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Poly Modelling A Norn Head - By Moe - Posted Thursday, 24th August 2006 by Liam

This is a short series of video tutorials detailing how to poly model a norn! Perfect for all the 3d artists out there wondering how Moe gets his norns so perfect.

This very short series of tutorials details how to create a norn head in 3D Studio Max, though the techniques could presumably be applied to any program.

Before You Begin

Compatibility and View-ports

As you watch you will see that some of the tools I use seem mysterious and unknown to you in your native program. Look around however in your help documents, community forums, tool panels and ask your friends as most programs have features similar to these since they are basic in nature. Another thing you might notice is my constant switching of view ports. It is essential in any modeling that you view your creation from more than one direction if you want it to be proportioned correctly. Working in only one view should be reserved for those whose brains have evolved to 'think' in 3D and even then only in necessity.

Why is it so fast?! I can't keep up!

In this tutorial video you will notice I model quite fast. I did this for two reasons. First and foremost is that I am an experienced and quick modeler. It doesn't even take 20 minutes to accomplish and entire Norn head. Feel free to, and I recommend that, you pause the video at any time so that you may follow along. It is fairly easy. The second reason for my speed is simply disc space. If I had slowed down if would have multiplied in frames and become a huge download, and that's not what I wanted since there are still dial-up speed Internet users like myself that would hesitate to download a massive file. (Yes, dial-up still exists.)

Try, Try, and Try Again

When you watch the following video, notice that what I did earlier in the modeling process didn't always work correctly after I began another area. For instance, when I originally modeled the snout it looked fine, but when I made the mouth, you'll notice that it seemed to stretch and cut the norns snout as it smoothed into the cavity. This didn't look good and I immediately started fixing the snout by re-arranging the vertices and creating new ones for the nose. This is a good example that things won't always work out on your first try, you may have to do them several times over before it looks good.

Where do I begin?

Start with basic tutorials in your native program and then move into the tutorial called 'Basic Shapes' below.

When you are prepared with what that tutorial told you to make, move into the accompanying video file labeled 'Blocking it Out', this will show you how to get a basic shape of the norns jaw, a feel for the speed of the video, and a good idea how to start when making any creature.

After that, you can watch the 'Making the Head' video for a complete example of modeling a Norn's head. Go for it!

Making the Head, Part: I - Basic Shapes

A Norn is any of the three goddesses of fate in Norse myth. However, I'm sure you didn't want to know that because they are not the one we are trying to model. No, you are looking for something more useful, a Norn from Creatures: A small furry creature portraying the pinnacle of artificial life and protagonist of the Creatures Series. This Norn is not much easier to model for those with limited experience in their native 3D program, but with a little guidance, the right references and an understanding of 3-Dimensional space, anyone can achieve the same results I have strived for over the many years I spent perfecting my own version of this adorable creature. So lets get started. For the sake of not favoring a particular 3D application, this is an unbiased help file directed toward understanding key concepts in modeling.

Let us first look at the basic shape of a Norn's head, the most difficult body part.

To achieve something like the above, use references and trace the parts based on where the shadow defined edges. Sometimes the lighting can help you determine the shape of the creatures you are trying to duplicate. See below, for example:

That is how I determined the line in the image above - By tracing the shadows you can determine more than just the shape, as you will see in the lighting section. But you have got to model it first so...

I am using 3D Studios Max as my example but most programs are fully capable of polygon modeling. First we will start by making a general outline of the front view of a Norn. Most programs can put references in the background of their view ports as I have done here. Check the accompanying zip for the references.

If you are familiar with your program's spline capabilities you should not find much trouble tracing around the norn like so. Do the same for the left view outlining the left facing image.

Now, Create a box in the Front view, somewhere between the eyelids and the bottom of the nose in height and as far out as you want. For the sake of making this less complicated I am not going to go into making the face 3-Dimensional yet, sicne that is far too complicated. Your goal is to sub-divide the box enough, but not too much, so that if can be moved vaguely around by the vertices to roughly match the outline. Some extrusion might be necessary. This is what I came up with. I am sure that with basic skills you can come out with something similar. If you cannot the study some more and come back when you can. I have removed the grid for easy viewing.

Note that between the image above and the video tutorial, the file I was using became corrupt and may vary slightly from the image above. My Apologies, blame DirectX.

Download Moe's Norn Head Modelling tutorial videos HERE! (2.89Mb)
Containing 'Blocking it Out' and 'Making the Head' videos.

See also: Moe's Room Basics Tutorial

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