Rigging Next-gen Characters in XSI

Learn a production workflow for rigging and enveloping, how to create custom tools, and time-saving methods for creating game-ready character rigs. Software required: XSI 6.0 or higher (XSI 7.0 required to open project files).
Course info
Level
Intermediate
Updated
Sep 18, 2008
Duration
6h 49m
Table of contents
Introduction and Project Overview
Rigging Next-gen Characters in Xsi
Rigging the Staff 13m Adding a Pivot Control to the Staff 8m Creating a Button That Keys the Staff's Pivot 6m Building the Character's Left Leg Bones 7m Setting up Secondary Foot Controls 5m Adding Primary Controls for the Leg 7m Establishing a Custom Parameter to Control the Ball Roll 4m Choosing a Good Rotation Order 3m Creating a the Knee Control 5m Enhancing the Knee Control to Be Animator-friendly 9m Adding an Envelope Deformer to Preserve the Volume of the Buttocks 6m Averaging the Movement of the Buttock Deformer 9m Mirroring the Knee Control and the Leg and Foot Chains 10m Mirroring the Leg and Foot Controls and Reapplying Expressions 8m Building a Custom Spine 9m Setting up Controls for the Spine 10m Building the Back and Center of Gravity Controls 9m Creating Objects to Control the Twisting of the Spine 6m Using Expressions to Create Twist Distribution in the Spine 9m Rigging the Neck and Head 8m Rigging the Hair 9m Looking at an Automated Follow-through Solution for the Hair 7m Building the Shoulder and Arm Chains 7m Creating a Shoulder Control 6m Constructing the Fingers and Constraining the Left Hand 12m Setting up the Arm Control 5m Using Custom Parameters to Drive the Fingers 7m Working on the Elbow Control 6m Finishing the Elbow Control 3m Discussing Various Ways to Rig the Forearm Twist 10m Parent-switching the Arm 10m Mirroring the Hand and Elbow Controls 7m Mirroring the Shoulder Controls 9m Retargeting the Right Hand's Fingers to Be Driven by the Correct Parameter 7m Creating a Global Control and Double-checking the Control Rig 10m Utilizing Character Key Sets 8m Writing a Script to Connect Nulls on All Bones 9m Organizing the Envelope Nulls and Enveloping the Character 8m Blocking the Weights on the Left Leg and Hip 8m Adding Influence to the Left Buttocks and Blocking in the Upper Body 4m Blocking in the Chest's Weight and Using Polygon Cluster Visibility 9m Blocking in the Neck and Head Weights 3m Blocking in the Hair's Weight 4m Fixing the Deformations of the Left Shoulder and Arm 5m Wrapping up the Blocking Pass 7m Mirroring the Blocked Weights 11m Smoothing the Deformations of the Left Leg 10m Fine-tuning the Abdomen Deformations 7m Fine-tuning the Chest Deformations 4m Tweaking the Neck and Head Deformations 5m Smoothing the Hair's Weights 3m Fixing the Left Shoulder and Arm Deformations 8m Tweaking the Left Elbow, Forearm and Wrist 5m Double-checking the Character Deformations 7m Mirroring Smoothed Weights 5m Bonus: Exporting Envelope Weights 2m
Description
Course info
Level
Intermediate
Updated
Sep 18, 2008
Duration
6h 49m
Description

Learn a production workflow for rigging and enveloping, how to create custom tools, and time-saving methods for creating game-ready character rigs. Contains over six hours of project-based training for artists learning character-rigging for next-generation games. Popular highlights include: Rigging Techniques for Games; Scripting Custom Tools; Groups and Transform Groups; Mirroring Rigs; Mirroring Weights; Models; Exporting Weights; Automating Follow-through; Creating Custom Spine Rigs; Character Key Sets; Intuitive Forearm Rigs; Custom Toolbars; Building Animator-friendly Controls; Animating Pivots; Enveloping Techniques; Polygon Cluster Visibility; Scene Organization; Working Creatively with Expressions. Software required: XSI 6.0 or higher (XSI 7.0 required to open project files).

About the author
About the author

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.

