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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.
At this point, we should have the first two major poses of the run complete. At frame 1, we have the passing position, and then at frame 5 we have the right foot contact position. So, the next phase in animating this run is to do the exact same thing for the opposite side of the character. In order to make this a little bit easier, I'm going to animate this as a cycle. Now, we can delete this later, but this will make the run a little bit easier to understand, and we can make sure that it's exactly the same on both sides.
So, in order to do that, I'm going to animate the character moving backward, just as fast as he is moving forward. So if we take a look at this right foot, you'll notice that he moves 48 units forward in the Z axis. That means in order for him to run in place, which is what a cycle is, he needs to move backwards at the same rate. So what I'm going to do is I am going to make sure I select this character root node and then set a keyframe at frame 1.
Then I'm going to move halfway through the cycle, to frame 9, and then move that back. Now, how far back do I move it? Well, how far forward is he moving? He's moving a 48 forward, so I just need to move him -48 back in Z. And if I do that, it will make him look like he's running in place-- well, up until this point, but we'll get to that a little bit later. Now, we are going to animate not just one, but two steps.
so we need to do this one more time at the end of the cycle, at frame 17. So instead of 48 back, we are going to move him another 48 back. So, 48 times 2? 96. So I am going to go ahead and move him back -96; in fact, I'll just type that in as well. So once I have this in place, he will actually run in place. Now, I can obviously delete these keyframes to have him run forward through the actual scene, but for right now, this will make it easier.
So now that we have the first two poses, we can just mirror those poses on the opposite side. So for example on frame 1, we have the right foot kind of up and passing the left foot. We want to do the same thing on frame 9, but for the opposite foot. We want the left foot passing the right. Well, we can do that just by making a mirrored pose. So the easiest way to do this is to take some sort of Screen Draw tool-- I am using this particular one, Linktivity--and I am actually going to go into my side viewport, and I'm going to turn off my grid so I can see exactly what I'm doing here, and I am going to go back to frame 1.
And I am just going to go ahead and trace out the key parts of the character. So I want to make sure I get the angle of the knee, the position of the hips, that angle of the foot. Now, again, I'm looking mostly for angles. That's really what the eye picks out. Eyes are little more keen on seeing angles than it is on seeing exact positioning, so I want to make sure I get the angles pretty close.
And once I do that, then all I have to do is move forward and make sure that the positions of the character's parts match. So I'm going to go to frame 9, and I am going to go ahead and move the hips up, grab that left foot, and I'm going to go ahead and rotate that around a little bit. And one of the things, you can see how when I get that foot right in place, it's not exactly correct.
Well, that's because the hips are still rotated--remember, we rotated the hips forward here--but they are still rotated a little bit forward, so I am going to go ahead and rotate them square, and that should put that knee right into place. Let's go ahead and zero out this, just to make it match the left toe. And then I'm going to go ahead and make sure that that heel is up a little bit, and I also want to make sure that I set a keyframe for the right foot.
So let's go ahead and erase these little marks on the screen, and you can see that already, I've got that second half right there. So now, in order to get the subsequent contact position for the left foot, I just need to move forward to frame 13 and do the same thing. So again, I am just going to go ahead and bring in my little Screen Draw tool, and I'm going to go to frame 5, which is that first contact position, and we're just going to mirror that on the opposite side.
So I want to make sure I understand where the hips are, right there, kind of get that. I like looking at the back of the heel because that's a good angle there, and again, this, then that. So that should give me a pretty good guide. So I'm going to--actually, let me move this off the screen here, and let's go ahead and mirror this on the opposite side. So we are going to go four frames ahead of frame 9 to frame 13.
And the first thing I want to do is to take this left foot and put it into place. So just like we did before, I need to unwind it. So I am going to go ahead and rotate it to zero, make sure my Translate in X and Y are zero, and then I am going to move it forward. Now if you notice, when I move it forward, it comes very close to a number that we have used before, 96, and that's exactly how far we need to move it forward. Remember, we're doing 48 units per step, so the second step will be 48 times two, or 96 units.
So I am just going to type that in, and now I am going to take the hips and move them forward and get them in to place. Notice how when I am moving this, the knees are bending backwards. That's because--let me jump out here--you can see I have got these knee locators, and they need to be ahead of the knees, so I am going to go ahead and grab both of those and move those and then go back into my side view and position my character. I am going to go ahead and position him, and I want to make sure that I rotate that forward, just about like that. And then, just like I did with the last one, I want to lift that heel just a little bit off the ground.
Again, he's running on the balls of his feet. Same thing for the right foot. So I'm going to go ahead and rotate this around and move it into place. Notice how that heel is a little bit lifted here, so I want to make sure that I make the right heel zero, and then fine-tune my positioning. Pretty close. Maybe a little too far. There we go.
And then one more time. And then rotate this a little bit back. So I am going to go ahead and erase that, and that should be a pretty accurate pose there, but notice how I'm getting the same thing I had before, which was that I'm not getting that push-off off of the toe. And also, another thing is I'm rotating this one here, so I want to make sure I keep that at zero. There we go.
So as this goes back, we are going to do the same thing we did for the opposite foot. We're going to go ahead and rotate this up. Again, we want to make it look like he is pushing off of that. I am going to do this in this view here. So we want to make sure that it looks like he is rolling off of that toe, so I want to go ahead and kick this foot out, rotate it back maybe even a little more, and then he goes into position.
So now I have got 1, 2. So now, all I have to do to to finish off the basics of the cycle is just do one more pose which mirrors our very first pose. So another way of doing this, instead of mimicking the pose, we can actually just copy and paste keyframes, because the only difference between these is going to be how far forward these move. So in the original pose, this one here is at about 11.2. In fact, let's go ahead in the original pose and make this 12.
So it's 12 units forward. So we know that over the course of 96 frames, it's going to move 96+12, or 108 units forward, so all we have to do is copy this keyframe which includes the rotations, paste it, and then add 96 to this. So, 12+96 is 108 units forward in Z. We can do the same for the hips. Let's go over here to the hips. And again, the hips are about the same.
In fact, I am going to round that off. I am going to make the hips at 12 units here, and then I'm going to copy, scroll forward to 17 and right-click and paste. Notice how that jumps back, but again, I just want this to be, instead of 12, 12+96, which is 108. So now I've got that pose almost exactly mirrored. All I have to do is copy a few other things, such as the left foot position and the left heel position.
I want to make sure I get that. Once we have that, we have a pretty good lower body run, so let's go ahead and take a look at this in perspective and do a quick play-through. So this is just the basics. We need to do a little bit more with this, but it's a really good start. So now that we have both footsteps in place, we can really start to refine the run.
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