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Using spline IK

From: Character Rigging in Maya

Video: Using spline IK

There is a second type of inverse kinematics that Maya provides and that's called Spline IK, and it works a little bit differently in that it constrains the shape of the IK chain, rather than just the position. We're going to start here with just a blank Maya scene, and lets just go ahead and show you how this works. I'm actually going to go into a side viewport, because it's probably easier to show you in a side viewport here, and we're just going to draw a very simple skeleton. We're going to use our Joint tool, and instead of just a straight skeleton, we're going to draw something that's a little bit more windy or curvy.

Using spline IK

There is a second type of inverse kinematics that Maya provides and that's called Spline IK, and it works a little bit differently in that it constrains the shape of the IK chain, rather than just the position. We're going to start here with just a blank Maya scene, and lets just go ahead and show you how this works. I'm actually going to go into a side viewport, because it's probably easier to show you in a side viewport here, and we're just going to draw a very simple skeleton. We're going to use our Joint tool, and instead of just a straight skeleton, we're going to draw something that's a little bit more windy or curvy.

So I'm going to kind of draw this S-shape curve here, and then just hit Enter to finalize that. Now if I were to use a standard IK handle, it would just constrain the end points of this chain. So if I go into my IK Handle tool, click on the first joint and the last joint, well, the IK handle does work, but it's going to try and retain the shape of that joint. If we want to actually animate the shape of this, we can't do it using the standard IK handles.

So I'm going to go ahead and hit Delete on that handle, and we're going to create a new one. So we're going to go under Skeleton and choose IK Spline Handle Tool, let's go ahead and take a look at the option for this. Now we have number of options here, we're going to leave most of this at default, one is called Root on curve, and that's really where's the root of this joint chain sitting, do we want to auto parent it to a curve, do we want to automatically create a curve? Yes, we want do that and simplify a curve.

The next one is the number of spans, in other words, how detailed do you want the curve to be created? By default, it's at 1, but to show you this a little bit more precisely, I'm going to turn this up to 3, and then we're going to create the joint chain just like we did before. I am going to click on the first joint in the chain and the last joint in the chain, and let's go ahead and close this. Now we have an IK handle here, and if we want we can select this IK handle and if we go into our Move tool, you'll see that well it doesn't work. That's because this type of IK chain works very differently than the ones we were working with before. Let me show you how this works.

Probably the best way to see this is to go into the Outliner, so I'm going to go into my Outliner, and you'll see that I have my joint chain, just like we had before, I have an IK handle just like we had before, but I also have a separate curve. And this curve is actually now the controller of this IK chain. So in other words, the joints of this chain are constrained to follow this curve.

So if I want to manipulate the shape of the chain, I have to manipulate the shape of the curve. So if I right-click over the curve, I can go into control vertex mode and you'll see that we have a number of CVs for this curve. So I can select one of these and move it and as you can see, it's actually changing the shape of this IK chain. And you can see how this can be very, very handy for precisely controlling an object or shape. You can have the joints manipulate the mesh, say the tail of a character, a snake, really anything; a hose, and then the curve is controlling the joints.

Curve controls the joints which control the deformation. Because this is just a standard curve, we can use all sorts of tools to deform that curve. We can just manipulate the control vertices directly, or we can use things such as clusters, or blend shapes, to more precisely control this curve. Now another thing I want to show you is that when I manipulate this curve, the joints themselves maintain the same length.

So if I shorten this curve, you'll see that this joint kind of protrudes beyond the end of the curve. If I lengthen the curve, you'll see that the joints still stay the same length. Now this can be very important in character animation, because the tail of your character will always be the same length. You're not going to be stretching and squashing it, and this can be very important for realistic animation.

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This video is part of

Image for Character Rigging in Maya
Character Rigging in Maya

63 video lessons · 7535 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
  2. 8m 21s
    1. Understanding the basic rig
      2m 53s
    2. Rigging theory
      2m 15s
    3. Organizing with layers
      1m 44s
    4. Naming conventions
      1m 29s
  3. 37m 11s
    1. Using the Joint tool
      7m 4s
    2. Modifying joint attributes
      6m 47s
    3. Creating the lower-body skeleton
      6m 45s
    4. Creating the spine skeleton
      5m 57s
    5. Creating the arms
      3m 38s
    6. Creating hand skeletons
      4m 41s
    7. Mirroring joint chains
      2m 19s
  4. 22m 0s
    1. Working with inverse kinematics (IK)
      5m 56s
    2. Understanding IK solvers
      6m 33s
    3. Blending between inverse and forward kinematics (FK)
      4m 52s
    4. Using spline IK
      4m 39s
  5. 21m 3s
    1. Point constraints
      7m 56s
    2. Aim constraints
      5m 10s
    3. Orient constraints
      4m 38s
    4. Pole vector constraints
      3m 19s
  6. 37m 6s
    1. Setting up IK
      4m 15s
    2. Setting up foot controls
      5m 59s
    3. Keeping rigs organized
      2m 51s
    4. Hiding unused attributes
      3m 37s
    5. Creating a hip control
      3m 55s
    6. Controlling knee direction
      3m 2s
    7. Creating spine controls
      4m 37s
    8. Controlling forward kinematics on the arms
      6m 20s
    9. Creating a master node
      2m 30s
  7. 28m 11s
    1. Working with set-driven keys
      4m 38s
    2. Creating custom attributes
      3m 54s
    3. Wiring joints to custom attributes
      8m 2s
    4. Creating an FK/IK switch
      4m 35s
    5. Setting up elbow controls
      2m 5s
    6. Hiding and showing controls
      4m 57s
  8. 24m 46s
    1. Creating simple eyes
      6m 58s
    2. Rigging non-spherical eyes
      7m 49s
    3. Attaching eyes to the skeleton
      3m 18s
    4. Applying blend shapes
      6m 41s
  9. 42m 31s
    1. Binding skin using Smooth Bind
      3m 28s
    2. Testing skin using animation
      4m 36s
    3. Pruning small weights
      3m 53s
    4. Painting skin weights
      5m 47s
    5. Editing skin weights in the Component Editor
      6m 1s
    6. Mirroring skin weights
      2m 2s
    7. Using Interactive Skin Bind
      3m 36s
    8. Refining skin on the upper body
      2m 3s
    9. Using skeletons to create a jaw
      3m 22s
    10. Refining jaw weighting
      7m 43s
  10. 47m 20s
    1. Setting up a control panel
      2m 27s
    2. Limiting controller motion
      6m 15s
    3. Rigging basic facial controls using set-driven keys
      2m 31s
    4. Rigging the jaw using set-driven keys
      4m 22s
    5. Rigging pupil controls
      3m 29s
    6. Controlling eye direction
      3m 21s
    7. Controlling eyelids with expressions
      5m 44s
    8. Using expressions to rig mouth controls
      8m 1s
    9. Creating a smile/frown control using expressions
      8m 56s
    10. Finishing up the facial rig
      2m 14s
  11. 6m 42s
    1. Cleaning up the rig
      2m 25s
    2. Testing the rig
      4m 17s
  12. 25s
    1. Goodbye
      25s

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