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Old 12-21-2009, 04:43 PM   #1
Wuffles
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Wing Rigging (beginner)

Hello CGTalk! I was advised to repost my post here

I am in dire need of assistance today. First of let me make it clear that I am a complete novice in rigging for Maya. The only rig I have ever made was a bipedal human rig, dabbling only in paint weights and using only the joint tool and IK Handles. I don't know anything like a reverse footlock, foot planting, blendshapes, contraints, etc... So basically the simplest of rigs.

I am eager to learn more, but resources beyond that level are scarce for me and online tutorials either seem too advanced or too outdated in general (my college teaches me nothing too, sadly).

Now to the actual problem. I set myself the task of rigging and animating a bird for my animation project. I have tried to work out how I should do the bird's wing but due to my lack of knowledge I'm not getting very far. Tutorials for Maya seem to be non-existant or too complex for me. I was following this tutorial, for Blender, but got stuck at about the 4th step because Maya does not seem to have these options.

http://www.hartworks.net/blender/jared/

I really need help with this rig. I have created a bird's wing like the one in that tutorial and I have put joints in all the feathers but I am now stuck.

Can anyone help me to sort this out or otherwise direct or inform me of another method I may use to animate?

The bird in question originally had small flightless wings but I hoped to adapt the principles of the other wing to work on the smaller one. It has the body structure of an emu or ostrich. The rig and model was also originally meant to be at a video game standard but as there seems to be no resource for animating birds for games I am at a complete loss. Keep in mind I am very novice!



As you can see, the bones are not placed within the feathers yet (to mostly avoid confusion at the moment) as I am unsure of how to proceed.

Thank you for any help!
 
Old 12-21-2009, 05:47 PM   #2
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Here's one that's a bit more Maya-centric.

http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/galle...mputer_Graphics
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Old 12-21-2009, 06:06 PM   #3
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That site had a really good write up and explaination on the bird wing. Going to add that to my list of docs. =)
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mduvekot
Here's one that's a bit more Maya-centric.

http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/galle...mputer_Graphics


Thank you so much. That is exactly what I was looking for!

Many many thanks!
 
Old 12-21-2009, 07:38 PM   #5
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Hi Wuffles,
I may be able to help, being the author of that tutorial
There seems to be a surge in the interest of rigging birds lately.
I recently created a bird rig in Maya and I'm working on a second one with improvements.
How you want to go about rigging the wing depends on how much control and what type of dynamics you want. I'll explain the best I can how I went about mine, and I'll try to put up pictures when I can.

You want to parent the primary feather joints to the wrist joints, and the secondary ones to the elbow. For mine, each of the feather bones had three joints, which allowed me to deform the feathers. To create the folding effect I first created a two point NURBS curve, and clustered each of the end points. One end of the curve is at theend of the first feather, and the other is at the end of the feather at the elbow. I then attached locators to the curve as a motion path. (set attributes: start time, follow). I manually adjusted the u value of the locators to align with corresponding joints. Each of the feather bones were aim constrained to the locators on the path, so when the arm is folded, the feathers fold up perfectly. The feather at the end ot the elbow could be given a set driven key. Basically it needs to stay halfway in between the angle of the elbow joint.

The feather dynamics were a little bit trickier. I created a four point curve that followed the ends of the feathers, and constrained it with clusters to fold up like the first curve. I then made it dynamic, and attached locators to it. The feather joint chains were given spline ik, which were constrained to the locators on the dynamic curve.
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:12 PM   #6
Wuffles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredr
Hi Wuffles,
I may be able to help, being the author of that tutorial
There seems to be a surge in the interest of rigging birds lately.
I recently created a bird rig in Maya and I'm working on a second one with improvements.
How you want to go about rigging the wing depends on how much control and what type of dynamics you want. I'll explain the best I can how I went about mine, and I'll try to put up pictures when I can.

You want to parent the primary feather joints to the wrist joints, and the secondary ones to the elbow. For mine, each of the feather bones had three joints, which allowed me to deform the feathers. To create the folding effect I first created a two point NURBS curve, and clustered each of the end points. One end of the curve is at theend of the first feather, and the other is at the end of the feather at the elbow. I then attached locators to the curve as a motion path. (set attributes: start time, follow). I manually adjusted the u value of the locators to align with corresponding joints. Each of the feather bones were aim constrained to the locators on the path, so when the arm is folded, the feathers fold up perfectly. The feather at the end ot the elbow could be given a set driven key. Basically it needs to stay halfway in between the angle of the elbow joint.

The feather dynamics were a little bit trickier. I created a four point curve that followed the ends of the feathers, and constrained it with clusters to fold up like the first curve. I then made it dynamic, and attached locators to it. The feather joint chains were given spline ik, which were constrained to the locators on the dynamic curve.


Oh! Hello then! :P

While I say thank you for the help you've provided - I'm going to be honest and say that I don't really understand a lot of it. As I said - I'm a beginner with only the most basic skills. Following direct instructions are fine but I don't have the faintest idea what half of that would entail directly in Maya!

