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Maya 8.5 Character Rigging provides an overview of rigging, character geometry, and topology, and then delves into the details of how to create professional, realistic 3D characters. Instructor and animation veteran George Maestri shares his expertise on everything from kinematics to character skinning. Using hands-on examples, he teaches users how to best plan, create, edit, and move an animated character with Maya 8.5. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
After you get the legs rigged and the feet, we're going to go ahead and move on to the hips and the spine. Now the hips are really important in character animation. The hips really are the center of most character's motions, and it's going to be the center of gravity for your character. It's also going to be the top node of the little hierarchy that we're going to build, the little control hierarchy that we're going to build for our character. So let's look at where we're at right now. Open Scene 04_03. Okay, now that's our rig with everything, including the legs and the feet that we did, and I went ahead and did the right leg and the right foot as well.
So now what we want to do is create something to control the hips and the spine. Just grab the hips and the spine and just move those around. Again, we don't want to be digging through the character to find joints. We want to make something that we can grab from the outside of the character, so we need to create a control object. And we're going to create those at curves, like we have done with all of these other ones, because that's the best type of object to use, because it's something that doesn't render, it's something you can use as selection mask with.
Again, I can't stress that more. So let's go ahead and Import 04_03_controls. Okay, and that brings in two objects here. Let me move those up. Those objects are, this one called C-O-G, Center of Gravity, or you can call it the hips. It doesn't really matter. And now what I did was actually created this out of a text object, and I just distorted it a little bit. And what it is I just made it kind of more of a fancy-schmansy type of object so that way you'd know that that's the center of gravity, it's a different object.
And I also what I did with both of these, this is actually just a square with a little point on it is I made a point. And what these points do is actually it's going to kind of show you the way these bones are pointing. It's kind of just a visual reference. So what I want to do is create a way to control each of these joints. Now remember, in our last chapter how we played with constraints and how our constraint can almost act like a hierarchy without actually being a hierarchy.
Well, that's exactly what we're going to do is we're going to actually constrain the position and rotation of each of these spine joints to these particular control objects. Okay, so first thing I wanted to do is actually start positioning these. So let's go into Side Viewport here. What I need to do is snap these so that they are coincident with these joints. So I'm going to go ahead and turn on Snap the Points and just snap those.
So if you notice that's snapped in, I can do this in the Perspective view as well, I can just snap that. So now those are snapping to the individual joints. Now, what I also need to do is create a couple more for each of these spine joints. So what I'm going to do is select this one here called SPINE01 and just do Edit > Duplicate. Okay, and now that creates a SPINE02, and I can snap that up here, and again, Apple+D, or Ctrl+D, to Duplicate and one more.
Okay, so now I have got all of my spine joints and my center of gravity. Now, the one thing I need to do, also, is I really want to have a sense as to how these joints are pointed this way as well. So I'm actually going to go ahead and turn off Snap here, and I'm going to rotate these so that they kind of line up with each of these little abdomen joints. Now once I rotate them, I want to zero them out. If you notice here when I rotate it, it goes RotateX and 7.768.
So once I get that done I want to do a Freeze Transformations, and that will zero everything out. Because one of the things is as we rig characters here--oops. Is you really do want everything to be zeroed out, so Freeze Transformations is really an important thing. If you notice here, we have got all these rotations and translations here and they're all different numbers that don't make a lot of sense, but once I freeze it, everything goes to 0. So that way I know I can always get my character back to 0 just by typing in the number 0.
So now, if I ever need this to go back to exactly 0, like I'm rigging something, I can just literally type in 0 and also the same for the center of gravity, Freeze Transformations. Now, what we want to do is create a hierarchy, but also what we need to do is we need to create constraints so that these bones follow these control objects. So first thing we want to do is just go ahead and create a hierarchy. So I'm going to go into my Outliner, my center of gravity is this object, and then I just want SPINE01 to be a child of that, SPINE02, again, highlight SPINE02, middle click drag over SPINE01, same as SPINE03 to SPINE02, and same as SPINE04 to SPINE03.
So now I have got this kind of set up in a little bit of a hierarchy, so I can actually move up and down the hierarchy. And this hierarchy now will control this hierarchy, the hierarchy of joints that is our skeleton. Okay, so how do we do that? All we have to do is do a Point and an Orient Constraint on each of these. So I select my controlling object, which is my center of gravity, and then I Shift-select my hips, so Skel_Hips is my object.
And then what I do is do Constrain > Point > Maintain offset, Add. Constrain > Orient > Maintain offset, Add. So what do we got here? So now when I move this particular object, the skeleton follows. When I rotate it, the skeleton follows. But the really cool thing is this is outside of the hierarchy of the hips, so I have got all of this stuff outside of the hierarchy of the hips.
And when I look in my Geometry, this is also outside my character, so now I can just select anyone of these outside of my character, and I have controls that are easily accessible, and that's the big point of rigging. And so, let's just go ahead and do that for the rest of these objects. I'm just going to go ahead and zoom in here. I'm going to use my Select tool here, select my SPINE01, Shift-select this joint, Skel_Spine01, Constrain > Point. Now it should default to Maintain offset.
You really should just be able to go to Constrain > Point, Constrain > Orient. Okay, and then we select the controlling object, which is 02. Constrain > Point > Orient, Point > Orient and for the last one for 04, Point and Orient. There we go. Now I have got joints that will rotate and so on and so forth.
And because I have got a Point Constraint on there, I can't stretch the spine. Okay, now this may not be something you want to do, if so, you can just lock down translation here by just doing right-click and just take off translations. So you can just do right-click, and you can just do a Lock Selected, and that would lock Translation. If you're going to do some cartoony animation, then you can actually stretch your character which is kind of cool. So that's the basics of the spine. So now we have got a spine, and now we're going to work on the arms next.
So let's go ahead and go there.
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