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Maya 2011 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with the Interactive Skin tool


From:

Maya 2011 New Features

with George Maestri

Video: Working with the Interactive Skin tool

Maya 2011 has a whole new way to skin characters and it's called Interactive Skin Bind. Now, this is actually very familiar to those who've used 3ds Max, because I think the technology has been gleaned from that. It's actually very similar to the way that Max skins characters. So let's go ahead and take a look at what we have here. I have got an arm that's bending at the elbow, very familiar to what we've been doing before. So let's go ahead and select the root of that skeleton, Shift+Select the skin, and let's go into Skin > Bind Skin and you'll see we have a third option now called Interactive Skin Bind.

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Maya 2011 New Features
1h 22m Intermediate May 13, 2010

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Author George Maestri explores the significant and robust feature set in Maya 2011 that add functionality for its 3D workflows in Maya 2011 New Features. This course covers the addition of Bezier curves for NURBS modelers, the Connect Component and Spin Edge tools in the polygonal modeling mode, and rigging tools for character animation. Enhancements to rendering and special effects are also reviewed. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Choosing colors with the Color Picker
  • Using the new Shelf Editor
  • Adjusting skin weights with color feedback with Paint Skin Weights
  • Connecting characters to skeletons with Interactive Skin Bind
  • Making object-level soft selections
  • Constraining objects to polys
  • Using the camera sequencer
  • Exploring the Hypershade window improvements
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Maya
Author:
George Maestri

Working with the Interactive Skin tool

Maya 2011 has a whole new way to skin characters and it's called Interactive Skin Bind. Now, this is actually very familiar to those who've used 3ds Max, because I think the technology has been gleaned from that. It's actually very similar to the way that Max skins characters. So let's go ahead and take a look at what we have here. I have got an arm that's bending at the elbow, very familiar to what we've been doing before. So let's go ahead and select the root of that skeleton, Shift+Select the skin, and let's go into Skin > Bind Skin and you'll see we have a third option now called Interactive Skin Bind.

So I am going to go ahead and click on the little box here, so we can get our options and we have very similar options to what we would have with Smooth Bind. Bind to the joint hierarchy, bind to the closest member of the hierarchy, that yes, we want that. Closest volume, by minimum weight, that sort of thing. This is brand new. Volume Type, do you want a Capsule or a Cylinder? In other words, do you wanted to have a flat end or a rounded end, and you'll see what I mean once we actually do the bind. And also the skinning method.

Again, we have Classic Linear, Quaternion or Weight Blended. I am actually going to keep at a Classic Linear, and also the number of influences, which is how many joints can actually influence a given vertex. So I am going to go ahead and just leave these at the defaults and just do Bind Skin. Now notice what happens. You get a capsule or a cylinder depending on what you selected. Let's go ahead and select a different joint. Let's go ahead and select this elbow and what you can see here is that it creates, it's kind of like this little capsule that gives me the weights within it.

So when the character moves, the capsule actually moves with the bone and that capsule determines which vertices are captured by that bone. So for example, this one here can go like this or we have this one and so on. And you can see it's very interactive, very visual. Now one of the really cool things is that if you can see this, you can actually manipulate it. So all I have to do is just Left+Click+ Drag and I can resize my capsule, so I can make it more influential or less influential, even to the point where it's not influencing anything.

I can also do it for this side as well. So if I stretch this out, that means it's actually this bone affecting all of this mesh, and if I shrink it down, you'd see it's affecting a lot less. Now we can use this to actually affect how the deformation happens. We can affect this even further by going into Skin > Edit Smooth Skin > Interactive Skin Bind Tool, and just clicking that options box there.

And now these are the options for this particular tool. Notice it's very similar to Paint Skin Weights, but we can't paint. But we do have some nice skin binding settings. So we have Influences, which allows us to select the joints. Reflection Settings, which like the Paint Skin Weights allows us to mirror it on to the other side of the character. And then the Skin Binding Settings, which is really just how much does it falloff after it gets away from the joints.

So what we have here is a falloff curve. Now we can actually create our own falloff curve or we can select custom falloff curves. So you notice how this curve kind of changes. Or I can actually just draw out myself by left clicking. I can even put my own ones in there by just clicking however I want, and if I want to get rid of that, you'd just hit the X. So let's try that again. If I want to move these, I just go ahead and move that point.

If I want to add a point, all I have to do is just click on that line somewhere, and I can add a point. If I want to get rid of an added point, all you have to do is click on this X. Now what we can do is we can actually use this to create a custom falloff for that particular joint. So in some ways it's an easier way to manipulate skin weights, because it's very visual and very interactive. Unlike Paint Skin Weights, it doesn't have that fine degree of control that you get with Paint Skin Weights, which is the ability to take individual vertices and assign them weights and copy and paste and so on.

So this particular method will probably work for simpler characters or characters that are constructed very, very broadly, so that this sort of deformation can work. But go ahead and try it on you characters, see how it works and if you like it, you have one more way to skin a character.

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