I'm not asking you to write a step-by-step guide as I appreciate any help I'm given - but that's the kind of level I am at, at the moment.

Thank you anyway. I'll try to appye some of your advice when I'm rigging.

As for the specifics of my model. I'd like the wings to be able to fold and spread, but manipulation of each separate feather is not necessary for me and since the bird cannot fly I don't think I need that level of detail. This is a very simple rig essentially.
 
Old 12-22-2009, 06:06 AM   #7
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This is probably more than you are looking for, but maybe it will give you some useful ideas:
http://www.jackals-forge.com/tutor/tut1.html

Edit: Didn't see the previous posts, but still maybe some useful ideas in the older tut...
 
Old 12-28-2009, 06:21 PM   #8
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Okay, I modelling the wing, rigged it up and all that (a nice new one to follow that PDF). However, she seems to miss vital bits and I am stuck now.

When I try to bind the bones with the wing (the tutorials says "wing geometry" and I don't know if that means only the muscle structure or all the feathers...or perhaps just the feathers that have a rig in them?) with a smooth bind when I flex the wing the feathers now "tear" (they stretch).

I don't know how to avoid this. In the guide it says you will only have to paint 3 weights - one for the elbow, wrist and finger joint and that's it. My wing muscle, top and lower feathers are are single separate objects. Am I meant to combine them? I'm really confused! She seems to do it with such ease in the guide but I am not sure how to continue. How can I fix this problem?

To sum it up:

Has she bound the skeleton to ALL of the geometry and are they all separate objects or one COMBINED object?

Will I have to paint weights on every feather?

How can I make it so each feather will bind to its joint and not affect any of the surround feathers?

Many thanks. (here are some screens to help).



 
Old 12-28-2009, 07:52 PM   #9
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Birds' wings have a really unique anatomical structure. I notice that your joint placement is not very anatomically accurate. The joints of the feathers should right next to the arm joints. The way you have it now, when you fold up the wing, the feathers are going to move around in a weird way. You may also want to thin down the geometry of the arm a bit, which will help with deformations.
For the feathers, you said you don't need them to be dynamic. All you need to do is to parent them to their corresponding joint.
Rigging a wing is going to be a complex task. You may have to do some tricky things for this, just to warn you. I'll work on a tutorial for one of the methods I have used to rig a wing. There is a method using set driven keys, are you familiar with those?
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:04 PM   #10
Wuffles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredr
Birds' wings have a really unique anatomical structure. I notice that your joint placement is not very anatomically accurate. The joints of the feathers should right next to the arm joints. The way you have it now, when you fold up the wing, the feathers are going to move around in a weird way. You may also want to thin down the geometry of the arm a bit, which will help with deformations.
For the feathers, you said you don't need them to be dynamic. All you need to do is to parent them to their corresponding joint.
Rigging a wing is going to be a complex task. You may have to do some tricky things for this, just to warn you. I'll work on a tutorial for one of the methods I have used to rig a wing. There is a method using set driven keys, are you familiar with those?


I'm following the tutorial given in an earlier post - the one linking to the university of Bournemouth website and is stored in a PDF. This apparently is a working wing...I'm just following her instructions as I know so little about the rigging process in general.

What do you mean by "the joints of the feathers should right next to the arm joints?"

Why would reducing the geometry help with the deformations? :S I thought more geometry would make for a smoother bind?

To be honest...I don't have a lot of time to hand in this project - it's mean to be in, finished, rigged, animated and post-processed (video editing program) by mid January so I'm just using anything I can to get it done! :(

I appreciate the help you are offering - maybe you can read the PDF linked to help me find my problem? I don't need it to be perfect (though it helps to get it as close as I can manage!) though.

Many, many thanks for the response, though. Any help is appreciated at this point. :P

And I'll have to admit I don't know what a "set driven key" is, though I've heard of it.
 
Old 12-28-2009, 09:10 PM   #11
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By reducing the geometry I meant to make the arm less thick, to avoid inter-penetration
Here is a short tutorial on how I set up my wing. I think it is easy to follow:

Place joints as follows, relative to your model:

The feather bones should really be even closer to the arm bones, as you’ll see why in the last picture. Be sure to orient the joints when done.







Now create a two point NURBS curve. Make sure it is set to linear (degree 1) before drawing. Select one CV and cluster it by going to Create Deformers>cluster. Repeat with the other CV. Select one cluster, and hit Ctrl+g to create a group. Parent this group to the end feather joint. Do the same with the other cluster, and parent its group to the other end feather.










