigating Viewports

To make one viewport take up the entire screen, press the spacebar while the mouse is over that viewport. To go back to viewing all 4 viewports, press the spacebar over that viewport again.

To turn off the grid in any viewport, go to Show -> Grid to uncheck it.

To move around in a viewport press the alt key with different mouse buttons. Pressing the alt key with the right mouse button will rotate the camera. This can only be done in the perspective viewport. Pressing alt and the middle mouse button will move the camera left, right, up and down, and this can be done in all of the viewports. Scrolling with the middle mouse button will zoom the camera in and out of the viewport. This can also be done in all of the viewports.

In addition to moving the camera around, you can change the display of the geometry. Pressing the 4 key will show the wireframe view, pressing the 5 key will show a shaded view, and pressing the 6 key will show textures as well.

To undo something, press the z key or Ctrl+z.

To select multiple objects, you can click and drag a box around them or you can shift+click on them. To unselect everything selected, click off of the selection. To unselect specific objects, Ctrl+click on them.

Manipulating geometry

To move the cylinder, press the w key, then click and drag on the cylinder. It will move according to the viewport you click in – if you move it in the top viewport, it will move on the xz plane. If you move it in the front viewport, it will move it in the yz plane. And if you move it in the side viewport, it will move it in the zy plane. If you move it in the perspective viewport, you will move it in the plane perpendicular to the direction of the camera.

In order to scale the geometry, press the r key. Notice a different gizmo appears on it. To scale the object, click and drag on one of the boxes. If you click on the green box, it will scale it in the y direction, the blue box will scale it in the z direction, and the red box will scale it in the x direction. The box in the middle will scale it in all 3 directions, and after clicking on a box it will turn yellow.

To rotate the geometry, press the e key. Rotating is similar to scaling and moving, just click on a colored line and drag it to rotate the object.

In addition to manipulating the geometry itself, you can manipulate the vertices in the geometry using the same shortcut keys. To do this click on the subobject button at the top and make sure the vertex button is pressed . Now the pink things on the cylinder are the vertices. You can select them by clicking on them or dragging a box around them to select multiple. Note that if two vertices lie on top of eachother with respect to your viewing angle, if you drag a box around them then both will be selected while if you click on one of them only the top one will be selected.

Now scale the object up in the y direction and down in the z direction by going back into object mode and scaling it.

Next move the vertices to give it a shapely figure. You can do this by going back into subobject mode and dragging boxes around rows of vertices, then scaling them inward. Scale the vertices toward the center of the cylinder inwards. The end result should look like this.

Now the torso is modeled. Next create legs in a similar way. Go to Create -> Polygon Primitives -> Cylinder to create a leg. Set the Subdivision Axis to 10 in this one and Subdivisions Height to 3 the same way you did for the torso. Move it around so it is in the correct spot of a leg, then scale the vertices so it takes the shape of a leg. You may need to move the individual vertices at the top so it matches up with the torso. Putting the perspective view in shaded mode (press 5 while mouse is over view) may help while doing this.

The bottom portion of the leg is modeled similarly. Create a cylinder, move it, then move the vertices so it takes the correct shape. Set the Subdivision Axis to 10 and the Subdivisions Height to 3 in this one as well.

Next create the arm. Set the Subdivision Axis to 10 and the Subdivisions Height to 3 and make sure the top vertices match up with the top of the torso.

To create the hand and foot, create a cube by going to Create -> Polygon Primitives -> Cube. Create it in the top viewport in the Attributes Editor, click on the polyCube1 tab and change the Subdivisions Width to 3 and the Subdivisions Depth to 2.

Next go to subobject mode and move the vertices to resemble a foot like so:

Next place it where the foot should be. To create the hand, you can duplicate the foot and change the vertices to resemble a hand. To duplicate an object, go into object mode, select the object, and press Ctrl+d. On Macs the shortcut is command+d. The duplicate will appear in the same spot as the original so you will need to move it to reshape it.

Next place it and the result should look like this

To create the neck, create a cylinder with Subdivision Axis set to 6 and Subdivision Height set to 2. Scale in the middle set of vertices and move it to the top of the torso. Also, shape the top of the torso so it has a rounded top for the shoulders.

For the head, create a sphere by going to Create -> Polygon Primitives -> Sphere. Make sure the Subdivision Avis is set to 10 and the Subdivisions Height is set to 6. Rotate it so that the pole is in the position of where the nose should be and move the vertices so it roughly has this shape.

To give her hair, select the bottom back faces of her head and extrude them. To do this, go into subobject mode and instead of having the vertex button pressed, click on the face button . Now all of the faces on the object selected, the head, will have a blue dot on them. Highlight these faces:

Then, with the faces selected, go to Edit Mesh -> Extrude. Notice there is a blue circle sticking out of the gizmo, click on that. This changes the orientation of the extrude from local to global coordinates. Next move them down and away from the head by clicking on the arrows.

Now you can shape the head to accommodate the hair better by moving the vertices.

We are almost done modeling the character. The only thing left is to put spheres at the end of the joints so when the character moves the joints there will be no holes and to then mirror the arm and leg.

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