Model a Minion using NURBS in Maya

By Satish B, Academic Head, Department of Animation, Jain University


Hello and welcome to OASIS.

In this tutorial, we will learn to create a minion by using NURBS modeling techniques in Autodesk Maya 2014. During the course of this tutorial, we will explore the following modeling techniques.

  • Using image planes
  • Creating and modifying NURBS primitives
  • Creating and modifying NURBS curves
  • Revolve tool
  • Loft tool
  • Projecting curves and trimming surfaces
  • Offsetting surfaces
  • Extrude tool
  • Circular fillet and much more


Minions are cute, gibberish talking, and yellow capsule like creatures. They wear a denim overall. They come in different sizes and with different features. They appear in the Despicable me animated film series.

The first step in modeling is to collect sufficient references. A search on the internet for minions will turn up a wealth of images and video clips.


 Collect suitable images which will educate us about the anatomy of the character and give detailed views of various accessories used by the character.

I chose to model the following one.


The following image helped me to grasp the details of various accessories like clothes, goggles, hair, teeth and tongue.



Let us begin the modeling process.

Create a project called Minion and copy the references into the sourceimages sub folder.

In Maya, Load the chosen reference image as an image plane for the front camera.

In the front camera, click on view > Image plane > Import image and import the chosen reference file. Adjust the image center attributes to center the image on the grid.


In the image plane attributes, set the Alpha gain to about 0.5. Now we can see through the image plane. You can adjust this value according to your convenience.


We will use the CV curve tool to trace the outline of the Minion’s body.

Click on Create > CV curve tool.

In the front camera, click and trace the contour of one half of Minion’s body as shown below (red curve). Have a care about the number of control vertices used as this will slow down the file later on.

Then select the curve, go to Surfaces > Revolve. This will create the Minion’s body out of a NURBS surface. Tweak the CVs of the curve (if necessary) to make the surface look like a smooth capsule.


Delete the history of the revolved surface and delete the curve.

Next create a NURBS sphere, resize it and fit it on the eye ball as shown below.



Duplicate the eye ball. Select the Isoparm in the middle, go to Edit NURBS > Detach surfaces.

This will cut the sphere into 2 pieces.  Delete one of them.

Select the other one and insert around 2 isoparms along the edge.

Edit NURBS > Insert isoparm

Fold the edge to simulate edge thickness by scaling down the hull.


This will be the lower eye lid. Duplicate the upper eye lid and arrange them as shown in the reference. Group the eye ball and the eye lids and duplicate them across to the left side.


We will create the most important part of the Minion’s anatomy next…..the mouth.

Create a NURBS circle with 12 sections. Move and adjust the CVs so that they match the perimeter of the mouth from the front camera.


Project this curve on to the body and trim the surface to create the cavity for the mouth.

Edit NURBS > Project curve on surface

Edit NURBS > Trim tool


Right click on the body and choose trim edge. Select and duplicate the trim edge by clicking on Edit curves > Duplicate surface curves. Push it into the mouth and scale it down a little bit. Loft between the curve and the trim edge by using Surfaces > Loft. We have created the lips.


Next we will work on the teeth. Create a NURBS sphere and detach it into 2 pieces by using the same technique that we used for the eye lid. Delete one half. Scale and resize the other half to resemble a tooth. Using the reference image as a guide, duplicate and place the teeth inside the mouth of the Minion. Make sure they don’t penetrate the face.


Let us create the goggles next. We will create a series of circles, arrange them on the various key positions on the goggle and loft them to produce the surface. The same method is used to create the strap.


Create a NURBS circle and place it on the goggle on your right hand side. Adjust its size and position. Note that the left and right goggle intersects each other in the middle. Duplicate and resize the circle several times as shown in the image below. Next select the circles from inside out. Note that the order of selection is important for the loft tool to function efficiently. Loft the circles together by clicking on Surfaces > Loft. The result should be similar to the one below.



A similar method can be used to create the strap. Create additional details by using NURBS spheres. Duplicate the details to the other side to complete the goggles.


At this point, the model should look like this. Delete all construction history and hide the curves in a layer.


Part 1 of this tutorial ends here.

Get back here soon and we will continue modeling the hair.

If you have any questions, kindly mail them to and i will try my best to answer them.

Thank you for going through this tutorial. I hope that it has helped you in some way.