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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.
The next tool we are going to look at his called Paint Skin Weights and this uses Maya's painting interface to allow you to adjust the weighting of your character's skin. Now if you're familiar with paint effects, the sculpt tools, or Maya's Painting tools you should catch on to this fairly quickly. But let's take a look at this interface. The way that you get into it is to select our mesh, go Skin > Edit Smooth Skin > Paint Skin Weights tool. Let's go ahead and select the options for this tool.
We really need the options available. And when you do that, this interface comes up. Now we are on a fairly tight screen. So I am going to have to scroll up and down here. Along the top we have the type of brush that we have, and notice how my cursor has changed to a brush interface. This is the exact same interface we have with any of the Artisan tools. So we have the type of brush, we have the Radius of the brush, so we can make that bigger or smaller, or if you hold down the B key on the keyboard you can scale that interactively.
And then, what do we want to paint, Skin Weight. And then down here we have which bone or which joint is affecting the skin weights. So, for example, if I look here you'll see that the left hip is what we are looking at. We are painting the weights for that particular joint. Go down to the knee, we can see we are painting the weights for that, the foot, and so on. So each one of these shows a highlight of how it affects its given area. So you can see that hip joint is affecting that much of the geometry.
Now below this, we have several different modes. Do we want to Paint, do we want Select, or do we want Paint Select? Typically, we will keep this on Paint. And then when we paint, what are we painting? Are we replacing with this value here? Are we adding this value to the existing or are we smoothing or scaling? Okay, so we could smooth to kind of smooth out the deformations if you've got something that's kind of sticking out. Typically, we will start with Replace and we will get to that in just a second.
And then finally, we have Gradient, which is, how do you want to take a look at this in the viewport? If you click this on you can see a color ramp where red is the most affected, green, blue are the least affected. And this might be a better visual cue for you. If you don't want to use this, you can certainly go back to black and white. It's really up to you. I am going to keep this on color, because it's more vivid and it's a better show. So let's go ahead and start painting some weights.
Now one of the things we need to understand is, how is this character deforming? And this is one of big reasons why we did this animation. So right there you can see that I've got a really nasty little situation there, and that's the vertices underneath the pelvis are being affected by that leg bone as it moves off to the side, and that's not a situation that we want. We actually want to attach these vertices to this middle joint here. So we are going to select Spine Root and we are going to paint all of these underneath here to be affected by that.
We want to keep those particular vertices centered. So I am going to keep that on Replace. I am going to keep the value at 1. So now I want to make sure that I paint these. You can actually see how when you click on these, if I keep this at 1, they basically just turn to red. So I can now affect these vertices underneath the body and now when he moves the leg out, we still have a little bit of a problem here.
So we can actually erase them from the hip. So I'm going to create a Replace operation. I'm going to change my value to 0, keep the hip selected, and go through and zero that out. So again I am painting that so that it goes out. In fact, one of the easiest ways to do that is to take a look at it, and you can see how it's already starting to come into place there. As you paint it, you can paint it with that character in animation.
This is one of the main reasons why we are animating this, is so that we can actually see how this works. So if I go up to the top here, I don't want these to be affected by that either. So you can see how I can paint those out and get those back to more of a normal state while it's almost in motion. Now this something we couldn't do if we haven't animated this. So that's the basics of the interface. So we have a number of other things that we can do. We can, for example, replace, we can add, we can smooth.
I think smoothing is actually very handy little tool here. So if I have this leg out to the right, I can increase the size of my brush. Again, I am holding down the B key, and I can just smooth that out and you can see how it kind of gets that dent out of the way there. The key here is to basically take your skeleton and start going through every joint and painting as best you can, the deformations of each joint.
Now this is really just one of those processes that's just going to take time and attention. It is a rather precise process and you only have to go through half the model, because we can mirror stuff from left to right. So just focus on one side of the model, get it exactly the way you want, and then we can move on to the next step.
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