Clare, our resident rigger, did an amazing job rigging the characters that we had all sat and modelled together. She used a simple lattice rig, with cluster handles at the head, belly and feet, with expression controls for squash and stretch on each one. Very similar to the Jonas rig (I watched the process many times to learn from her).
We did have a lot of trouble with the rigs to start off with. Having rigged the characters, we didn’t realise that if you changed their UV map that the rig would no longer apply. While Clare had been testing out rigs, I had been designing UV mapped textures on another model…and when the two were brought together, weird things happened. We thought we were being time efficient! BUT, in the end, the two came together beautifully to create the squishy, squashy little characters we now know and love-Shout out to Clare who must have rigged each character at least 5 times-STAR!
I’m sure Clare will have loads on her blog about the rigs, so I’ll leave a link here.
Textures and the Facial Rig
It was actually great fun learning to UV map the characters, and then paint over the maps to create a custom texture. I had also worked with projection maps to add the faces onto the characters, which was fun! The only issue was getting the face to scale correctly, which could be a bit of a nightmare. In the end I stuck with this option though, as the tutorial for creating 3D eyes was a very old one and seemed to have a lot of issues (Of course I found this out 3 hours into trying it over and over again).
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get this tutorial to work. It has a lot of grouping and parenting issues which I couldn’t resolve in the time frame.
My attempt to follow this tutorial^ I was only one step from the end when things started to go wrong…Maybe it just needed more time…But in the end, I loved the 2D faces so much more!
In the end, I used this tutorial to learn how to add the faces to the texture of the characters. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the expressions we could use in the animation were limited…but I did design and create expressions for 9 different faces on each character. These were set via an added attribute in the channel box of the top nurb of each characters rig.
^Some of the earliest tests, with quick doodles to check that the placement of the maps worked out. Note-Encountered problem with the UV map ‘Sticking’ to the background of the editor…possibly problem with laptop, but was extremely frustrating as I couldn’t move the UV around make painting in Photoshop easier.
An example of each texture map-there were nine of each, with different faces on each one. This was then used as an ‘Image Sequence’ in Maya.
The ‘wood texture’ texture was based on my original character rotations. We wanted something that looked illustrated, and not true to life-just to differentiate them from the world around them, and to give the whole thing a ‘handmade’ feel.