With the mesh complete I was able to pass it on to a friend, who had kindly agreed to take a look and tidy up some of my edge loops. Thankfully it didn’t appear that she had too much to edit and she was able to pass it back to me a few days later when she had time to sit down with it. I then passed the mesh on to Jess who will be doing the texturing. Before I could start skinning we needed the mesh to be unwrapped, so she exported to Roadkill and set to work. She was wonderfully quick and the mesh was back with me the next day. Finally I could start to focus on skinning. I decided to try a different approach to the one I had used during advanced tech. Rather than leaping straight in with the weight tables and editting individual verts, I tried editting the envelopes and removing unwanted verts from the various bones with the exclude vertices button.
I was able to do a fair amount of work and it seemed to be mostly working. However, this morning, while setting up deforms for the mouth I discovered some stray vertices and edges that aren’t welded to anything. As the mouth opened, a couple of holes appeared at the back of the mouth. I sat down to try and work out what had happened to the mesh and whether I could fix it quickly. I set up a new edit poly modifier just below the skin modifier in the hope it could be fixed without editting the base mesh. Unfortunately, after an hour of editting, we have established that the edit poly modifier seems to break the skin modifier in 3ds Max. All the verts became unselectable, so I was unable to continue excluding verts to edit the skinning set up. This means that the past week’s skinning work will have to be lost as editting the base mesh to fix the problem will involve target welding various vertices and so changing the vertex numbering.
The only plus side is that the same friend has once again kindly offered to help me work out the tangle of problems in the mouth. Having looked at it all, we believe the problem has occured during repeated import/exports to and from Roadkill. A single stray vert on an edge has resulted in a few random tris being created that aren’t properly welded to anything. Hopefully after a weekend of editting I will be able to start skinning again next week.