Maya Tutorial: The Making of Mafia Wars 3D

In this tutorial I'm going to explain how I made this "Mafia wars" picture.
This image was modelled in Maya 2008 and rendered in Mental Ray.
Textures made with Photoshop CS2.

We'll be using the following sketch from LKY as a reference: Angry Mascot

Though this image was created using Maya, the steps shown will be common for most 3D software.

End result:
The Making of Mafia Wars 3D Final Image

avatar hsbee

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Practice tutorial


Step 1

Hi.. This is a Maya tutorial and I hope it finds a place in pxleyes :) .
I will try to briefly explain the creation of Mafia Wars 3D image.
Though this image was created using Maya, the steps shown will be common for most 3D softwares.

Let us start with modelling the character for our project.
I have used one of LKY's sketches as a reference for the character

Link :

You could sketch out a side view of the character but I left it out for my imagination.

To start off, create a new project( File - Project - New Project )

Next import the image as an image plane in your front view(View-Image Plane-Import Image plane)

In the channel editor (Ctrl + A twice), set the Transform Z to some large value so that the image plane does not interfere while modelling.

Step 2

Create a polygon cube (Create - Polygon Primitives - Cube)
In the Channel Editor (Press Ctrl + A twice)
set the Subdivisions Width, Height and Depth to 2 each.

Step 3

Delete half the cube(Right click and Hold on the object- Faces - select left half of the cube and press Delete)

Step 4

Now let us add detail to the object. Add new edges to the object (Edit Mesh - Insert Edge Loop Tool - Select the edge B at two differant postions and edge C at 1 position as shown to get the new edges shown by A)

Now, go to vertex component mode(Right Click and Hold on the object - Vertex).

Using the front view image plane as reference, move (Hotkey W) the outline vertices to get a rough shape of the character head.

Step 5

Add more detail by inserting edges and define the eye as shown by adjusting the vertices. Select the faces marked A in the image and extrude them inwards (Edit Mesh - Extrude). You could do a couple of extrudes to define the eye better.

Step 6

Now add more edges as define the nose by moving the vertices.

To switch between the various Shaded modes use
4 (Wireframe)
5 (Smooth Shaded)
6 (Textured )

Step 7

Create the mouth by selecting faces at the mouth region.
First extrude them out to define the lips, the extrude them in and scale down (Hotkey R) to create the inner mouth.

Step 8

Now we will mirror the geometry to create the complete face.
(Mesh - Mirror Geometry (select the square box) - Check the Merge Vertices option and merge along -X direction)

Step 9

Preview a smooth version of your mesh ( Mesh - Smooth). If there are rough edges, undo the smooth and adjust the vertices till u get a clean mesh.

Step 10

Create a neck by extruding faces at the base of the head as shown.

Also extrude out the eyebrows.

Step 11

Select the following faces on the head and extrude them to get the hair for the character.

Step 12

Once you have extruded the hair out, save this version of the character face. We will continue working on this model to get our other character ( who has a differant hair style :) )

Step 13

Continue to extrude the faces of the hair using the front view as reference. To re-extrude use the Hotkey G .

Step 14

Now extrude out the border edge at the neck (delete the base faces of the neck) (Edit Mesh - Extrude) to create the shoulder and re-extrude to obtain the body. Also extrude out the arms.

Step 15

To create the hands, start with a polygon cube with Subdivisions Width 3 as shown.

Step 16

Extrude out the hand as shown.

Step 17

Extrude out the wrist and position it at the appropriate position.

Step 18

Delete history on the hand (Edit - Delete by type - History).
Freeze Transformation (Modify - Freeze Transformation)
Press Move key (W) and press Insert key. Now move the handle while pressing "x" along x direction to snap it at X axis. Press insert to go to move mode. What we have done is moved the pivot of the hand to X axis.

Now duplicate the hand (Ctrl + D) and in the channel box editor, set the Scale X to -1

Now we have both hands in position.

Step 19

Keep Extruding the body to create the legs as shown.

