Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Using character sets, part of Animating Cartoon Characters in Maya.
- So now we have the first part of our animation done. We animated straight ahead to get the character moving into the scene and hitting that first pose. Now from this point, we're going to switch modes. We're going to go into what's called pose to pose animation. Now before, we were kind of starting at the beginning and working our way towards the end. And basically, we're just animating what's called straight ahead. But now we're going to create specific poses for the character, and then we're going to time those poses and then use those to create the animation.
Now when we're working with entire poses, it makes sense to use what are called character sets. And these are ways to group attributes of the character together so that way we can key them all at once and we can create poses. Now we do this using the character set editor. We can get to it in one of two ways. We can go into Windows Relationship Editors and we have character sets here, or probably the easier way to do this is down here in the bottom corner. And we have what's called the Character Set Editor. And again, this brings us into what's called a Relationship Editor.
But what we can do here is we can create a set, which contains attributes for our character. And then we can just animate that rather than going through each individual part of the character. And this makes pose to pose animation a lot easier. So here we have two windows here. We have Character Sets and Objects. So basically, the objects are part of a set. So we need to create a set, so we can go into Edit, Create Character Set. And by default, it gives us character1. And we can use that. So let's go ahead and select that character set.
And then over here on the right, we need to determine what parts of the character are in that character set. We have all sorts of stuff in here. You know, we have expressions, and we just have a whole jumble of stuff in here. But what I really want to do is just work with the controls of the character. Now I was smart, when we rigged this character, all these objects that control the character are what are called NURBS Objects. So all I have to do is just click on NURBS Objects and all of that other stuff goes away. And you can see that all I have here now is my RIG_MASTER.
Now I have two sets of plus and minus buttons here. And the inside one in the squares is the ones that we're going to look at. And these allow me to basically see all the controls for the character. We also have what are called Shape nodes under here, and we can probably hide those. So we can just right-click over this and turn off Show Shapes, and this will kind of refine it down a little bit more. So in here should be all the controls that we need to manipulate our character. So in order to place them in this character set, all we have to do is highlight it.
So highlighting it like this puts it in that character set. So all I have to do is hold down shift or control and then I can place all the stuff I want into that character set. So if I want my head control, my shoulders, if I want to go in here and put in my arms. Now I'm holding down either shift or control, just depends on how I'm selecting these, but Shift will select all, Control will let you do it one at a time. And then under Head Control, do I want to include the brows, the face, the eye direction? Well, we can certainly do that.
I can select all of the mouth controls here and all of the face and brow controls. I can select my IK/FK switches. If I want, I can turn on my leg stretch. All of my controls for the feet as well. So, in fact, the foot handles here, I have a little bit of a plus here because I have my toe and my heel controls in here. Now, I can hold down the Control key to turn off those things that I really don't need to have in this set. So for example, a lot of these background objects here, that are just kind of labeling things, those I've labeled with BG, and so I'm going to go ahead into those and turn off those.
So anything with BG on it, so face panel, background I don't need, and then some other stuff here I don't need. So all of this looks pretty good. In fact, I do need to put in my arm switches here. So if I want to turn off a stretch or not, I can do that. So this should basically have most of the things that are involved with this character. So now once they're highlighted, and this is highlighted, that's all I need to do. I don't need to hit any sort of Ok button or anything like that.
So once this is set, all I have to do is close this. Now watch what happens when I select one of these controls here. These all show up now in yellow, and that means that they're being controlled by something else. And that something else is that character set. So now that we have this, all I have to do now is set a key for any one of these attributes and then everything else will set as well. So if I move one part of the character, it sets keys for the whole character. So this is really great for creating pose to pose animation.
So now once we have this set up, we can move on to creating our poses.
- Working out the walk timing
- Blocking out footsteps
- Animating the character's walk
- Animating a jump, including the landing and follow-through
- Blocking out and timing poses
- Creating facial expressions
- Animating a quick exit
- Adding lights
- Rendering in Maya