Tutorial – Model an Animation Ready Male Body

Tutorial showing how to model an animation ready male base mesh.

This tutorial is for those wanting to learn character modeling or modeling for animation.  It shows how to model a male body, a base mesh.  End result is good for both animation and sculpting.  For more info read an article about modeling for animation or see another where I test the tutorial-mesh against another mesh.

The model doesn’t have a proper head nor does the quide show how to make one.  That is topic big enough for another tutorial.

I’m also giving away the final mesh in OBJ-format. You are free to change and use it any project you like.  But selling, model or tutorial, is not allowed.  This is free learning material.

Grab both tutorial and 3 variations of the mesh at Files.
If you like this tutorial or have critique please leave a word.

19 replies on “Tutorial – Model an Animation Ready Male Body”

Hello Niko Malela-

The “Model Animation Ready Body” is and will be a great deal of help in my learning how to model.

However there are section that are confusing. See with me it’s kinda hard to translate the one mesh to the other at time.

I wish this tutorial was a quicktime video of you going through these steps man now that wold have been awsome.

I say this because of my level of learning at this moment.
a quicktime video shows a lot more then screen grabs do.

Is this possible through you website?

Because of my learning curve at this time I am not able to really see your workflow in it’s fullest.

I do like what you did at the same time. It gives me something to read. I try the steps and got stuck do to what I mention earlier.

Is it possible for you to do a complete model based on this workflow in a quicktime video. If so I am willing to pay for it.



Hi Savnac,
and thanks a ton for your comments, insight and for starting the replys here.

Trouble with the video is only that I never work in such an organised manner as I do in this tutorial. Normally I just go nuts with beveling more polygons, collapsing or merging them and turning edges. It just works out. I call it the Taron style-modeling, for he is the one who has made it his signature style and a good dvd about it, too.

As I had no set-in-stone method to share, the video would have been too messy and long for my taste. So I did the tutorial this way, step by step, until I had cut out many extra steps. Anyway now that I have a method, I could do the tutorial as a video too. I may do it later as a full-body tutorial, when I have time. Thank you for the interest, it is very good to know.

Hey I met Taron some time ago, that guy is amazing. But you are to in my book. Hey here’s something that will shock you.

We love the extra stuff as artist, it gives us a closer insight on what the creator is think and well as doing so feel free to add as much as you can to get the lesson to us.

There are more guys and gals around here then you know that will come to you for information. I know that I will.

I wish that Taron would do a beginner video in Lightwave but that me wishful think here.

Here’s my plan. I have Modo and learning it as I go. Ok my background is with Disney, and Warner Bros /Cartoon Network. My goal is to take my 21 years and convert it into 3D modeling. so try to imagine you starting from the beginning all over again, how challenging is that.

But like I said with the correct guidance it should be ok not over night but ok along the way. By the way I tried to follow your screen grabs again and I got lost ha ha hah a I am an idiot, sorry.

Thanks for you help,


Sweet, I wish I could meet Taron too! He is a true modeling guru.. not to mention all the other areas he excels in. The guy is a wonder. I’m humbled by any comparison to him. I’m not on the same level – merely a guy with obsession to do some things well.

I certainly wish to be the one to give guidance to those in need, help cross some borders. The idea behind this blog is to share information I myself looked for, several years ago. Only trouble is I’m doing this on my free-time, so the resource grows somewhat slow.

Thank you Savnac for everything, also for sharing some of your background. Definitely you can take your skills to 3D, it just takes some focus. My experience is that taking on projects and doing tutorials from start to finish helps (as boring as it may sometimes be).

And don’t worry, you’re no idiot. Maybe I should have done the tutorial with more screenshots, show more in-betweens. I think the fault is in the teacher more than the student, if something is not clear enough.

Thanks for understanding. Oh and I forgot to mention that I am a musician as well and I will be doing my scores and somehow getting them into my future projects.

I almost made it into the professional scene once but my art took off first. So this will also be one of my challenges to merg my two talents into one.

So this is why it’s that important to me.

Man thanks again for all your help with this.


Thanks a lot for the tutorial, I have been looking somewhere to start my learing on topology and edgeflowing, and this has been the perfect start indeed!

I really appreciate the uninterested hard work you do on this nice blog, and I am sure a lot of people does too… regretfully most of them don’t show their gratitude

p.d: sorry for the probably bad spelling, I am not a native english speaker!

You are most welcome, Luciano. Thanks for telling me. Yes, very few people comment but then again those few comments, like from you, help a lot. So thank you.

By the way your English is great and I’m not a native English speaker either 🙂

I can not seem to get the “female” PDF file to work.

The file is connected to this link:
Design Tutorials

Model Animation Ready Male Body (pdf). A step by step modeling tutorial. You can also download the final mesh, a bulky male, to use in your projects. Check out also male and female in normal proportions. All models are in obj-format.

Only the male one will download, Not the Bulky Male nor will the Female one work.

When I select the Female one,all I get are a lot of scribbled numbers all over the screen.

Is there a way to get the Female and Bulky Male examples some how.

