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Watch as author George Maestri employs the basic principles of animation to bring to life simple 3D characters in Maya. Starting with an overview of the character rig, this course provides guidelines for arranging stock characters into strong poses and explains how to generate locomotion between poses in a modular fashion. The course includes step-by-step instructions on animating realistic gestures, walks, runs, facial expressions, and dialogue, and culminates with an animated scene built entirely from scratch.
Prerequisite courses: Maya 2011 Essential Training.
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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