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Discover an alternative to the traditional character rigging workflow with the Character Animation Toolkit (CAT) for 3ds Max, which offers preset character rigs as well as custom tools for creating a rig from scratch. Author Joel Bradley demonstrates animation layers; CAT muscles, which you can use to create a skin that deforms and stretches realistically as your character moves; and the forward/inverse kinematics workflow. The final chapter puts all these features into motion, as you apply the tools to a full character rig with secondary bones and perform a stress test animation.
Now that we understand the basics of what CAT is, let's spend a few minutes becoming familiar with where its tools can be found within the 3ds Max UI. This will hopefully help us to access them with ease as we work our way through this course. Let's start with the Creation tab of the 3ds Max Command panel. This of course is over on the right-hand side of the interface. Let's just make sure that we are inside the Create tab by clicking on it, and then we want to drop down and come across and select our Helpers icon.
If we just click to drop down or expand our list inside the Helpers section, you can see we have a CAT Objects option. If we click to select this, it will reveal all of CAT's object creation tools. As we need to demonstrate how to access CAT controls in the UI, we want to select the CATParent option. And then to quickly create a CATParent object, we'll just left-mouse click in our viewport and drag. With the Helper in the scene, let's make sure we have it selected and then just come across to our Command panel's Modify tab.
As you can see, we now have all the options for this particular CAT object available. To access options for CAT rigs, we of course need to have a rig present in the scene. With our CATParent still selected, let's just double- click any rig option found in the preset rig list. I'm just going to double-click on the clown. Instantly we have a fully-featured animatable rig loaded into our scene.
Simply select any part of the rig bone structure. Now you will notice that the options in the Command panel change and are now specific to this particular CAT bone. We would also follow the same basic pattern if we were working with CATMuscle of the Muscle Strand objects. That is select the newly-created CAT feature and then use the Modify tab to gain access to its options. With a bone still selected, we can now over to our Motion tab, and once we click it we have access to CAT's Animation layer system.
Don't worry if we seem to be scheming across these controls too quickly, this is just an overview of the tools in the user interface, and we will be coming back to most of them later in the course. With a CAT bone selected if I come over to our viewport and right-click on it, you will notice that we also get a menu here that has options specific to this CAT bone. At the top of our 3ds Max UI we have our dropdown menu system through which we can also access CAT tools.
As with many menu items in Max, this is usually just another way to access tools and options that can be found elsewhere in the UI. If we take a look at the Animation menu, we can see that we have access to CAT-specific options here as well. Becoming familiar with the tools in the UI just means we will be able to quickly access them throughout the duration of this course. In our next video, we are going to make a start at working with CAT tools beginning with CAT's preset rig types.
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