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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.
When it comes to creating a custom character rig using CAT, an understanding of CAT's use of hubs is essential as the hub is a building point for many aspects of a CATRig. A Hub is a special type of CATBone. Typically, it's a foundation from which spines, arms, legs, and tails are built. A few specific examples of a CATHub would be a pelvis or a ribcage, maybe even a head, depending of course on its function within the rig.
To actually create a CATHub, we first need to create a blank CATParent, which hopefully by now we are quite familiar with. Let's come over to our Helper section and dropdown our list and choose CAT Objects. Let's select the CATParent button and then click and drag in our viewport to create the Helper. I just want to make some modifications. I'm going to change the CATUnits Ratio to 0.338, just to make it a little bigger in the scene.
Next, I want to orient it so it is facing the same way as our creature. I'm going to right-click and come to the Rotate tool and then press the A key to turn on our angle snap. Now I'm just going to rotate this minus 90 degrees in the viewport. With our Helper in place, we can now switch over to our Modify panel, where again we gain access to all of its options, but we're interested in scrolling down to the bottom of our CATRig Load Save rollout, because you'll notice just underneath our preset rig list, we have this Create Pelvis button.
Clicking on this creates a hub in the scene, which obviously can now function as a pelvis. As with all bones in a CATRig, we can change its name, which I am going to do. I'm just going to rename it to Pelvis, press Enter, and we can also change its color. I'm just going to quickly change it to a value of 198, 225, 87, and again, I'm just going to click OK. We also--just like a standard CATBone--get access to the Length, Width, and Height parameters, which I'm just going to adjust now to better match our creature.
So I'm going to set the Length to a value of 31, the Width to a value of 48, and the Height to a value of 17.7. It's usually a good idea to make certain that the pelvis is in the correct position for our character before moving on to creating limbs. The position and placement of the pelvic hub will quite obviously impact the position and placement of any limb bones that are built from it. Coming over to my Front viewport, I'm just going to rotate this bone around about 30 degrees, and I'm also going to move it into a better position, again, just to match our creature.
From this very simple start, we can build all manner of rigs ranging from very simple to very complex, which is exactly what we'll do over the next few videos using of course the character art that we have set up on our image plane.
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