By: Sarah C                Categories: Animation

Perspective helps us recreate the specific way we see. Whenever we look at a three-dimensional object, you can be sure the following three rules apply.

Rule One: Convergence

All parallel lines that move back in space will always seem to converge at a point on the horizon.

The key word is seem, and it’s an important one. Parallel lines never truly converge, but as they move away from us they look like they do. It’s essential that you understand this idea as it exists beyond the specific object you’re drawing. All receding parallel lines, anywhere on the page, from any object, will always seem to meet at the same place on the horizon line.

Rule Two: Diminution

Objects of equal size appear smaller as they move away from the viewer.

As things move away from us, they get smaller on the page yet still represent their particular size anywhere in your picture.

Rule Three: Foreshortening

When an object that’s perpendicular to the viewer’s line of sight changes angle, the shape of the object seems more condensed.

When a form leans back, the part of the object that has moved forward starts to obscure what’s now behind it. Foreshortening effectively compresses how an object is represented. The more it leans back, the more foreshortened and condensed it appears.

How Perspective Works

Whenever we draw something representationally, we’re drawing what something would look like from a particular location. It’s a lot like using a camera – whenever I take a picture, what I get is determined by where I am in relation to what I’m looking at. If I move or aim my camera at a different location, I get a different picture. Representational artists create with the same intention – our work is always a portrayal of what things looks like from a particular viewpoint. When you look at a photo, you are essentially placing yourself in the photographer’s shoes – seeing exactly what they saw when they took the picture. Drawing serves the same purpose – what we draw and how we draw it effectively places our audience at the scene. The sole purpose of perspective is to help you do this accurately. To start, we need to define the three things that help us position our viewer in space: how high our viewer’s eyes are off the ground, how far away they are from our subject matter, and the direction or angle that they are looking in. The vocabulary of perspective is devoted to explaining how our viewer specifically relates to what he’s looking at. Once you understand the following ideas, you’ll have a much easier time navigating what’s to come.

Excerpt from Simplifying Perspective by Robert Pastrana © 2015 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group.

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By: Sarah C                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationInspiration

Michael Hirsch reveals how he modelled, textured and lit the ultimate, luxury sports-car from Italy in 3ds Max, using the Madcar plug-in.


There was a fantastic, expensive car, built in Italy, called the Lamborghini Aventador that featured a V12 engine, capable of 0–100 km/h in 2.9 sec and with a top speed of 350 km/h. With futuristic styling for the carbon fibre body, I was really impressed by the car and decided my next CGI project in Maya would be to create one.

To start with, I had the idea of an old factory building in combination with a new piece of architecture which should symbolize the temporal change, and somewhere in the middle would be the Aventador.

It was time to think about the car paint colour. I knew it should be a bright colour, maybe metallic white. I love white cars and in my opinion, a white paintwork fi ts perfectly into a sunset situation. I used this creative decision as a starting point for my new project which was to be called, “Dream Factory”.

Step 1: Modelling the Factory

First of all, I went on the web to search for some photo reference materials. By looking at the actual car from various angles you get a good idea of how it should look. The alternative is to get hold of blueprints of a vehicle, if you want to make a perfectly accurate version. For modelling the assets, I used the poly modelling technique. I just added details at the points of interest. The first stage was to build the factory itself.

Step 2: Adding Details

The key point was to have a roof overhead, but that the side would be wide open to let the light in. I added basic circular tubes as supports and created the fence and doors to the factory area.

Step 3: Unwrapping the UVs

For the UV setup I used standard mapping techniques like planar, cylindrical and automatic mapping. Furthermore I used a very nice tool called “ZenTools”. This tool makes unwrapping of complex geometries very easy. You just have to select the first and the last edge of an object and the tool does the rest – very clean and fast.

Step 4: Creating textures

For texturing the buildings and the floor, I used Photoshop and my DSLR camera. I shot all images in RAW format to achieve more flexibility and higher quality textures. For the floor I created three different high resolution displacement maps. For a better result and more flexibility, I split the ground plane in smaller pieces by the same proportions.

