Saturday, 18 December 2010

Facial Rigging Including Eyebrows

I followed through the tutorial I found earlier today and must say I really enjoyed rigging. The head model also provided a good base for me to start with and I am sure over the next week I can create a fully functioning face, which is what I aim to do and then maybe create a lip sync animation by January to show the expressions and mouth shapes working in a context. I have learned more about painting weights to clusters, although I did move through it quickly from my past tutorials I have followed.

I had not previously rigged the eyebrows before, and I know this is only basic but I was interested to find you can do it in the same manner with the clusters on the face. Just got to work out how to scrunch them and raise certain sides as I know this will be time consuming to get many different poses.

Rigging Test from Hayley Allen on Vimeo.


I realise I have not put many tests on here over the last few weeks, as I have been concentrating more on my animation, and also I have been doing a lot of background reading.

I have just found a really good tutorial on the Autodesk website that I will definitely be completing over the next few days. It helps because it also included an unrigged head that I can use, as it is difficult finding decent ones for free.

However the bulk of my learning has been from this book 'Stop Staring' where I have been learning about all the background information of where is influenced in the face by the lower eyelids and the shapes I should utilise to make certain visimes etc. I am just getting to the point where the tutorials begin, so again I will have a practical week or so before Christmas using this.

I think that by taking time to read and understand the build up of the face I will be able to create better blendshapes, so combining these two sources should give me great results.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Facial Rigging 2

I have been carrying on with the facial rigging, this time creating the different expressions for the blendshapes.

I used a Nurbs curve and the Wire Tool to influence the shape of Melvin's face as you can see below:

I realised after doing the mouth shapes that Melvin's texture on that file did not include eyebrows, so I had to open the next file on the disc which did have in order to create the rest of the blendshapes as you can see below:

Next stage was the eyes for him, although I think I will move onto using a different rig now to test my skills and see what I have learned from this project so far.

What I have learned so far:
  • Blendshape creation
  • Using Clusters for the eyelids
  • Wire Tool for the mouth shapes
  • Painting Weights

Friday, 26 November 2010

Facial Rigging Number One

My focus for this term is to learn facial rigging so that I can create the blendshapes necessary for our characters over the winter period. I have therefore started a tutorial on it.

The first stage was to set up the character for the blend shapes by painting the weights into the face using the Edit Membership tool and the Paint Cluster Weights tool. I have never done this before and had to find video reference of how to use the Paint Cluster Weights tool but once I got the hang of it I was quite pleased with the results.

I used the Reduce and Smooth tools mostly to widen Melvin's mouth and make the skin smooth around it.

The next stage was to create a cluster for the mouth so that when it opens the cheeks also go inwards. This was done again using painting weights and then setting the cluster to be driven and the cheeks change shape as the jaw open joint is rotated on the axis.
The next stage and aim for the weekend is to create the blend shapes so that I can animate and test Melvin :)

Starting A Moom Run

This is only a quick playblast for starting a run cycle with the Moom Rig, but I was looking at the different ways the arms react when running. The right arm of Moom is rigged with FK and it moves with the body when it is going up and down whereas the FK left arm stays in the same position.

This will be something I must consider when creating my own rigs and the method of animation people prefer to use. Or even whether to use a mixture of the two for maybe the overlap of the hand movements.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Four Legged Walk Cycle

One thing I would like to do for my Advanced Skills in animation (as I wish to be an animator upon finishing my degree) is to complete a four legged walk cycle, as I have not done so before and I believe it will be more challenging than two.

I downloaded this rig from the Internet (I believe it was from Creative Crash).

The first thing I noticed from my rigging practice is how complicated the rig looks, with lots of facial controls and many for the body too in a small area.

Playing with the rig I found it is really easy to break the body. I only rotated the dog's head and this happened:

And this happened when I tried rotating the body...

I am going to look more into this tomorrow and see if there is a way around using this rig or if I should download a new one.
Here is good reference for the four legged walk cycle however, and I will use this as a guide for the leg positions for my walk.

Facial Modelling Test

I started this model aiming for it to be the beginning of our Mongolian character design. However, there are going to be changes to the character design so I am going to use him for practicing facial rigging instead.

Rigging Continues... Arm Setup

Carrying on with Melvin's rigging, this time with the arm set up. I do think it is a little wierd that the book does not move onto the hand setup after this, as it moves to the back and animating straight after this, but I will follow it through.

This time locators were used to influence where the arm bends so that the IK handle does not bend incorrectly in the middle of the forearm.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Head Modelling

Flame Tests

I followed the flame fluid tutorial as blogged below, with the following results:

I tried changing the intensity and the colour and believe this last test looks the best. It will be interesting to see how this would look in the cartoon style that we are looking for in my final year film.

Fluid Fire Tutorial

One of the areas I want to look into as well as modelling rigging and animating this term is Dynamics. I think the effects look impressive and could boost my animation possibilities especially whilst working as a Junior when leaving college.

I found this tutorial

in order to learn how to create effective looking fire without using particles as I do not think that will suit the style of our final film.

Rigging Tutorial Number One

The model of 'Melvin' came with the rigging book, so I will be rigging him from scratch. My aim is to have a fully functioning rig that I can animate with and create to begin with a run cycle as this will work towards my final film.

I started by creating joints in Melvin's legs and then for this body and head.

It then came to testing the angles of how the skeleton works, and adding IK handles to the feet in order to make them plant properly and have more control on the feet.

