Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Illuminated Knight Rigging

Before I could start animating my character it need to be rigged. I've done this a few times in Max so it would be a great opportunity to practice my skills using this character.

To begin with I created a CAT rig that fit my characters proportions. Getting this right helps when it comes to weight painting as you add the bones to a skin modifier.

With the skeleton created  I added the bones to a skin modifier on the mesh, it then needed weight painting at a vertex level to optimise it for my character. This stage is important to correct any areas that may deform incorrectly as the character moves, especially areas such as the elbow and knee.

With the mesh rigged I used the CAT panel to start animating a simple walk cycle for my character, I really wanted to get the foot roll perfected with this model as I'd struggled a little with previous attempts. I'm pretty sure the problem was with the position of the ankle on the rig, it was looking much better this time around.

With the walk cycle complete I wanted to add a billowing cloak to the character as shown in my concept. I'd worked with cloth simulations in Max before on my Warhammer Dreadnought, so thought that would be ideal for this project.

To start with I created a spline in the shape of the cloak, on top of this I added a 'Garment Maker' modifier which converts the shape to a triangulated mesh. Tris work better than quads when it comes to material simulations allowing the material to bend more naturally. However using cloth is very heavy in terms of processing so I tried to keep the mesh as low poly as possible. On top of garment maker I added a 'Cloth' modifier, from here you can adjust the properties of the material, add collision objects, and even forces such as wind to achieve the look you want. Once set up, you simulate the animation and it bakes it to key frames, if you make any adjustment you have to run the simulation again.

I'm pretty happy with how it's progressing, I need to texture the cloak and continue refining the walk cycle, but I've learnt a lot from the experimentation I've done so far. He's still looking a little stiff (although I'm sure a fully armoured knight would!) so I probably need to give him a little more movement in his hips and shoulders.

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