30 May 2010

Character Rigging [Month 10]

For the first time since school began we only have one class this month, so you kind of have to guess there's going to be a lot of work ... and we weren't disappointed.

Objective 1: script a tool set in python for maya.
Objective 2: build a rig that's more advanced than anything else we've ever done before.
Objective 3: script a graphical user interface for people that don't like to animate using curve icons.

Since we couldn't start rigging until we had finished six skills tests, I decided to start scripting my first project in my "spare" time. So during labs I train under the podcasts and take tests, and at home all night I script and try things out to see what I can make work. Thankfully I was given a running start, the first half of my scripting was one of the final parts of other students' scripting projects from last month. So I started studying their code, and made their ideas work for my needs. This is what I came up with:

After that I had to do a considerable portion for blendshapes, and although I had most everything working I still couldn't figure everything out. So I found one of the other student's that had this same project and we started working together. He had figured out the code for the layout and design, while I had mainly focused on workability/functionality. So we put our codes together and found ourselves almost done with the project. It wasn't until several sessions of talking with our instructor that we were able to piece together the final piece of adding blendshapes under a single node. Here's what I ended up with:

Two weeks into the month and the skills tests were finally out of the way, we could finally start our main bulk of the project: rigging an as of yet unknown character. As it turned out we were given Dr. Bloopdool to rig for his space adventures, one look at that face and I started to get nervous about painting weights ....

I like to start with laying out the icons, later on I snap them to joints and freeze their transforms.

Then I started with laying out the basic joints in a modular setup, this didn't really make any sense to me. Why lay out joints that aren't connected? You can't use this technique in video games, so why are we studying this as a part of the game art program? Still .. I did it for the grade.

This is either some type of circus trick, or I'm doing blendshapes ....

Once I did the required blendshape expressions, I spent a really long time painting weights. Still though, once I got to posing the character I had to go back in and do touch-up's on the spots I knew it would be the worst: the tentacles.

I built a basic curve interface, I set the sdk's on it all, and then wrote an expression so that if you selected the outer border you could move it around and it would move the entire contents around.
Once I finished with this it was time to do the graphical gui, there was only two days left before presentation so I had to move quick and make it work. I never made it to facial selections, but I made it fully functional even if it is very basic.

We were required to make a quick video showing our character in 15 different poses:

Then a video showing the n-cloth "bib" in motion:

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