Subdivisions and Creases: Modeling a Hand in Maya

A Hand modeled in Maya

I’ve been making hands like mits for my low poly characters, but now I needed to make a hand for a high poly character. So above was a hand I made using the subdivision method.

To model a hand fairly quickly, start with a polygon cube with 2 divisions.

Scale the middle vertices out to make the cube a bit more round. This cube is going to become a finger.

Scale the end edge loops out to how long you want the finger to be…

…and scale the tip of the finger inwards to make it thinner.

To make the joints, add 2 edge loops on either side of where the knuckles will be as below.

Then select 4 faces at each knuckle and extrude them up and inwards.

To add more definition, we can repeat the previous step again and also add another loop around the middle of the 2nd knucle as below, but I’ll skip them for now.

Moving onto the nail, make an edge loop near the tip of the finger.

Extrude the 2 faces facing the top and rotate it slightly (rotate the yellow rotator handle anti-clockwise slightly).

Now extrude the tip of the nails out a little bit longer.

As is stands now, the finger looks too straight, so grab the vertices below each knuckle and move them up slightly.

Subdividing makes corners round. We don’t want this to happen so much around the nail, so select the edges that define the nail and go to Edit Mesh => Crease Tool. Middle mouse click the edges selected and drag the mouse to the right to increase the crease factor.

To finish off the finger, delete the end face of the finger so that it is hollow. Now, Hitting number 3 on the keyboard gives the subdivided preview of the finger like below. (And hitting number 1 on the keyboard lets you see the actual low poly geometry.)

To make the rest of the hand, duplicate the finger 3 times, scale them, and line them up as below. (Also keep an extra duplicate of a finger for later to make the thumb.) Make a polygon cube for the palm with 8, 3, and 2 divisions for its width, depth, and height. We want these nubmers because the end of each finger has 8 vertices.

So delete 4 faces of the palm as above to connect a finger to it. Select the finger and the palm and fire off Mesh => Combine. Then use Edit Mesh => Merge To Center for each pair of vertices (one from the finger and one from the palm) to join up the finger to the palm. Do the same for the 3 other fingers.

Now using the extra duplicate of a finger, make a thumb by deleting faces around the 2nd knucle, extruding the end edges twice and shaping them.

Connect the thumb to the palm by using the same steps we used for the fingers. Move the vertices of the palm a bit to shape it more like a hand.

Lastly, select the highlighted edges below and raise them a bit.

Hit 3 on the keyboard and enjoy your hand :)

To make the subdivision preview your actual mesh for the hand, go to Modify => Convert => Smooth Mesh Preview to Polygons or go to Mesh => Smooth.

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