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Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Introduction and Project Overview
Hello and welcome to Rigging Next-Gen Characters with XSI presented by Digital-Tutors, an official SOFTIMAGE training partner. My name is Delano and I'll be your instructor guiding you through methods and tips for setting up characters for games of the next-gen genre. Given the fact that rigging game characters share similar workflows to characters of the film and TV realm, there are still several differences when working in games that require unique specifications. Unlike film and TV productions, game assets must be prepared to accommodate a game engine. Therefore, it's vital that when obtain understanding that he or she needs to successfully fulfill these intrinsic requirements. And that's precisely what we'll cover for this aspect of our next-gen character series. We'll cover topics ranging from scene organization to rigging techniques for games, ultimately equipping you with the knowledge needed to prepare your game characters for animation. With that said, let's say we get started with the first lesson. This is Scene01 located in your project files. Now to start, what we're going to do is create a model and store these objects underneath as well as the rig elements that we'll be making from now on. And what's nice is that with models we can very quickly transport them to multiple scenes, and we'll learn how. So let's go ahead and select our character and the staff. We'll go up to Model right at the top menu, choose Create, Model, New Model. Notice those objects are now stored. We can go ahead and rename this. For the naming convention, what I typically like to use is first the object type, so in this case it's a model. We can use the abbreviated mdl, followed by an underscore, and the object label, or what this is associated with, so this is for our game character, and then followed by 01. Basically the 01 lets us know the uniqueness of this object, so being that there is just going to be one game character model in our scene we can use that 01. And that way, if we were to ever import the same model, it would actually show up as 02, or actually just 2, letting us know that it's not unique. It's just a way of being little bit more specific. Alright, now if we are to close this out, if we want it to export these objects, we can simply select our model, right click on it, and choose Export Model. From there we'd be basically directed to our model's directory, and we can save it out there, or wherever we choose. I'm just going to cancel that out. No need to export this yet. Great, so our next task is actually going to be work on groups. Now groups are nice because they are essentially portable layers. So what we can do with them for one is to use them to quickly hide our character, or the hide the staff, and even turn off the selectability of them, so let's go learn how we can do that. I'll go to the character and this staff. We'll create a group for each of them, so starting with the character we can use the hotkey ctrl+g, or another way if I were to collapse the Transform menu, is to go to these quick Group button, or we can go to the Edit menu and create a group from here. So whatever way we choose, we now have a group made. We can label this grp, again the object type, followed by what's its association, so that's going to be our Character01 And now we can go to the selectability, and switch this to "Don't allow selected members. " And that templates our character, so we can't select them. So from here we're going to make sure that this group is underneath our model, so that will be transported as well. We'll go to the staff and do the same, that's going to be ctrl+g, quickly create one. Press F2 to rename, that's going to be grp, underscore, Staff01. Okay, great. We'll add that to our model. And we're going to be rigging this staff first, so we won't turn off its selectability just yet. Alright, now, another thing that's very important is that we want to make sure that our staff and the character are going to be zeroed out, otherwise we may run into some engine issues when we export them and import them into our game engine. So with those objects selected, starting with the staff, we can go to Transform and we can go to Freeze Translation since that has values. And doing the same for our character, being that she's templated, we can just select her from the Explorer, and again choose Freeze Translation. Okay, great. Alright, well, now that that's done, we're basically ready to work on our next task, and that's going to make a custom toolbar to access tools that we're going to be using very regularly. Before we even can get to that, I'd like to just select this model node in our scene and press the H key to hide it so it doesn't interfere with our rigging. To create a custom toolbar, we can go to the View menu, and down to New Custom Toolbar. So with that made, we have a clean slate to work with, and the first thing we're going to add to this is going to allow us to turn on and off Xray for all camera view ports. So this is going to be handy for rigging. To do this, let's first open up our script editor, now just clear everything out, right click, and choose Clear All. So we're actually going to upon our making our selecting a command, we give it macros we can use to add to our toolbar, so let's go ahead and see this. Under the Display menu, we'll go to Display Options for All Cameras, and now we can check on Xray mode. So closing this out, notice we have the line or the script that allows us to run this command once more. So let's go ahead and bring our cursor before this line so we can select the entire line, and now we can just left click and drag it to our toolbar, which is okay. We'll label this Xray_Active, and if you like, you can add a Tooltip right underneath, even a Bitmap image. Alright, I'm going to now just choose OK and there is our first button. Now you'll notice this asterisk on our toolbar. That basically tells us that something has been added, or something has been changed. So it's basically asking us to save our changes. So we'll want to right click in blank space in the toolbar, choose Save As. We can label this. We'll call this GC for Game Character, underscore, Rigging, underscore, Toolbar, and choose OK. And now it'll basically send us to our default toolbar directory where we can now save this, and there we have it. So let's now add another button that allows us to deactivate Xray. We'll go back to our Display options, go to Display Options for All Cameras, check this again, and now we have the macro used to turn off Xrays. We can go ahead and just add that, hit OK. We'll label this Xray_Off. No need to add a Tooltip, it's pretty self-explanatory. We can now save this. Just right click, go to Save. Right, and there we have it. So now, we're actually going to make a button that will quickly generate a control object for us. Now for control objects, I like to use Implicit, I like to use Nodes, but more often than not, I like to use Curves. The reason why is because by default they're not able to be rendered and also, what's nice is that we can use their points to basically have them conform to our character, making pretty interesting control objects. So to do this, we'll go to Get a Primitive Polymesh Cube. Okay, we can close this out, close out its properties. Now, let's go to Edge Mode, we'll select all of its edges. And under the Create menu, we'll choose Curve, and Extract from Edges, so now we're left with just the curves. Now let's go to our main control panel, and we'll freeze this so we can remove the connection that this curve has to the cube, so when we delete our geometry, which we're about to do, I'll close out of this Property page again, it won't delete the curve. So with all of this information, what we can now do is go back to our Script Editor. We can take everything that was used to make this curve, so that was everything from creating our primitive cube, all the way down to deleting the cube, the geometry. So from here, we'll just drag and drop that to our shelf, choose OK, we'll label this Box_Curve, and then for the Tooltip, we'll write Create a Box Curve. Surprise, surprise. Choose OK, and now when we close this out, if we were to delete this curve, notice when we click our button, it generates another curve, and what's nice is that it will keep generating curves for us. Great, so we can just delete this, and if you ever accidentally have missed any of these lines that are used to create any of the objects to add to your toolbar, you can just copy and paste from the Script Editor and add them to your shelf, or your toolbar text, your script commands. Alright, so I'm going to go ahead and hit OK to save that out, and just save out this toolbar as well. Alright, well, that pretty much finishes our task, and I would like to quickly mention that if you'd like to get back to your toolbar, you can go ahead and access that from the View menu, Toolbars, and there it is, GC_Rigging_Toolbar. Okay, our next task is going to be start rigging this staff, and we'll start that in the next lesson.