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Character Rigging in Maya provides a basic introduction to rigging theory, and delves into the details of how to create professional, realistic 3D characters. Instructor and animation veteran George Maestri shows how to combine Maya's skeleton, inverse kinematics (IK), and constraint tools to create a basic rig for a character, and how to attach the character mesh to the skeleton using Maya's skinning tools. The course also explores advanced rigging controls such as IK switches and facial animation and how to create a control panel to manipulate the character's expressions. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
When we start animating IK chains in Maya, there will be instances where we'll need to turn IK off. And we can do that using the standard Maya IK solvers with the attribute called IK Blend. So let's take a look at how IK Blend works. Now I have a simple chain with an IK handle at the bottom. If you notice here we have an option called IK Blend. When IK Blend is at 1, IK is on.
When it's at 0, IK is off. Right now, by default, it's at 1, so that means I can move the IK handle, but if I try to rotate the joints I can't. If I select that IK handle again, and turn IK Blend to 0, notice how I can now rotate those joints, and notice how they can rotate off of that IK handle. I'm going to undo that for right now, and let's select this IK handle again and just turn it to 1.
Now the real benefit of this is when we get into animation, because there are times when we want to position something, then rotate a joint off of that and then maybe even return back to that position. So let's do a little bit of animation. I'm going to select this IK handle, and let's make sure we have Auto Key turned on. I want to go ahead and turn this on here in the bottom right corner, and I'm going to set a key for the IK handle. Now notice when we Set Key, it sets keys for everything, including IK Blend.
I'm going to move forward to frame 6 and go ahead and set one more key, so now we have two keys with the IK Blend at 1. And when IK Blend is at 1, we can't rotate the joints, but I can set keyframes for those joints. So I'm going to go ahead at frame 6 and set some keyframes for those joints, even though I can't rotate them, I'm going to have one for them in that position. So let's move forward to frame 10, and I'm going to select the IK handle again.
This time I'm going to turn the IK Blend to 0, when I do that, it sets another key, because I changed a parameter, and now I can rotate these off of the IK handle. I can actually rotate my joints and I can animate them. I can actually animate my IK handle when IK is at 1. So when the IK handle is at 1, you can see my IK Blend is at 1, and I'm controlling those joints. But notice how we also have a little bit of a ghosting effect here, and that's because these joints already have keyframes on them, they were keyed to that original position.
So if I were to turn IK off, they'll basically transition to that position. This is really just Mayas way of telling you that if IK is turned off, this is where the bones will wind up. And then as I animate IK Blend off, again, it goes to those positions. Now notice how when I'm rotating these joints, the IK handle moves along with it. We can change that by using the Attribute editor.
So if I go into the Attitude editor and select my IK handle, you'll notice that I have an option here called Snap Enable. If I turn that off, the IK handle will now stick. If I rotate my joints, the IK handle now sticks to wherever it was. So now I'm rotating off of that. Again, that parameter here for the IK handle is called Snap Enable, it's either on or off.
So if you want the IK handle to follow your joint chain, then keep it on. If you want your IK handle to stay locked in space, keep that off. So now once I have this, I can again animate IK Blend back on, and you can see how now I've moved the joint, moved it off of the IK handle, and then brought it back. So those are some of the basics about how to turn inverse kinematics on and off.
Now we're going to go into some more sophisticated ways of controlling this as well later, but I want you to make sure that you understand the concept of IK Blend.
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