Rigging Characters for Animation, Pt. 1, From New Riders | 4
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Inside Maya: Rigging Characters for Animation. Pt. 1.
Rigging a Simple Quadruped Character: The Dog
This section covers some simple techniques that you can use to quickly rig a quadruped character for animation, without having to add complex time-consuming or difficult-to-understand controls. Several advanced character setup tutorials later in this chapter go into much more detail on advanced character rigging. The techniques in this section can be used to quickly and easily get a quadruped character set up and ready for character animation.
For many characters, a simple setup is all you will need. As a general rule, it is best to keep your rigs as light and simple as possible so that they are easy to use and maintain throughout the duration of the animated piece. For hero characters whose animation might be the centerpiece of much of the shot or sequence, complex character controls could be necessary. It is the responsibility of the character setup TD to assess with the animators and supervisors of the scene what level of complexity the character's rig should have based on the complexity of the character's motion requirements.
Quadruped Spine and Hips Setup
Here we have built a simple FK spine that can be animated in a very straightforward and traditional fashion by rotating the joints.
As you can see in Figure 17.6, the spine is composed of only six joints, which are pretty much ready to have animation controls hooked up for them.
The spine is composed of only six joints.
The important part to notice in this portion of the setup is not really the spine itself, but the way the joints that create the spine are parents of the legs. The portion of the character's joints that starts the legs has an extra joint between the parent leg joint and the spine joint it is connected to. In the back of the character, this joint controls extra rotations of the hips. In the front, it controls extra rotations of the chest. Figure 17.7 shows how your spine hierarchy should connect to your legs using the extra hip joint between the hierarchies.
The spine hierarchy should connect to the legs using the extra hip joint between the hierarchies.
These joints are parented in this way so that the additional rotation control can hook IK onto all the legs and still rotate the character's hips independently. This concept of having additional parents in a hierarchy will undoubtedly come up many more times when it comes to rigging a character, so be sure to take note.
Quadruped IK Legs and Feet
The legs of the character are composed of four joints, stemming from the hips and the chest. The foot is a single joint that allows for rotation from the ankle (see Figure 17.8). A relatively simple foot control was chosen because our dog character will not need to have individual control over each toe and claw separately.
To make the IK controls for the legs, we created two IK handles for a single leg and hooked up a locator as a constraint to control the rotation of the ankle as well as the position of the IK handle for the foot. Follow along with this step-by-step exercise to see how we set up the first leg (the back right leg). You can quickly and easily set up the character's other three legs using the same technique outlined here.
The legs of the character are composed of four joints, while the foot is a single joint that allows for rotation from the ankle.
Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: November 7, 2003