Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Drawing the leg chain, part of 3ds Max: Character Rigging.
Let's go ahead and create the skeleton for our character. Now we're going to do this in steps. We're going to start off with the leg chain. So let's go ahead and do that. But before I do this, let's go ahead and set our character up. I'm actually going to go ahead and select all my geometry here. And I'm going to hit Alt+x. And what that does is it puts the character into x-ray mode. So you can actually see through the character and this will help us to visualize the character as we grid.
And if we want, we can set our display mode to edged faces. So now I've got a view of my wire frame. But I can also see through it to get an x-ray view. So this will make the rigging much easier. Now before we actually go any further, I do want to freeze my geometry layer so I don't accidentally select it. So I'm going to go back into my layers window here. And then, for my geometry, I'm just going to go ahead and highlight freeze. So remember you want to turn on x-ray before you freeze.
And then, that will go ahead and lock it in. So let's go ahead and start drawing the leg bones of our character. So I'm actually going to do this from a side view. I'm going to use the left view here so I'm actually going to go in here. And I've got this one in wire frame mode and that should be fine. Now we can create bones in a number of places. We can go under our Animation tools and we have a pull down here called Bone Tools, and we actually have a Create mode here.
We can also create skeletons through our standard Create panel here. And if we go into our systems, you'll see we have a rollout here for bones. So actually, I'm going to use this one because it will actually be less cluttered on the screen. So one of the things we need to do is make sure our bones are the right size compared to our character. Because this actually does have a difference in the way that the character will skin. So right now, I have a bone with an height here of four. And if I click on that, you'll see its actually pretty big bone compared to the size or character.
So I'm going to undo that and lets go ahead and make this smaller. I'm actually going to dial this down to about one. Now if you are using a different character, this value maybe different for you. But let's go ahead and start drawing these bones. Now I'm going to draw the legs starting with the hips. So I need to kind of figure out where the hip is on the character. And so I'm really kind of seeing a bit of a circle here. So I'm just going to kind of aim for the center of this circle or right around there.
And then I'm going to just click and drag and draw out my leg bone. So I'm going to first click on the knee and right here my geometry has the knee right about here. And I want to go ahead and go slightly ahead of where I rooted that bone. Because I want to make sure I give a natural bend to the knee so that IK will know how to bend the knee. So we're going to go ahead and click here. And then, we're going to go ahead and set one at the ankle.
And again, I want to make sure that I have a slight bend to the skeleton. Doesn't have to be that much, so enough so that IK will pick up on it. So that's my ankle. And then, I need to draw a foot bone. So where is the ball of the foot? Where's this foot going to bend? Probably right around here. So I'm going to go ahead and click here. And then once more. And then just right at the end of the toe, I'm going to go ahead and click. And then, right-click to exit. So now I have this bone chain here.
And if I go into my front view you'll see that, well it drew it straight down the middle and I need to reposition this over to the side. So let's go ahead and just go into our Move tool and go ahead and position this so that it's centered. And if you look at this particular character, he has an edge that goes down the straight down the middle of its leg. And I am going to use that as kind on my visual guide for how to position this. If you don't find the positioning is right we can use the Bone Tools to re-position our bones.
So if I want, I can go into Animation > Bone Tools. And this gives us a lot of tools for manipulating our character's skeletons. Probably the easiest one to understand is the Bone Edit Mode. So, if you click on this. You can actually click on any bone here, and you can actually move it around and reorganize your geometry there. So I actually don't want to move that, that's actually in the right place. But if we go into the left view here, and let's say we wanted to re-position this ankle bone here, I could select this.
And again, just reposition this without actually affecting the other bone. So this is a really nice way to fine tune and adjust your bones. So now that I have everything in place and adjusted, I need to maintain my naming scheme. So I need to start naming all of these bones, to make sure that I know what everything is. So, I'm just going to go ahead and select this first bone here. And let's go over to our Modified panel and start typing in names. So, this is going to be my left thigh.
But what I want to do is make sure that I have a prefix that tells me exactly what it is. By adding a prefix it will alphabetize so that all the bones will be together. I'm going to call his BN for bone. And then after that I'm going to go ahead and type in what it is. So it's basically bone left thigh. Okay. Actually I don't even need LT. I basically can just do bone L Thigh, and that will be it.
This one will be the shin so for this one I'm going to go ahead and type BN_lshin. And then, if we want we can go into this viewport here and then this one will be BN_left foot or ankle. Let's call this ankle. because that's really where this is going to be bending. So ankle. And then, this one here is the end left toe. Now, the last one is basically kind of the end of the bone chain.
It's not one that's actually going to be deforming the character. So we don't really need to include this as part of the deformation. So I'm going to go ahead and give this a different prefix. I'm going to call this ND for non deform. And I'm just going to call this left toe N, okay. So basically what this does is it tells me that this is a non deforming bone. So everything else is going to deform the character, this isn't.
So this is actually part of how my naming scheme works. So if I want, I can go into my layers here. And let's go ahead and open up our default layer here. So, I had this actually set to my main layer here was the non deform layer. Which was actually the one I want for this, but actually, these ones here, I want to go ahead and select those and move those into the deform layer. Okay, so now I've got these particular ones in this layer and then the other ones in the other layer.
So now we have our first bones in place. Now remember, you draw according to the anatomy of your character. If it's going to deform via IK, you want to make sure that you give the bone a little bit of bend. And then, make sure that you name everything properly
- Setting up layers
- Drawing and positioning bones in the skeleton
- Rigging foot controls
- Creating hip and spine controls
- Setting up IK and FK skeleton controls
- Wiring the IK/FK switch
- Rigging hands
- Skinning characters
- Setting up single- and multiple-axis face controls