Step 5: Angle Hunting

Almost every time, when I start modelling an environment, I know pretty well how the scene should look before I am finished. It’s exciting for me in a still project to find a nice camera perspective. In this image, there were a lot of things I had to pay attention to. The first was the car’s position. The second was the final alignment of the buildings. The third was to find a good looking camera angle which is equally suited for architectural photography and also car photography. For the maximum amount of realism in architectural photography it’s best to keep vertical lines actually vertical. In this case the camera has to be at a 90 degree angle, horizontal to the floor. To get the result I wanted I took advantage of a technique called “lens shift” so that the car was standing in the position I wanted with the vertical lines of the architecture still in their vertical position.

Step 6: Shading and Lighting

After modelling the scene and creating the UVs and the textures, it was time for a render preview in an Ambient Occlusion look, to prove whether all the geometrical parts and the displacement textures were working.

Step 7: Lighting positions

For lighting the scene I used three different types of lighting. You can see in this screenshot all the various sources, designed to shine onto the car to make sure it was bright, even with the bright sunlight outside.

Step 8: Natural light

For the natural lighting I used a V-Ray Domelight with an integrated sunset HDR. Furthermore, some area lights for the building were used to simulate artificial light sources. The car itself interacts with all the light sources in the scene. For accentuating the car body form, I used specular lights in the form of area lights. The wheels got a brightener in the form of two spot lights. On the opposite side I used a rim light for the trunk to get the feeling of more depth.

Step 9: Paint shading

For the car paint I used a V-Ray blend material to control diffuse colour, specular highlights and reflection values separately. In realistic environments, the car paint consists of more paint layers. For example, the base colour layer, metallic effect layer and a clear coat layer.

Step 10: Rendering the scene

For rendering the whole scene I used V-Ray. I rendered the complete scene with render elements to get maintain flexibility in the post process later. I rendered eight different layers plus some RGB masks for the car and environment. These included diffuse lighting, normals, reflection, refraction, shadow, specular layer and Z-depth layer. For the linear workflow I used the method with a gamma correction node in all shaders and not the method over the linear workflow button in the Vray Render settings, because this button is for testing purposes only. For better handling in Photoshop I rendered the car and the environment separately. Step 8 Natural light For the natural lighting I used a V-Ray Domelight with an integrated sunset HDR. Furthermore, some area lights for the building were used to simulate artificial light sources. The car itself interacts with all the light sources in the scene. For accentuating the car body form, I used specular lights in the form of area lights. The wheels got a brightener in the form of two spot lights. On the opposite side I used a rim light for the trunk to get the feeling of more depth.

Step 11: Compositing and adding the final touches

The time had finally arrived to add the final touches in Photoshop, to bring more drama into play, with sun rays, haze effects, a little bit of photographic grain, depth-of-field and so on, but with as little manual retouching as possible.

Step 12: Reflection layers

I try to squeeze as much as possible out of the 3D part so that I have as little as possible to add in Photoshop other than final colour corrections and some reflection improvements. For the reflection improvements of the car I rendered four different reflection layers – one each for the side, the trunk, the front and the top part. This is nothing different to what a professional automobile photographer does when shooting on location to get the most out of the car.

Excerpt from Digital Mayhem 3D Machine Techniques edited by Duncan Evans © 2014 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group.

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By: Elyse                Categories: General

We asked our legendary author, Mike Mattesi, to draw an ad for the CTN Animation Sketchbook. The concept: What does Focal Press mean to aspiring animators?

We were thrilled when we received this back…

Now, we are going to ask you. What does Focal Press mean to you?


Learn drawing skills from Mike Mattesi by checking out his Force books! His latest book with Focal Press is Force: Animal Drawing.

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By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationBooksGamesGeneral

Roger’s top 10 reasons why you can’t select your object

MY GOOD FRIEND Roger Cusson is, like me, a longtime instructor on 3ds Max. One day we got to talking about the challenges of teaching such a large and complex program, and we agreed that the biggest barrier new students have is confusion about selecting objects.

Roger proposed that since we go over these pitfalls in every class, he should publish a list of Roger’s Top 10 Reasons Why You Can’t Select Your Object. The list never actually got published until the first edition of this book. Here is the list, printed for the first time in the first edition of this book and back by popular demand, including a cutout reminder list that you can tape to your laptop or monitor for easy reference.


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By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

The term intellectual property refers to a collection of laws that protect products of the mind or personality, such as:

–        Copyrights

–        Trademarks

–        Rights in ideas, and

–        Rights of publicity

The laws that protect patents and trade secrets are also part of intellectual property, but these are generally less important to the comic book creator.


