One of the first projects that we did when we started Glued Films, was a series of films for an organisation called ‘The Jesuit Institute’. Their job was to manage the teaching of the Jesuit faith across its many schools around the world. We create three films about the life of St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit faith. The original films were fun, but very simply designed animations…well that was then, and this is now…We were searching around for something to test our 3D capabilities and I remembered that we had created a series of characters for this animation in 2D. So we thought it would be fun to try and create a 3D version of the main character. You can see the results below!
Improving our rigging skills
As should be the case with every new project, we used this one as an opportunity to build on our existing knowledge. Being fully aware of how much depth there is to rigging, we want to make sure that we are adding at least two new features to each new rig we create. This time, we decided that a decent ‘foot roll’ system was an important addition, as well as a system for creating a ‘fleshy-eye’ rig.
Foot roll system
The foot roll system allows us for a much greater level of control, whilst also simplifying the amount of steps needed to create a pose. Just like all areas of rigging, there are a number of ways to achieve the same effect and functionality. We created ours with a carefully planned hierarchy of locators which the joints are parent constrained to, with the top level locator controlling the IK handle for the leg. A good foot roll system should allow the animator to be able to create the look of the foot ‘peeling’ off the ground.
The ‘fleshy-eye’ rig is something we have always been very impressed by. After a ton of research, we found a fairly simplistic solution for how we can pull of this effect. We achieved the ‘fleshy look’ by positioning a cluster deformer in the centre of the eye ball and smooth binding it to the geometry. We then painted the cluster weights onto the outer loop of edges of the eye lid, and smoothed the weighting several times. From this point, we then used the eye ball rotation to control the rotation of the cluster and with some careful constraining and weighting, we had a working eye rig!
Improved hand topology and control system
An area that we improved massively on this rig from the previous ones were the hands. We took particular care when planning our topology in order to get the deformations to look as realistic as possible. For the controls, we opted to go for a simple FK system, which was bound to control cubes that floated above the joints, to make it as easy as possible to select the correct finger and joint. These control cubes were then tied into a simple driven key system within the attributes of the wrist control, where a fist shape can be animated using one parameter. We felt that this setup was very efficient and is most likely the way we will approach hands in future rigs.
Getting better faster!
Overall we’re very pleased with the way this character turned out and once again we learnt a great deal from undertaking another 3D character project. We found that because this is the second biped/humanoid character we have created, it took less than half the time to create than the first one and the quality was much better. We aim to maintain this level of exponential improvement in future character projects, until our process is as refined as can possibly be.