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Rigging Characters for Animation in Maya

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Erick Miller explains setting up a character for animation through revealing the step-by-step workflow involved with rigging specific setups in Maya.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Chapter 17: Rigging Characters for Animation

By Erick Miller

When setting up a character for animation, you need to complete several tasks. This chapter discusses those tasks in relation to the Parking Spot project outlined in Chapter 3, "Digital Studio Pipeline," and explains why they're important.

Specifically, this chapter explains setting up a character for animation through revealing the step-by-step workflow involved with rigging the following setups in Maya:

  • Quadruped spine and hips setup

  • Quadruped IK legs and feet

  • IK spline tail and ears setup

  • Low-res stand-in geometry

  • Control boxes hooked up to your character rig

  • The advanced biped spine

  • Stretchy IK legs and classic reverse foot

  • Advanced IK arms and clavicular triangle

  • An advanced additive hand and fingers

  • Facial controls and blend shape deformers

  • Eye controls

  • Smooth binding proxy geometry

  • Painting of smooth skin weights

  • Painting of weights using per vertex selections

  • Additional influence objects

Setting Up a Character for Animation

The very first step in creating a character setup rig is to research and gather the animation requirements of your character, including the types of motion the character has to achieve and the types of controls the character must have to fulfill these requirements.

Next, you should analyze the storyboards for the project and get a feel for what the specific shots might need. Also look into what kind of extra controls or capabilities might need to be added for each character or on a shot-by-shot basis.

NOTE

One important thing to keep in mind while reading this chapter is that the characters in the project are not necessarily supposed to be photorealistic. Instead, they're 3D puppets that an animator will be controlling in both realistic and unrealistic—and perhaps even cartooney—ways to act and tell the story.

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