Intellectual property is often referred to by its abbreviated label, “IP.” So when you see IP in this book it means intellectual property, NOT internet protocol (nor Iberian Peninsula, incontinentia pigmenti, nor ice pellets).

All comic book deals are built upon the foundation of IP. When you design a costumed hero, you own more than the drawing in your sketchbook: you own the copyright to your drawing, the potential to trademark that character’s name, and the legal rights to control how that character is used in comic books, merchandising, films, and beyond. In other words, even though your copyright registration certificate is not as pretty as the drawing it represents, it may potentially be worth a lot more than even your most valuable signed original sketch!

It may be helpful to think of your IP as the “heart” of your creative rights.

INTERVIEW “By and large we see that a lot of the new, ‘green,’ creators, want to be part of this business . . . but they don’t understand what the actual business is. They are very weak on any of the legal, any of the IP, any of the copyright stuff. [. . .] If you want to make this your living, if you want to be a professional, you’re going to need to know how to copyright something. What’s parody? What’s not? Can I get sued for this?” – MIKE ARMSTRONG, Sales Manager, New York Comic Con (NYCC)

Excerpt from The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators by Thomas Crowell © 2014 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group.

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By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

Sande Scoredos was the executive director of training and artist development at Sony Pictures Imageworks. She was committed to working with academia, serving on school advisory boards, guiding curriculum, participating on industry panels, and lecturing at school programs. She was instrumental in founding the Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) program in 2004. Sande chaired the SIGGRAPH 2001 Computer Animation Festival and was the curator chair for the SIGGRAPH 2008 Computer Animation Festival.

Sande produced Early Bloomer, a short film that was theatrically released. Her other credits include: Stuart Little, Hollow Man, Spider-Man, Stuart Little 2, I Spy, Spider-Man 2, Full Spectrum Warrior, The Polar Express, Open Season, Spider-Man 3, Surf’s Up, Beowulf, I Am Legend, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Before the Pitch: Register Your Work

Before you pitch your idea to anyone, your family, friends, your uncle Joe that works at a studio, or even random strangers, protect everyone—and your idea—by finding out who owns the rights to your idea. Do not talk about your idea until you have gone through the registration process or have an agent. You never know who is listening at Starbucks. If you are pitching for a school project you may find that your school already owns the rights. Likewise, if you work in the entertainment industry, your company may own the rights to anything resembling intellectual property. Ask your career services advisor or legal department about ownership rights and be sure to read your deal memo and contract agreement.

Most studios will only take pitch meetings through an agent. That is to protect you and them against copyright claims. For information on copyright filings, check the United States Copyright Office website, http://www.copyright.gov/. Read the guidelines carefully and follow the procedures.

Know Who Will Hear Your Pitch

Now, prepare for that pitch.

Successful pitches are carefully designed and orchestrated. Many brilliant ideas have fallen by the wayside due to poor pitching skills.

Whether you are pitching a 30-second short to your animation professor or an epic to a studio executive, find out who is going to hear your pitch.

You have just a few seconds to grab their attention and convince everyone in the room that your story is worth telling. How you describe it, visualize it, sell it, and sell yourself will all work for you or against you.

First, be honest and decide if you are the best person to make the pitch. If you get flustered speaking to a group, then let someone else do the talking. Not everyone needs to be part of the formal presentation so play to your strengths.

Talk to the “gatekeeper,” the key contact who is setting up the meeting, and ask him or her to tell you who might attend. If you can, find out their titles and what influence they have on the process. Then do your homework.

The World Wide Web is a wealth of information. Check out the backgrounds of each person who may be in the meeting.

• Try to get a recent picture of each person. • What types of projects do they like? • What projects have they worked on? • Where did they grow up? • What college did they attend? • What projects are in their catalog? Do they already have an animated film about two talking zebras? Oops, your project is about two zebras so think about how your project fits into their plans. • Get your facts straight and then double check them. Just because it is on the web or IMDB does not make it true.

Why is this important? If you can find a relevant personal connection, then you can tap into that with a casual chat, discover mutual acquaintances or interests. But be careful. You want to stand out just a little more from the other pitches and be remembered in a good way. Your pitch should always be short and to the point, not too deep or detailed or it can get boring. You want a balance of wellrehearsed but not memorized, engaging and delivered with enthusiasm but not clownish, and delivered with confidence and passion for the project.

This business is all about relationships so you want to connect with the people in the room.

