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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Character Rigging and Skinning

Character rigging and skinning is the process of building a "Control Skeleton", like a puppet rig, for a 3D sculpted character. Above is an image of my Centurion character with the control Skeleton (Rig) almost completely visible. The process of connecting the 3D mesh to the skeleton is skinning and building the skeleton to match the character and the complex set of relationships that become the controllers or the control system of the skeleton is rigging. Fortunately my first experience with character rigging and animation was my first Maya class taken at CADA. Susanne Taaffee's Maya 1 class "Trial by Fire: Intermediate Character Rigging." Character rigging is tedious and was overwhelming when I was first exposed to it in that class, but over the two years before taking Dan Visloski's Character Rigging class I really worked rigging concepts enough to really have a handle on it and was able to really glean all of the information from the advanced rigging classes necessary to feel competant in rigging just about anything I want to.

Rigging Image LARGE

Logo Design

NOMMO: "Word Magic"
New Story of RA

This is my official logo for the project. Ultimately I chose the typeface and design because it is reminiscent of typefaces used for Greek stories and easily relays to most people the idea of expressing mythos through story. Since Egyptian mythology as well as all other African mythologies pre-date and heavily influenced the development of Greek mythology I felt it was extremely appropriate. In the future I will redesign the logo, modestly, to include technological elements that are also representative of this story.

Link to Larger Image

Influences: The Thinking Beast

I am very story/purpose oriented so conceptually, with all of my creations, I have a fairly clear idea of what I'm looking for early on because every character or creature or environment or architectual structure has a clear purpose or place and set of emotions I intend for them to carry in a given story. Once I have the story nailed down I begin to find ""loose" image references or sketch, or commission another artist to sketch images of the character(s) which I model from, regardless of where the reference images come from I can have as much or as little freedom in the modeling phase as I choose. In more than a few cases I've found it useful to use modeling applications without reference as an effective brainstorming/sketch tool as is the case with the "Thinking Beast" and my Centurion.

The "Thinking Beast" is a character/creature that I felt I definitely needed in my story. No sci-fi fantasy film is complete without a huge imposing quadraped. The main difference between most huge creatures, as depicted in film, and "Thinking Beast" first can be distinguished first from the character's name; as the name would suggest these creatures have as many complex thoughts as any man intelligent man would. In keeping with with Egyptian Mythos that character is a mix of animal and human/Sphinx-like elements and also falls squarely between the ethereal an corporeal realms. The beast is "Ghostly" white because it represents that rarity and mythical element that has been recognized by so many cultures and traditions throughout history in story. Most of my characters are not replicas of the original Egyptian pantheon deities, because these are "The New Stories of RA." The following images are random images that influenced the 3D design of the "Thinking Beast."

The "Thinking Beast" was modeled, rigged, and skinned (enveloped is the XSI terminology) in Softimage:XSI. I later exported the geometry for tweaking in Maya and to re-rig and skin the character since I decided on primarily using Maya for the rest of my project.

Digital Sculpting: The Process...

Using an image like this isn't the way I start all of my models, but it is the standard, accepted beginning of most 3D sculpted characters. Essentially images, drawn, photographed, or aquired from any other medium are used as "set" reference for multiple perspectives to aid in sculpting from all three dimensions {X, Y, Z}. The red lines represent continuity of the position of facial features from all three perspectives.(Gotta have your eye in the same spot regardless of angle of view, because it's still your same head.)

Even with the reference images, for three dimensional sculpt most of the information just isn't there, so it takes a considerable amount of patience, diligence, and a modicum of innate ability to fill in the gaps and move towards a 3D sculpt that looks like the original 2D image.