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Watch as author George Maestri employs the basic principles of animation to bring to life simple 3D characters in Maya. Starting with an overview of the character rig, this course provides guidelines for arranging stock characters into strong poses and explains how to generate locomotion between poses in a modular fashion. The course includes step-by-step instructions on animating realistic gestures, walks, runs, facial expressions, and dialogue, and culminates with an animated scene built entirely from scratch.
Prerequisite courses: Maya 2011 Essential Training.
When you work with the same character in many scenes, a lot of times that character will be adopting similar or the same poses across multiple scenes, so sometimes it's easier to create a library of poses that you can use as raw material to construct other poses. Now what I have done here is I have created a file called ManyPoses, and it has about 10 or 12 poses in here. I've got a real simple pose with his arms at his side, his hands on his hips, and kind of showing his palms on both hands, and then that slouchy pose, the proud pose that we did before, and then a couple of more specific poses.
Now these can be any pose you want, they could be any number of different poses, but let me show you the technique that I use for mixing and matching poses to create new ones. If I select everything in the character, you'll notice that I have one major pose every two frames. When I animate a scene typically I'll start at frame 1 or somewhere in that range, but I want to be able to hang on to these poses to use in another scene.
So one of the easiest ways to do this is to just slide these frames into the negative frame numbers. So right now this animation is starting at frame 1, but if I just type in -20 into the start time of the animation, you can see how all of a sudden I've got some space here and if I click on the slider here and move it over, you'll see that I can actually keyframe into the negative frames. So what I can do is I can actually take these frames and just select them.
I am Shift+Selecting them on the Timeline, and then I can just drag them back. By doing that, these poses are now in the negative frames. Now I have my default pose here at -18. One of the things I'd like to do is get that maybe to 0. So I am going to go ahead and just copy that. Now remember, I still have everything selected. And put it at frame 0. So now I have basically the character at 0 at frame 0, but I have all these other poses.
So as I go into the animation, let's say I want to start him at a specific pose. Let's say I want to start him with this pose. So what I can do is Select All, find that keyframe, and since I have everything selected all I have to do is copy and paste that. So let's go ahead and start that at frame 1, which is going to be start of our animation. So now we start there and then I can go into any other type of pose. So let's say I want him to go into that pose there, the one at -4. So I can go ahead again and copy, and then I can just slide this wherever I want.
Let's go ahead here maybe to frame 6, go paste. So now he is going from frame-to-frame. Obviously, we'll need to in-between them. We'll get into that later. But you can see how now I'm taking my poses from my kind of stored poses here and using them as raw material. So if I want him to stand straight up or if I want him straighten out his spine, all I have to do is select those spine nodes and find a place where its spine is straight. Copy and Paste.
So now what I'm doing is I am combining poses, so I am taking the spine from a different pose and putting it on this other one. Let's say I want his hands on his hips. All I have to do is select the hand along with the fingers, and then find one of those poses where his hands are on his hips right there. There's one right there, frame 14, so I just copy that, come back out here, and now when I paste, all I am pasting is that arm and now I've got his hand on his hip.
Rather than try and unwind this pose and undo this pose and put it into another one, all I have to do is copy and paste. So this method makes posing much more modular. So if you create a nice library of stock poses and gestures, store them in the negative keyframe. You'll have a lot of raw material to pose your characters with later and posing will go a lot more quickly.
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