HOW Do I ADD more flex­i­bil­ity Into my rigs?

Dave Pear­son, Rother­ham

3D World - - ARTIST Q&A - Antony Ward replies

When it comes to rig­ging in Maya, it’s never a case of one size fits all. Each tech­ni­cal artist will have their own tech­niques, which makes each rig unique to them. With that said, there are foun­da­tion tech­niques that ev­ery­one will use at one time or another to adapt and build upon to cre­ate a rig to suit their par­tic­u­lar needs.

One of these tech­niques, which has been around for a while now, is known as the rib­bon rig.

Bro­ken down to the bare bones, this rig essen­tially puts con­trol of the joints in the hands of a NURBS plane. You then de­form the plane how you want and the joints fol­low. The beauty of this type of ap­proach is its flex­i­bil­ity in that you can move the CVS around to de­form the plane, giv­ing you the op­por­tu­nity to make all sorts of weird and won­der­ful shapes. Per­fect for a car­toon char­ac­ter whose arms need to twist, bend and wig­gle.

So how does it work? Well, at­tached to the NURBS plane are a se­ries of fol­li­cles that fol­low the sur­face as it de­forms, main­tain­ing the cor­rect ori­en­ta­tion and po­si­tion rel­a­tive to the sur­face nor­mals.

These fol­li­cles are the key to the whole sys­tem be­cause you can par­ent your bind joints (which drive your char­ac­ter’s mesh) to them, mean­ing when the NURBS plane is de­formed the fol­li­cles move, and where they move, the joints fol­low.

For ex­am­ple, let’s say that you’re build­ing a rig for an arm. The rib­bon would have maybe seven joints, one for each key pivot point, (shoul­der, el­bow and wrist), with two ex­tra joints be­tween these for twist­ing and de­for­ma­tion.

With the rib­bon as your foun­da­tion you can then start to build the be­gin­nings of a con­trol rig to ma­nip­u­late it. How­ever, rather than edit­ing the bind joints di­rectly, you would use a skin­clus­ter to pull the NURBS plane around, as this is al­ready in con­trol of the joints.

It sounds com­pli­cated but it’s straight­for­ward when put into prac­tice, and the beauty of this ap­proach is it’s also ideal for fa­cial rigs.

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