Maya is very useful for creating animations. It is possible to create lifelike and cartoonlike animations. Here will be shown how to create an animated character. In steps we will show how to create a character, a skeleton, how to create movement and control over this skeleton, how to bind the character (the skin) to a skeleton and how to animate all this.
When animating in Maya we use the Animation menu set:
The skeleton menu will be used for creating and editing elements of skeletons, the skin menu will be used for skinning your skeleton, the constrain menu to create certain constraints between elements, and the character menu for creating and editing your character sets and sub-character sets.
When creating an animation of a character you can save yourself a lot of time by doing things in a convenient order. A good workflow will make it possible to avoid certain problems and optimize the accuracy of your character. It is also crucial that you check your model and/or rig before you proceed to the next step to prevent problems that are hard to solve afterwards. In each chapter of the different stages (modeling, creating the skeleton, rigging, binding) a checklist is provided to make sure everything will go down as smoothly as possible.
First start by designing and modeling your character. If you have a model of your character before you start creating your skeleton you are able to measure your skeleton to the character and don't have to adjust it afterwards. How to easily create a model that is suitable for animation you can find in the section modeling a character.
Also apply texture to your character in an early stage. The advantage of doing this in the beginning is that you can see straight away how much you need to model and what can be solved by texturing. Moreover, when you are binding the skin to the skeleton you can actually see how the movement of the character affects the skin better than when your model does not have texture. Problems with the skin can be detected during the process of skinning, and not afterwards. In the page about materials and textures you can find more information on how to use texture in Maya.
Then start creating your skeleton. Use the character as a measure for the size and placement of the bones. Think about how you want your character to move before you start. It is not the aim to create a skeleton that is the same as an anatomical skeleton to create movement, just think what bones and joints you need to create the desired motion and only create these. In the section skeletons is described how to create and adjust a skeleton.
Then you can either start rigging or start binding the skin. Rigging is the process of preparing the 3Dmodel for animation, so creating joints, handles and controllers to make your character move. What you do first depends on what you find easier. If you start rigging before you start skinning you have the advantage of being able to simulate all the possible movements and check whether the skin reacts well to all possible movements with the applied handles and control curves. The disadvantage is that you may get confused by all the different sets of handles, joints and bones, you can lose the oversight of the scene easier. So it could be easier to bind the skin first and check the movement of your character by just selecting and rotating the joints. In the section skeletons is described how you can use both inverse and forward kinematics. In the skinning page is described how you can bind a skin to a skeleton.
When your skeleton is rigged and bound to the character you can start animating. How to do this you can find in the page about animation.
Modeling a character
Modeling a character covers:
- Joints and bones