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Using the Paint Skin Weights enhancements

From: Maya 2011 New Features

Video: Using the Paint Skin Weights enhancements

Another new feature of Maya 2011 are some additions to the Paint Skin Weight tool. Now this is the tool you use to customize how a skin is actually connected to a skeleton. Now anybody who's done rigging should be familiar with this. Now I have an arm that's already been skinned and you can see that as I move my time slider you can notice some problems. Well, this one here is obviously the most glaring problem. We have a vertex that was mis-assigned, but also if you look over here towards the chest area, you notice when this elbow bends that the chest also flexes just a little bit, and that's really enough to create some problem.

Using the Paint Skin Weights enhancements

Another new feature of Maya 2011 are some additions to the Paint Skin Weight tool. Now this is the tool you use to customize how a skin is actually connected to a skeleton. Now anybody who's done rigging should be familiar with this. Now I have an arm that's already been skinned and you can see that as I move my time slider you can notice some problems. Well, this one here is obviously the most glaring problem. We have a vertex that was mis-assigned, but also if you look over here towards the chest area, you notice when this elbow bends that the chest also flexes just a little bit, and that's really enough to create some problem.

So we really need to get rid of both of these. So let's go ahead and look at how the new features in Paint Skin Weights can help us. I'm going to go ahead and select the mesh, go into Skin > Edit Smooth Skin > Paint Skin Weights tool and again select this box so we get into our options. Now I'm working on a small screen, so you can see I've got a little bit of a small space, so I'm going to have to scroll. Hpefully you'll be able to see more of this in your window. Now the first new feature is the ability to use gradients or color to paint your Skin Weights.

So if I scroll down here and go into Paint mode and open up this Gradient rollout, you'll notice here that we can actually use a color ramp. Now if this is not turned on, it will revert to default, which is really just a black and white method, or we can turn it on and this really gives us a much richer feedback, so we can actually see a little bit more clearly how each individual joint affects the deformation. So I can actually scroll up here to my Influences. You can just move through this and see exactly how things are being deformed and which bone is deforming which part of the mesh.

Now regarding these problems we could certainly try and fix them just by painting them away but I want to show you a new method of how to fix vertices one at a time. And if we scroll all the way up, you'll notice that we actually have some tools here. Copy, Paste, and another one is called the Weight Hammer, which we'll get into, and then we also have ones that allow us to move weights from selected vertices to different joints. Now all of this involves selecting individual vertices and we can do that by scrolling down, and instead of using Paint mode we use Select mode.

Now notice how all the vertices kind of lined up on this particular mesh and now we can select individual vertices. So for example, if I wanted to I could select this very tippy-top corner vertice here and then use Copy and Paste to paste its weight. So if I scroll this, you'll notice how when this part flexes only the lower part of this chest is flexing. Up here this actually isn't affected all that much.

So what I can do is actually I can use this weight to effect this other one, so I can actually just Copy and Paste this. So let me go in a little bit further here. So let's scroll this one more time, so you can see that this is moving a lot, but this is not. So I'm going to go ahead and Copy this weight. Now you only can do that for one vertex. If you select multiple vertices, they may have multiple weights, so you can't Copy multiple. You can only Copy one, but you can Paste multiple.

So I can select this one vertex and hit Paste, and so what I've done is I've copied from here, pasted here the weight of that vertex, and you'll notice that now that vertex is pretty much rock solid. But the rest of it still is moving. But we can fix that very simply by just doing a larger select and then just pasting again. And notice how that snapped right into place. So now we have a much better deformation.

Now there's still more that we can tweak here, but I just wanted to show you how this works. We can certainly work through this later. Now another one I want to show you is the one called the Weight Hammer and this works kind of a little bit differently. Now if I wanted to, I could actually just go in here and just Copy this vertex weight and Paste it there, and that pretty much would work I would think. But actually the cooler way to do it is to use what's called the Weight Hammer. Now what this does is it averages the closest vertices to that vertex and then it just applies those weights to this individual vertex.

So for example, for this one it would actually average this one and the one on the opposite side. So all I have to do is select that vertex and then just hit the Weight Hammer. Notice how that just snaps right into place. So now when I flex my arm, I've got a much better deformation. So you can see how these new tools allow you to get down to the vertex level with in the Paint Skin Weights interface, and this will really help you to customize your character's deformation very precisely.

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Maya 2011 New Features

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George Maestri
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