- Three-pronged project demonstrating rigging, modeling, and shading
- Robust tread system that dynamically conforms to terrain
- Secondary motion for the various parts
Prior to graduation, The Art Institute of California-San Francisco requires students to do a “Senior Project.” The project is of our choosing and we have six months to complete it. I chose for myself to do an ambitious tank focusing towards photorealisim; in other words, I want my tank to look and animate like that of a real-life Soviet T-80 tank.
One of the most interesting challenges thus far was my attempt at making an auto-rig script for the treads. I looked at a tutorial about how to build a linked tread system by-hand; I create a link, then a motion path (NURBS circle), duplicate the link/motion path x number of times with an offset to cover the entire path, and finally, build a lattice deformer to mold the tread system into a desired shape. It seemed simple enough, and I did make a working script, but this method of building a tread proved to be erratic once I conformed the lattice to my desired shape; certain treads would “flip” in spots. I eventually decided to look for an existing script to make my treads roll.
Because the model is so dense, some computers may prove unresponsive when it comes to animating the tank in a scene (let alone multiple tanks). So a minimal-detail proxy model was added to the rig to improve maya’s performance to save animators continuous playblasting to get real-time feedback.