Cartoon Robots

Animation Master Character Rigging Basics (Part 1)

Section 10: Getting acquainted with the model

Now we are ready to really get started!

It’s time to build our first skeleton and install it into a model’s mesh.

Wow, we’ve made it this far!

This is the last part of the Rigging Basics section.

If you understand what we have already covered than you are ready for this exercise.

Before we start I want to share with you the goal of this section so that there is no confusion when we finish with it.

This is a very simple model so there are some fine rigging details that we won’t be covering here since they they won’t really apply to this model.

When we finish this section, the rig that we will build will not be 100% complete (We’ll finish the rigging in Part three of this series.)

What we will be accomplishing here is setting up a good bone hierarchy for the skeleton that we build (This is a key point) and then we will assign the bones to appropriate parts of the model’s mesh.

After that we’ll play around with our model in an Action window just to see what kind of control we have at this point.

Meet my Rig Training Robot. We’ll be using him to help us learn the lessons in this tutorial. (In this picture he already has bones installed)

We are going to need an actual model to use for this part (not just a model file with bones but with no geometry/ mesh).

I have included a model that I have designed for this purpose so that you can follow along with me.

You may download it from here:

(This model file will only work in Animation Master versions 13 or higher.)

Download the Rig Training Robot model…

As you can see this model file actually has geometry in it but it does not have any bones yet.

We are going to add the bones ourselves to create the skeleton.

Then we are going to assign parts of the robot’s geometry to specific bones.  (For example, we’re going to be creating a left thigh bone for the robot’s left thigh… then one for the robot’s right thigh and so on.)

The bones that we are going to install in this section are referred to as Geometry Bones.  Geometry Bones are bones that have portions of a model’s mesh directly assign to them.  This gives a bone direct control of the model.

All right, let’s get started!

Here is the Rig Training Robot wire frame in the model window from the Front view. You should also look at it from different vantage points to get acquainted with the model’s layout

Open the Training Robot model and make sure that you are in Modeling Mode.

At this point we should get acquainted with the model so that we can strategize our bone layout for it.  Take a look at it in the model window from different points of view and then have a look in the PWS.

We can see in the PWS that the model does not have any bones in it yet.

We can also see that I have created Groups for portions of the model’s mesh and that the groups are organized into folders. Creating groups for a model is not a requirement to rig a model but doing so can help you keep things organized and manageable within the model.

The Rig Training Robot is built mostly with separate mesh segments (the mesh is not one continuous mesh).  This is to make the lesson a little easier to learn.

The robot’s waist and neck sections are continuous meshes so we’ll address them in slightly different way later.

Here is the Rig Training Robot in the PWS. We can see that there are no bones in this model yet but it has been assigned groups.















Here is the model in Bones Mode. I’ve switched to shaded/ wire frame mode in the window.

You already know that we need to be in the model’s Bones Mode in order to create the bones in the model so lets go there now.

Do you see here how the model is all black even though it’s a different color in Modeling Mode?

Do you remember the Default Black Model Bone from earlier in the tutorial?

The reason why the model is all black here in Bones Mode is because the black mesh indicates that all of the model’s geometry is assigned to the Default Model Bone.

In Bones Mode, the mesh is the color of the bone that it is assigned to.  Since we have not added any bones to this model yet, all of the mesh is assigned to the Default (Black) Model Bone… by default.

Notice that the Default Bone is now visible and flashing after selecting a spot on the model. The model’s CPs are also flashing.

Click any spot on the model’s mesh.

You will see the model’s CPs start to flash and you will also see this model’s Default bone highlighted flashing between its feet.

The flashing bone and corresponding flashing CPs indicates that the CPs are assigned to the active (selected and flashing) bone. (The Default Bone in this case).

When assigning the CPs to the bones that we create you will see that the CPs and mesh will become the color of the assigned bone.

Now let’s start adding bones to  this model…

Next: Section 11: Hips