Step 20

Our character now looks a lot awkward. Adjust his body vertices to make him more "Human"

Step 21

Select the faces where our character would have his clothing.
Edit Mesh - Duplicate Face
Press F8 to go back to object mode
Scale up (Hotkey R) the dress polygons so that they come over his body as shown. Extrude out the neck portion to create a collar.

Save the file..

Step 22

A simple sunglass modelled by extruding polygons.

Step 23

Select the faces of the head. Delete them. Import ( File - Import) the head we had saved earlier. Select the new head. Shift select the body of the character.
Mesh - Combine

Add the sunglasses to this character.

Save your file under a differant name.

Step 24

Next we will start texturing our characters. First we map our UV's in the UV Texture Editor. UV mapping itself is quite a big topic to discuss. There are several tutorilas online to give a detailed explanation of UV Mapping. Maya Help file also has detailed explanation on UV mapping.

Here I will give a rough idea on how i mapped my characters.

I have created seperate maps for the body and clothing.
Select all the faces which are facing the forward direction as shown( the image shows faces for mapping the clothing). Create UV's - Planar Mapping - Select Bounding Box and select Z axis
Similarly select the other faces along the respective directions and map them.

Step 25

Sew all the mapped faces by
Select the edges to Sew and use the button marked A
Place all the mapped UV's within the first quadrant of the UV Texture Editor.

Take a snap shot of the UV map and save it as a tiff file at a resolution of 1024

Step 26

Here is the snapshot for the body mapping of the characters.

Step 27

Import the tiff files to Photoshop and start painting the textures in a new layer.

I have used photographs to create the dress textures.

Link :

Use stamp tool to paint the textures and change the modes ( I used screen at low opacity ) to blend the textures well.

Step 28

Link :

Painted the dress with black . If you are interested, you could add some detail on the dress.

Painting bump and specular maps are upto you. As this was a cartoonish image, i skiiped them. But it is usually highly recommended to paint these maps as well to get realistic texturised models.

Step 29

Paint out the skin. First paint the base color, then choose a color which is slightly darker than the base color, and paint in over with dissolve mode to get the spore like effect in the skin.
Save the files as tga. (mental ray has a problem reading tiff files)

Step 30

Here i a look of our character finally textured. Next we shall rig our characters.

Step 31

Here is a look of the skeleton for our characters. This is a biped character skeleton which i had created for an earlier model. I am reusing it for this character.
As LKY pointed out during the contest, there are more bones than actually needed for this small model. We could do with 3 bones for spine (here there are 6), 2 for arm (there is 3 in this model - +1 for forearm), and no jaw bone. But I prefer to use the entire bone setup as I did not want to redefine the structure.

Step 32

I will give a rough idea about settin up bones. Since this is a Still scene and no animation is involved, I will use only FK setup (simple to create) for rigging.

In Animation mode, Skeleton - Joint Tool. Create three joints as shown.

Step 33

Now select one joint and move them. Now you get an idea about the bones. The bottom-most joint is the parent joint and it is followed by child joints as you move up.

Step 34

Now create a cube which completely encloses the bones as shown.

Step 35

Give a higher value to Subdivisions Height as shown.

Step 36

Now select all the four joints, Shift select the cube and then skin the cube by Skin - Bind Skin - Smooth Bind

Step 37

Now move the joints and you see that the cube also deforms. Now we have created a simple rig.

Step 38

It is difficult to choose the joints especially in complex objects. Hence we create control curves to enable easy posing.

To create control curves:
Create - Nurbs Primitives - Circle

Step 39

Now select the Circle, press "v" and middle click on the joint to position at the joint.

Step 40

NOw select the joint, Shift Select the circle and click "p" to parent

Now if you rotate or move the circle, the cube gets deformed as well.
This is the basic way to setup the rig. Proceed this way to create the character rig. To create a better rig for animation purposes, several tutorials are available online.

Rename the Joints and Control Curves regularly to avoid confusion at later stages.

Step 41

To create the various facial expression,

Create duplicates of the character face.
Adjust vertices to create the various expression (Here I have created 1)Left Brow Up, 2)Right Brow Up 3)Angry Mouth and 4) Normal Mouth with defalt expression Open mouth as shown.

