In order to reinforce our understanding of 3D characters, we decided that creating a quadruped style character would be beneficial. We decided that a playful looking cartoon dog would be a fun project to experiment on, so we got to work. This time we defined clear roles to team members and created a proper pipeline depending on who had the strongest skills in each area.
This project also gave us a change to get a bit of experimentation done with muscle systems, an area of rigging we had long been looking to explore.
The creation of the muscle system was a lot more straight-forward than we had initially anticipated. However it does involve a lot of weight-painting and trial and error; but we got there in the end.
The muscle system allows for ‘jiggling’ volume effects to simulate the behaviour and weight of real muscles. It also helps to preserve volume in difficult areas of the rig.
The facial rig for the dog was very similar to the previous facial rigs we have attempted. The hardest part of the face was definitely trying to imaging what expressions it’s possible for a cartoon dog to pull off. In this respect we probably missed a few tricks and kept the face fairly simplistic. One major change we made for the face compared to a traditional humanoid rig was the eye lids. Creating joint based eye lids for this particular character proved extremely difficult due to the shape of the surrounding areas. Because of this we opted for a blend-shape solution, with in-between ‘target’ blend shapes to help the lids look as though they stick closely to the eye geometry.
As it stands, this project is currently in-progress. We have added some lovely hair to the mix using X-Gen, however we still need to attach it to a dynamic hair system so the fur reacts dynamically to the motion of the dog. Here are some stills of what we have so far.