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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 that the character's eyes are built, we can fit them to the character's head. Now, I've renamed these eyes. We have left eye and right eye, and let's go ahead and start trying to fit them to the character's head. Now, very quickly, you'll see that these eyes actually don't fit, and that's because the eyes are actually spherical and the eye sockets are not. They're actually kind of an oval shape and so these eyes really don't quite fit in. I mean, I might be able to kind of place them into the eye socket, but you're going to start seeing gaps and then also the eyes are going to protrude out.
Now, if I select the head, hit the number 3 on the keyboard to invoke Subdivision Surfaces, you can see this a little bit more clearly as that we're kind of getting these gaps here. And if I pull the eye out enough to cover the gaps, he's going to start to get bug eyes, which we really don't want because in order to blink the character's eyelids, they are going to have to come forward. So we kind of want to flatten these eyes a little bit, and kind of ovalize them to make them a little less spherical. But that creates a problem because we still need to rotate the eyes in the eye socket and if the eyes aren't oval, we're going to have a problem.
So there's a couple of methods that we can use to do this. Let's go ahead and pull this eye out in front, so we can see a little bit better and let me show you what I mean here. So if I were to say reshape the eye, let's say I were to scale it in order to fit that eye into the socket, that would look good, but as soon as I go to animate that, you can see that eye is going to start to tumble, and that's not really what I want. So I'm going to go ahead and undo that so that it's still spherical. So we need to deform this eye but still enable us to rotate it, so we can look in different directions.
Probably, the easiest way to do that is by using a Lattice. So I'm going to go ahead and select this eye, make sure my Animation menu set is up and under Create Deformers, I'm going to go into Lattice. Now, let's take a look at the options here. Under Divisions, normally it's 252, but I want to make sure this is set to 2, 2, and 2, so that way, it's just a box. We want to make sure we are in Use local mode, and then also it's nice to group the base and the lattice together.
That'll make it a little bit easier to organize. So let's go ahead and create that, and it creates this little box. But this box is a lattice. So if we right-click over it, we have a Lattice Points, and we can select those lattice points and basically just model this into the shape we want. So if I go into Move mode, rubber band- select the front lattice points on that. I can squash my eye into a little M&M shape. But the really cool thing is that if I actually select the eye itself and rotate it, it maintains that M&M shape, but it rotates the pupil over the surface of that eye and this is exactly what we want.
So I need to go ahead and place this into my character's head. So let's go into the Outliner and see what we have here. When we take a look at this in the outlining, you'll see we have the R_EYE, we have our Lattice Group with our lattice, and our base. So I'm going to go ahead and select my Lattice Group, Ctrl+Select my right eye, and let's group those together. So we're going to go Edit > Group. So now I have this group with everything in it, and I can double-click on that, and call it say, for example, R_EyeGroup.
So that way, I have a descriptive name. Select my R_EyeGroup and Modify > Center Pivot, and let's go ahead and move that into place. So now I'm going to start adjusting my lattice to fit the eye into place. Now, at this point, I have my geometry live, but I'm going to go ahead and in my Geometry layer, turn that to R, so that way, I don't accidentally select it and I can still select my lattice points.
Now, in order to really adjust this, I need to select the lattice points that are inside the character's head. So I'm going to go into a quad view here. So that way, I can kind of select things in this side view and still adjust them in my perspective view here. So hopefully, this will all work. I need to right-click over my lattice, select lattice point, and then we can start adjusting here. In fact, I can look at this here; Shading, go to Smooth Shade, and turn on Hardware Texturing.
So let's go ahead and start moving that into place. So again, I'm kind of making this eye a little bit more oval, so it's not a complete square from the front, and actually, that's starting to look pretty good here. So there we go! So you don't have to do too much adjustment. This is actually pretty close. I can probably bring these ones out a little bit more. So you can see you can also select them here, and there we go! Okay, so it looks pretty good.
Maybe these ones can go back just a hair. So what I'm trying to do here is just get an even outline around that eye, and I can spend probably a little bit more time adjusting this, but I'm just going to go back into Object mode here. And you can see now I've got this eye that will rotate in the socket and stay in the socket. So that's pretty much all we need to do. So let's go ahead and do this once more for the left eye. So I select my left eye, go Create Deformers > Lattice, we should be able to use those same options there, and then go into my Outliner, select this group, Ctrl+Select my L_Eye, group them, Ctrl+G, rename the group L_EyeGroup.
So go ahead and select my L_EyeGroup, go into Move mode; Modify > Center Pivot. And let's go ahead and set that into place here. So again, I'm going to move this eye in, and then go into my lattice points and first thing I want to do is go ahead and squash the front of the eye. In fact, probably the easiest thing to do is to make this shape almost exactly the same as the other lattice shape.
So I can just grab the back lattice points, and move them in, so that they're pretty close to what the other one is. Grab the ones here along the bottom, move them up, and again you can see how we're kind of starting to get this into place. I can tweak this a little bit more, but I think you get the gist of it. So once we have all of this in place, go into our Outliner and we can either take our eyes separately, or both of our eye groups, and then just group them once more, so that we have them nice and organized and we can call that Eyes.
So now I have this which allows me to have both of my eyes, and then I can go into these groups to adjust them if needed. So those are some of the basics of how to rig non-spherical eyes. Lattices are probably your best bet with doing this, but you can use a number of different methods as well.
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