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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 start working on the character's head and face. We're going to start by creating a very simple eye that can have a pupil control. So right now, I've actually removed the eyes from this character. We had some proxy eyes in there for the beginning of this lesson, but we're going to go ahead and rebuild those to show you how to build some proper eyes. Basically, for eyes, you just need to start with a sphere. I mean the modeling is pretty easy.
So let's go into the character's front viewport here, and we can build eyes either using Surfaces, NURBS curves, or Polygons, it really doesn't matter. Now, I'm going to go ahead and just create a polygonal eye. So I'm going to just go ahead and just drag out a polygonal sphere, and in terms of size I'm going to make it about 3 units big. Okay, now we can adjust that as we fit the eye to the character. Now, before I actually fit the eye to the character, I want to place a pupil on this particular object.
Right now, it's basically just gray. So I need to either create a second object for the pupil, I need to use my edge loops to define where that pupil is, or I need to create a texture. Probably, the most versatile way is to create a texture. So, I'm going to use a Ramp Shader to create an eye with a pupil. Now, in order to get that shader right, I'm actually going to create a simple plane that can give me a better view of it as I create that.
So I'm just going to go ahead and just drag out a square plane, so I can see that. And then, I'm going to go into my Rendering tab here, and I'm just going to apply a Phong Shader, and then I'm just going to go ahead and turn the color to white, so we can see what's going on, but I actually want to create a texture. Now, I can create a texture using a bitmap and I can create a very photo realistic eye if I want to do that. For this character, we're just going to create kind of like dot or cartoony type of eyes, and we can do that using a ramp.
So in my Phong Shader here, we can go into our Color attribute and just click on this little grid here, and that brings up our Create Render Node option. Now, you're probably familiar with this. But we want to scroll down here and find the one that says Ramp. So I'm going to go ahead and create a ramp. Now, in order to see what's happening in my viewport, I do need to go into Shading, and turn on Hardware Texturing. So you can see that I have this ramp.
Now, it's hard to see because I have a very tight viewport here, but you can see it goes from red to blue. But I really just want to create one that goes from white to black, and is circular. So the first thing I want to do is actually adjust the type of ramp. Right now, it's a V Ramp, which means it goes along the V of the UV range. But actually, what I really want is a circular ramp, and that just basically starts at the center and moves out, so the center is red.
But we want to make this into an eye. So I'm going to make the center black. So I'm just going to click on that color, select black, and then you can see I've got a black center. And then here, this green, well we don't want green, we basically want white. We basically just want a black and white cartoon eye. So I'm going to turn that green into white, select this blue, and again switch that to white. You can see now we're kind of getting a bit of a cartoon eye, but I still need to kind of tighten this up a bit.
So I'm going to grab this little handle here, move it up, that's going to be the diameter of my eye, and then grab this handle and pull it down, and that's really going to be the feathering of my eye; how tight does it go from black to white. So this basically creates my pupil. So now that we have this, I know that I have a material that works for a pupil. In fact, let's go ahead and rename that eye. So now that I have this in my Material Library, I can delete the plane because really I just used it as kind of a scratch-pad, and then select my sphere, right-click, and under Assign Existing Material, here is eye, which is what we've created.
Now, you'll see that well, it's not really mapping properly. But we can easily fix that. We can go into our Polygons menu set, and under Create UVs, just do Planar Mapping. I'm going to go into my options here and we want to make sure that we map along the Z axis. If you can see here, Z is what's pointing straight down the eye. So I want to make sure I map along the Z axis, and I want to fit the projection to the bounding box, which means to the edge of the eye.
So I'm going to take that flat plane and just fit it to the eye, and when we click on Project, you'll see that now I have my pupil, and we also have control over that pupil. So I can scale this up or down. You can see here in my Attribute Editor, under Planar Project, my Projection Width will actually control how big my pupil is. So if I want, I can go as far down as 6. Remember, my eye is 3 wide, so twice that is 6, so 3 on this side and 3 on that side, and I can go anywhere from 6 and above.
So right now, this eye is the smallest it can be, but it can get bigger and all we have to do is just basically increase the projection of the map. And this will allow us to control the dilation of the character's eyes when we get deeper into rigging. I'm going to go ahead and click off of that and just go back into Object mode, and now we have this eye. Now, if I want, I can duplicate this eye and create a second eye. But if you notice here, in this eye, the projection is missing because when I actually duplicate this, that projection goes away.
So if I want to control this eye as well, I'm going to have to create a whole new set of UVs using Planar Mapping. Make sure all that is on, hit Project, and now I've got, again, a mapping coordinate that I can use for each of these eyes. So go back in Object mode here. So when these are done, you can see that each one of these has to have a Poly Planar Projection node on it and that will allow us to control pupils. So those are basics of how to actually create and texture the eye objects, but we still need to fit them to the character's head, and we'll go ahead and do that in the next lesson.
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