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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 the theory of rigging is to make the character easier to manipulate for the animator. A character is basically composed of a number of pieces of geometry that are connected together via a skeleton, and then that skeleton is organized using a rig. So this way the animator doesn't have to dig down and actually animate the character's skeletal bones, or find blend shapes to animate, that sort of thing. So basically what we're trying to do is present an interface to the character that makes it easy to manipulate.
Now not only does it have to be easy to manipulate in the viewports, it also has to kind of look nice and neat in the outliners. So if we go into Window > Outliner, you can see that I have all of my rigging parts under this Master node. We have the Skeleton here, in fact, I can highlight it here in the layers, so I have a skeleton and also I have the character's geometry, and those are all separate nodes.
Everything we need to manipulate the character should be under one Master node. Now also we do have layering set up for this character, so, I can turn off things like Skeletons, I can template or restrict the selection of the Geometry, so that way all the animator has to work with, is the rig itself. So once we do get into the rig, we want to present the controls in an easy to understand format, so, one of things I want to do is give everything a proper naming scheme, and also make sure that it's very identifiable and easy to select.
Now once we go into the rig itself, you can see that also I have additional labels here that allow me to select forward/inverse kinematics so, I can even put labels on the character itself. So just remember the basic theory of rigging is to create an interface for the animator, and it's supposed to make the character easier to manipulate. So always keep that in mind as you start rigging your characters.
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