Join Jason Baskin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Soft Select, Artisan sculpt tools, and symmetry options, part of Rigging a Face in Maya.
Now that we reviewed the general process for creating blend shapes. We can turn our attention to some helpful sculpting tools. With a blend shape setup, your rig will only be as effective as the morph targets you create to drive it. So it's important to become proficient with Maya's full modeling tool set. In this lesson, we're going to explore two tools which are especially useful for quick organic edits. The first tool is Maya's soft select tool. If we select the mesh, right-click to move into component mode, and then choose Vertex, we can begin selecting the vertices on the character.
Hitting w on the keyboard, of course, activates the translation tool, which allows us to move just one vertex at a time or however many vertices are selected. But making edits in this way is very imprecise and time consuming because it requires the manipulation of so many different vertices. By double-clicking on the translate tool, we can bring up some options that make this much simpler. First, at the bottom of the translation options, is the reflection settings option. This allows us to make symmetrical edits to our character mesh. In this case, the character is positioned at the x equals 0 location, which means that an x reflection axis will make left and right symmetrical edits.
But, in order for these edits to be less localized, we can take advantage of Maya's soft selection tool. The soft select tool can be triggered be either selecting the soft select box or by pressing the letter b on the keyboard. Holding b down and left mouse dragging gives us the opportunity to modify the size of our soft selection brush. Using soft selection, we can make much more organic edits to the character. I've toggled into smooth preview mode using three on the keyboard. And you can see I can begin sculpting a sneer or nostril flare very quickly and easily.
Another important option in the soft selection window is the fall off mode. The default setting is volume, which means that the fall off zone will be determined based on the distance the vertices are from the first selection. This can be useful for many edits, but if I wanted to manipulate just the character's lower lip, the volume fall off mode would not be particularly helpful. Instead, I'd want to switch to the surface mode. This grows the selection based on adjacent vertices and allows for more localized edits along openings in the character's face.
Another great modeling tool is Maya's sculpt tool. I'm going to right click over the mesh to return to object selection mode and then go to Mesh> Sculpt Geometry Options. This will bring up the artisan window which we used before when painting blend shape weights. Like the soft selection tool, the size of the artisan brush can be adjusted by holding down the b key. It can also be adjusted by numerically entering a value here under radius u. And symmetry options can also be turned on down at the bottom under the stroke category.
If we scroll up a bit, we'll see that there are various different operations that can be activated to sculpt this character. Often times, Maya users' first experience this tool by having the opacity and displacement settings set very high, and this immediately crushes the model and creates an undesirable result. But by reducing the opacity and the max displacement, we can get a more controlled edit. By default, edits made using this sculpt tool are based on a normal reference vector, which means that the push tool will actually collapse a mesh and the pull tool will bloat out the mesh.
But reference vectors can also be adjusted if you wanted to simply move vertices up and down or laterally. Another very handy operation is the smooth tool, which helps eliminate creasing. So by using these push, pull and smooth tools in combination, I can also quickly make a desirable blend shape that would represent the characters nose flair or sneer. While many modelers tend to rely on other software programs like Zbrush and Modo to handle morph target creation, Maya soft selection and artisan tool sets are a very effective option that saves you the trouble of switching between programs.
- Understanding morph targets
- Using Soft Select, Artisan Sculpt tools, and symmetry options
- Splitting symmetrical shapes into asymmetrical pairs
- Connecting eye rotation to the GUI
- Working with eyelids, using blend shapes or fan joints
- Creating a basic UI control
- Connecting controls
- Orienting joints and creating a support structure
- Attaching joints to the support structure
- Binding joints to the final mesh
- Balancing shape fidelity with rig density and usability