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Jannis Labelle demonstrates modelling and animating a bird in flight

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Jannis Labelle demonstrates modelling and animating a bird in flight
A CreativeCOW Cinema 4D Tutorial


Modelling a Bird in C4D

Jannis Labelle Jannis Labelle
Email Address
Labelle Art, London, England

©2003 Jannis Labelle and Creativecow.net. All rights are reserved.

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In this tutorial, Jannis Labelle demonstrates modelling and animating a bird in flight. This is a follow up of his head tutorial so he will not go into a great detail of describing techniques in minute detail, instead he will try to introduce you to some alternatives in modeling, texturing and animation. It is a tutorial for intermediate level users, you would need to know your way around the view ports, tools, the Attribute Manager and be comfortable with using Photoshop. Still, even as a beginner you will find a lot of information here, so with a bit of effort you should get going. The task will be to model a bird, texture it and animate it, using some shortcuts to demonstrate that there many ways to skin a cat, or a bird for that matter.
 
Jannis has included a file of the finished model for you to download here and use as you wish. If you are comfortable with your modeling you can skip this part, grab the mesh and go to the texturing, rigging or animating part, so you can use the tutorial to suit your needs. What ever part you choose to do Jannis hopes that you have fun and learn something. If you do use his model a small mention will be appreciated. But try to make your own, modelling comes only from persevering.

Let's start modelling

Instead of the tried and tested method of using an image as guide I will be using splines. The advantage of doing so is that you can see them in 3D and sometimes they offer a more intuitive way to model. When the shape is simple like this one it really makes sense, also when modeling with a photo as a guide some times it is hard to see points in the background. So use the images a guide and draw two splines like in (01)t and (02) top view and (03) profile place them perpendicular to each other to create a simple wire mesh guide of the body of the bird. Alternatively use the ready made spline provided with the file Bird.c4d.

01

02

03

You can use the Mirror tool to save you draw both halves of the splines. If you do be sure you are on points mode.

From the Nurbs choose a Bezier Nurbs(
04) and enter the entries as in (05). This is not the best or only way to model this, but I want to demonstrate the power of this Nurbs and also encourage you to move off the beaten track in your modeling. The key to becoming a good modeler is to know that there always more options to your disposal.

04
05


  1. Select all the points of the Bezier Nurbs and scale them in the Y axis to make them the same size as the profile of the bird (06).

  2. Then select the end columns of points and scale them and move them so they follow the profile of the body of the bird.

  3. Now place the Nurbs inside a symmetry object.

  4. Select the 3 middle rows of points (07) and move them out to create the tubular shape of the torso. As you can see the Bezier Nurbs works by influencing points of a cage beneath. To see this cage, make the Nurbs, editable and you will see the subdivision underneath in the poly. If you have press undo to return to the Nurbs. You can also see how well the spline works a guide(08), guiding you in 3D, something that a reference photo could not do.

07

08

Create another Bezier Nurbs with the same input and scale it and place it on the tail(09). Adjust its points to follow the flow of the shape by selecting the rows and rotating them.

09

  1. Make the Nurbs editable.

  2. Select the back 5 polys and by right clicking choose Disconnect. Make sure preserve groups is unchecked.

  3. Select each poly and scale it so that you create some space between them.

  4. Go into points mode and select and weld the points at the back junction of the separated polys as shown in blue (10) to create the back feathers.

  5. Now select all the points of the tail and go to Edit, copy and then paste, and move the new polys a bit down.

10

  1. Put the symmetry inside a Hypernurbs and keep the subdivision both for editor and render to 1.

  2. Using Bridge tool create an edge to the poly as shown in (11). I am moving along quite fast here but allot of these techniques I have demonstrated in detail in my other tutorials so if you are uncertain either go to my Head modelling tutorial or maybe to a more simple modelling tutorial in this forum.

11

Now get an FFD and place inside the tail and use it to curve it as is shown in the final picture (12).

12

Select both the body and tail and use Function, Connect to join them (13). Delete the originals and place the new polygon object inside the symmetry and Hypernurbs.

13

Now a very useful technique. When you model you want to avoid triangles. As you see bellow you have 5 points facing 2 and we want to weld those edges together. One way of doing it is to move 2 middle points back (14)and create a new poly with the Bridge tool. In this way we reduce 4 points to 2. Do this once more and you end up having 2 points facing 2 (15). Neat.

14

15

  1. When you use the Bridge tool some time you get something looking like (16), that is because you normals are not aligned depending on how the new polys were created. Go to structure, align normals and you are back on track.

  2. Now weld the facing points (17), repeat the operation underneath the tail and should have the body and tail finished (18)

16

17

18

On edge mode extrude an edge loop to create the outline of the head (19)

19

Continue creating edge loops like that to finish the modeling of the shape of the head (
20).

20

Here is the finished head of the bird (21). I know... You are thinking where is the part for the beak and eye? Well it is in my head tutorial on this forum. If you have done that than this should be a breeze.

21

Even if you haven't all you need to do is extrude inner on a poly where the eye is going to be a couple of times (22) and with the techniques already shown you will have it done in ten minutes. As for the beak, it is just simple extrusions and scaling.

22

As you can see I have also have spend sometime after the basic modeling was completed adjusting and refining the mesh. This again can not be included in a tutorial since it involves many small intuitive steps. It is something you have to do yourself.


23
24

  1. The wings were modelled separately. The reason for this is that they allow you to use only one set of bones letting the symmetry do the work for the other side. This is something you need to think about because you don't want to do more work than you need and this tutorial is all about that.

  2. I have made a big shape for the main surface of the wing using the spline guides (23)and than shaped just a simple cube into a feather and duplicated to create the rest of them. (24). Obviously you need to place them around the main wing to create the correct outline.

  3. That's it for modelling. Like I said this is not the only way to do this but I used it as a vehicle to illustrate some techniques in modeling that you might not have seen before and might help to see modeling as a more intuitive process. In the next section we will texture the mesh again in simple but novel way that can bring surprising good results.
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