Using a Unit Vector to Make a Cylindrical Foot Roll

Posted on April 03, 2012 - category: character-rigging

Here is a tutorial that will demonstrate how to use a Unit Vector to animate the pivot point of a cylinder so that the cylinder will roll on its bottom edge in any direction. I’m using this technique for the feet of my Mini Mammoth rig, but it could also be useful for robot feet, or adapted into different shapes for a variety of uses.

Here is a video of the foot rolling effect we are going to create …

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Use K to Easily Navigate Your Maya Timeline

Posted on March 07, 2012 - category: tip-of-the-day

There are tons of features and hotkeys and hidden marking menus in Maya that are extremely useful but surprisingly seldom known. While everyone is talking about big new features, these underdogs can easily be forgotten.

I just started a “tip of the day” with my animators at work because I realized that there are lot of these things that they aren’t aware of, but being a major geek, I’ve read through the help docs like a crime-thriller novel …

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Mini Mammoth Part 3: Modelling and Topology in 3D-Coat

Posted on March 05, 2012 - category: character-rigging

mini mammoth final wireframe render

Here is Part 3 of rigging Mini Mammoth. I’ve now got a finished model. This turned into a huge step, because I was learning a ton about modelling and topology in 3D-Coat, which turned into a 2-week long adventure of tutorials and manuals. I made a lot of mistakes as well which I’ll talk a little bit about. All in the spirit of learning!

This is the last post before I get into the actual character rigging.

First …

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Python: String Formatting and Enumerate

Posted on February 21, 2012 - category: python

As a mostly self-taught Python scripter, I try to keep on top of best-practices and constantly learn, because I realize how easily bad habits can slip in. I’ve recently learned these bad habits are known as anti-patterns.

That said, I learned a couple new Python tricks this week.

1. Better String Formatting Using Format()

If you’ve used string formatting before, this is very similar, except the replacement fields are inside {} brackets, and you can use variables as keywords …

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Using Proxy Geometry For Better Skinning Results

Posted on February 10, 2012 - category: character-rigging

Here is a simple skinning trick I like to use, which comes in handy for a lot of different rigging situations.

In the images below, I was rigging a wolf’s tongue with spline IK that needed to be very flexible. (If you count, you’ll notice that there are 12 controllers. 4 main controllers and 8 extra offset controllers to bend and twist the tongue into a variety of shapes.) The skinning was proving to be tedious, because the …

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Mini Mammoth Part 2: Sketching & 3D Sculpting

Posted on January 23, 2012 - category: character-rigging

mini mammoth walking

So now we are on to part 2 of the Making Of Mini Mammoth where I am documenting the entire process of designing a cartoony character rig. In this step, I am doing a bunch of sketching from photo references and sculpting a quick prototype 3D model to get even more ideas. We’re almost ready to start the actual modelling, but first…

Sketching Solves Problems

Design-based drawing is ultimately about solving problems, so quality isn’t at all important …

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Mini Mammoth Part 1: The Making Of A Cartoon Character Rig

Posted on January 17, 2012 - category: character-rigging

Hi everyone. This is the first post in a series where I take this simple doodle of a cartoon mammoth:

mini mammoth first sketch

…and turn him into a fully animated, super-flexible cartoony character rig in Maya!

I’ll be documenting the entire process from design and modelling to the creation of the entire rig. It won’t be a step-by-step tutorial, but it will show my entire thought process as I rig, mistakes and all. It might get messy, but I know I …

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