Preparing for the Pitch

Make sure you know your story. Research your idea and know what else is out there that remotely resembles it—is there a character, city, situation, movie or game that is similar to yours? You can bet that someone at the pitch will say this sounds like XYZ, the classic film from 1932 directed by some obscure foreign director. Assume that anyone in the pitch session has seen it and heard it all. Nothing is worse than the silence you hear that follows the comment, “What else have you got?” A potentially embarrassing moment can turn in your favor if you can intelligently discuss the other work, and its relationship to yours. You will look good if you not only know of this piece but can intelligently discuss this reference.

You also want to make sure you have the rights to the properties and characters. Say your story centers around a landmark building in downtown New York. Believe it or not, you may not be able to obtain or afford the rights to use that building. Same goes for characters and music. If your story cannot be made without that specific Beatles song, consider the reality and cost of acquiring the rights.

If your project requires getting the rights, be prepared to discuss the status of your negotiations in the meeting. If you do not have an original concept and cannot afford to obtain rights for existing properties, check out the properties in the public domain.

Photo by Bradley Gordon


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By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksInspirationInterviews

The following is an excerpt for Digital Arts Masters: Volume 4. In Digital Art Masters, you will meet some of the finest 2D and 3D artists working in the industry today and discover how they create some of the most innovative digital art in the world. In this excerpt, Jelmer Boska walks you through his creation of his own personal work, Portrait of Keith Richards.


It all started in a Vancouver theatre around May 2007 where I watched the third part of the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End for the first time. About half way in, Keith Richards made his introduction in the role of Captain Teague. When he appeared on screen I had goose bumps; the way Keith looked in his red pirate costume reminded me so much of an illustration of the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, in a children’s pirate book I used to own – I loved that image and have kept it in my head ever since. A few months later, Disney released the book The Art of the Pirates of the Caribbean where I once again met with Captain Teague. This time he appeared in the form of an amazing drawing done by one of my heroes, Mark “Crash” McCreery. There the idea was born.

I felt it was time to add something new to my portfolio, and this would be something I’d very much enjoy doing. Although I started off with the intent to create a portrait of Keith Richards as Captain Teague, he never made it to that state. I changed my mind during the process and decided to go for a realistic portrait of the man himself instead. Well … at least it got me a good “piratey” introduction for this article – Yarr!


I started off the way I usually start any project, which is by gathering related reference imagery. I found a couple of decent photos of Keith and also took some screen grabs from the movies, where I had the opportunity to see him from more specific angles. During my search for references it was inevitable that I came across some of the famous caricaturist, Sebastian Krueger’s work. He has portrayed and caricaturized the Rolling Stones, and Keith personally, quite a few times. Throughout the process I constantly had to be aware not to caricaturize my portrait too much. Keith has got a lot of characterizing features in his face, and sticking close to his real proportions, instead of caricaturizing them, was a challenge!


I mocked up a base mesh for the bust in XSI fairly quickly, with the idea to get working on the likeness in ZBrush as soon as possible. I kept the base model very simple, since it would be used for still purposes only, and wouldn’t have to deform (Fig.01).

Fig 1


When doing a likeness, details hardly matter; it’s the main proportions that matter, and in particular the visual triangle indicating the relations between the eyes and tip of the nose. I found that once you nail those proportions, the character usually starts to become recognizable. You do start to stare blind after a certain amount of time, so I tried to get as much of the main work done as possible within the first hours after starting work on the model.

I tend to start off by subdividing the model about three times right after importing it into ZBrush. From there I start to refine and build the main forms. I have become a big fan of the Clay Tubes tool, which allows me to change and add volume in certain areas in a very natural way. After getting the bigger primary forms down I carved in a couple of Keith’s most characterizing wrinkles, which are formed mostly around his mouth and cheekbones.

Having a dual monitor setup was most helpful for this project: I find that being able to have my main reference images up on one screen, while working on the other, is almost mandatory for this kind of work. Once I started sculpting it was just a matter of constant refinement: looking at the reference photos and comparing them to the model. I didn’t really find any shortcuts or tricks doing a portrait – it seems to be just a matter of training your eye and trying to sculpt what you can see (Fig.02 – 03).

Fig 2

Fig 3

Texturing & Shading

The texture painting was completely done in ZBrush as well. Using the polypaint tools I quickly painted a diffuse texture directly on the model. Knowing the final image would be black and white, I didn’t spend too much time on this.

