Rigging Quadrupeds in XSI

Learn time-saving, quadruped-rigging techniques and the principles of building solution-based rigs for more efficient animating in XSI. Software required: XSI 6.0 and up.
Course info
Level
Intermediate
Updated
Mar 17, 2008
Duration
8h 5m
Table of contents
Introduction and Project Overview
Rigging Quadrupeds in XSI
Creating a Custom Toolbar 10m Studying a Diagram of a Horse Skeleton, Building the Thoracic Limb 9m Repositioning Chain Elements / Renaming Objects 14m Beginning the Horse's Phalangeal Controls 12m Adding Pivot Controls for the Hoof 14m Primary Control for the Thoracic Limb 8m Creating Custom Parameters for Finger Joints 11m Controlling the Finger Joints with Custom Parameters 14m Twist Control for Horse's Elbow 6m The Shoulder Control 13m Mirroring Rig Elements 10m Cleaning up Mirrored Objects 8m Finishing Both Thoracic Limbs 12m Building the Bones for the Pelvic Limb 8m Renaming Chain Elements for the Pelvic Limb 6m Creating Toe Controls 8m Pivot Controls for the Toe 9m Main Control for the Pelvic Limb 7m Expressions for Toe Controls 7m Twist Control for the Knee 3m Finalizing the Left Pelvic Limb / Mirroring Controls 4m Completing the Right Pelvic Limb 10m Starting on the Vertebrae 5m Using Softimage Spines for the Vertebrae 12m Connecting Vertebrae to Hip and Chest Objects 6m Controls for the Vertebrae / Connecting Limbs 6m Finishing the Controls for the Spine 10m Constructing the Head, Cervix, and Jaw Bones 4m Primary Connections of the Head and Neck 6m Creating the Head and Neck Twist Controls 8m Custom Parameters for the Jaw 5m Working on the Ears 11m Proxy Parameters for the Ears 11m Neck Control / Adding Broken Hierarchy Control to the Rig 6m Finishing the Broken Hierarchy Control 4m Starting on the Tail / Creating Custom Control Splines 6m Using up Vectors to Prevent Flipping in the Tail 12m Building Controls for the Tail 9m Building a Controller for the Tail 10m Global Rig Control with Scaling Capabilities 12m Organizing Our Objects into Groups 12m Methods for Creating a Proxy Cage 13m Creating Buttons to Switch Between a Real and Proxy Horse 7m Discussing Rotation Order 6m Utilizing Character Key Sets 15m Enveloping the Horse / Adding Envelope Deformers 7m Blocking Envelope Weights 8m Working on the Left Pelvic Limb 7m Blending Envelope Weights 12m Smoothing the Thigh's Weights 9m Techniques for Painting Weights on Difficult Areas 11m Mirroring Envelope Weights 8m Bonus: Adding Muscle Bulges with Deform Keys 11m
Description
Course info
Level
Intermediate
Updated
Mar 17, 2008
Duration
8h 5m
Description

Learn time-saving, quadruped-rigging techniques and the principles of building solution-based rigs for more efficient animating in XSI. Contains over eight hours of project-driven training. Perfect for intermediate artists. Popular highlights include: Building Rigs from Reference; Broken Hierarchy Systems; Custom Toolbar; Character Key Sets; Sub-Character Sets; Constraints; Constructing Proxy Cages; Painting Weights; Reverse Lock System; Naming Conventions; Limb Controls; Expressions; Custom and Proxy Parameters; Mirroring Techniques; Custom Control Spline Rigs; XSI Spines for Vertebrae; Cleaning up Control Objects; Working with Groups; Tail Rig; Enveloping Techniques; Deform Keys; Rotation Order. Software required: XSI 6.0 and up.