Having added the IK handles for both feet and coloured them accordingly:

What I have learned so far:
  1. The difference between IK and FK (it always confused me).
  2. How to rig the legs
  3. Adding attributes to the legs in order to rotate the bones from the controller
  4. How to add prefixes to names easily!

Rigging Book

I bought this book from Amazon for merely a couple of pounds, and I have to say it is one of the best investments I have ever made for learning Maya. I will follow the tutorial through and rig a character as part of my assessment, and then try and put it into practice for another character or one of my own creations before using my new knowledge for the final characters in my film.

Box Modelling a Head Tutorial

I found this tutorial:
on box modelling a head, which is what I am going to be doing for the Mongolian character in my film. I am going to work through this to help me learn how to create my own character, especially as I will be learning rigging to coincide with this.

Running and Jumping Reference

As I also want to create run cycles to further my animation skills this term, here are some scans and videos of reference material for the different positions.#

These are from the Animator's Survival Guide:

Obviously the leg positions are different to a walk cycle because they lift off the ground with the momentum, which is also why the body is more forwards as it is more forceful than a walk.

Timing for Animation reference:

And this is not really a walk or run, but I thought it was a nice animation of Pluto, and could be used towards the Marmot character we have in our film. He also seems to go through a whole range of emotions in a short space of time.

These images were taken from the internet for reference.

This is more of a leisurely jog, which may be good for practice but will probably not feature in our chase sequences.

Leg positions for a run cycle. It is similar to a run in that the contact positions are the same with the opposing legs, but evidently the back leg is in a different position as it is off the floor in comparison to a 'normal' walk cycle.

The jumping pictures are here as reference as we were not sure how the Marmot would move and whether he would bounce along like this or run like a person. We have since decided to make him run on two legs, which will definitely be easier to rig and also probably to animate.

It all comes back to the bouncing ball :)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Practice Run Cycles

The tail is going to be really important as overlapping action when the marmot runs, similar to a squirrell. I really think this will sell the character and could be used to his advantage, for example he could use it to propell himself forward.

After our group discussions, it was evident that as the lead animator of the group I needed to practice run cycles as the majority of our film is a chase sequence. I used the rig I gained whilst on work experience at Rare as well as one of the rabbit from creative crash in order to practice a human and two legged animal run. I know the rabbit in particular needs a lot of work with the arms and smoothing out the actions, which is what I am going to focus on this week as well as learning basic body rigging.

(I will also upload the human run cycle at a later date)

I am not going to jump straight into the facial animation as that is my aim for the term, and I think I need a bit of practice with Maya before going head on into it.

Project Brief Reflections

After reading the brief I have decided to learn something new over the term.


but I think in order to create myself a good set of complimenting skills to take into my career, I am going to learn RIGGING this term, with a particular focus on FACIAL RIGGING and BLEND SHAPES.

I think this will be very challenging in the short amount of time and will push my skills to the limit whilst also practicing my animation. I am aiming for a first in my degree, so hopefully this will help towards that rather than resting on my animation laurels.

Here are some example rigs I found on the internet. It is evident that each rig is not just set up with bones or joints, each part of the body has a controller that is used to move the joints within the body.

They also have locators to influence the angle of joints such as the elbow and knees where there is a bend.
This was also quite interesting for the different stages of a Rig
I also found this overview of a rig which is helpful for looking at the different parts of the rig and what I will need to do:

Overview of rigging
Maya 8.5 Character Rigging by George Maestri
View this entire Maya course and more in the Online Training Library®.

Project Brief

Within the BA (Hons) Animation Production pathway, you are asked to initiate, develop and create new content solutions that will challenge in terms of subject matter, form and/or approach and can be linear or non-linear productions and/or for a range of distributions platforms. Although the work is encouraged to break boundaries, the solution must be commercially targeted at a specific audience/channel and practical in terms of time and production resource.

This brief runs along side Unit ANP09306, which requires individuals to fulfill three roles (Artist, Animation and Technical) in which one will be your main role through out the year. Focusing on your main role you are required to carry out an advance level of research and experimentation within your main role. This research should be seen as a personal showreel which can potentially be used as a showreel come the end of your degree. The films you are working on for your final year drive the content of your research. You are to quickly determine your role and identify how your chosen role will fit in to the production from an early stage to begin analysing your skills. You should utilise the time to research and develop your work to help your personal skills and techniques through out the year rather than at specific times. For example, those interested in Animation should not take the view of waiting until all the preproduction, modeling and rigging is completed to start thinking about how a character will behave or act. Whilst the pre-production is on-going through term one, as animators, you will be expected to start picking out shots that require animation and to start researching and practicing some screen tests. You are encouraged to use live action, video reference and pre-rigged characters to start practicing your animation skills.
Technical artists can start looking at all the potential body movements and
Programme BA (Hons) Animation Production
extremes to determine a rig suitable for the animators. You should start considering lighting issues, effects and rigs that could speed up the work flow and further your own skills. Artists are encouraged to experiment with different mediums and techniques for their concept work. Modeling and texturing skills can potentially start early on in pre-production demonstrating experimentation and good evaluation skills. The aim is for you all to have eliminated as many technical or creative problems before you start your scheduled time to work on the film. You are encouraged to document your research in the form of a showreel or digital portfolio, whichever demonstrates your work more effectively. All the work is based on research; therefore the quality of work can vary from finished designs to rough tests. Do not undervalue any experimental tests as each should be a stepping stone towards the final outcome which should be demonstrated in the final submission.