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Building A NURBS Hand
By Jeremy Birn

This tutorial was written with specific command references and screenshots from Rhino 3D, but the same steps can be followed in other NURBS modeling packages, if you don't mind using trims and blends in your characters.  (The workflow described here is also how I did the hand in Alias Power Animator for the fetus animation, but would not be how I would work in current versions of Maya or Softimage, where I would use Global Stitch or SCM instead of trims and blends.)

1. Draw two curves in the front view, representing the left and right sides of a finger. Turn on Snap to get the top ends of the curves aligned at the center axis.

2. Draw two move curves, this time in the side view, representing the front and back of the finger. Don't worry about a finger nail - we'll add that as a separate surface.

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3. Make the perspective view or top view active, so that you can see all 4 curves at once. Surface>Loft together the four curves. (Normal Style is fine. Rebuild with about 10 or 12 control points. Be sure to check "closed.")

4. Make a new layer, and move your construction curves away into that layer. Turn off that layer in the Edit Layers panel, to get the curves out of the way.

5. Show points on your finger model, and edit the shape as needed. You might (or might not) want to use Curve>Point Editing>Insert Knots to add more rows of points, for more control over the shape.

6. Zoom in on the tip of the finger in the front view, and draw 4 curves. The left and right curves should represent the edges of the finger nail.

7. Use "Proj" (or Curve>From Surfaces>Projection) and select the 4 curves, and press enter. Then select the finger object and press enter.

8. Select the finger, and "ghost" it, using the Ghost icon in the Layer toolbox.

9. In the right or perspective windows, you can now see that there are 3 sets of curves. The set of curves you drew is in the center, and there are curves projected onto the front and back of the finger. (The front window doesn't show you this, because they are all lined up with eachother along the depth (Y) axis.)

10. The only curves you need are the ones projected onto the back (fingernail) side of the finger. Select and delete the other two sets.

11. Loft together the 4 curves to make your fingernail. (Turn off the "closed" check-box.)

12. If you want, you can show points and edit the shape of the fingernail.

13. Move the construction curves into the construction curves layer.

Continued >>>

Copyright © 1999-2000 by Jeremy Birn, all rights reserved.