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
Hi, and welcome to Rigging Quadrupeds in XSI, presented by Digital-Tutors, an official Softimage training partner. My name's Delano and I'll be your instructor as we journey through the process of learning proficient techniques for constructing quadruped rigs while utilizing several of XSI's powerful and intuitive rigging tools. Our objective in this training is to understand ways we can work with XSI's innovative rigging features creatively to construct a sound, user-friendly quadruped rig while learning techniques that can potentially be used on several other creatures. Possessing the ability and skill level to create sufficient animation rigs while staying efficient can open up the doors for many technical artists and animators as well as this is a large component of the CG industry which should be understood by both artists. So we'll learn a flexible approach to rigging essentials like proficiently utilizing XSI's robust rigging tools, staying organized within our scenes, techniques for creating quadruped skeletons, working with expressions and ultimately learning how to develop animator friendly controls for quadrupeds in general. A ton of exciting information has been prepared for you that I know will make the process of learning this art of rigging an enjoyable one. With that, let's say we go ahead and get started by preparing our scene for the rigging process. First things first, let's go ahead and make sure that we're going to be working with the right toolbar, it's going to be the animate toolbar, either hitting two on your keyboard or accessing it from the toolbar menu, okay. Now, once that's done, I do want to also mention if we go to our transform menu and we get to our transform preferences, I'm using the select tool for the click outside manipulator just so we can select objects a little bit faster when working with, or working between our different SRT manipulators. Great, now, before we actually start creating our skeleton and before the enveloping process, what we want to do is make sure that our model is as clean as it can be before we start that process. So if we select it, if we go to our explorer here, and just make sure that we have the horse visible, okay, and also, depending on what you see, the components that make up your objects, okay, you can also go to the explorer's view and make sure that is going to be set to all plus animated params so you can see pretty much everything that you're going to need to see. So we can make sure that that is going to be selected. But, once you've made sure of that, you can go ahead and open up the horse to get to it's different parameters, it's different nodes, and we want to go under the poly mesh, and as you can see, it does have some move components that need to be cleaned up. So what I like to do from here is just go to right underneath the edit menu, okay, in the main control panel and just select freeze. Now we don't want to always use this option for freezing when cleaning up our meshes, especially when we have our envelope, we're going to want to use freeze model just so that we don't lose any envelope information, okay, so the freeze model's going to allow us to bake in any settings that we have. Great, so now that that's done we can go ahead and also make sure that we're going to be mindful of the operations that we're going to be working with. Now, when we start out initially it's not going to matter too much to switch this to any other setting other than modeling construction mode, but when we get into working with the form keys we're going to definitely want to switch that so everything will function the way we'd like it to, alright. So we do want to be mindful of the construction mode we're working in, and again, we could use the default modeling, that's fine. Alright, so what do we need to now do to prepare before we actually get into creating or building our bones, what else do we need to do? Well, what's very helpful to do is to make a model, okay, out of the character, okay, in this case the horse, that we're going to be working with. The model is very handy because it stores a lot of information for us, collapses it into one simple node that is very easy to export and re-import into a different scene seamlessly. So the model holds the texture information, even animation information, it's going to hold our skeleton, our geometry, all of those things. So it's going to be very handy for us. So let's go ahead and work on creating a model. What we could do is either select the horse and create the model that way, or we can add the horse to the model, but either way we can go to our model menu, okay, from there we go down to, under the create menu we go to model and just go to selecting new model. Now it's going to ask us the name for this model, okay, we can call this mdl, okay, and here's where we also get into a little naming convention here, we do go over naming conventions in our introduction to rigging in XSI training, but we will briefly discuss it here just so we have a general idea of what we can use. So what we have here, if I go ahead and hit enter, this tells us that, okay, this is a model, okay, for mdl just abbreviating the name so we don't have to make it too long, we don't want to write out everything if we don't need to, followed by a description of what this is. So this is a horse, and then the 01, well what is this? This tells us if this object is unique to the scene. So, if we were to ever bring in a similar model of this horse, let's say if it had this same exact name, we'd know it was imported because this 01 would actually change to a two. So this is going to be helpful. So, basically going over our naming conventions, what I like to do is use the object type, okay, which in this case is a model, if it was a bone we can say bn, if it was a root we can say, we can call it root, for example. Followed by an underscore, followed by the direction, so if it's on the left side we can use an l, if it's on the right side we can use an r, if it's centered we can just leave it blank, put nothing there at all. And then that would follow another underscore followed by the object label. So in this case this is for the horse, but if we were working on, let's say, building the pastern, okay, or the fetlock we can label it fetlock or pastern or whatever part of the horse that we were working with. And then followed by the iteration, how many of this object are in the scene. So that would follow a 01. Alright, excellent, so now that we have our model labeled, let's go to our explorer and make sure that all of the objects within our scene are going to be applied to that model. So we can just shift, select them all and left-mouse click and drag right into the model and there it is. And again, this is going to be very handy for exporting and importing into different scenes. Very nice. Okay, what I also like to do, and this will be our last task before we move on to our next lesson, what I also like to do is make a group, okay, for the model, for example. And also just for different elements in our scene. So for example, any objects that are going to be enveloped we can make a group out of them, and even objects that should be hidden in our rig that the animator's not going to want to manipulate we can make a group out of them, this is going to help keep everything even more organized in our scene, and that's something that is going to be very crucial in the written process. It doesn't sound too important, but believe it or not, if we don't have our objects organized that is going to lead to us having a less comfortable approach in this rigging phase. So, we want to make sure that everything's going to be organized and not only for rigging, but for anything in general that we work on. Okay, so to make the group we can select our horse, okay, just the horse here, and with it selected we can hit control, g to create the group. Also, you do have the option of going to edit and getting to create group as well as adding to groups and even removing from groups, and removing groups as well. So you also see the hot key to create the group from here too. But once the group is made, okay, it is right now tied to our scene group, or basically the elements of our scene and not to our model, so we want to make sure that it's going to be added to the model. And groups pretty much can only be children of model nodes, okay. So that's something important to keep in mind there, we couldn't add this group to any other objects but our model. Great, so now that the group has been made, we need to label it to stay organized. So we can call this grp since it's a group followed by an underscore followed by horse, if we wish, 01. Alright, so now we know that this is our horse group. Excellent, and what we could do from here with the group if we were to ever open it up we can see and access our object, and we can even open it up and switch to different settings for it as far as viewing it or hiding it, and this is going to be very handy for when it comes time to working with our proxy cage even that we're going to learn how to set up. So essentially we're going to be able to do a lot of very nice things utilizing groups, but for right now what we're going to go ahead and do is stop the lesson here, we have our model made, we have our group made, we've set up all of the major things that we're going to be working with in our scene. So in the next lesson we're going to get into creating a custom toolbar to access scene elements a little bit faster.