Join Chris Reilly for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up the skeleton, part of Game Character Creation in Maya.
So now we are ready to give our low poly character ready for rigging an animation. So let's think about what that means. We are getting him ready to move around and animate, maybe walk, maybe run. So we need to tell Maya where his body parts are going to bend. So basically where his joints are going to be and we do that by setting up a skeleton. So I am going to switch to the Animation menu and I will start out in the front viewport here. I am just going to maximize that by clicking the spacebar. So you will notice I've deleted the high poly layer and the high poly version of our model, because we are done with that and all we needed that in our last chapter for was to give the normal map.
So we are just working with the low poly character. I am going to go ahead and create a new layer where our skeleton is going to go. Let me call it skeleton. And I will start the skeleton with a Joint tool. So I am going to click on Skeleton > Joint Tool and I want to draw the first joint in the skeleton right about where this character's pelvis would be. As I do that I am going to hold down the X key to snap to grid. Just like we did when we modeled the character, we are only going to build about half of the skeleton and then we can mirror it over the Y axis since we already know our geometry symmetrical we can build the symmetrical skeleton too and that will save us some work.
So I am holding down X. I am just going to click right there. So that's our first joint and as I do this I am going to bring up the Outliner by clicking Window > Outliner. As I build my skeleton I am just going to title each one of the joints and this is a really good practice to get into as we go through animation and as we bring our character into Unity. This will make it much, much easier to work with so we will know that we will have a left hip and left knee for instance as opposed to joint 12 and joint 13.
This is just going to make a lot more sense. So with the Joint tool still activated I will switch out of Front view back to my four panel view and I am actually going to look from both the side and the front since I'll need to align these joints to the geometry. So just keep clicking only to the left hip now. So I will click to place that joint right about there, right about where that left hip would bend, and from the side view I will click W to turn on my Move tool and just move that up a little bit. So that's positioned more closely to the center of the leg. I will click back to activate my Joint tool and we will do the knee and I'll just move that forward.
So you might notice now that Maya didn't draw in the bone between those two joints. Let's take a look again in the Outliner. So you can see I have this joint too. So that's going to be my knee joint. Let me just re-title that and I have this root joint, which is my root and my hip joint. So if I expand this see I have the joint from my hip and I will just label that Hip_L. I can see in the hierarchy the hip is underneath root and then knee is down here by itself.
Where I want this to be in hierarchy is underneath the hip. So we go root > hip > knee. So I am just going to middle-mouse drag and drop that knee under the hip and you see Maya automatically builds in a bone in-between those two joints. So the skeleton is really just arranged by its hierarchies. So you go knee down to ankle, to toe and so on. And if you don't want to do parenting for every single joint like this-- let me just undo this here-- we can also go to Skeleton > Insert Joint tool.
This way if we click on that knee joint we can just draw a joint down to the ankle with a bone already attached and it's going to handle the parenting for us. So then from the Front view I'll just align that with the ankle and keep labeling as I go. So this is the ankle left. So let's look at the foot. Now for the foot I want to do one joint down here for the heel. Now I want to do one joint here for the ball of the foot and then one joint for the toe and that's going to help it bend a little bit more naturally.
So I will get my Joint tool back, so we will do one for the heel and that's going to parent to the left ankle. Be sure to hit Enter to finalize that. So back to the Joint tool. So there will be one for the ball of the foot and then one for the toe. So we will title that Ball_L and Toe_L and this joint chain can be parented to the ankle as well.
Then from the Front view I am just going to align those joints with the Move tool. So I am going to move that ball of the foot to line up with the foot and same thing for the heel. So you can see how to make joints and bones for a structure like a limb. The main things to remember are to place joints where you want a change in motion and also to consistently label your joints. It's really going to save you a lot of work when we get to later stages like animation.
- Optimizing, extruding, and sculpting geometry
- Modeling a character's head and body
- UV-mapping the head and body
- Mirroring and texturing
- Setting up the skeleton
- Rigging the head and body
- Skin binding & weight painting
- Controlling animation with scripts in Unity