Thursday, February 26, 2015

VIST 405 - Vidarr Character Rig Progress

The above video is a timelapse of the rigging work I've done for the Vidarr group. If it's not clear from watching the video, I worked on defining the skeletal joint system, setting IK handles, creating external controls, editing attribute connections, and general troubleshooting.

After working out some issues with the geometry mesh and doing a smooth skin bind, I went to work painting weights. Weight painting took nearly half of my work session, which lasted nearly four hours.

Technical Issues

  • The model for Vidarr is too complex. Some parts of the character mesh include things like individually modeled rivets on his boots, individual laces on his gauntlets, etc. which made weight painting a nightmare. I mean, even on my Skyrim character tiny details like that are just painted onto the texture with displacement/normals mapping.
  • The model for Vidarr came to me in different grouped parts rather than a single combined mesh. This caused major issues when I ran the smooth skin bind because many of Vidarr's limbs were mirrored instances. Because several parts were instanced, Maya wouldn't let me freeze transformations or reset their history.
  • When I tried to combine these mesh groups in Maya there was a loss of data - apparently an infamous bug that occurs a lot - and Vidarr's right arm disappeared. I tried things like exporting the mesh as an .fbx, re-importing it and binding the skin but it made Maya run ridiculously slow. Finally I re-modeled his right arm myself, stuck it into the hierarchy, and this time the combined mesh turned out alright.
  • Maya's skin weight painting utility is barbaric and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what brush size will get those tiny spots painted the way I wanted.

What's Next

The rig is far from perfect; I still need to refine painting the skin weights. I'll also add things like shoulder controls, elbow controls, and hand rigs, with some custom attribute connections.

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