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Character rig overview: Simple character

From: Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya

Video: Character rig overview: Simple character

Along with the exercise files, we've given you two basic rigs. Let me show you the first of those. We're going to go File > Open, and we should be in our Chapter 0/scenes directory because we've set our project. And we have two characters. One is called Full Character; one is called Simple Character. So let's go ahead and open up the Simple Character and we'll show you that one first. As you can see, it's a very, very basic character. And what I really wanted to do with this is just to give you a nice, light, easy-to-animate character that can be used just to get the hang of animation.

Character rig overview: Simple character

Along with the exercise files, we've given you two basic rigs. Let me show you the first of those. We're going to go File > Open, and we should be in our Chapter 0/scenes directory because we've set our project. And we have two characters. One is called Full Character; one is called Simple Character. So let's go ahead and open up the Simple Character and we'll show you that one first. As you can see, it's a very, very basic character. And what I really wanted to do with this is just to give you a nice, light, easy-to-animate character that can be used just to get the hang of animation.

If we go through this, we can see that we have basically a number of controls for the character. If you grab on any one of these curves, you can see that we can actually manipulate the character. So for example, if I grab this one here, this star shaped one, you can see here that this is called the HIPS, and it controls the hips. So if I hit W for Move, I can move the hips. Now we also have a number of other ones here. The one I want to show you first off are these knee controls and these can get a little bit tricky, but what they do is they can just control the direction of the knee.

So the knee basically points at these objects. Now the feet are basically done with what's called Inverse Kinematics, which means that you can move the feet and the hips will stay in place. Going up the character, we have three spine controls. And typically, I select those by going into my Select tool or by hitting Q and then Shift+Selecting, I can Shift+ Select one, two, three of these, or I can select them individually.

And you'll notice they're named SPINE_0, SPINE_1, and SPINE_2, for a total of three. And typically what I do is when I manipulate the character I will select all of them, so I will Shift+Select all of these and then these will typically only rotate, so you can rotate these to rotate the character's spine. And I'm going to go ahead and undo that. Moving further up, we can take a look at the arms. The arms are by default set to what's called Forward Kinematics, which means you're rotating the arms.

So I can basically just rotate any one of these joints however I want. Now I didn't put any limits on these, so you have to be careful particularly with the elbow that you don't move it this way or this way. I typically tend to move it along the Y axis, but I left the other two axes open just in case you needed that room to animate. And then the hands are very simple. They're actually more like mittens and they also have controls for each of the joints.

Now moving up a little bit further, we also have this switch. It has an F on it right now and that stands for Forward Kinematics. In other words, that will switch the character from the arm being Forward Kinematics, which is Rotations, to Inverse Kinematics, which is Position. So in order to switch between Forward and Inverse Kinematics, go ahead and select this arrow, hit the Move tool, and then move it from left to right to switch between F and I.

F is Forward Kinematics. I is Inverse. So in Forward Kinematics, I'm rotating the arm. In Inverse Kinematics, I'm positioning the arm. Now notice how this changes a little bit. We go from having these basically these little spheres on each joint, to having a hand control and then a direction control and this is very much like the feet. So I have hand controls here and then this, very much like the knees, controls the angle of that elbow.

So I can switch between those just by animating this. And finally we have head and neck controls. And again, those are rotational, so you can just rotate the character's head. Now one more control I want to show you is basically, the main node, which is called Character Root. And what this is is just the root of the character. It allows you to position the character anywhere in the scene. So all motions of the character are going to be relative to this node.

If we take a look at this in the Outliner, you can see that under the CHARACTER ROOT we have all of the controls for the character. Now there are some additional directories. One is for the Skeleton of the character and the other one is for the Geometry. Now we're not going to touch those. All the controls we need to manipulate the character are under the CHARACTER ROOT node. Now if we go over to the Channel box, you'll see below it we also have the Layer Editor and this character is divided up into a number of layers.

Now we may be turning these on and off during the course. The top ones are basically for Geometry. So I can turn off the Eyes, the Head, the Upper part of the body, and the Lower part of the body. So I can turn on and off any one of these pieces of geometry. These are set to R, which means that they'll render but you can't select them. So I can't select that Head. If I want to be able select it, I can turn that off and select it directly. But again, this is Geometry.

We really want to control the head using these spline controls, so I'm going to go ahead and set that back to R. We also have controls for the Upper and Lower part of the character as well, so I can turn on and off different types of controls. And also the skeleton of the character is actually hidden. So that's a brief overview of this character rig. As we start animating, you'll start to get the hang of how to manipulate this rig and how to work the character.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

65 video lessons · 10004 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  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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