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Using Muscle Creator to create and edit muscles

From: Maya 2009 New Features

Video: Using Muscle Creator to create and edit muscles

Now, let's take a look at how to add in more realistic muscles. We've already done skeletal deformation, let's go ahead and do muscle deformation. Now, I have saved out that last project that we've worked on it and it's called Arm_01.mb and essentially what this has is the skin that's being deformed by this skeleton. So what we can do now is add in actual muscles. There is two methods for doing this. So I am going to show you the first one and that's through the Muscle Creator. So, let's go ahead and look at this menu here. So what this does is it brings up a menu that allows us to create or edit muscles. So we are going to start off with creation.

Using Muscle Creator to create and edit muscles

Now, let's take a look at how to add in more realistic muscles. We've already done skeletal deformation, let's go ahead and do muscle deformation. Now, I have saved out that last project that we've worked on it and it's called Arm_01.mb and essentially what this has is the skin that's being deformed by this skeleton. So what we can do now is add in actual muscles. There is two methods for doing this. So I am going to show you the first one and that's through the Muscle Creator. So, let's go ahead and look at this menu here. So what this does is it brings up a menu that allows us to create or edit muscles. So we are going to start off with creation.

Now first thing we have to do is give it a name. So let's go ahead and create a Bicep and then we have to give it a number of Controls. How many different points of control along this are we going to need? Now one thing about this is that once you've created this you can't go back and change the number of controls or cross sections, so you really need to consider how many you are going to need. Now typically five is plenty. I find that I can actually get away with three and I am going to drag this down to three and then the number of Segments around which is basically, the muscle is a cylinder, how much radial detail do you have and then also what we have is the Attach Start and End.

In fact, I am going to go into my Outliner here, I am just going to click this little icon here and so I am going to select my joint1, I am actually selecting the joints, not the shape, and so we are going to select joint1 as my Start Attach point and joint2 which is my elbow as my second Attach, so I am going from here to here. So basically from the shoulder to the elbow and these are going to be my Attach Points and then it says you want to create a MuscleObject shape node. And I'll say yes and then if you are working on a symmetrical character or something like that, you can also Mirror this.

We can create a Mirror Muscle that's identical, but we are not going to do that here. We are just going to go ahead and click this button here, which is Create Muscle and what this does is it creates a muscle. In fact, let's take a look at this in the Outliner creating the whole bunch of stuff here. So let's take a look at this. So what it did was it created starting and end points under joint2, so essentially when this bends you can see it actually is moving these little locators. These locators actually control where the muscle attaches along this form essentially and then these two here, Start1 and Start2, these actually control where it's attached to the shoulder. So what we can do is we can move these around to reposition the muscle and reshape how it works.

Now, in this case it's actually put the muscle in a little bit sideways. I really want the muscle to turn 90 degrees. So the easiest way to do that is select both of those and I am just going to go ahead and group them. Now these are just locators so you don't have to have them in the hierarchy, if you group them you can really do whatever you want with them and then I am just going to rotate those 90 degrees. Actually let me go ahead and look this up and you can see what it does is it creates this flat shape and that's basically what my muscle is. Its squash NURBS sphere shape. In fact, I am going to go ahead and move that muscle a little bit up on to the forearm so now when it bends, you can start to see how this is actually starting to flex. May be I can move it back just a little bit, but typically bicep actually isn't attached right at the elbow, it's actually attached a little bit further down from the elbow, so that way it can actually pull that arm in this liver there to work.

So I have got that first part of that working and now what I need to do is rotate the back part of this muscle here. So I am just going to select these two locators and again group, Ctrl+G, and that groups them and then I can just again rotate those 90 degrees and then again I can move that group wherever I want. So now, I've got a nice muscle, may be I can move this up a little bit, and if you want, you can also move these locators and what those will do is those will move the actual attach points.

So if you are rigging a character you might want to get something a little bit more accurate, like for example, here you might want to move these attach points in on the forearm to give it a little bit more of an natural profile because it is going to be thicker at the shoulder then it is at the elbow. So now that I have this I can add in this muscle to the deformation I already have. In fact I've got some layers setup here, let's go ahead and turn this off, you can see that this skin is not really deforming with that muscle. You can see the muscles there in red and the skin is in green and so the muscles not affecting the skin, the skin is just affected by the bones in the joints.

So what we can do is we can add that muscle in. So I am just going to go ahead and select the shape, so actually select that NURB surface and then Shift-Select my arm geometry. And then I am going to go Muscle > Muscle Objects and we are going to use the exact same menu option we have before which is Connect Selected Muscle Objects. So let's go ahead and do that. It's going to say what's my bind distance which is basically how far away from this muscle is it going to affect the skin. I always just do Auto-Calculate because we can go back and repeat these and change these later. Let's just do Auto-Calculate. So what this does is it brings it into the calculations of the arm, but we still need to reset our weights.

So let's go ahead and go one more step here, Apply Default Weights, which is exactly what we did before, but now we've added in this additional muscle and then again we are going to pick whatever weight preset we want to, we leave this as Sticky and just go Apply Default Weights. Now, you can see the muscle is actually bulging that arm. In fact, if I select this muscle here and I add this into that layer, you can see-- So now that I have got this hidden, let's go ahead and turn off X-Ray here. As you can see this is joint now is affected by the muscle.

So as the muscle moves it bulges and it affects the underlying surface, pretty cool. So you can obviously go through an add muscles into the entire character and entire body and get a much more rich deformation. So, this is the first way of creating muscles and that's just creating muscles and attaching them manually. The other way is just sculpt muscles and let's go ahead and show that in the next lesson.

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Maya 2009 New Features

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George Maestri
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