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Game Character Creation in Maya
Illustration by John Hersey

Rigging the legs and feet


From:

Game Character Creation in Maya

with Chris Reilly

Video: Rigging the legs and feet

So we have got our skeleton set up. To help us in the process of animating, I'd like to build in some controls that make different parts of the skeleton easier to move and easier to select. So I am just going to zoom in here on the leg and right now I can click on these individual joints and I can rotate these around, so I am just going to use the Rotate tool here. So I can rotate these to pose them and I can go through each one. That's a little tedious and that's kind of more work than I'd like to do just for the legs. So let's take a look at one easy way that can help posing our legs go little bit easier.
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  1. 3m 50s
    1. Welcome
      39s
    2. What you need to know before watching this course
      1m 9s
    3. Understanding game asset creation
      1m 21s
    4. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 25m 35s
    1. Setting up scene folders (Maya and Unity)
      3m 58s
    2. Optimizing geometry
      3m 14s
    3. Using symmetry
      4m 8s
    4. Extruding geometry
      4m 19s
    5. Sculpting geometry
      4m 1s
    6. Importing reference sketches
      5m 55s
  3. 37m 14s
    1. Modeling the head and nose
      5m 34s
    2. Creating the mouth
      4m 28s
    3. Crafting the eyes
      5m 11s
    4. Building the body and a wing
      10m 11s
    5. Forming the limbs
      8m 5s
    6. Adding finishing touches
      3m 45s
  4. 36m 11s
    1. UV mapping overview
      2m 43s
    2. UV mapping the body parts
      9m 18s
    3. UV mapping the face
      7m 40s
    4. UV mapping wrap-up
      3m 44s
    5. Mirroring
      4m 57s
    6. Texturing
      2m 46s
    7. Normal mapping
      5m 3s
  5. 46m 21s
    1. Setting up the skeleton
      5m 19s
    2. Building the spine
      3m 39s
    3. Finishing the skeleton
      4m 32s
    4. Rigging the legs and feet
      8m 35s
    5. Rigging the torso
      3m 49s
    6. Rigging the arms and hands
      3m 35s
    7. Rigging the face and head
      5m 9s
    8. Rigging wrap-up
      2m 27s
    9. Skin binding and weight painting
      5m 26s
    10. Animating in Maya
      3m 50s
  6. 29m 9s
    1. Exploring the Unity interface
      3m 3s
    2. Importing character and animations into Unity
      5m 50s
    3. Controlling animations with scripts: Third-person character controller
      7m 14s
    4. Controlling animations with scripts: Third-person camera controller
      4m 4s
    5. Making read/write animations using UnityScript Editor
      4m 8s
    6. Controlling scripts with animation events
      4m 50s
  7. 19s
    1. Additional resources
      19s

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Game Character Creation in Maya
2h 58m Intermediate Sep 15, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Get a thorough overview of techniques for creating characters for video games or real-time rendered applications. Author Chris Reilly covers low-poly modeling, texturing and animation, using 3D model and texture assets created in Maya and Adobe Photoshop. The course also includes an overview of Unity 3, including importing characters and making interactive animations with the Script Editor.

Topics include:
  • Optimizing, extruding, and sculpting geometry
  • Modeling a character's head and body
  • UV-mapping the head and body
  • Mirroring and texturing
  • Setting up the skeleton
  • Rigging the head and body
  • Skin binding & weight painting
  • Controlling animation with scripts in Unity
Subjects:
3D + Animation Modeling Character Animation Game Design
Software:
Maya
Author:
Chris Reilly

Rigging the legs and feet

So we have got our skeleton set up. To help us in the process of animating, I'd like to build in some controls that make different parts of the skeleton easier to move and easier to select. So I am just going to zoom in here on the leg and right now I can click on these individual joints and I can rotate these around, so I am just going to use the Rotate tool here. So I can rotate these to pose them and I can go through each one. That's a little tedious and that's kind of more work than I'd like to do just for the legs. So let's take a look at one easy way that can help posing our legs go little bit easier.

So I am just going to undo those rotations. So what I like to use for the legs is called an IK handle. So to make an IK handle, I can go up to Skeleton > IK Handle tool with options. I am going to make an IK handle. I want to make sure that I am using the ikRPsolver, not the ikSCsolver. So when we bring this into Unity, Unity is going to do some calculations based on any IK handles we have and it can only do those calculations with the ikRPsolver. So we'll just make sure that's set and to make an IK handle, we will start with the base joint of the leg, so that's the hip.

Just click on the hip and at the ankle. And now if I go to the Move tool, I can move this IK handle around. It's going to automatically handle the rotations in the joints along the IK handle. Let me just undo that. So that's the way to move the leg a little bit more naturally, and that's going to be helpful as we go through and pose and animate our character. Now another thing I like to do is build in some controls using NURBS curves that make a little bit easier to access the different joints in the skeleton.

