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In 3ds Max 2011 New Features, author Steve Nelle introduces the new features and productivity enhancements in 3ds Max 2011, with a special emphasis on the Slate Material Editor and CAT character animation system. The course examines enhancements to existing features, customization options to the modeling ribbon, scene management improvements, as well as creating scene objects using the Object Paint tool. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the things that makes CAT so easy to get up and running is the preconfigured set of rigs that it comes with, ranging from your typical two-legged human character to horses, crabs, and centipedes each off-the-shelf ready to go rig is just a click away. You will find the Preset skeletons under the Helpers tab in the Command panel's Create menu. You will choose CAT objects, then CATParent. Listed in alphabetical order, you will see there is a wide range of preconfigured shapes. Let's start with the one named Base Human. We'll click its name in the list then position our mouse in the left-hand side of the grid.
Once we're in that position we'll hold the mouse down and drag diagonally to the side. When you are happy with the height, you can simply let go of the mouse button. To make sure you don't create another, let's go ahead and right-click. One super nice thing about all the rigs is that they are set up to incorporate both Inverse and Forward Kinematics simultaneously. That's right, both IK and FK on the fly. That translates to mean that you don't have to worry about being in either one mode or the other when you work. When you need Forward Kinematics, where moving a parent bone will take with it all the children that have been linked to it, you are free to do what you intend on doing without having to think twice.
When you instead want to work with Inverse Kinematics, where moving a child in the chain carries its transformations all the way up to the parent position, well again, that's ready to go all when you need it. You move the foot. IK automatically kicks in and carries the intended movement all the way up to the pelvis. You rotate a spine bone. Again the appropriate transformation system makes its way to being activated and the movements carry all the way up to the head. Once it's been created, if you need to change the size of the rig, you will select the CATParent base root, and in the Modify column, you will adjust the CATUnits Ratio.
Want to move the entire rig? Select the CATParent node at the bottom. That's that base object with the arrow on it. So we can move from side-to-side, we can rotate back-and-forth, whatever might need to be done. Don't want the rig after all? Again, selecting things down at the base, just hit Delete. As for some of the other rigs, let's take a look at those. We will go back to the Helpers, and why don't we create an Ape to the right-hand side of the human? Again, simply position your mouse on the screen, hold and drag away. Why don't we also try a horse? We'll go a little farther down the list.
This one we will put in front of the monkey and you can see that. One more, let's choose the spider and we'll drop that to the left-hand side of the horse. Now, tell me that wasn't easier than trying to make things from scratch. Each skeleton being fully preconfigured and ready to be animated, and this is so beneficial, taking the time-consuming setup process out of the picture, allowing you to concentrate on the more important elements of working with a rig and that's animating it. Now, there is another way of creating a preconfigured rig and that's to start by simply creating the base root.
That was that little triangle with an arrow on it that we saw at the bottom of each rig. If we go back in the CATParent, at the top of the list, we'll see the word None. We'll click on that and then we'll drop the base root down in front of the other two characters. Now, once we have that on the screen, we're going to move to the Modify column, pick out the rig we want, and simply double-click on its name. Let's choose the Clown. We'll find it in the list and double-click. The rig is positioned in line with the base root and we're ready to go. Now, we have a technique you use, you're going to end up with the same result. So there is your preconfigured rigs.
Now, there is a couple of other things of note. You can add additional bones in the setup. You can save your own custom built rigs as presets. You can even include the skin mesh you build as part of a rig. So there is tons of flexibility in working with CAT's off-the-shelf rig systems. Okay, now that's the pre-made stuff. In the next video, we'll take a look at building our own custom rig.
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