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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.
Probably the biggest reason for drawing a skeleton into your character is so that that skeleton can be used to deform a mesh. So let's take a look at how to deform meshes. Let's go ahead and start with a very simple cylinder. We are just going to start with something very, very simple, and then we'll work our way up. So I am just going to go ahead and create a simple polygonal cylinder and kind of shape it like let's say the leg or the arm of a character. Now in order to deform this with the skeleton, we need to go ahead and draw one in there.
So let's go ahead and do a very simple skeleton. We are going to go Skeleton > Joint tool and again, just draw one, two, three joints. Now again what I am doing here is I tend to draw things a little bit in this V-shape and that just indicates the direction of the bend, which helps later on when you get more sophisticated into rigging. So all I need to do in order to deform this mesh is to create what's called a skin. Now there are three types of skin. There is Smooth Bind, Interactive Skin Bind and Rigid Bind.
So let me show you the basics of these. I am actually going to go into my Perspective window here. So all you have to do is select the skeleton and all the joints or the hierarchy of the skeleton and then Shift+select your mesh. Then you can bind the skin. So in this case, I am just going to do what's called Smooth Bind. Now Smooth Bind basically works by what's called vertex weight. So whatever vertex is closest to the joint gets weighted more closely to that joint. So once I have my Smooth Bind done, all I have to do is select the joint and rotate it.
Let's go ahead and shade this. And it will bend accordingly, very simple. It's probably the simplest way to skin a character. I am going to see if I can undo this, let's go ahead, yeah, so I have got this undone now. So let's go ahead and select our joint chain and select our mesh and let's go ahead and do the second one, which is called Interactive Skin Bind. Now what this does, it's a little bit more sophisticated. What it does, it create these little shapes around your joints and whatever part of the mesh that falls into that shape gets deformed by that joint.
So I can actually get interactive. That is why they are called Interactive Skin Bind. I can actually scale this up or down. I select a different joint. I can actually scale that up or down, and control very interactively how much of that mesh gets deformed by that joint. So now when I rotate that joint, again it manipulates the mesh. Now on this simple type of geometry you might not see much of an effect, but just know that that's how that work.
So I am going to go ahead and undo that. In fact, another way to undo it is just to go Edit > Delete by Type > History, and now go ahead and get rid of any deformation you have on it. Again, I am going to select the skeleton and the mesh and then let's do what's called Rigid Bind. Rigid Bind is the oldest type of deformation in Maya. It was the first type of deformation they had, and this doesn't have really soft selection. It's basically just the vertex is either on one joint or the other.
So it's basically either it's on this joint, or it's on this joint, and that's it. But Rigid Bind has a number of other tools that allow you to put lattices around joints, that sort of thing, to allow you to control a little bit more closely how the bend works. So those are some of the basics of Bind Skin. Let's go ahead and use those on our character. Let's go ahead and open him up. I saved it out as Dog_16 and here we have the joints.
I did not put a skeleton through the hand. So I'm going to actually move those out so that we don't get so confused here. So all we really want to deform is this particular arm. So for this really almost any one of those binding should work because it's really not all that sophisticated. We really don't need the Interactive Skin Bind. So in this particular one I am just going to do Bind Skin > Smooth Bind and that's the easiest way to do it. So now I've got my arm bending along with my character.
Let's go ahead and move that, pan back. And we can do that again. Select Skeleton, select the arm, Skin > Bind Skin > Smooth Bind. Now if you wanted, you could use Interactive or Rigid Bind. Any one of those will actually work for this simple of a piece of geometry. Just know that we have three different ways to bind a skin to a skeleton in Maya and each one has its own advantages.
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