Friday, 3 May 2013

Wee Monsters Rigs

For the Wee Monsters project, I created 4 rigs- 3 of which I finished, one I am still working on in hopes of including it in my showreel by the Degree Show.

The Boy (Sam)
The Girl (Ellie)
Monster 1 (Grumbles)
Monster 2 (Waddles) unfinished
Sam and Ellie's rigs are almost identical, with the exception of Ellie's hair being movable. These were the first rigs I created, and while they took a big effort and a long time at the start of the year, they are my simplest most straight-forward rigs.

They use a typical joint set-up, and have fully rigged faces. The animator is able to pose them using nurbs curves controllers, and the faces have the option of a "control panel", and additional interface I have created to make facial-animation more straight forward.


  • Foot ctrl with foot roll
  • IK legs with knee aim control
  • hip control (with additional attributes)
  • Center of Gravity Control
  • Spine controls
  • Chest Control
  • Shoulder controls
  • IK arms with elbow aim control
  • hand control (with "fist" and "spread" attributes)
  • individual finger controls
  • Neck control
  • head control
  • move-able jaw
  • rigged mouth
  • rigged eyebrows
  • moveable eyes
  • closseable eyelids
  • Facial Control Pad

A feature I am particularly happy with on these rigs in their spine- it is a typical FK spine, but one of the controls gives the animator a few attributes which make moving the spine quick and easy. 

Monster 1 (Grumbles)

Monster 1 has been rigged several times as my skills have progressed, below is a demonstration of his final set-up.

  • Foot controls
  • Toe controls
  • IK leg controls with aim knee control
  • hip control
  • COG control
  • spine controls
  • FK arm controls with elbow aim control
  • "flex" controls
  • hand controls
  • "forearm twist" expression.
  • finger controls
  • neck ctrl
  • head ctrl
  • fully rigged face 
  • eyebrow controls
  • moving eyes
  • closing eyelids
  • moving jaw
  • mouth controls

Grumbles was particularly tricky, because of the fact he has 6 arms, and the  way in which these are laid out. Each arm has an additional upper-arm section, which meant I had to adapt the usual methods used on a typical arm. 

After struggling for a while I got an IK set-up working, but in order to have the arm move correctly, it had to be animated using 1 particular procedure- start at the top of the arm and work down. This was because unlike a typical arm, I was using 2 IK handles, basically treating the additional section as an extra shoulder. Although it worked, I was unhappy with its "animator-friendliness", so I ditched the idea and set up FK arms- which actually gave way to much easier animation. 

Another point of note on his arms is his bicep muscles. I had initially resigned to the fact I would have no time to learn how to create realistic muscle deformations, learning Maya Muscle etc, but after a brainstorm I decided to try something out. 
I added an extra joint in the middle of his bicep (on it's own, not part of a chain) and make it influence the top of his bicep. After adding a control to this joint, the animator was able to pull the bicep upwards, creating a "bulge". When I was happy with how this worked, I then linked this control to the elbow, so that when his elbow bent in, the bulge would move out, creating a flexing muscle. I am very happy with the results! 

The rest of his body is pretty typical. Rather than using a foot-roll, his feet have an additional control for positioning the toes- just something I wanted to try out, and it worked fine.

Below is a video of myself painting his skin weights. 

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