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In Maya 2009 New Features, George Maestri demonstrates several breakthrough updates in the latest version of this 3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool. He explores the upgrades to the interface and covers soft selection and other modeling tools. George then delves into more complex new features, including the Asset Manager for organizing objects and nodes within a scene; animation layering to blend, merge, group, reorder, override, and add to preceding layers; Maya Muscle, for creating lifelike skin motion; and nParticles, a new particle system. Exercise files accompany the course.
Let's go ahead and start with Maya Muscle by setting up a very basic Skeleton Deformation System and this will be similar to what we would do with the skin deformer with joints. Now, this is the starting point for Maya Muscle is to basically create the skeleton, create the basic deformation and then you add in the muscles. So I am starting here with a file called Arm_00.mb. If we take a look at it, this is very simple setup. It's just a polygonal arm or portion of an arm and then three joints and I have some animation on those joints so we can bulge the bicep here. Now, we are going to get to that in a bit, but first of all let's just go ahead and set this up.
Now, Maya Muscle has its own set of menus. But it doesn't load by default, so let's go ahead and make sure we have it loaded. So we are going to go to the Windows > Settings/Preferences > Plug- in Manager and just scroll down until you get to the MayaMuscle, which is right around here. And just make sure that it's loaded. And if you want, you can turn on Auto load so it loads every time you'll load Maya, but MayaMuscle is the plug-in that you need to make sure you have that loaded. And once you have that loaded, this menu will show up. So, let's go ahead and take a look at some of these options here.
Now, what we are going to do is we are going to take these joints in this object here and we are going to convert them into what are called Capsules and capsules are essentially the same as rigid objects or the same as the skeletal bones that you have in a character and so let's just go ahead and do that. So I am going to go into my Outliner, I am going to move that over here so you can see it and then I am just going to expand out. We've got 1, 2, 3 joints. I am just going to select all three joints and then under Muscles / Bones, I am going to go Convert Surface to Muscle / Bone. Now, I am converting a joint to a muscle/bone, but you actually can convert a polygonal surface or a NURB surface to a muscle or bone as well, so if you wanted to you could actually sculpted out a real skeleton and use that, but we are just going to use these joints.
So when I do this it's going to ask me which axis aims down the arm length. Now, because I use the standard Maya Drawing tools, the default axis for these joints is the X-axis. Now, when I do that you can see some stuff shows up here. In fact, let's go ahead and shade this. L et me go ahead and X-Ray shade this and may be even turn on Wireframe on Shaded, so let's take a look at what's been created in the Outliner.
Each one of these joints now has a shape attached to it. Now it just a polygonal shape, so these shapes can be use to deform the mesh. So we have to do a couple of things. First we have to make the mesh able to accept the muscles and then we need to add in the deformation. So we are going to start by selecting this mesh here, it's called Cylinder1 and under Muscle, we are going to go Skin Setup and this is the skin of our character, we are just going to Apply Muscle Systems Skin Deformer. Now, what this does is it sets it up to accept deformation from muscles. So when I apply that, it's going to do some stuff and then it's applied. So now, if I looked at it, for example, in the Channel Box, you would see I have a MuscleSystem Deformer right here.
Now, once this is set up with the deformer I can now add in my muscle, in fact I am going to tear this off so we can see this. So all I have to do now is just go Connect Selected Muscle Objects, but of course, before I connect them I have to select them. So I am just going to go ahead and select everything, my joints and my joint shapes and then I am going to Ctrl-Select that pCylinder1 last and then I am going to connect all those as Muscle Objects. So what that does now is it connects the muscles to the skin, but if I scrub this you can see it's still not deforming. I have to do one more step. I have to add in my Weighting. So all I can do here is go Apply Default Weights.
Now, when I do this it brings up a little menu and I have a number of different ways of deforming it. These are actually just presets for how to do the weighting. You can do Jiggle, Relax, you can do Sliding skin or Sticky skin or really any type of skin you want, there is a lot of different defaults. I am just going to select this Sticky, which is my basic default here and then you can also select a Smoothing value and I am just going to leave everything at the defaults and then just go Apply Default Weights. When I do that, it does a bunch of stuff and it will do a few collections and then I get my deformation.
So this is the first step for doing this. Now, we can add in our muscles. So let's go through this one more time. We create our joints and then what we do is Convert the Surfaces to muscles or bones, then we select our Skin, Apply the Skin Deformer, add in the selected Muscle Objects and then Apply Default Weights and now once we've done that, we have our deformation, so there we go. Okay, so now let's move on to adding in muscles and doing some more sophisticated work.
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