Monday, February 8, 2016

Animation Dissection - Pt o3 [ Rigging ]

Rigging isn't going to be a small feat for the Ley Lines game, however ... though it may appear that we have a pretty large scope going on, that's just a pretty nifty trick on our parts! As of right now, we have six unique characters that will be modeled, rigged, and animated. Those characters are:

          1.  Vala Isely, our protagonist
          2. The Shellek Leader, our centipedal antagonist
          3. The Temple Guard
          4. The Flyer Shellek
          5. The Swarmer Shellek
          6. The Charger Shellek
That's six rigs, total. It's likely that this number may be five because Vala and the Temple Guard are likely to share a rig or, at least, the majority of it. We have the fortune that every member of the artist team has varying knowledge of the rigging process to help this part of the process along, if there are any hiccups.

This time, I have been researching rigs for every one of these characters - particularly the creatures.


The design of the Flyer Shellek is a hybrid between a butterfly, a dragonfly, and some elements of a hornet.

As mentioned before, the lesser Shellek will have more mechanical movements. The insects that inspired each type of Shellek will serve as a base for their movements. However, as a whole, their motions will be jerky and erratic to capture the madness and corruption they are experiencing at the hands of Miria's "brain crystals". 

Body rigs for a flying character do not present much of a challenge. Because the Flyer is based off of a dragonfly, however, some research was needed for the wings. The end solutions ended up being very similar to how tails, ears, and any other appendage is done - only simplified, because the wings of the Flyer will only require a slight bend when flapping. The Flyer's main function will be shooting energy beams at the player & dropping repulsion bombs, so they will not require any intricate movements.


There were quite a few successful designs for the Swarmer Shellek that were liked by both the design team and the faculty. For the Swarmer, we are going with a design that's a cross between a spider and a crab. Its main function will be to ... well, swarm the player.

The video above displays a spider that's pretty close to our chosen design. So, it's likely that you'll be seeing a lot of IK handles for the legs so that rigid and mechanical look can be pulled off. IK handles also save a lot of time and trouble. They're pretty darn nifty. 


The chosen design for the Charger Shellek reminds me a of a scorpion with how its tail is formed. So, I went right to researching scorpion rigs to use as a reference when it comes time for me to finally rig this little guy. Its main function will be to charge down the player and fire a laser beam from its jaws. Unlike the other creatures, this Shellek might have to open his mouth. However, that's a fairly straight forward process as well that will be made easy with a well-crafted 3D model.

None of the lesser Shellek are in need of a refined rig as they do not require any intricate movements. Their rig will also be very similar to the Swarmer Shellek's, since they share similar leg structures.  Because their movements are fairly basic, we can focus on perfecting this and giving them some more 

None of the lesser Shellek require an intricate rig and they have fairly basic movements. Rigging them will be a straight-forward process. 


... Otherwise known as the Shellek Leader. This guy is based off of - wouldn't you guess it? - a centipede. One of the first rig reference videos I found was one of a very detailed centipede. The end result of this animators efforts looked extremely realistic and was rendered as such.

Fortunately for us, the design chosen only has fourteen legs instead of a hundred. There has been some talk about the legs not needing any movement whatsoever, with this main boss moving more similarly to a snake. Nonetheless, I am prepared no matter the route the designers choose to go!  

Rigging a centipede creature appears to be straight-forward but ... a very redundant process. Insanely so, because of all of the legs and body sections a centipede has. Rigging & weight painting this guy will need patience more than anything else. Because of their similar leg structures, the main boss will likely have plenty of IK handles as well.


The entire artist track was introduced to human rigging late last semester, though a chunk of us had prior experience in this field! There were a few projects in the last semester where I became better acquainted with rigging humans and creatures to better my skills in this field. So, the rigging for human bodies doesn't raise too much of a concern. However, we have been in talks about creating facial rigs for scenes where Vala's face will be shown. Ideally, these scenes would be in the beginning and the end of the game to give some sort of "full circle" effect.

There are plenty of references and tutorials on YouTube for the human rigging process. One of these tutorials I have been currently referring is a series by TheGnimmel, who goes over rigging specifically for games.

 As mentioned before, we were discussing the possibility of creating a facial rig for Vala. Because of our chosen art style, we wouldn't require a rig that's so sophisticated that you'll see her temple muscles move. We desire a rig that can accomplish simple (but effective) facial expressions and perhaps a small amount of dialogue. Fortunately, there's plenty of tutorials in this department as well, along with the opportunity to go over this in depth in the Technical Art class. Because this has become a part of the discussions rather early, we can properly plan things ahead among the design team and the artist team so we can maintain a reasonable scope.

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