After having exported the diffuse map from ZBrush, I hooked the image up in a pretty simple shading tree using Mental Ray’s standard fast skin surface shader (Fig.04). I applied this to the high-res model, right out of ZBrush. The model sits at about 2 million quad polygons at its highest subdivision level, and I sadly wasn’t able to render this in XSI without crashing my machine. I ended up exporting the second highest resolution mesh and generating an additional map, based on the volume differences between the highest two levels and applied this as a bump map to the model in XSI.

Fig 4

The hair was done in XSI, too – the hair tools are great and pretty easy to use. I grew about eight different selections of hair to form his haircut. I looked at sections and strands that characterized his hair most to base my hair selections on, and focused on those specific areas. The hair was very much modeled to the camera, and looks rather ridiculous from any other angle (Fig.05).

Fig 5

Lighting & Rendering

The final light rig was made up out of a standard threepoint light setup using area-lights. The key light was placed on a sharp angle high above the model to create deep shadows under his eyebrows – something I found to help sell the likeness a bit more. A bright rim light was placed directly behind Keith, to separate him from the background a little. To soften out some of the shadows on one side and generate some nice contrast in the lighting, I placed a soft fill light on the left side of the model (Fig.06).

Fig 6

The image was rendered in 4 passes, those being two specular and beauty passes for the head and the hand plus the cigarette. The beauty pass showed the model lit and fully shaded, but without any specular highlights. Those were rendered out separately in a specular pass, so that I could have a bit more control over it later on in Photoshop.

Compositing & Finalizing

There wasn’t too much work left to be done in Photoshop besides combining all the passes, desaturating the image, adjusting the levels a touch and adding a depth of field effect using the blur tools. The smoke was painted in later, and to finish the whole thing off I added some grain, which I found added a lot of character to the final image (Fig.07a – e).

Fig 7a

Fig 7b

Fig 7c

Fig 7d

Fig 7e


And that’s about it! I very much enjoyed working on this portrait and am happy to call this one done. I hope you like it.

Excerpt from Digital Art Masters: Volume 4 by 3dtotal.Com © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Art Masters can be purchased Amazon.com,BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationGeneral

The following is an excerpt from Animated Life. Written with wit and verve, Animated Life is a guided tour through an entire lifetime of techniques, practical hands-on advice and insight into an entire industry. Here, Disney animator, Floyd Norman teaches you the step you need in order to climb up the industry ladder.

The Assistant Animator

You’ve finally finished your animation apprenticeship, and you’ve learned the ropes as a fledgling inbetweener and breakdown artist. Now that the cartoon basics have been instilled, you’re ready to take the next big step. No, don’t get too anxious. You’re not an animator yet. You’ve another important role to fill before continuing your climb up the ladder. It’s time to become an assistant animator.

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By: admin                Categories: Animation

The following is an excerpt from Chris Georgenes’ How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6. Fully updated for CS6, How to Cheat in Flash CS6, is a goldmine of artistic inspiration, timesaving practical tips, tricks and step-by-step walkthroughs that you’ll wonder how you survived without it. Here, Chris helps you to create a rotating globe in Flash.

Whenever I work with masks, I feel like a magician. Masks provide the ability for you to create illusions, much like a magician’s “sleight of hand” technique. It’s all about what the viewer doesn’t see and you, as the designer, have the ability to control that. One of the more popular animation requests from Flash users is how to make a rotating globe. The first thought is that a globe is a sphere and to animate anything rotating around a sphere requires either a 3D program or painstaking frame-by-frame animation. Not so if you can use a mask. Remember, it’s not what you see, but rather, what you don’t see.

1 First step is to create the continents. A quick online image search will yield plenty of examples. Import the image into Flash and leave it as a bitmap or use the Trace Bitmap feature or manually trace it using Flash’s drawing tools. Convert it to a symbol.

2 Create a new layer and move it below your continents. Draw a perfect circle using the Oval tool O while holding down the Shift key. Select this circle and copy it, then paste it in place on a new layer above your continents.

3 Mix a radial gradient similar to the one shown and fill the circle in the layer above your continents. Make sure to mix enough alpha into each color so the continents will show through. Using the Gradient Transform tool f, edit your gradient so that the highlight edge is off-center to one side.

