3ds Max Rigging Fundamentals

Autodesk 3ds Max is a popular 3D software used to create animation and visual effects (VFX), amongst others. This course will take you through the foundations of rigging, and give you the skills needed to create production-ready animation rigs.
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
May 25, 2018
Duration
4h 47m
Table of contents
Description
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
May 25, 2018
Duration
4h 47m
Description

The process of taking a lifeless 3D model and turning it into an asset that can be used for animation can be a daunting, difficult, and complex process that is often seen as a specialist skill. In this course, 3ds Max Rigging Fundamentals, you'll discover the skills and techniques needed to bring characters to life by creating a production-ready character rig, ready for animation and beyond! First, you’ll take a pre-made model and travel through the basics of getting scenes ready for rigging, then jump straight into skeletons and controls. Next, you’ll add more complex rigging components like kinematics, custom attributes and industry standard setups like the reverse-foot. Finally, you’ll finish out by attaching the geometry to the rig by skinning and constraints, then enhance the rig even further by adding custom attributes and jumping into the intricacies of the Reaction Manager. When you’re finished with this course, you’ll have completed a custom animation rig, have learned the core foundations required to create solid rigs in 3ds Max, and have a deeper understanding of the methods and tools used in the creation of production-level rigs. Software required: Autodesk 3ds Max.

About the author
About the author

With a background in graphic/multimedia design, 2D/3D animation, and computer technology, Stewart has been lucky enough to work with a number of studios, and for various media ranging from print, education, video games, TV broadcast, commercials, and feature film.

Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Course Overview
Hi, and welcome to this 3ds Max Rigging Fundamentals course. My name is Stewart Jones, a writer, producer, and director working in film, TV, and game industries. I'll be your instructor for this introductory course into the world of rigging in 3ds Max. Throughout this course we'll be focused on the creation of a production-ready animation rig for a robotic character named Scooter. This is a foundation level course, which means that no prior rigging experience is needed, but at least the basics of 3ds Max should be understood. Modules are organized so that you can work from one module to the next while increasing knowledge and building on the skills, tools, and techniques covered previously. It also means that each module in each video can be referenced separately at a later point. This course covers basics such as bones and skeletons, hierarchies and constraints, controllers and kinematics, and skinning. More advanced topics are also included, such as custom attributes, wiring parameters, and the reaction manager. By the end of this course, you will have completed your very own custom-built rig, which is ready for animation and you will have gained the skills needed to create your own custom rigs for other characters. I hope you will join me as we jump into the world of rigging with 3ds Max Rigging Fundamentals course here at Pluralsight.

Root and Spine Rig
The root and spine of Scooter form the central section of this character root, and we're going to be looking throughout these videos at how to build that root, how to build that spine system, and make sure that our center of gravity is exactly where we need it to be. And the center of gravity is pretty important. For a biped or a two legged character like Scooter is, and like ourselves, usually our center of gravity is down somewhere around the hips and the pelvis area. Kind of think about that as how all of that motion comes from a single point and that single point is the center of gravity, and for us, like I said, it's around the pelvis and that area. Now, of course, if you're hanging, say that you're hanging from a branch in a tree, your center of gravity is actually moved. It might be moved up to your chest and your legs might dangle from that point if you think about kind of where that motion stems from, but generally, when we're walking and running and jumping and things like that, we're generally, our center of gravity is around that pelvis area, and that is where we'll be putting the center of gravity for Scooter. Now, of course, the root point is the most important part of the hierarchy. That is the most upper level, so we have to spend some time making sure that's in place, and then the spine rig needs to be solid, because everything else, both the upper and lower extremities of this character are going to be kind of pasted back into that, and that is going to hold everything together. So let's get to it.

Arms, Hands, and Fingers
Scooter's arm, hands, and fingers from the upper section of our rig and these are super long. In comparison to the rest of the body, his arms are by far the biggest component and the thing is, we can keep this very, very simple by using just four kinematics in the arms and using four kinematics in the hands and fingers as well. However, while we'll be using bones and controllers within the arms themselves, for the fingers we're going to use geometry as controls and we can work that out by doing a hierarchy system kind of like we've done already and just using that as the core function for the controls. Now it's a little bit different and a little bit unorthodox but it's going to work really nicely for this character as we go ahead. So it's one of those that I wanted to introduce to you and just see the power of using a good hierarchy system where we can actually make that the actual controllers so we don't have to add anything in there and really convolute and make this rig a little bit more complex than what it already has to be.

Legs and Feet
The lower section of the scooter rig includes what is probably the most complex setup of the entire rig itself. The legs use a basic inverse kinematic system, or IK system, which is different to that of the FK, or forward kinematic systems that we've been using for the rest of the right. We will then add what is called a reverse foot setup. This will allow the feet to lock and stay locked in place. This is a common technique that is widely used in many rigs to allow for the specific control that is needed to keep the feet locked into place as the rest of the character moves around freely. It also opens up the option to cover more specific and more complex rigging techniques and give a lot more control to the animator as they lock that foot down and allow for twisting in various parts of that foot setup. It's going to be really cool. It's a really interesting system to do. And honestly, it used so often that it's important to know about it.

Skinning and Attaching Geometry
With a completed custom rigging solution, we have the ability to animate our character. The thing is, without going through skinning or attaching the geometry in some way, that geometry is going to stay static and not render out looking how we want it to, even though that rig is moving along. So this is the process of attaching the geometry to the bones and all of the systems that we have in place in the custom rig to make sure that the geometry comes along with it and deforms correctly. There are a number of stages that we have to go through and a number of techniques that we'll have to be using to make sure that this character looks as it should as it moves. And those things are things like skinning and things like constraints or parenting and hierarchies and things like that. There's a number of things we can do to make sure that this geometry comes along with our rig. And we'll cover this all throughout this section.

Finishing the Rig
We technically have a fully finished custom rigging solution for Scooter and we've even attached the geometry making sure that it deforms and moves along correctly as to be expected. The thing is, we can go into this rig and make sure that we do a number of other steps and processes to make sure that this rig is as solid as it can be. Now, this isn't particularly useful if we're just doing this for ourselves, but as this goes forward into a production, so if it goes into an animation pipeline, this is really, really important to make sure that things don't break easily and things are as solid as can be. Now, there are a number of stages in here that are just helpful for the user who's using our rig as well. Things like display layers and making sure that everything can be found easily is important for animators, important for ourselves, and important for others who may have to come in and jump on our rigs or change them or edit some details to them. So this is an important stage that a low optional is very important to get used to and make sure that we're doing everything correct and everything as much as possible is solid enough for our production environment.

Rig Enhancements
Our scooter rig is solid, complete, and ready to go to animation, or in any other department in the production process. The thing is, there are one or two areas which I feel we haven't really covered that would be very helpful as we go on and increase our knowledge in rigging. Now, these rig enhancements are really going to help us learn about custom attributes and the reaction manager and all of those really fancy things that may take our rigging to the next level. Right now, we're able to rig. That's really great, we're able to scan and include geometry, and we know about hierarchies. These are all of the foundations that are super-important, and probably the most important thing that we could learn. The thing is, rigging enhancements will really affect how an animator interacts with our rig. It will make things easier, it will make things look better, and honestly, it's good for us to understand that we can go in there and add in things like custom attributes, where we're really customizing how an animator interacts with our rigs. And we're going to do all of that in this section. We're going to cover a number of things which are going to take our rigging skills to the next level.