Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The mesh..

The Wolf MESH is probably what got the least attention.
I was not really interested in making a good model. The importance was in the rig.
But i did make a simple little thing and i did adjust the weighting a bit, but i really couldnt afford to spend much time on it.
It still works to show the movement created by the rig. i made him bark a bit in the test animation just to show that the jaw is working.
The mesh has a fair amount of polygons, but of course they would have to be weighted properly.

I was going to try playing around with the fur effect bulit into maya. If i can get fur on a mesh that is weighted properly and where the rig works even better than this one, that would be it basically.

Here id wolfie running again!

About the rig...

The rig i have made is fairly simple.
All the legs have ONLY ikHandles. no FK ones. This seems to be the noral way of doing quadrupeds.

For the back feet, i just threw a normal ikHandle on. But with my particular leg dimensions, i can see that i will need an extra something to make the foot react more realisticly.

The feet have a heel, a ball and a toe joint. Like a human rig. In case i would need toe movement.
I only included that because it is simple to make, and though i doubt ill use it, it cant hurt.

The head has a neck, head, two ears and one jaw joint.
I should have made the neck a little bit longer considering the way dogs sway their head up and down to create extra momentum while running.
So if i had more joints in the neck the motion could have been made more fluent.
The ears should also get a bit more attention. A lot of a dog/wolfs emotion is displayed through the ears. So if i needed to fold them back and forth, it will need to look good!

Apart from the incredibly frustrating back leg setup, the spine and tail was the worst.
I struggled a good while before i understood how spline iks work.
The spine could also have been a bit more complex.
If this would have been an aim for a proper rig, the spine wouldnt be good enough. I only have one cluster in each end of both the spine and the tail. +the twst attribute.
This basically means limited movement in a place that might be important in making the dog look natural.
The tail itself isnt moving at all. I could not figure out how to make a good controller to make the tail swing from side to side AND up and down. The tail would also need a few more joints. At least make it bend in more areas.

The control curves i made are pretty standard. Most are made from nurbs curves so they dont show up on renders. For the pole vectors i used "invisible" polygon geometry that also can only be viewed within maya. And i made all four different, because i thought they would all be on the inside of the wolf's leg, and thereby easily end up on top of each other, making them harder to grab.
I made some original control curves as well.
For the jaw i created a jaw looking curve that u simply rotate in whatever axis you want, and the jawJOINT will react perfectly.
For the ears i made curves shaped like ears and a bit bigger that the mesh ears, just to make them easier to grab.
The foot control i made in the shape of a dog paw. The base controls the whole foot, while the little toe symbols control... just the toes.

I also added something i havent actually seen on any other quadrueds. Which is a parent to both sets of legs.
I made one controlcurve for both the front feet, and one for both the back feet.
I did this because when four legged creatures run, they roughly move the back feet the same, and the front feet the same. with a slight difference though.
I figured it would be easiler to animate if i made this curve that animates two at a time, get the timing right, and then adjust the difference with the individual foot controls.

I did not bother with a reverse foot control. Its easy to make, but i did not need to test anything out about it, because i know pretty well how they work, and im not even sure i will have any use for it on an imporved version of this rig.

Trouble with the feet

I had been studying the Great Dane model for at least a week, and followed a tutorial that explains how to make the back leg of a dog.

The trick about dog`s back feet are that they have one additional joint in their skeleton.
This means that i would need a different, more complex ikHandle to go from the hip to the foot.

After about a weeks struggle and both me and Georg scratching our heads, i came to the comclusion that the effect i would gain from the tutorials` technique was not worth spending this much time on, so i decided to stick to a normal ikHandle stretching across 3 joints, as opposed to the normal 2 joint.