Learn the essentials to character setup and a time-saving approach to rigging and enveloping characters with XSI. Contains over seven hours of project-based training for artists new to XSI. Popular highlights include: Rigging Workflow in XSI; Scripted Operators; Expressions; Constraints; Animator-friendly Control Objects; Enveloping; Deformation Preservation Techniques; Mirroring Weights; Creating Custom Spines; Flexible Spine Controls; Custom Toolbars; Corrective Shapes; Create Chain from Curve; Organized Scene Hierarchies; Custom Parameters; Transform Groups; Reverse Foot Controls; Effectors; Parameter Connection Editor; Models; Weight Editor; Symmetry Mapping; Parenting; Broken Hierarchies; Mirroring Rigs. Software required: XSI 7 and up.
Delano works avidly as an animation author at Pluralsight. Starting his career at animation studios like Shilo, Delano has developed a strong passion for his talents. His animation and rigging background help him teach and create some of the most-watched training on Pluralsight.
Introduction and Project Overview Hello, and welcome to Character Setup in XSI presented by Digital-Tutors, an official Softimage training partner. My name's Delano, and I'll be directing you through methods and techniques for rigging characters in XSI. Rigging and enveloping both bring along formidable challenges that a character TD will want to learn to troubleshoot and overcome in order to create a sound animator-friendly control rig, one that would be sturdy enough to undergo a majority of the obstacles an art director plans on having the character travel through. With this being the case, we'll cover techniques for building simplified controls that still provide an animator with the functionality that he or she needs. We'll discuss methods for preserving volume in problem-prone areas like the shoulders and forearms, to name a few, and overall we'll learn how to use exercise rigging and enveloping tools creatively to produce proficient character setups. So without any further ado, let's go ahead and get started with the first lesson. This is scene zero one located in your project files. Now before we begin I want to quickly mention that if you would like a more general understanding of the rigging and enveloping tools XSI makes available, we would recommend you looking into our Introduction to Rigging training. Now let's go ahead and get started, and we'll start by making a custom toolbar, which is going to be used to quickly access certain tools we're using quite often. So to start, let's go to view and down to new custom toolbar. So we have this clean slate we can work with, and we'll now add our first tool to this; and that's going to be neutral pose, so that's under the transform menu and we'll select set neutral pose with nothing selected. So neutral pose is basically going to clean up our SRT parameters, and it's essentially going to make our controls a little bit more animator friendly. It's going to help us to achieve that. Okay, so if we open up our script editor, we'll see that we have this command that tells us that we have run that tool, set neutral pose. So we'll basically want to highlight this line and drag it with the left mouse button to our toolbar. XSI will ask if we would like to make this a script button. We'll just select okay, and we'll go ahead and label this. We'll call this neutral pose. Great, and you also have the option of using a tool tip. So if you wanted to, you could type in clean controls as a tool tip and select okay. So as you mouse over this, you'll be able to see your tool tip. Great. Now what's nice is that with these buttons we can customize them. So let's say if we wanted to increase our width, we can do that by let's say setting that to 90 instead and pressing the enter key and there we are. You'll see an asterisk next to our default toolbar name. This basically tells us that something new has been added. So we can save this toolbar out now and that will get rid of the asterisk. So this helps us to know when we need to save our toolbars. So we'll just right-click and go to save as. Can label this; we'll call this DT_rigging_toolbar. Great, and select okay. Now it'll send this to our default toolbar directory, and what's nice is that it also preserves our name for us. Saves us some time, very convenient. So we'll just select okay. All right, so now this toolbar has been saved. Let's go ahead and add our next tool, which is going to basically be to make a model. Now the model is very useful in XSI because it allows us to very quickly transport scene data to multiple scenes. So in order to create one, we can go to our model toolbar. Okay, I'll just go to the top here. Model, under create go to model and select new model with nothing selected again. All right, so closing this property page out, we'll see the line that was made to create our model. So we'll just go ahead and highlight that and add it to our shelf and select okay. We'll label our button, make model. Great. All right, excellent. Now we do have a model in our scene, if we were to go to our explorer using the hotkey eight. We will be working with a model in this training, so we'll just keep what we have here and basically rename this. Now a naming convention I like to use is the object type. So in this case it's a model. We can use MDL, abbreviating that, followed by what would be the object direction. If we're working with left and right controls, we can use L or R; but being that this is just a model, we can basically skip that and go right to the object label, which in this case is going to be character. If you had a name for your character, you can go ahead and replace that, replace character with the name of; but I'll just be using character here, and then the zero one at the end, this basically shows the uniqueness of this object. This is great for when importing objects into your scene. If you import an object with the same name, what's going to happen is that that object's suffix is actually going to change to two instead of zero one, telling us that that object is not unique. So that's very helpful in a sense keeping our scene organized. All right, so now that we have our model made we can basically take our geometry and left mouse drag and drop it within the model. Great. Another goal we'll want to achieve is basically keeping our scene in the explorer as clean and as organized as possible. Okay, we basically want to strive for simplicity. All right, great. So that's going to make things a little bit easier to find. The next tool we'll add is basically going to allow us to turn on and off x-ray. So in order to do this I'll just close out the explorer. We can go to display at the top and go to display options for all cameras and basically toggle on x-ray mode. Closing this out, notice we now have the command here that allows us to turn on x-ray so we can now drag that, again to our toolbar, hit okay, and label this x-ray active. Press okay and then if we like to get back to that same property page, we can just go to display and middle click and basically toggle off x-ray mode for our off switch. Okay, so now we'll go ahead and highlight that line, just clicking right next to it and drag to our toolbar, press okay and this is x-ray off. So x-ray off. Excellent. All right, and the last tool is basically just a technique for creating control objects. So if I were to just close this out temporarily, the script editor. Now when making control objects I like to use control curves or spline objects and the reason why is that it's going to not only allow us to not render it; but at the same time we have the option of customizing that control or changing its shape to conform to the character's body, thus making the control easier to read for the animator. So we'll just make one and from there you'll get an idea of how you can create others. To do this we first want to make a primitive polygon mesh cube. Okay, we can close out this property page and now press the E key to access its edges. We'll simply now select all of its edges and go to curve, under create, and extract from edges. So now what we have is this box curve we can work with and this another thing I really like about XSI, how quickly it is to make objects like this, control objects. So from here we can basically just collapse transform so we can freeze this object all together to remove its connection from the geometry from the actually poly mesh, and then we can select the poly mesh and simply delete it now because we no longer need it. So with all of this done, now let's go ahead and access our script editor and we here see the commands that were used to generate that entire object. So that starts from CreatePrim Cube. We basically want to highlight all of these lines, all the way to the deletion of the cube, and now drag and drop it to our shelf and press okay. We can go ahead and label this. That's box curve. Okay, and for the tool tip we can say create box curve. Press okay. So watch this. If we were to close out our script editor, select this box and delete it, now if we'd like to create it again we simply go to our box curve and there it is. Great, and looking at our explorer, that geometry is no longer there. So we basically have a very convenient way to make a control object now. Right, so now I'm going to go ahead and delete that object. We don't need it just yet, and, lastly, let's go ahead and save this out. We'll just right-click in our toolbar and save out the toolbar so we have all of our settings, and that finishes this lesson. So in the next lesson we'll get right into starting our rig by working on the left legs bone chain.