Ninja Rig – Spine – WIP

Ninja Model

Ninja Model

Here begins my work in progress of a Ninja rig. I wanted something a bit stylistic to rig that I could try out new rigging techniques. I plan for the Hi-Res Mesh to apply some advanced muscle deformations, maybe Maya Muscle (previously Comet’s Muscle system), but more likely using PSD BlendShapes and other small deformation techniques I’ve picked up through the years. Also, on the Hi-Res mesh there is included arm wraps and a scarf, I thought these would be cool to try out some cloth Sim. All in all I Thought this rig would be a good place to have it all come together.

I got the model from CGSociety, cannot remember where but it was definitely somewhere on the site. I decided to alter the mesh a bit. The overall adjustments were to make my life a little easier such as semi-straight (non-bowed) limbs. Once I got the mesh adjusted, I created a few different resolutions for the rig. A Hi-Res version, Low-Res version, and what I’ve come to call Piece-Wise mesh.

The Piece-Wise mesh is just the low-res cut up and parented to the rig. I like the piece-wise method a lot because it allows me to work fast and still visualize how the character is going to move and respond to the rig controls, without having to spend time painting weights. Also, because the mesh is parented it responds very fast for animators. I like to section off my rigs into a few modular steps, Body Rig, Skinning and Deformation, Face Rig. Not sure if that’s the best method yet, but for now it helps to compartmentalize it into small chunks.

Multi-Res Meshes

Multi-Res Meshes

After I broke the Piece-Wise Mesh into chunks, I hid everything but the torso and head. Next I created the spine rig. I used the “Awesome” Spine setup, with a few additional tweaks, the tutorial can be found in this blog. I wanted a simple Fk control for the spine so I created a four-joint chain running the length of the spine and parented circle shapes to the joints, if you don’t know this little trick its handy (WP Shape Parent). I then basically did some reparenting of the hierarchy and so the Fk spine would also drive the IK spine. The real tweaking I had to do was to connect the twist of the Fk spine to the twist of the Ik spine. Now if the animator wants to use FK controls instead of the IK-Spine controls, that can be both translated and rotated, he can. And if he twists the FK controls it will drive the IK spine twist. This is all to make the controls for feel more natural.

Spine Rig Complete

Spine Rig Complete

The neck and head setup is a simple splineIK. So if you translate the head around the neck will move predictably, also it allows for squash and stretch for the neck. There is a FK control for the neck as well. I am not sure how much I like the head and neck setup. So I might change it later, but for now it works pretty well.

Spine Rig Manipulated

Spine Rig Manipulated

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5 Responses to “Ninja Rig – Spine – WIP”

  1. looking good so far. Can’t wait to see some videos of him…*wink wink.

  2. I know, some videos would be cool. I’ve learned a few tricks since posted this, I’ll update spine rig and see about adding a video show how it works. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Hi Mat,
    You’ve done a nice rig, did you use the chunks inside the high-res model as bones, and how did you use the Piece-Wise Mesh to animate the character when it is not the same as the final high-res model?
    Can you tell me where can I find a tutorial that teach me this kind of rigging?

    I’m curious about the things that are not mentioned in your method, I’m new to advanced rigging!
    I appreciate your help so much 🙂

  4. Nice rig Mat,
    Would you please explain further about this kind of rigging, the chunks and how did you used them as bones, does this need adjusting the pivots of every chunk, and when you animate which model do you use, or just animating the chunks. sorry for my curiousity, I’m excited since I saw some pixar animation having same rigging approach. I hope to learn more about this approach and how I achieve it !

  5. hi, i am new to rigging i am actually finding a way to strech and squash the spine through nodes only no expression i want is there any way , plz help me

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