Now select all the duplicates and finally Shift Select the Parent model and : Edit Deformers - Blend Shape - Add

Now the various expression have been created. Hide the duplicated models.

Step 42

Create a new file.
The environment model is created from simple polygon cube and extruding out the various buildings.

Step 43

Apply planar mapping to the environment model using the same method and export the UV map as tiff file.

Step 44

Paint out the various building textures in Photoshop from the various texture sources.
Link :
Link :
Link :
Link :

I have shown you the floor texture for which I do not have the link.

Step 45

To finally set up our scene, import the characters to our scene and use the control curves to position them in their various poses. Do some additional modelling to create blood, currency notes and iron rod.

Step 46

A textured version appears like this ( Press 6 for textured mode)

Step 47

We will use Mental ray to render the scene. I have shared with you the render settings for this scene.

Final Gather values were obtained through Trial and error method
Gamma value was set at 0.455. (This was a very nice attribure to change. You can obsever the difference when set at 1 and 0.455. At 1, the image was bright, at 0.455, the image was richer in colours. The value of gamma is reduced by a factor of 2.2 as we have are using textures which are in RGB mode. If we are not using textures but just the shading color, we use Gamma value of 1. I had come across this in one of the 3D forums and a very useful tip)

Step 48

A rendered scene using the setting in Mental ray. Save this file. This is referred to as the Beauty Pass.

Step 49

Create an ambient occlusion material and apply to all the objects. Render out the scene in mental ray.

Step 50

Create surface shader materials and assign differant colors to the various objects in the scene. This render pass allows us to select objects easily in Photoshop.

Step 51

In photoshop import the different render passes, add a sky background to the image. Use darken mode for occlusion layer to add shadows to the scene. Use dodge tool to add highlights in the scene.

Link :

For example, the shadows are a bit darker in the scene. This is because we have not used Global Illumination in the scene as a result of which scattering of light is very minimum. Also, we have not used a fading sunlight in this scene. Hence we get a real fast render but we need to compensate this deviations from realism in photoshop. Use dodge tool to add and remove highlights in the scene.

Hope you found something to learn in this tutorial.

Step 52


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avatar RichieMB
RichieMB says:

great work in this, must've taken some time.

(5 years and 1163 days ago)
avatar billyboy
billyboy says:

"Hope you found something to learn in this tutorial."
I found a lot of things to learn in this tutorial. I have bookmarked few steps very good for me, especially on assigning skelet and bones to character. I shall came frequently to this tutorial.
Thanks, very good.

(5 years and 1161 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:


very cool work
we all are happy from your work!!!!!!!!!gooood

(5 years and 1155 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

you must be proud! becouse of your tutorial, many new future animators, artistes and creaters will be born!!! Good job!!

(5 years and 1149 days ago)
avatar devangel
devangel says:


(5 years and 1139 days ago)
no avatar
Noir says:

Very useful; thanks!

(5 years and 1139 days ago)
avatar Siminho90
Siminho90 says:

nice tut!

(5 years and 1130 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice man

(5 years and 1111 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

ITS GOODS............................

(5 years and 1110 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

i love this i love that you explain how to do it all this is a great maya tutorial

(5 years and 1097 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

it was a wonderful tut... and ur explaining skill is also great.... keep it up....... thank you

(5 years and 1069 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice one & gret work ,thime

(5 years and 1028 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

it looks awful!

(5 years and 971 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

all in one tutorial.....u god man

(5 years and 968 days ago)
no avatar
aravind says:

very use ful for me thanks

(5 years and 678 days ago)
no avatar
maris says:

very useful for me........+

(5 years and 673 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Face topology is really bad. if you wanted to actually animate this character with him talking you would have really bad deformations . im not sure if you did it like this because you wherent going to only use it for one pose but. topology has major issues.

(4 years and 332 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

hello do you do this for a company ore do you have the clip some were? it look so nice

(4 years and 251 days ago)

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