Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the basics of joints and skinning, part of Maya Essentials 5: Animation Tools.
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Now let's take a look at some Deformation tools that will allow us to use skeletons to deform a character. Now I have a simple example here and this is what we'll be doing in the next few lessons, and this is just a simple fish. Now what I can do is if I turn on Shading and turn on what's called X-Ray joints, you'll see that this fish has a skeleton in it, and this is just a series of objects that allow me a structure with which to deform the fish. So if I were to select, let's take for example this joint here towards the back, I could rotate that and actually deform this mesh.
Now before we actually get this complicated I'm just going to go through some of the basics of how this works. So I'm going to go File > New Scene and let's just draw a simple Polygonal Cylinder. And let's go into our Channel box and under Poly Cylinder, I want to go ahead and make my height subdivisions, let's just make it about 6; I just want to give enough division so we can actually deform this. And maybe I'm going to dial down my Radius just a little bit here.
Now what we can do is we can create what are called joints and use those joints to deform this mesh. Now it's easiest to draw joints in an orthographic view, so I'm going to go into my Front view for this particular scene, and what we can do is we can draw what are called skeletons. We have what's called a Joint Tool and this just another Drawing Tool. So if I select this, you'll how my cursor changes, and then if I left-click you can see I'm just laying down what are called bones.
And these bones are really just objects in a scene. If I go into my Window > Outliner, you'll see that I have my Cylinder, but I also have a joint and each joint is actually a hierarchy. So I've got joint 1, joint 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. And this creates a hierarchy of joints that I can use as a skeleton to deform either character or really any other object.
These joints can be manipulated by rotating them, so this gives me kind of a classic bone action. But if I want, I can move them as well to reposition them if I need too. So let's go ahead and setup as simple bone structure for this cylinder. So I'm going to select all of those joints and delete them, and then I'm going to go into Skeleton > Joint Tool and I'm just going to draw one, two, three, four points here and then just hit Enter, and you can see I've got four joints.
Now I'm going to go hop out into my Perspective window and you can see that, well it's not exactly in the center here. So I just want to adjust this so this is fairly well centered. Well once I do that I can now use us this as something to deform this cylinder. So I do that by selecting my joint chain, so I select the bottom of that chain, which selects everything else, and then Shift+Select my Cylinder. In other words, the Geometry is selected last, and that should be green. And then under Skin we have Bind Skin.
Now there are three separate options here. For the purposes of this course, let's just do what's called Smooth Bind, and I'm just going to go ahead and use the defaults and just bind that. Now notice how that turns red, that means it's actually being controlled by something else. And now once I have this I can select each one of these joints and rotate them. And as you can see the joints now control the deformation of the cylinder. So if I want I can also put Shading > X-Ray Joints on, so I can see the joints through the mesh.
And so now by rotating any one of these, I can affect the cylinder. So now we're going to use just this basic concept in a more complex way to actually deform an entire character in the next few lessons.
- Understanding the animation interface
- Animating objects and their attributes
- Creating, copying, and adjusting keyframes
- Creating breakdown keys
- Animating objects along paths
- Hiding, locking, and limiting channels
- Fitting skeletons to a mesh
- Deforming a mesh with the Skin tool
- Animating a skeleton