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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.
Now let's go ahead and control the knees of the character. As you can see, I've got the hips in place here, but when I bend the character, I don't really have any control over knee direction, and we can do that by creating another rigging control. Now I already have the icon in place here and it's just this little set of arrows, and it's just kind of visual reference. We are doing this just so that it looks good and it communicates whatever information we need, and I've named this L_KNEE.
I want another one for the right knee, so let's go ahead and just duplicate this now. I'm going into my front viewport here and I am just going to do Edit > Duplicate, and move that one over, so that it's pretty much over that right knee. And I'll go ahead and rename it, R_KNEE. I want to Freeze Transformation, set everything to 0, and then I also want to change the color to green. So now we have green for the right side, blue for the left side, and everything should be pretty much in place.
So now I have this all set up and ready to go, we can start constraining knee direction. Now we did this once before and we do it using the IK handle and it's called a Pole Vector constraint. So the easiest way to get to these IK handles is just to go into the Outliner, and you'll see that under the L_FOOT here, we have an IK handle for the left foot, but the one that we actually want is the left ankle control, which is under the heel. And what this does is this controls the chain that goes from the hips to the ankle.
Now once we've located that, we can now set up our constraint. Now remember, we need to select this last, so, I'm going to select my L_KNEE control and then Ctrl+Select that left ankle. And I want to make sure that that's selected last, so you can see it's here. And then under Constrain, we are going to do a Pole Vector constraint. And that's all we need to do. Now once we've done that, you can see now I'm controlling my knee direction.
So, if I bring this down, you can see that this controls the direction of my knee. I'm going to go ahead undo my way out of this, and let's do this one more time, just so that we can get the process down. So again, I'm going to select the R_KNEE, and then on my R_FOOT under the R_HEEL, I'm going to Ctrl+Select the right ankle. And again, that's the one that I want, Constrain > Pole Vector, and we should be good to go.
So now again, this controls that. There we go. So now we have controls for pretty much the entire lower body of the character. We've got the feet, the hips and the knees, all under control for our character.
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