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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.
So now that I have the spine animated, I want to go ahead and animate the arms. We are working our way up the body. So in order to do that, we need to kind of get those arms into place first of all. So first thing I am going to do is just go ahead and select the shoulders and I'm going to go ahead and rotate each shoulder down, somewhere around, in this particular case around 80 degrees. So what I'm doing here is I am just kind of positioning the shoulder so that they kind of just hang naturally. Now once I do that, you can see I have a quick playback and those arms, they are in a natural position, but they're certainly not moving in a natural way.
So we can correct that by putting in some poses. So the first thing I am going to do is just focus on this left arm. So let's go ahead and just get the motion for that and then we can worry about the right arm later. So at Frame 1 we have the extended position. That means that the left foot is back, which means that the left shoulder and the left arm are going to be forward. So I'm going to go ahead and rotate that shoulder forward.
I am going to go ahead and move that elbow forward as well. I want kind of a natural bend here, and then also I want to make sure that we get that hand and the elbow in front of the body just a little bit. In fact, I am going to go ahead and take this wrist and bend it just a little bit as well. I want to make sure that I set keyframes for the elbow and the wrist and just select the joints of the hand and go ahead and just rotate those into kind of just a natural position.
So that's my first position of the walk, and again I want to kind of just get that hand in a nice place here. So make sure I set keyframes for the wrist and the elbow and then let's go ahead to the other side, which is opposite extended position. In this case it's at Frame 17. And now I am going to go ahead and rotate everything into place. So first thing I am going to do is rotate that shoulder back and then rotate the elbow back as well.
Now I don't want to rotate this elbow so that it's straight. I want to make sure that I have a little bit of a bend to it. In this case I want to make sure that that hand and the elbow is almost beyond the back of the body. Now this is just kind of a nice visual cue. When you have the hand here, you don't really have much of a silhouette. If you push it out, you are going to get a much better silhouette. So I am kind of just wanting to get a little bit of space there so that we have some sort of silhouette. I don't want that elbow to bend too much.
I want to make sure I have a little of a bend there. So now I should have keyframes for everything there and now I've got this first half of the walk. But again he takes another step and he moves forward, which means that I have to duplicate the pose of Frame 1 at the end, at Frame 33. So all I have to do for that, I have to select the shoulder, the elbow and the wrist, just go to that first frame, copy those keyframes, and paste them.
So now I should have a little bit more flexibility in the character. Now this doesn't look too bad, but the elbow definitely looks frozen. So what we can do is give some secondary motion there. And what's happening is that the shoulder is rotating back. Now the hand is a pretty big mass and it wants to stay in position. So to counteract this backward rotation, we're going to actually rotate the elbow in the opposite direction and hopefully that will kind of give us the impression that we have a little bit more weight in the hand.
So I am going to go ahead and select this elbow and we are going to go in to this recall position, somewhere Frame 5, and I'm going to rotate the elbow forward. Now again, what I'm doing is I am increasing this angle and what this does is it gives a little bit of drag to that hand. Now one thing I want to make sure about is that the hand actually does move a little bit.
If I rotate this too much, the angle of this hand or actually the position of this hand is not going to change enough to give me a sense that it's moving. So if I rotate this elbow too much, this hand will actually appear like it's moving backwards. I want to make sure that I get that hand constantly moving in a direction, so the hand is moving just a little bit more slowly at first. Then it's straightens out and now we've got almost the opposite situation.
So from this second extended position, as that arm moves forward, again we are going to get a little bit of drag. So I've got this shoulder moving forward. The hand kind of wants to stay where it was, which means that the elbow needs to rotate in the opposite direction as well. So what we can do is just as we goes into the second recall position, I am just going to go ahead and rotate that elbow out just a little bit, straighten it out.
Now this should give us a pretty decent motion. So that gives us a little bit more flexibility with the elbow and the hand. Now if I want, I can go through one more time and actually play with the wrist. So as it passes the body, I want to make sure that that wrist doesn't kind of cut through or the hand doesn't cut through. Okay, it looks good and then if I want I could also do a little bit more secondary motion with this wrist, so as it comes through, I can kind of curve this a little bit, just to kind of give a little bit more of kind of a curve here, and then I will need to make sure I straighten that out, and then as it moves forward I can kind of drag that back just a little bit.
Again, you don't want to break that wrist, because wrist really doesn't move that far back. And there we go. Let's go ahead and play that again. And that looks pretty good. So all we have to do now is do the exact same thing on the opposite side for the other arm. Now I don't want to bore you with animating that second arm, because it's really is just the same procedure, just mirrored on the opposite side. So let's go ahead and just take a look at that. I have gone ahead and animated the right arm and it's pretty much the same.
So now we've got both sides of the character animating and we've got most of the walk done, except for the head. So let's go ahead and move on to that.
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