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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now, there are going to be times when you want to animate the shape of something. You want be able to move from one shape to another. Maya's Blend Shapes really helps with that. Let me show you some real basics of it, and then we'll apply it to our character. So, let's go ahead and just create a simple object here, and let's say I have a sphere and I am going to go ahead and duplicate it.
Do Ctrl+D, duplicate it, and then Shift+D to duplicate it again. So, this original sphere, I am going to go ahead and keep that the way it is. Then I am going to create to what I call shapes. So, I am going to select some vertices of these, and maybe even go into soft selection, so make sure I have that turned on, and just kind of deform one of these spheres.
Then go ahead into the other one and deform the second one in a slightly different way. So, now I have these three objects here. Now, they all were created based upon the same objects. So, I've got this sphere and then I have got the same sphere basically with just a different shape, and this one has another one. It's the same object, just a different shape. Now, what I can do is I can actually animate between all of these shapes using what's called Blend Shape.
Now all I have to do is Shift+Select the shapes I want to use and then my master object. So, I select my master object last. So, in this case I am going to select my sphere last. You know it's selected last when it's bright green and everything else is white. Then all I have to do is make sure I go into Animation and then under Create Deformers at the top of the list we have one called Blend Shape. So when I do that, well not much happens. But actually something happens behind the scene.
So, if we look down here under INPUTS we have what's called blendShape, and we have a value for each one of these. So, Sphere3 and Sphere2 each can now contribute to this. Probably the easiest way to do this is by using an Animation Editor called Blend Shape. When I open that up it brings up this little floating window and it allows me to use these sliders to dial in each one of these shapes. So, if I wanted to look like this one, I dial it in.
If I wanted to look like that one, I dial it in. If I wanted half one and half the other, then I can dial that in as well. This is a really great way to create all sorts of shape animation. So, for example, you could have a flowing blade of grass. You could animate between those. Or in this case with Character Animation you can use it for blinks. You can use it for mouse shapes, such as dialog, that sort of thing. It's very handy for a lot of different applications. So, let me show you an application that works for our character.
I am going to go ahead and open a scene, Dog_18, and this is our basic dog. Now, what we've got is I've created a second head for the dog. So, let's go ahead and do a simple blink. So, I am going to go ahead and just take this head and duplicate it. Then I am going to take my duplication and I am going to model it. So, we are going to go ahead and select some vertices.
Soft Selection, I still have Soft Selection on, which actually will help with this. Then I can just go ahead and start manipulating my surface. All I have to do is just go ahead and select the vertices for the upper and lower lid and dial them closed. Well, I am going to go ahead and just do it very quickly. Once we do that, all I have to do is select this, select my head, and then just do Blend Shape.
Go to my Blend Shape window and you can see I'm getting a blink, but it's not quite the same. I am actually going to go ahead and Delete History on this. Let's go ahead and just use my preset head here. So, I've got in my Outliner. You'll find there's an actual object here called Head_Blink. Then all we have to do is do Display > Show > Selection. You can see that I've actually modeled that.
It took a little bit of time, so I didn't want to go through that whole process. But all I did was exactly what I did before. Took the head, copied it and then modeled it, so that I have the blink. So, all I have to do is select this head, select the head that I'm using, Create > Blend Shape. So, now that I have that Blend Shape, I can go in to my Animation Editors and now I've got a very nice blink. You got to make sure that as these things blink that they come out and completely cover the eye, because the eyes are somehwat spherical.
So, now I've got my character so that he can blink. Now, this Blend Shape can be used for all sorts of things. You could obviously use it for mouth position. So, if you want to open his mouth or make him smile, do that sort of stuff, you can certainly do that. You can also use it in any other type of organic animations. So, if you wanted to just model a couple of different shapes, you can then just blend between those. It's really a great way to animate.
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