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Character Animation Fundamentals in 3ds Max demonstrates the basic principles of character animation that help bring simple 3D characters to life. Starting with an overview of the character rig, author George Maestri provides guidelines for creating strong poses and explains how to animate from pose to pose in an organized fashion. The course also covers locomotion—animating realistic gestures, walks, and runs; explores the basics of facial expressions and dialogue; and culminates with an animated scene built entirely from scratch.
So at this point, we have the character animating, but he's only being affected by forces that are outside of him. So let's go ahead and play this, and as you can see, yes, he's moving, he's moving realistically, but there's nothing coming from him. He's really just being pushed around by forces, almost like a rag doll, but we can fix that by actually animating the character himself, using internal forces. Now, before I do this, I need to understand what it is that the character is going to do; what is my character's intention? Well, I know that if I were on such a moving platform, I would want to keep my balance. I would also want to see where I'm going, so let's go ahead and animate some of that.
So let's take a look at this animation here. Now, when I get to this first keyframe at Frame 6, the character is kind of being pushed back, but if he wants to actually counteract this force, he's going to need leverage, and he can't get much leverage with straight legs. You kind of have to bend your legs, and turn them into levers, so that your muscles can act against those forces. So the first thing I want to do is make sure Auto Key is turned on, and we're going to drop those hips a bit, and just move them forward.
You can see, as it's moving forward, he's relaxing his legs, and moving forward. Now, once he relaxes his legs, he can start using them as a lever, and we can rotate that body forward, and get a little bit more sense of intention from the character. So now it looks like he's doing the standing up, because he drops his legs, and as he is rotating, we already have this key where he's standing up, but it looks like he is doing the work.
Okay. We can do that on the other side as well. So let's go to Frame 30, and again, he wants to stay stable, he needs a lever with which to use his muscles, and so he's going to drop his hips, and then he's going to rotate himself up, and then stand up. So even with that little change, he has a little bit more intention. Let's go ahead and play this.
So that works pretty good, but if I were the character, I'd want to see where I'm going, so let's go ahead and add that in as well. Now, I'm just going to work with the hips and the body; I'm not going to worry too much about the arms here. But as he drops, he kind of wants to look over the shoulder; he wants to see where he's going. So I'm going to go ahead and turn that body just a little bit, and then as he comes up, I'm going to continue that; I'm going to continue the turn, and then here at Frame 36, I'm going to twist him quite a bit.
But again, because I'm twisting this, you can see how it's kind of straightening out the legs, so I want to kind of keep those legs bend, so I have room to rotate him. So now he should be rotating. He's got a little bit of that rotation, but we also can rotate the body as well, so I'm going to go, again, to this Frame 36, and kind of just start rotating that spine, so that way it's kind of looking more and more like he's looking over his shoulder.
And then we can also work with the head. So as that head comes down here -- we have a keyframe here at 32; let's go ahead and just use that -- I'm going to go ahead and start rotating his head back, so he can see where the heck he's going. And now I have a keyframe here for the head at 40, but I'm going to go ahead and delete that, and then just use that last keyframe as my endpoint.
So now, even without the arms moving, you can see he's got a lot more intention. He has control over his own body; at least for the torso. Now, we haven't animated the arms, we'll do that next. But as you can see, by actually making the character move against those forces, you can get much more tension, and you can start bringing your character to life.
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