Studio series: Creating Creatures for Animation.
PHOTO 101: Character Design for Animation
1/ The Audience
We begin to construct the shapes and colors that help to identify a character in its role in a story, and consider how an audience is likely to react to the character in its context.
2/ The Character
We focus on the key characteristics of a character design that help an audience to identify an idea that drives the character in its role in a story.
3/ The Context
We look at character art that catches the eye, at why a character design works, at why another does not, and in particular at the silhouette of a character in its context.
4/ The History
We outline the world in which a character exists, where the character comes from in that world, and its life-changing experiences that help support the authenticity of, and subsequent belief in, the character in its story.
5/ The Personality
We use comic strips to show a character's range of emotion, and expression, depicting its ups and downs to further excersize the character design.
PHOTO 102: Creature Design for Animation *
MAYA 201: Modeling Creatures for Animation
1/ Light in Nature
We begin with a careful look through reference materials and recommended resources for studying animal skins, scales, furs, feathers, and so on; and, walk away with the power to create custom brushes for Photoshop and Zbrush.
2/ Light in Computer Graphics
An introduction to Maya with light and color in its digital environment, and we create and render art-directable eyes using techniques that apply to all chracters and speak generally to the color managed linear workflow when rendering with Mental Ray.
3/ The Art of Creatures
In part 1 of kind of a 2 part mini-series, we take a look at the anatomy of animals, with focus on skeletal and muscular systems that present unique challenges when rigging quadrupeds; and, to root core shapes of any creature design in some physical reality.
4/ The Anatomy of Digital Creatures
Lastly, before we model a creature in the next four classes of this workshop, an exploration of the technical challenges when bringing knowledge of animal anatomy to creature animation in Maya for both the game and cinematic pipelines.
5/ Modeling Creatures, Part 1
This is the first in a four-part creature development process, and we start by optimizing a Maya scene for the modeling workflow, making efficient use of its viewports while building up a base mesh for a creature.
6/ Modeling Creatures, Part 2
In part 2, we continue modeling a creature by further developing its form, taking time to address key deformation areas, and illustrating the advantages of establishing good edge flow early on.
7/ Modeling Creatures, Part 3
Next, we add subdivisions and continue to detail the geometry, and with commentary on how pushing anatomical systems can infuse a sense of character in your creature design.
8/ Modeling Creatures, Part 4
To conclude the mini-series on modeling a creature, let's draw attention to its defining visual characteristics, of course much of the focus is on the face, and then we complete the workshop by cleaning up the scene so as to best prepare the geometry for animation.
MAYA 202: Rigging Creatures for Animation
1/ The Node Editor
We'll start by importing texture maps and connecting them to a shader network already assigned to the creature in Maya; then, continue on to cover other key node networks, integral to the rigging pipeline, particularly for controls and deformers covered later on.
2/ The Graph Editor
For young animators, the animation principles are often worth revisiting; here, we see some applied in the context of animation curves in Maya, and we go on to explore the ins-and-outs of the graph editor.
3/ Rigging Creatures, Part 1
We consider reference from Maya 201 — class 3 — and the profile of the creature now, and position joints to build a physically plausible skeleton with focus on techniques that apply universally to quadrupeds (and more 'peds with a little imagination).
4/ Rigging Creatures, Part 2
In part 2 of this creature rigging mini-series, we learn techniques for layering a practical, robust control rig over the skeleton that we designed in part 1.
5/ Rigging Creatures, Part 3
Part 3 of 5 walks us through the creation of custom deformers, then packaging a muscle system and fitting it to our Maya skeleton and control rig as an influence object.
6/ Rigging Creatures, Part 4
Before finally binding our geometry to the skeleton, we first review a bit about face, and about discrepancies between animation pipelines for games and cinematics, addressing the application of a proxy rig system to help streamline animation.
7/ Rigging Creatures, Part 5
We skin the creature, covering the basics of painting weights, where it does not work well, and the recent trends away from traditional approaches to binding, given advancements in computer graphics and simulation.
8/ The Walk Cycle
We conclude this mini-series with an overview of the animation principles that were overlooked in class 2, plus apply the creature rig that we've studied in this workshop, with a look at the animated walk cycle for a quadruped.