Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Binding & Rigging

Tabitha is almost ready to be animated! 

Here is the rig I've built for her. It mostly follows the basics of what we learned during our alien tutorial, but this character had a few unique challenges we've had to overcome, the most obvious one being her skirt. After adding in joint chains at the front, sides and rear of the skirt, I first attempted to rig it and control it by manipulating individual joints, but this proved to be very difficult to define with weight-painting and it didn't offer very natural skirt-like movements.

So I've gone for single-chain IK handles instead. Although these offer less control over the smaller movements of the skirt, when I briefly tested it it seemed much easier to animate to move along with the legs. She will be fairly limited in her movement, for example if she were to kneel on the floor it might prove difficult to realistically have the skirt move with that, so I think we'll have to ensure we avoid using extreme poses and use clever camera angles to disguise shots where the skirt might go awry. 

I created some *very quick* playblasts to see how the skirt might move. Obviously her actual animations will be much more detailed and interesting - it was just to get an idea of how the IK handles work practically. It seems to be fine - I scaled the skirt out at the back as she walked to give the impression of it dragging along the floor, and the front section scales outwards as her knee moves forward to take a step. 

I came across another problem whilst creating custom attributes and SDKs for areas such as her ankles and feet. Because her feet are so small, the edge flow doesn't follow a natural foot shape, and so when I tried to set up SDKs to allow the animator to manipulate the peel heel/toe tap/twist heel attributes to create more lifelike walk animations, the result... wasn't so lifelike.

I tried to fix it by altering the weight painting, but I think this issue is beyond repair simply because of the way I've modelled her, so I've had to scrap all the SDKs on the feet. I've still added them to the hand so that she can clench her fist and move her fingers.

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