This part is a bit tedious. My friend wrote a script to make it easier for me. Create a locator, then shift select the curve. Now go to the Animate menu > motion paths > attach to motion paths options. In the settings, set time range to start, follow on, and world up type to vector. This will place a locator at one end of the curve. Adjust its U value to line up with on of the feather bones by either going into the graph editor and moving its keyframe up or down, or delete the keyframe and adjust the U value in the channel box for the motion path. Repeat for each of the feathers









Create a null group by hitting ctrl+g with nothing selected or Create > empty group. Snap it to one of the locators on the path, then parent it to that locator. Now with the null selected, shift select the corresponding feather bone, and create an aim constraint, with “maintain offset” on, and world up type to none. Repeat for each feather.







You will need to set a driven key for the end feather. Go to Animate > Set Driven Keys > set. Select the elbow joint, and load as driver. Select the feather bone and load as driven. Select rotate y for both, then hit key









Rotate the elbow joint to it maximum rotation, then rotate the feather bone to about halfway between that angle, and hit key again.









Below is what it should look like when it is folded. Notice that some of the feather bones are overlapping because they were not close enough to the arm bone.




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Old 12-29-2009, 10:05 AM   #12
Wuffles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredr
By reducing the geometry I meant to make the arm less thick, to avoid inter-penetration
Here is a short tutorial on how I set up my wing. I think it is easy to follow:

Place joints as follows, relative to your model:

The feather bones should really be even closer to the arm bones, as you’ll see why in the last picture. Be sure to orient the joints when done.







Now create a two point NURBS curve. Make sure it is set to linear (degree 1) before drawing. Select one CV and cluster it by going to Create Deformers>cluster. Repeat with the other CV. Select one cluster, and hit Ctrl+g to create a group. Parent this group to the end feather joint. Do the same with the other cluster, and parent its group to the other end feather.










This part is a bit tedious. My friend wrote a script to make it easier for me. Create a locator, then shift select the curve. Now go to the Animate menu > motion paths > attach to motion paths options. In the settings, set time range to start, follow on, and world up type to vector. This will place a locator at one end of the curve. Adjust its U value to line up with on of the feather bones by either going into the graph editor and moving its keyframe up or down, or delete the keyframe and adjust the U value in the channel box for the motion path. Repeat for each of the feathers









Create a null group by hitting ctrl+g with nothing selected or Create > empty group. Snap it to one of the locators on the path, then parent it to that locator. Now with the null selected, shift select the corresponding feather bone, and create an aim constraint, with “maintain offset” on, and world up type to none. Repeat for each feather.







You will need to set a driven key for the end feather. Go to Animate > Set Driven Keys > set. Select the elbow joint, and load as driver. Select the feather bone and load as driven. Select rotate y for both, then hit key









Rotate the elbow joint to it maximum rotation, then rotate the feather bone to about halfway between that angle, and hit key again.









Below is what it should look like when it is folded. Notice that some of the feather bones are overlapping because they were not close enough to the arm bone.






Thank you very much for the entire step-by-step guide! I will try out this method then! Unfortunately, it still leaves me my original problem - the binding and feather stretching.

Can I rig this up to fan the feathers still?

Okay: I tried this and encountered a problem a bit of the way through. You tell me to parent a "cluster" to a joint by "grouping" it with Ctrl-G. Whenever I try this and hit Ctrl-G it just seems to try and move the whole curve with the manipulator being reset to the origin of the grid.

I don't really know what I'm doing here and I don't know if that is vital, so could you help me overcome this please?

Many thanks again!

Last edited by Wuffles : 12-29-2009 at 03:47 PM.
 
Old 12-29-2009, 03:58 PM   #13
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I must say, this is a great tutorial for setting up wings. I wish I had this information a year ago!!! Quick question though, how would you go about making the feathers dynamic?
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:38 PM   #14
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Wuffles: like I said in the post before, you dont need to bind the feathers to the joints, just parent them directly to the joint.
For the grouping problem, make sure you have clustered the cv properly by selecting it and applying the cluster deformer, then in the outliner, select the cluster by itself, and hit ctrl+g. Maya will also do this automatically when you parent a cluster to something else. After you have grouped the cluster by itself, parent the group to the joint. Do not group the cluster and the joint.

Pixoclay: thanks. Making the feathers dynamic is kind of a tricky process, but the way I have gone about it is fairly stable and not that memory intensive. I suppose it could be MEL scripted, but I don't do scripting. This is how am doing it:
The guide curve that controls the spreading in my latest project is a 4 point curve and follows the shape of the feathers more. I control its shape by attaching the ends to the end feathers and the other two points to a joint at the elbow and the wrist, which have set driven keys.
Each of the feather joint chains will have a splineIK. The curve will be controlled by moving the end point of the curve.
I have selectec the spread curve and made it dynamic. I will attach locators to this path which will trail behind the main one. Then the feathers' splineIK control will be constrained to the dynamic curve and then i have instant feather dynamics. its really hard to explain in a short paragraph.




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Old 12-29-2009, 07:20 PM   #15
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Thanks jaredr. This seems to be an effective and simple method. Would be nice to see a sample movie when you finish the project. Again, thanks for the info, its really helpful.
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