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Animating a head turn

From: Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya

Video: Animating a head turn

Another common task that you'll be faced with is turning your character's head. Now, head turns are not as simple as they seem on the surface. Let me show you some of the basics and some of the mechanics of a head turn. Well, the first thing we need to do is we need to turn our character's head in one direction and then turn it in another. So let's go ahead and select our character's head control and let's rotate this head--let's say a few degrees. In fact, let's go -20 degrees to the right.

Animating a head turn

Another common task that you'll be faced with is turning your character's head. Now, head turns are not as simple as they seem on the surface. Let me show you some of the basics and some of the mechanics of a head turn. Well, the first thing we need to do is we need to turn our character's head in one direction and then turn it in another. So let's go ahead and select our character's head control and let's rotate this head--let's say a few degrees. In fact, let's go -20 degrees to the right.

And I am going to go ahead and set a keyframe there. And let's go ahead and set another one at frame 10. We're going to start this at frame 10, and then we're going to rotate him the other direction. So if I am doing negative -20 in Y, let's do +20 in Y. So let's just turn him from one side to the other. Now, this seems like it's simple; you just rotate the head. But when we actually play this back, you'll notice that the head really doesn't have a lot of realism.

It looks more like a mechanical object that's just turning from one direction to the other. That's because as a head turns, it also dips. So it doesn't just turn in one direction; It dips and rises as it moves through the head turn. So we've got a keyframe here and a keyframe here. Let's go in the middle of this, at frame 16, and dip the head just a little bit. And when we do that what's going to happen is it's going to be a lot more realistic.

Now, just that alone gives a much more realistic sense that he's actually turning his head. It's not so doll-like; it has a lot more anatomical correctness to it. Now, we can add to this by doing in a couple of other things. One of the things that characters do when they turn their head is they also look in the direction that their head is turning. We can do this very easily by selecting the pupils. So all I have to do is set a keyframe here at frame 10 and then as he's starting to move we can actually adjust those a little bit, so that he looks in the direction that he's moving.

Then as he gets into that final pose, we can get rid of that. So I can just copy again, copy and paste my keyframe. So now he's looking in the direction, so let's take a look at this. So this gives a much better sense of where the head turn is coming. Now one of the things I'm noticing here is that the eyes should be leading the head motion.

In other words, the eyes' motion should almost happen before the head starts turning. So I'm going to go ahead and select these and I am going to select this first keyframe, and I'm going it move it back a few frames. I'm going to move it back to 8, so it has a two-frame lead on the eye motion. So you can see that as he starts to move, the eyes actually kind of start the motion, and a lot of times characters will lead with their eyes.

Now, I'm going to add one more little piece of animation here, and that is I'm going to cover this eye direction change with a slight blink. So again, I'm just going to go to frame 8 where that starts to change. I'm going to go ahead and set a keyframe here, go forward, blink, and then bring those back up. In fact, I'm going to open this a little but sooner, so I'm going to go ahead and open it here. Then let's do the same for the lower. Select my lower lids, go to frame 8, close up those eyes at frame 14, and then by frame 18 they should by pretty much wide open.

So now, we've got a little bit of a blink as well. So again, just adding these different layers, we started by animating the head, then we lead that head turn with eye direction, and then we added in a blink as well. So each one of these adds in an additional layer of believability and realness to your animation.

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This video is part of

Image for Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya
Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya

65 video lessons · 10576 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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  1. 22m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 8s
    3. Character rig overview: Simple character
      6m 19s
    4. Character rig overview: Full character
      7m 30s
    5. Using other rigs
      48s
    6. Using screen drawing tools for Windows
      3m 9s
    7. Using screen drawing tools for the Mac
      2m 14s
  2. 23m 47s
    1. Creating strong poses
      3m 27s
    2. Creating custom MEL scripts to help pose characters
      4m 39s
    3. Using layers to select characters
      1m 10s
    4. Learning the basics of posing characters
      10m 7s
    5. Creating stock poses
      4m 24s
  3. 25m 11s
    1. Understanding forces and character motion
      2m 13s
    2. Understanding drag
      5m 51s
    3. Working with secondary motion
      5m 33s
    4. Bringing the character to life
      4m 21s
    5. Refining the animation
      7m 13s
  4. 39m 30s
    1. Keyframing initial poses
      4m 21s
    2. Creating the blocking pass
      7m 42s
    3. Moving holds
      5m 27s
    4. Animating weight shift
      4m 21s
    5. Animating pose to pose transitions
      7m 46s
    6. Animating a wave
      9m 53s
  5. 42m 15s
    1. Analyzing a walk
      5m 43s
    2. Setting up a character for a basic walk
      1m 22s
    3. Animating a walk: The feet
      5m 55s
    4. Animating a walk: The lower body
      8m 23s
    5. Animating a walk: Making the cycle symmetrical
      3m 10s
    6. Animating a walk: Working with the spine
      5m 59s
    7. Animating a walk: Arm motion
      7m 28s
    8. Animating a walk: The head
      4m 15s
  6. 24m 15s
    1. The importance of the passing position
      4m 52s
    2. Working with foot placement
      3m 50s
    3. Adding character to a walk: Contact position
      5m 10s
    4. Adding character to a walk: Passing position
      3m 20s
    5. Adding character to a walk: Finalizing
      7m 3s
  7. 52m 27s
    1. A run in four poses
      2m 39s
    2. Animating a run: The first pose
      4m 31s
    3. Animating a run: The second pose
      7m 17s
    4. Animating a run: Mirroring the basic poses
      10m 59s
    5. Animating a run: Hip and foot motion
      5m 12s
    6. Animating a run: The upper body
      5m 2s
    7. Animating a run: Left arm motion
      5m 31s
    8. Animating a run: Right arm motion
      4m 39s
    9. Animating a run: Cycling the animation
      6m 37s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Animating blinks
      7m 56s
    2. Animating changes in eye direction
      5m 6s
    3. Animating a head turn
      4m 35s
    4. Working with audio
      3m 38s
    5. Overview of mouth controls
      2m 44s
    6. Animating vowels
      15m 14s
    7. Animating consonants: B, D, and G
      7m 2s
    8. Animating consonants: F, M, and S
      8m 22s
    9. Animating lip sync: Assigning phonemes
      10m 43s
    10. Animating lip sync: The head
      9m 44s
    11. Animating lip sync: The body
      5m 10s
  9. 55m 55s
    1. Creating the main poses
      4m 18s
    2. Blocking poses to dialogue
      7m 1s
    3. In-between blocking pass
      3m 27s
    4. Animating moving holds
      5m 19s
    5. Creating weight
      6m 19s
    6. Adding secondary motion
      10m 0s
    7. Animating dialogue
      8m 12s
    8. Finalizing the animation
      11m 19s
  10. 24s
    1. Goodbye
      24s

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