Rigging a Scorpion Mech: Part Five, Messing with the legs

I’ve now made further progress in rigging the legs. For the limbs, I’m implementing an IK/FK setup. My approach for setting up the switch is a twist on the standard 3-bone setup where the original joint chain is duplicated and influenced by two separate chains.

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Postmortem: Rigging Chopsticks and Characters for a Short

This was an animated short I contributed to  as a freelancer in 2007; and after an almost 2-year hiatus, wrapped up in late-2009. The two characters were modeled by Shon Mitchell, and animations were done by our client, Jonali  Bhattacharyya. This was a fun project that involved rigging two bipeds with the added twist of making them capable of wielding chopsticks. Jonali was really great to work with, and communicated her needs well. I’ll go into some detail about the Maya rigs created and the accompanying MEL tools used by the animator.

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Vertex Weighting Tool for Maya

screenshot

Download python script for Maya

The Weight Tool is a Python script designed to make your skinning life easier. It streamlines the process of manpulating skin weights on the vertex level with a neat UI. I came up with the idea of making this tool after skinning some rigs in 3dsMax. The result is a script that works very similar to 3dsMax’s built-in Weight Tool, but in Maya now!

Installation:

Like any python script, this will only work in Maya 8.5 or later regardless of OS (tested only on Windows). To use the script in Maya, simply copy all the scripts from the archive into your PYTHONPATH. Once copied, restart Maya and type “import WeightToolInterface” in the python command line. To start using the tool after importing, type “WeightToolInterface.draw()” in the same commandline/scriptEditor.

*Note that you can find your PYTHONPATH by opening your Maya.env file with a text editor (usu. located in …/My Documents/maya/versionNo/Maya.env). If PYTHONPATH is defined, simply copy the scripts and continue from there.If PYTHONPATH is NOT defined, type in the Maya.env, “PYTHONPATH=C:/your/script/path/here”, replacing C:/your/script/path/here with a real system path you wish to install Python scripts to. When editing Maya.env, be sure to restart Maya to apply any changes.

Feel free to post any feedback!

Tank Rig pt 2. (the scripted UI)

Suite Screenshot       List Screenshot      Creation Window       Animation Screenshot

Overview

The UI for the tank handles the process of creating, editing, and animating the treads across terrain. For creation, the user simply selects the geometry in the scene that acts as the terrain, and press the “constrain” button. Procedures are then executed that creates an array of geometry-constrained locators that the tread is later point constrained between. Also, a data-structure is inserted in the node of the tank’s controls to keep track of the geometry, the clusters driving the tread and the names of the locators.

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