Thanks in Advance


Hi Savnac,
All the models(male, bulky male and female) are in OBJ-format. OBJs are basicly text files with code in them telling 3D-software how that particular 3D-model is constructed. So if you open them instead of saving you see the code. Right-click the links and choose “save as” or “save link as” or whatever it is called in your browser. I’ve tested this with IE and Firefox. If you can’t save the files at all, please write again and tell me what browser you are on.

Do note that these are super-optimized base meshes – I may even have gone too far. They are best used as base to build your model from or as general edgeflow reference.


I got them to work. I have another question for you. Regarding the bulky gut.

I have a design that is kind muscular in build. I was wondering if you could explain how to add the definition into the mesh as you go.

I understand the poly flow, but I have no idea as of how to carve into the mesh to create definition.

I’d rather not do a texture map or displacement. For this character the muscles need to be defined.

Not Hulk like but some where in between what you have and lets sat Captain America maybe. But not to cut.

I hope I am making sense here lol.

If you have the time. Is it possible for you to look at your model of the bulky guy and show how you would handle this. That if you had a moment.

My first thought is to add more poly and start moving them around until I got what I was after.

But I am sure there’s an easier way to go about this



Hi Savnac,
Your first thought is pretty much what I would do. I would go for the biggest most prominent muscles first, select the polys on the base mesh that cover their area and then bevel them in. Then I would use the tools and method shown in this video, you’ve seen it I’m sure.

The thing is it is not simple to keep adding muscles and still maintain the overall animation-good flows. More modeled-in muscles means more work for rigging, too, that is if you want them to move like real muscles do – and really that is to main reason to model the muscles in instead of sculpting them. Don’t need to model them if you don’t plan to animate them. But I do understand if you want to model them in anyway.

Sorry, I can’t commit time now to showing how to model more muscles on the base mesh. I think you have to wait for the Animation Character Creation Tutorial release for that. The character in it is quite well muscled – I think it shows what you are asking.

Hello Bishop. I take it you would like some articles on 3DS Max? I don’t write about software, rather I try to stick to general techniques and methods – I feel they have more value for more people.

You can find a ton of tutorials online for 3DS Max and the manual and tutorials that come with Max are also good for getting started. Just go browse the manuals and the web.

Hi! Your tutorial was really helpful for my thesis. I had never modeled a human body before this and I was going to animate it so I was really worried about how to create the edge flows. Although there were times where I was a bit stumped at how one image got to the other but I got through it alright.

A HUGE thank you for the tutorial.

Hi Kaye,
and thanks. Really good to read the tutorial helped in that way. Success! 😀 You are welcome.

And yes, it could be quite a bit clearer in showing the steps. My bad. I was trying to keep it quite short in length and also was in hurry to post it in to a tutorial competition(which I’m happy to say it won).

Video would show all this best which got me thinking and eventually starting this tutorial:
Unfortunately I have no time to work on it. Still plan to finish it someday.

Greetings, Niko! You know what? One day i realized that i hate science (witch is my specialty) and want to model. I read through some books, whatched tutorials, went through some lessons. But yet (that is, before i stumbled across your blog) I never understoon WHY they do it like that. Why some edge loop gain SUCH form and e.t.c. If you expand the material a bit. Maybe, explain the ideology of making the modeling decisions like adding a new edgeloop, or makeing local cut or anything because THIS is the hardest part. For me to understand WHY is the key to solve any model right after, rather than blindly following masster classes and tutorials. If You consider making book like than I,m sure it would be a blast!

Hello Edward,
what a wonderful thing to say, thank you. I have tried to open the WHY of things in CG, especially in modeling. I’m very aware I haven’t yet written enough.

I’d love to make more in-depth learning material on the subject and actually have been working on that as a video tutorial – a character tutorial that goes over the theory and applies it in the project with explanations when needed. But unfortunately the tutorial went, after the start, from active to a very very slow project due to my personal life changing with a new job and a family. I still work on the project but can’t promise anything and not anytime soon either.

But still if you are interested take a look at this:
There’s a few more post and videos on the subject, just browse forward from the linked blogpost.

All the best to your learning. Sorry I can’t offer more than this at present time:

It may sound odd, but I think that video tutorials are actually harmful for begining modelers. Some step-by-step picture based tutorials with a just a few steps skipped every time work much better if you want to make someone think in depth. By skipping few steps you make them think hard of what they’re doing and also to pay very close attention to differece between two specific pictures, which would lead them from the question *WHY has he done so?* to the question of *HOW does that change influence the form*. And that understanding is crucial to building the good edge flow. That thought actually came from my 3d modelling tutiton course. They just gave us the PDF file with brief explanation and some steps of process pictures. No videos. And it really works for me 🙂

You have a point there. However my understanding is that skipped steps with no *Why* given lead often to frustration. Not everyone is willing to work it out. I think having an instructor there to help is a what makes the difference. I didn’t have one and broke the brick wall only because I have such a hard head.

My approach in the video tutorial is to show all and explain my reasoning as I go(this is something I find most tutorials sorely lacking). But I do always recommend taking on projects to make the learning really sink in.

On video.. I like video tutorials too and they are fun to make(though very time consuming), majority of people seem to ask videos more and video is more ‘current generation’ than books. There’s simply just more demand for them.

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