By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimation

The base rig acts as the first layer of our multi-layered rigging approach. This is by far the most important layer, and it consists of three main components:

1. Joints and bones

2. Skinning

3. Exported version

Nothing flashy, exciting, or particularly complicated lives in the base rig. However, get something wrong at this stage, and all subsequent layers will inherit the problems, sort of a domino effect.

At its core of the rig is the skeletal system that is used to drive the creature’s fleshsurface deformations. Correct placement of joints and bones is what matters here. Using our research and development, as well as anatomical studies, should allow for optimum placements to allow the best articulation to be achieved. Changes to the skeletal structure at a later point cause a lot of repercussions, not only to the other layers, but to the components that make up this layer also.

Skinning is the basic component of flesh-surface deformations. Obtaining perfect results with skinning alone is pretty much impossible, but spending time at this stage refining the skinning to look as good as possible allows us to reap the rewards later, as well as makes some additional deformation inputs easier to create. If this creature is destined for a real-time game engine, then skinning may be the only option available for creating great deformations. Take your time at this stage, and you can have a skinned character that looks fantastic without additional deformers.

The final section of this base rig is the exported fi les we can create once the joints and bones have been placed and the skinning is complete. You may have a custom exporter, you may be using a built in exporter, or you may need to assign “tags” so the creature can be exported later. No matter which solution you are using, it is a good idea to throw this creature through some exports and get it into the pipeline. The sooner you do this, the quicker you can tell if there will be any problems.

Excerpt from Digital Creature Rigging by Stewart Jones © 2012 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

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