Learning Modelling and (IK) Inverse Kinematics Systems Within Maya 2017 for Animation Atif Aziz

Final Decision of Brief Choice

Before going over the details, I would like to discuss why i have gone down this route of brief choice and changed my mind and idea's. At first i wanted to do something website related, this is mainly because i felt that i wanted to push myself in areas that i believed i needed to improve on mainly. So I looked into a variety of topics within Maya to learn and push myself and thought of doing a showcase for each of these at least to a basic level.

Mock-up Products – Business cards, Flags, Books up to 8 different mock-ups for each. For each of these mock ups they will be used for Photoshop smart objects. I can then use these to add to my collection of mock ups already on Behance which I have already created from license free images for Macbooks and phones.

Terrain Detail landscape – The terrain detail will be to a realistic level. The goal of the landscape challenge will be to have it work at a distance. So its not how detailed it is close up but at a distance and be able to use it in compositions in Photoshop for landscapes for example.

Texturing – Texturing will be various materials, these will be objects that I will model in tutorials and texture in other tutorials. So the material will not be required to be hyper realistic instead will need to be at a reasonable level of detail so the cross section of games and realistic materials. This is due to the fact that hyper realistic materials take time to create.

Animation – Animation will be basics, mainly Mogaph, this is because its easier to animate with Mograph and MASH tools. The tools at disposal will be able to help me achieve a level of animation mainly for introductions for YouTube and more. Dependant on how I use them they will allow me to learn the new features available for me in Maya.

Rigging – Since I have a history of modelling cars I think it will be a good start point to model to a basic level and then have it rigged for use with suspension, brakes and more. I can then take this further and be able to have a soft body morph-able assets to the car, for crashes and impact simulations. I can then take this to the next level and make it for a simple human character or dummy just to get the rigging process right for the first time.

Crowd Systems – Crowd systems mainly used for groups, and a school of fish for example which have their own path and follow a main point of interest.

Visit to WigWag

The visit to the design agency WigWag changed my focal point, since they were looking for a way to make their brand image more well known and get idea's. I thought I could integrate the 3D Maya learning idea into that brand WigWag and be able to learn of Maya at the same time.

WigWag have a dog as their brand identity and logo, so there was ideas to create, rig and animate the dog for them to use in 10 second animation snippets for them to use as they please. These animations will be simplistic and made to be composited how they like on their social media.

WigWag company logo

As well as make them an animated version of their brand identity I will be making them an office of their choosing modelled for demonstration of their office space that is available to potential client who want to rent the space. I will model the room with texture. lighting and to a realistic degree to show the potential. I want to show that the room is some what realistic with all the office furniture and equipment that they need to show.

Flow of understanding Kinematics and Inverse Kinematics

I will be looking into Kinematics and Inverse Kinematics for Maya animation. By the end of the course I hope to be good enough with Kinematics to be able to create bones and kinematics structure rigs for anything within Maya. To begin with this i will look at various tutorials online and courses that explain the Kinematic system, rigging, and creation of skeletons for various types of animals.

"An animated figure is modelled with a skeleton of rigid segments connected with joints, called a kinematic chain. The kinematics equations of the figure define the relationship between the joint angles of the figure and its pose or configuration. The forward kinematic animation problem uses the kinematics equations to determine the pose given the joint angles. The inverse kinematics problem computes the joint angles for a desired pose of the figure. It is often easier for computer-based designers, artists and animators to define the spatial configuration of an assembly or figure by moving parts, or arms and legs, rather than directly manipulating joint angles. Therefore, inverse kinematics is used in computer-aided design systems to animate assemblies and by computer-based artists and animators to position figures and characters." - Wikipedia 2016

Learning Path

To begin the journey for an adequate end result of confidence with Kinematics, I will need to correctly plan out the learning path for myself to be able to learn all there. By having a learning path i will be able to cover a range of skills for Kinematics aswell as common problems I may run into later on. I found that it would be beneficial for me to begin with simple Kinematic systems and animals for testing and learning.

Kinematic systems for various models

Step 1

Since I have no history within Maya I will be watching various basic tutorials to get to grips with the interface and tools available to my disposal. This will also give me a chance to find out more of the modelling side of things in Maya, and how it defers from 3DS MAX.

Interface Maya 2017

Step 2

After familiarising myself with the basics and interface of the program. I can then start to have a attempt at the Kinematics in a simplistic form, so I would look into snakes and worm Kinematics. I would create these Kinematic systems for these limbless creatures since its simpler then a leg and see if i can create an animation from it.

Snake IK

Step 3

I would take it a step further by looking into Quadruped Kinematic systems by taking the snake and adding some legs onto it and making it walk or move. I will look into animals also such as dogs, since i have to make a dog animated for the company Wig Wag. All while doing this I will be attempting to model the dog in a cartoon character style if time permits.

