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By Jason Saunders

Modelling an SDS Gecko

Start by considering the object you will be modelling and which would be the best starting point.

For the gecko we need basically a long cylindrical body tapering to the tail and four legs. So we can use an sds cube; set the construction settings to 1 x 1 x 7. We chose this number so that we can create the object from the default front view to easily define the cross sectional size. The cube should be seven faces deep; this allows us to model a mouth then the head, a face for the front legs, a face for the gap between the legs, a face for the rear legs to be extruded from and then the beginning of the tail, this will become clearer when we start to model.

So first we select the rectangle creation button and select SDS cube from the pull down menu mentioned set the U: 1, V: 1, W: 7.

Then select the default front view and create the front view of the Gecko which from the front should look like a slightly flattened circle as shown below.

Now go to the top view and use the blue z axis handle to extend the body in that axis until it looks to be about the right length, taking into account where we want the legs to be extruded from.

As our Gecko is basically a symmetrical form we will only model one half and later use the duplicate and mirror tools to build the other half,  So now use the ALT key and the right mouse button to rotate the view slightly so we are looking at one side of our body.

Then change to face editing mode by either using the compass menu in its SDS state or the button in the SDS toolbar. Now select the face 3rd along from the front for the front legs leave a face and then SHIFT + select the face where the back legs will be.

Go back to the top view and holding down the CTRL key while dragging on the centre of one of the face handles start to extrude out the legs...

Rotate the view again slightly to see the side of the gecko and then holding the SHIFT key down, select one of the vertical edges of the legs faces and scale them down slightly in that axis. (The SHIFT key constrains the scaling to the axis of the edge)

Return to the front view and again select a vertical edge and move those faces down so that the legs are now resting on the ground. (By clicking on an edge, one can move the selected faces in the object plane)

Now extrude out in the same way the 2 faces to make the main part of the legs ,then by using the end of the face handles, scale the 'wrist' of the leg down slightly (Again check in the front view and move it to be resting at the same level as the body)

We are now going to build the hands of the Gecko. First, extrude the end of the legs out far enough to make 2 faces on each side where we can extend the front and rear most fingers from.

Now view slightly to the side again - enter edge editing mode in the same way as we selected face mode previously, we want to split the face on the end of the 'Hand' so we can extrude our 4 fingers out.

So select the top and bottom edges of the faces at the ends of our legs (using the SHIFT key to multi select the edges ) and use the 'split edges' tool to split these selected edges in two - thus creating new verticies in the centre of each edge.

Now multi select the top and bottom newly created points of the rear legs end face (Should still be selected if you enter VERTEX mode if you just split the edge) and use the ADD + tool to add another edge between the point, do the same for the front leg.

Return again to the top view and select both of the new edges and move them out slightly to move the faces to a suitable angle to extrude the toes from. (This can be done in edge mode by dragging the edge handle out)

Return to face editing mode and manouvering around the object using the RMB view mainpulation tools to multi select all the faces around the hands

We will now use the extrude tool to pull our toes from the hands - select the extrude tool, and adjust the settings to extrude each face separately and to face mode.

Now click in the view window and drag the toes out a suitable length. (note: we can extrude as many faces at once as we like. If we did not select 'Normals/Separately' the extruded faces would have all extruded out as one shape. By doing each seperately we get the desired 'fingers')

At this point we will now angle the front and rear legs apart slightly, do this by selecting all the faces of the leg and then use the rotate tool to adjust both legs to a suitable angle. (Select Rotate, the click at the hip, then at the end of the fingers. Move the mouse the desired angle up or down to rotate.)

We are now going to add Suckers to the end of the toes. First we must re-select all of the ends of the toes. Now use the face scale handle and scale down the end of the toes and extrude the faces again to a point where the middle of the sucker might be, and scale up the face to a suitable size then extrude again and scale the face down to form a round sucker on the ends of the toes.

Now to the Head:

Select the front most face and using the tri/quad split tool split the face into 4 sections. Now enter 'edge' mode and delete the two new vertical edges (you must do this one edge at a time so that the middle vertex is not deleted leaving only the horizontal one)

Now select all four vertical edges and split them again. This allows us to build the additional edges we need to make the upper and lower jaw and lips. Notice that the centre horizontal edge is split into 2. Select both these edges and merge them to one.

Then scale this edge down slightly and move it backwards, towards the tail, to form the mouth. You may want to increase the weight of this edge to 'FREE' to get a better look. (By adjusting the weight of an edge, we can create sharper edges.

Again, goto the top view, here looking at the head, we can see we have an extra vertex in the centre of the top and bottom of the head, move this forward a little to give the head some shape and also move it slightly to the right, off centre to make the next stage a little easier.

Select 'edge' mode and by dragging a box around them, select all the edges up the centre of the body.

Use the 'split' tool to split all of the edges, and then press ADD to automatically add edges between all the new verticies. Go back to 'point' edit mode and move all of these new points across so they are under the points in the head we moved previously (Press and hold the y key - this locks to the Y axis to help)

Zoom into the head, hold down the ALT key, drag select around the very front 2 points to deselect them (these points are inside the edge of the lips and we don't want to move them at this stage. Now take a side view. Using the 'extend' tool by first clicking over a point on the belly and then extending the line vertically. (using the y axis lock if needed) Extend the points along the back upwards a little to give the body some more shape

Go in close again to the head and add 2 more edges to the top and bottom between the points on the nose and the last point along the back and belly

We are now ready to mirror the model to make the other half.
Select all the points on the side of the gecko which we have not been working on, taking care not to select the points we moved to one side, destroy all the selected points. (Press the 'destroy' icon)

Now select the remaining points and press the 'Duplicate" tool, this creates an exact duplicate of the selected object - automatically joined along all open faces. At the moment you can't see the duplicate as it is still sitting in the same place as the original - you need to now perform a mirror operation to flip it over to the other side. To place it in the desired position, select the mirror tool and click above the nose of our gecko and slightly to the left of the points of the nose, approximately where the centre line of our model was previously, then holding down the SHIFT key to constrain to an axis lock, move the mouse downwards, the other side of the Gecko should now appear. Click to finish the operation.

We'll now finish off the tail. Zoom into the tail, at the moment there are 3 faces at the end. Select all three faces, and use the merge tool to create one. Now using the extrude and scale tools create a suitable tail with 3 or 4 sections to help later with animation

As a finishing touch for this simple Gecko we will add a couple of eyes. Go to the head and select the left and right faces each side of the top of the head, subdivide these faces by holding the CTRL key while adjusting the scale handle on one of the faces (The top vertex on the face normal) scale the new faces to a size suitable for eyes, click to finish the operation, then select the two new small faces and move them to a good position

Select both the eye faces and extrude them up to create some small eye balls

We have now finished the basic shape of our Gecko, you can add some details and edit the model further. Its now ready for the next stages of texturing and animating.

The finished simple Gecko model after some vertex painting and the Reptile material applied. Click HERE to download the final project file (22k zip file)

Tutorial by Andrew Berge of Virtual Studios

Page updated on Tuesday, 25 February, 2003 . For feedback / model submissions or articles - please email us.
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