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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.
So once you have your character built and textured, you can now start animating or actually getting your character ready to animate. Getting your character ready to animate is called rigging. Now we are going to just do a very simple rig, just to kind of get your feet wet in rigging a character. Here I have our little dog and let me just show you the basic rig and then we'll go ahead and get started. Now the character himself is basically a couple of objects. We've got the body. We've got the head. We've got the arms and the hands.
Now in order to actually animate him we need to do what are called deformations. We also need to create what are called joints and skeletons. In fact, if I hit this button to X-ray joints, you can see that each arm has a little skeleton in it. So if I grab the hand and move that, you can see that his arm bends to deform. Now this isn't a complete, fully rigged character. We actually have another title that shows you how to do that. But I am going to show you just enough to get him on the scooter and actually animating.
So I've got the hands and the arms set up here. Also, I have got a little bit of a setup for the head, and I've got what's called a blend shape. If I go into Window > Animation > Editors > Blend Shape, you can see I've got something set up for his blinks. So I can actually blink his eyes, which is nice. It makes him come to life. Also, I have a little bit of deformer on the ears. So if I go into my Attribute Editor, you can see I can manipulate his ears so that they are a little bit floppier.
So all of these are really just basic tools that are all put together to rig the character to get him going. So let's go ahead and open up a blank character. I have got a file here called Dog_15, and this is basically our same character without any rigging. So what we need to do first is insert the skeleton into his arm. So let me show you a little bit about some of the animation tools. We have a whole menu set called Animation and we also have some animation tools here on the shelf. We can use either.
Now the one we are going to talk about right now is under Skeleton and it's called the Joint tool. Now what this does is it allows you to draw what are called skeletons or joints. And what these joints do is they're used as-- they are basically proxy objects. They are just objects that are in the scene. They don't render, and they give you the tools you need to actually deform other things. So let's go ahead and just use the basic joint tool. I will show you how to draw one, and then we will put one in the character's arm.
So under Skeleton we have what's called the Joint tool. We can either get to it here or here on the shelf. I am going to go here to Joint tool. And when we do, our cursor changes and all you do is left-click, and what we've done is we've laid down what's called a joint. Now what this is is it's kind of a joint like an elbow or a shoulder. What we're doing is we are actually drawing the points where things bend. So if I click again, you can see it's created another joint and in between those it's drawn something similar to a bone.
So if I draw three of these, and then hit Enter, you can see I've created what's called a joint chain. So I could select one and then rotate it. I can also move it to reshape the joints, and so on. So let's go ahead and take a look at this in the Outliner. So I am going to go into Window > Outliner. You'll see here we've got joint1 and then if I expand this, you will see that it's automatically created a hierarchy. So I have joint1, joint2, and joint3.
Now these are basically just proxy objects. So each joint is actually that circular object. This kind of bone shaped object that's in between them really isn't selectable. It really just is a visual guide that says, oh, I've got joints between these objects. So if I were to change out the hierarchy, let's say I was to select joint2 and I was in the Outliner and I middle- clicked and I dragged it above the joint, you will notice that once the hierarchy is broken this connection disappears.
The joint is still there, but there's no indication of connection between them. So all I have to do is just middle- click on joint2, drag it again over joint1, and the hierarchy goes back to normal, and the connection is visible. So let's take a look at the joints in the Attribute Editor. So if you look at the joint, you will see it really only has one tab here. And one is for transform attributes. How far it's moving. So if I move it, you can see that these numbers change. If I rotate it or scale it, whatever I do, these numbers basically just reflect what's going on in the Channel Box right there.
Now in the Attribute Editor, you also have a couple of other ones. We can actually create what are called draw styles. So we are drawing this as a bone. You can also draw it as a circle. In your viewport and let's go into Perspective viewport here, you could actually see these as circles rather than bones. We could also see them as what are called sticks. So you can actually have something as a renderable object.
So this will actually render. We can show them as squares. Really whatever you want. I am going to leave it at Bones, because that's probably the easiest way to visualize this. We can also create what are called joint labels, so if we wanted to, we could actually create a label and we could call it whatever we want it. Now this really matters when you're rigging human type characters, because you can actually give these names. You can call it a shoulder and actually draw a label. So I can say this is my shoulder, this is the elbow, for example, and draw that label and you could say, well, this is actually my left elbow and this is my left shoulder.
Now this is kind of nice for reference, but there's also a deeper, deeper purpose to this and that is when you get seriously into character animation and you get into things like motion capture, that sort of thing, it's great to be able to tell Maya that this is a shoulder, and that's an elbow, and then when your mapping something like motion capture data to your character. It will know to place the elbow motion on that particular joint. So it's great for mapping one character to another.
Now we are not going to get nearly as deep into that, but just know that it's there. So now that you understand a little bit about joints, let's go ahead and draw some for our character. I am going to go hop back out and actually I am just going to go and select this and delete it. Let's go ahead and draw some new bones for our character. I am going to go into my side view and zoom into my character. Now what I want to do is I've got this arm and I want to be able to draw a joint that goes from the shoulder, to the elbow, to the wrist.
So let's go ahead and draw that. I am going go ahead and select my Joint tool, and then for my shoulder, I am not going to go right dead center on the shoulder. I am going to go slightly above it, just imperceptibly above it, and I am just going to lay down that first joint. Then for the elbow, I am going to go right about here, right in the center. There's actually a little bit of detail here that allows my joint to bend. So what I modeled this, I put a couple of extra edge loops here and here.
So I just want to make sure that it goes here. And again, for this one I want to go slightly below the center line. Now there is a reason that I'm doing this. Snd then for the third one, for the wrist, I just want to make sure I go beyond the wrist and again I want to go above. So now I am going to hit Enter. Now what I wanted to make sure is that I've got it going a little bit of a V along the axis. So I want to make sure that the elbow is a little bit lower, and that's going to help the deformation when we get what's called inverse kinematics.
So now that I have this drawn, I can go back into my Perspective view and frame all, and you can see that well, I drew it, but I drew it along the center line. So all I need to do now is just move that and center it to my character. Now there's a really handy tool in the viewport and that's called X-ray joints. When it's off, all the joints are hidden. But when it's on, you can actually see joints through the mesh. And this is very handy when you're doing character animation.
So I just want to make sure that this is centered. Now if I want, I could actually label this and just go ahead and say, well, this is left shoulder, and this is left elbow, and this is left wrist. Now that I have this, I can certainly duplicate it. So all I have to do is select the root of the joints and just hit Ctrl+D for duplicate and move the other side over.
Now I have modeled this symmetrically, so I know that everything is going to be the right size. Then all I have to do is just rename, and in fact, if I want to, I can go into my Outliner and now I have this one called LShoulder1, but actually it's supposed to be Rshoulder, so basically just rename this, RElbow and RWrist, and there we go. So now the skeleton is all set up and ready to go and ready to deform the character's mesh.
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