Dog IK rigged model

Step 4

After figuring out a dog quadruped bone system, I can also learn how it moves with animal biology and motion of movement from videos and studies already done from animators such as Pixar and Dream work's who have behind the scenes to show how its done. I can then take the input from the videos and use into my advantage for my own IK systems.

Hotel Transylvania model rig system

Step 5

I can take this a step further and learn to be able to add more complex animals to the IK solver systems and work with arms also. This will enable me to make IK systems for humans and similar creatures who stand on two legs and have arms. I can then incorporate different limitations of movement depending on the anatomy of the model in question for the IK system.

Monkey rig

Animal Anatomy to Support Movement and Animation

To get the movement of the animals correct to be realistic degree, I will need to do some research into the motion of movement of the animals. In addition to this I can look into the anatomy of the animal for the muscle, tendon and skin structure to be able to then morph and create rigs for the animals in a realistic way. This way I know how to model the animals in a program such as Z-brush and create the necessary anatomy.

Muscle structure

Muscles make up the bulk of an animal’s body and account for about half its weight. The meat on the chop or roast is muscle and is composed mainly of protein. The cells that make up muscle tissue are elongated and able to contract to a half or even a third of their length when at rest. There are three different kinds of muscle based on appearance and function: smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscle.

Antagonistic muscles

Skeletal muscles usually work in pairs. When one contracts the other relaxes and vice versa. Pairs of muscles that work like this are called antagonistic muscles. For example the muscles in the upper forearm are the biceps and triceps (see diagram 7.3). Together they bend the elbow. When the biceps contracts (and the triceps relaxes) the lower forearm is raised and the angle of the joint is reduced. This kind of movement is called flexion. When the triceps is contracted (and the biceps relaxes), the angle of the elbow increases. The term for this movement is extension.

Diagram 7.3

When you or animals contract skeletal muscle it is a voluntary action. For example, you make a conscious decision to walk across the room, raise the spoon to your mouth, or smile. There is however, another way in which contraction of muscles attached to the skeleton happens that is not under voluntary control. This is during a reflex action, such as jerking your hand away from the hot stove you have touched by accident. This is called a reflex arc.

Control of Muscles for Dogs/Quadropeds

"Just as in the human body, the muscle anatomy of a dog consists of both voluntary and involuntary control. Voluntary muscles are those within the body of dog which can be directly controlled by conscious thought. The decision to chase a ball across the yard involves a conscious choice by a dog.

In deciding to run after a ball, the dog’s brain sends electrical impulses through the nervous system to muscles such as the infraspinatus, pectoral, trapezius, biceps brachii, and gluteal muscle to facilitate movement. These impulses force the contraction of those muscles groups and engage the shoulders, adduct and abduct of the legs, and control the hip as a dog runs." (Max®, 2008)

Quadroped Walking Science

"They found that in over half of these depictions, the animals were shown with their legs in the wrong place, because the truth is they should all have been the same. It’s been known for over 100 years now that all quadrupeds walk with the same sequence of leg movements; they step with their left hind leg, followed by their left foreleg, then their right hind leg and finally right foreleg and so on. The only difference between species is the timing of that stepping. The reason that all four-legged mammals walk this way is because it minimises the chances that they will fall over. When they are walking slowly they always have three feet on the ground at one time which form a stable triangle." (Science news, 2009)

Knowledge of Animal Movement in Animation

By studying various movies and animations where animals are animated i can see how the professionals over came the obstacle to create a realistic movement for their character/creature. This will give me some input and ideas on how to create my own movements or learn how to create them in the first place.

Realistic Run Cycles of Various Animals for Animation and References

Jaguar run cycle
Big dog run cycle
Horse run cycle
Tiger run cycle
Wolf run cycle
Cat run cycle
Small dog run cylcle

Hard Surface Modelling a Room with Equipment

While learning the modelling phase for the dog for wigwag, I will also be looking into hard surface modelling within Maya. I will be modelling the room and equipment within the room. I will be looking into the modelling and correct polygon count for each object while keeping them relatively realistic at the same time. I have the models with Maya to be somewhat to a high poly count with smooth modifiers.

I will have confirmation of the room of choice in wigwag to recreate in Maya. The room will be of correct proportions, not to a architects specifications as its not the intention of a re-model and no need for accurate measurements.

The hard surface modelling will be used to create the room as well as the objects within the room such as the monitors, chairs, office equipment. This will give me a wide range of knowledge of modelling various objects. This will give me enough skill and variation in design to be able to learn all the necssecary tools in Maya to model proficiently.

Modelling hard surfaces would give me abilities that can use in the future for projects, as modelling is a must have first hand skill to have in a 3D program.

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