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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.
Now, when you create a character, and start posing it, you'll probably be using him in some sort of film or piece where you will use that same character over multiple shots, so a lot of times it makes sense to create a library of poses for your characters ahead of time, so that way it makes it easier to pose them when it comes time to animate. Now, I have taken this basic character, and I have just placed him into just a handful of poses. If I do a Select All here, you can see I have about seven poses here.
I have this neutral pose here at Frame 0, and then every two frames, I have another pose. So I have arms at the side; arms at the hips. Now, some of these are just very simple pose; showing his palms, you can see he's got that kind of sad pose we did, the proud pose, here's another pose, and then here he is folding his arms in another pose. So, what you can do is you can start creating libraries of poses that you want for your character.
Now, typically what I like to do is have specific things for the arms, like when you cross the arms like this, a lot of times it's very difficult to get it right, so once I have it right, I like to save that pose, so I don't have to go through all that work again. So what we can do is we can take these poses, and save them with the character, and that way, when we load the character for a scene, we have all these stock poses just kind of hanging out with the character, that we can use later. So what I usually do is I take these, and put them into the negative frame numbers of the timeline.
So if I do a Select All, you'll see that, well, all of this starts from Frame 1, to Frame 14. But, if I go into my Time Configuration, I can change my start time to any value I want. So let's go ahead and change it to -20. And if you see what I have here, now, is I've got a whole area here that I'm not using. And that won't be used in the animation, because typically we start animating at Frame 1; we animate in the positive frames. So what I can do is make sure all of these are selected, and then just go on the timeline, and left-click and drag, rubberband select all of these keyframes, and then just drag them down, back past the 0 point, and then I have all these poses stored.
Now, of course I want to get this character into that basic neutral pose at Frame 0, so I have that to start with. So, again, I can just do Select All, find that pose that I want to start the character with, select it, and then I can hold down the Shift key, and drag it over Frame 0, so now the character at Frame 0 is in a neutral place. Now, if we want to start animating with these poses, it's very simple; we can do exactly the same thing. Make sure we have everything selected, and then I can just select the pose that I want, let's go ahead and maybe do this one here, and just Shift+Select, and Shift+ Drag to get that into the timeline.
So now let's go ahead and let's say we are going to start at Frame 1 with our animation; we will start him very sad, and then maybe we want him to cross his arms. So I remember I have an arm crossed pose here at -2. So again, I can just left-click, select these keys, hold down the Shift key, and drag it wherever I want. So now he is going from this, to that. And you can see that, well, yeah; of course we will need to in-between this, but we have options here with this pose. We actually can create different poses very, very quickly.
Now, let's say I didn't want his arms to be folded. Let's say I wanted his arms on his hips. Well what I can do is I can just take this pose here, where his arms are on his hips, and just copy those arms. So again, I have a selection for the left arm, so I can just, again, click, select that, and just drag that over to Frame 8, where I have the animation. And then, select the right arm, and again, and select, click+drag that over to Frame 8, where I have that pose. And now, instead of crossing his arms, he has got his hands on his hips.
So not only can I copy entire poses, but I can copy parts of poses, and this opens up a lot of different possibilities. So if you have certain hand gestures, or if you want things like crossing arms, hands on hips, things that may be difficult to pose, go ahead and pose them ahead of time. And that way, you can actually start posing your characters a lot more quickly; it will be more interactive, and more spur of the moment. So these are some of the values of storing poses, and creating a library of poses.
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