4 The next step is to create a mask layer using yet another copy of the circle in the bottom layer. Create a new layer above your continents, paste in place the circle and then convert this layer to a mask layer. This will prevent the continents from being visible outside this circle. All you need to do now is motion tween the continent symbol across this circle.

5 To avoid too much of a delay in the animation between the first and last frames, you can add a new masked layer with a new instance of your continent symbol. The best way to make this looping animation as seamless as possible is to copy the first frame of the continents and paste it in place into the last frame of your Timeline. Then work backwards in the Timeline and position the continents outside of the circle to the right.

6 Since the first frame is exactly the same as the last frame, and each frame in between represents a slightly different position for the continents, select the symbol in the last frame and use the arrow keys to nudge it over a few pixels. This will avoid the two-frame “hesitation” in the movement of the continents every time the playhead returns from the last frame to frame 1.

You can always move your entire animation into a Movie Clip symbol so that it can be easier to position, add multiple globes and/or target with Action Script. To do this, drag across all frames and layers to highlight them in black. Right-click or Command-click over them and select “Copy Frames” from the context menu. Open your Library and create a new Movie Clip symbol. Right-click or Command-click over frame 1 of this new symbol and select “Paste Frames.”

Excerpt from How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6: The Art of Design and Animation by Chris Georgenes © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6 can be purchased Amazon.comBN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGames

The following is an excerpt from Stewart Jones’ Digital Creature RiggingDigital Creature Rigging gives you the practical, hands-on approaches to rigging you need, with a theoretical look at 12 rigging principles, and plenty of tips, tricks and techniques to get you up and running quickly.

A lot of 3D packages create bones as a “special” sort of object/node, with specific bone-only properties that no other node in the application has. One of the unusual, but very awesome, features of 3ds Max’s bone system is that any object can become a bone, grab hold of all the properties and attributes that make it a bone, and behave exactly the same. I still prefer to use bones when creating a skeleton, but the option to use anything we want is sort of cool. When it comes to currently selecting the joints and bones that make up our creature’s skeleton, it is a bit cumbersome, as we have to select through the mesh. As we do not have any controllers in place or an actual rig setup just yet, that is really the only thing we can do for the moment. However, as bones are not classed as a “special” sort of node within 3ds Max, we can edit their appearance to make selecting them easier.

Of course, we could jump into the Bone Tools options and turn on “Fins” adjusting them to better fit the mesh, but this would be a waste of time, as we can do something much better. With a bone of your choice selected, head over to the Modify Panel and add an “Edit Poly” modifier to the bone. With the Edit Poly modifier applied, we are able to go into all of the parameters, attributes, and options for the modifier and edit the look of the bone. What this means is that we can reshape every bone in the skeleton to fit our creature very closely.

Make sure to keep this as a very low-poly edit so the bones can evaluate quickly in the viewports. By doing this, not only has this made selecting the bones easier, but it has also created a low-poly “cut” version of the creature. In later stages when this creature is placed into an environment, the skinned geometry may cause the scene to slow down, and this can make the animation process incredibly difficult, as if it was not difficult enough already. By having this low-poly cut skeletal version of the creature, the animator can hide the geometry and use this instead. Obviously, this will not give the animator access to view the deformations of the creature with the geometry hidden, but it should speed the viewport up and give a very good representation of the size and mass of the creature as it moves and interacts with the environment. I usually leave the fingers out of this bone reshaping step, both because it can end up taking too long and because it is not overly beneficial for the animators at this stage.

Oh yeah, and you can mirror to the other side too! Simply copy the “Edit Poly” modifier from a completed bone, paste it to the other side, then add the “Mirror” modifier and adjust the parameters so it fits correctly.

FIG 4-44 An Edit Poly modifier added to the bones of Belraus and reshaped to fit the geometry.

Reshaping Bones

To reshape the bones of your creature, simply add an “Edit Poly” modifier to each bone and edit away. You can easily mirror to an opposite side by copying the modifier to the other bone and adding a “Mirror” modifier and adjusting the parameters so it fits correctly.

To complete this reshaping, it is a good idea to color the bones using our coloring convention. Although these bones may not be seen at all when we introduce the animation rig, we still want them to be easily distinguishable while in this base rig phase.

Excerpt from Digital Creature Rigging: The Art and Science of CG Creature Setup in 3ds Max by Stewart Jones.  © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Creature Rigging can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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