View Full Version : Dinosaur / Creature Rigging for Realism

07 July 2011, 07:30 PM
Hi there,

In the very near future I may have to rig dinosaurs or creatures that resemble them that need to have realistic motion; this means breathing, moving muscles, rib cage moving as the diaphragm moves etc.

My approach at this time is to simply model a diaphragm (not to perfection) and use it as an influence object beneath the mesh.

Breathing and swallowing are my current priorities, but also the muscles specifically in the legs - also an influence object, even a lattice, a soft select?

How have you tackled these things in the past and is there any advise you can give me?

I want to avoid cgmuscle system - we probably wont even be allowed to use it simply due to the lack of experience we have with it and can not compensate for the possibility of it not working for us in our deadline.

07 July 2011, 08:14 AM
You are talking about Maya as a production tool?

07 July 2011, 08:24 AM
Correct :)

I didn't think it'd have to be software specific though.

07 July 2011, 12:37 PM
Youre asking for specific advice, so its always good to be as specific as possible ;)

Muscle sims and sliding skin are always tough to handle. I guess there are people on here who are better qualified for these question ( for exampleskins sliding and wrinkling).

Anyway, here are my lunchtime break thoughts:

Back when I used Maya, Id workaround the whole muscle sim problem by rigging the character with bones and then use clusters (cluster object in Maya) that were riveted (rivet mel script) to polys on the mesh surface. This would allow me to add a second layer of deformation and would work good for rough muscle deformations or skin movement over muscles. Using morph keys driven by the joints rotation value is always a quick fix for simple joints (elbow and knee types) but not a good choice for more complex ones (hip joints and spine chains)

I like your idea of using a diapraghm influence object, looks like a good approach, considering your short time before deadline.

What kind of dinosaur are you planning on rigging, a quadruped or a biped?



07 July 2011, 06:49 PM
Hi there,

Thanks for your response :)

Well, it's not actually a dinosaur, but I used that as an example because I don't know what they will be yet, but they are extremely similar... there will be quadrupeds and bipeds I assume.

I gave the diagraphm a quick test and it was ugly, may as well have used a joint and just moved it in and out :( But a quick fix, for sure...

I might have to get all TA's to train up on cgmuscle after all. We need it to look completely believable/realistic.

07 July 2011, 10:35 PM
hey mate,

if you want it to look completely realistic, textures and shading will do most of the work, but the extra thing the eye is going to be looking for, are the muscle deformations and jiggling, especially on dinosaurs. If you don't have experience with maya muscle, and are not the type to learn new things quickly, i suggest hiring a TD at least for basic training or for doing the rigs. that would be the easiest approach.

Another way, which i think is much more challenging -> much cooler and awesome and all that, is learn it. The maya muscle system isn't as complex as it looks. when i was starting with it, i got scared at first, and went back to Pose Space Deformation, but that was back when i was starting with rigging. After a week of failure on PSD, i saw that there is no other way then maya muscle. I googled it around, and set up my first rig with it. (humanoid) it took me two days to set up the whole muscle system even with the deformations and all that jazz. it really isn't that har. and the quicker you learn it, the better for you. especially now, that the maya muscle system isn't much of a slowing-issue anymore.

My advice would be - where you can get away with just jiggling, use the jiggle deformer. where you need just sliding - use extra joints. where you need a proper muscle motion - use maya muscle. even the Simple Muscle would do.


07 July 2011, 07:34 AM
Hey there,

I have used cg muscle briefly in the past, but have long since forgotten it - back then it was unstable and broke all the time, but now we have receded to the fact that our only option is cgmuscle and our director just approved it 'if we have time and it doesn't apprehend the production'.

I work quickly and I learn quickly (and for the record, am a TD... but in training) so shouldn't be an issue.

So cg muscle it is, but keeping it simple.. just enough to suggest detail (when detail is suggested in the major parts, the brain believes it exists in others.. learned that one in lighting!... hope it applies here)

Thanks so much for the input! And don't stop it coming either, I'm sure there are more ideas out there.

07 July 2011, 12:16 PM
do you have a shrinkwrapping tool in Maya?

07 July 2011, 07:06 PM
I believe it is a wrap deformer in maya? :)

Basically one mesh drives another?

If so, yep.

07 July 2011, 07:36 PM
I believe it is a wrap deformer in maya? :)

Basically one mesh drives another?

If so, yep.

No a wrap deformer is a direct one to one deformer. A shrink-wrap will allow sliding of one mesh over another. The mouse under the carpet effect.

Its helpful to have something like shrink-wrap for skin sliding like this.

Or image based muscles opens up a lot of potential.
But that wont be possible in Maya as it doesn't have the appropriate tools.

07 July 2011, 10:24 AM
Hey there,

cgmuscle has shrink wrapping... just found it :)

it's nice... in theory.. but my verts keep popping around and I have no idea how to solve it.

07 July 2011, 09:00 PM
I'm new to maya muscle myself, but from what I've seen, popping verts tend to come from painting weights outside of a muscle object's initial sphere of influence.

I'd suggest messing around with the weighting to see if you can get the verts to settle down.

I hope that helps :)

07 July 2011, 10:25 AM
This is shrink wrapping, not the muscles.

CGTalk Moderation
07 July 2011, 10:25 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.