So you can see some of these are kind of buried here beneath the geometry of a character, so it's going to kind of hard sometimes to click and access each of these joints, and so let me just show you an example of that with this IK handle here. So we'll deselect that and I am just going to create just a simple NURBS circle. So go to Create > NURBS Primitives > Circle and I will just draw this anywhere for now. That's fine. Let me pull up my Outliner, so go to Window > Outliner, and I'll look at my ikHandle and I will just parent it by middle mouse clicking and dragging on to the nurbsCircle.

So now if I want to move that IK handle around I can select that NURBS circle and move that IK handle around since it's parented. That way I don't have to try to zoom in and click right on the little IK hndle. I can just click on the circle. So that's a much more convenient way to select different parts of my skeleton. So I can just delete that circle and I have actually got some pre-built NURBS curves that I can import into my scene. So rigging-feet-controls, I am just going to import that.

So I have got some curves here that I will use to set up for controlling the different joints in my feet and my legs. So just like we did with the joints in the skeleton I am going to try to keep consistent naming conventions with all of my IK handles and my NURBS curves controls. So this I am going to title ikHandle_Foot_, left and again this is just to help me keep organized. It really does help out down the line. So I would really encourage you to do this. And let's took a look at these control curves.

So I have the main foot control, so that's this circle here in the back and that's going to control also the TOE and the HEEL. So anytime I want to control the foot I can just grab that NURBS circle. So right now if I go to move this around, nothing is going to happen because I don't have these NURBS curves parented or constrained to any of these joints. So the first thing I can do is just grab this IK handle that I created and middle mouse click and drag onto the foot left control.

So now when I select that foot left I can move the whole foot up and down. Now I also want to build-in some controls to allow the foot and the toe to bend as this character walks or jumps or whatever. So I am going to add a couple more IK handles, so I will do one leading from the ankle to the ball of the foot. I will title that ikHandle_Ball_, left.

Then another from the ball to the toe and I will call that ikHandle_Toe_, left. Okay, so my Toe IK handle I'm going to parent to the Toe control. Now when I select this control, I can rotate that toe joint. So if I wanted to make the character tap his toe or if he was bending to kind of push off of this foot and walk or run cycle that would be really easy.

One thing to note is that I have set the reference point for rotation directly underneath this ball of the foot since that's really where it's going to be doing those rotations from. And if I wanted to adjust that, I could just hold down the D key and I could just kind of drag that around. So basically it's just directly under that ball joint. Then the Ball IK handle, we are just going to parent to the FOOT control, because really we just want to kind of keep it along with that ankle. So now let's try this again.

As I move this around, it should move the whole foot and then if we wanted to make that bend we could have control over each of those elements as opposed to just kind of flopping around as we move it. So let's take a look at the Heel control and you will notice that the reference point for the heel control is all the way up here, so if I go to rotate that heel, it's rotating around the ball of the foot and that's actually going to be good for our purposes since we could use this to kind of bend the foot forward. Again, if he is in the point of a walk or a run cycle where he is sort of pushing off of that toe, we are going to want to bend the whole foot kind of forward, have the heel come up.

So I am actually going to find that IK handle for the foot and parent that to the heel. So now when I go to rotate, I can rotate that whole heel over the ball of the foot. So let me zoom out here and we will show one final control. And I am just going to grab the main FOOT control here and use the Move tool to move this up and down. So you will notice as we go up, that knee kind of goes outward a little bit more than I would like it to, so we can actually control that which is great.

So let me undo my movement. We can control that with what's called a pole vector constraint. So I am going to use this square here that's in front of the knee and then I am going to find the FOOT IK handle. I am going to Ctrl+Select. So I first selected the square and then I selected the IK handle that we did at the ankle and go up here to the Constrain menu and select Pole Vector.

So when we want to move this knee around, we can grab this square and that's actually going to control the direction of the knee, so we can kind of make his knee move in and out as we need to. Okay, and as you are setting up controls, one more important thing to look at, let me bring up the Channel Box here. It's really helpful to start all of your NURBS curves at 0. So as I draw a NURBS curve, let me just draw one out real quick and I will show you.

So let's say I wanted to add another NURBS curve here for some other part of the foot. You will notice here that there are some Translate X, and Translate Y, and Translate Z properties for this circle now. Let's say that I wanted to get all of these back into their original poses. With these curves, it's easy because they are centered at 0 in their starting points. This curve not so much because it's got all these just random numbers. So before I do any parenting or constraining what I like to do is go to Modify > Freeze Transformations, and that's going to kind of freeze the translate properties of any of the NURBS controls and their starting points and that makes it easy to go back to the original pose, just by zeroing out all of these controls.

Okay, so the setup is going to be the same on the opposite foot and leg. in the next video we'll look at rigging the spine and the torso.

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