Setting up the shoulder area of the marine - Part 1

published Thursday, 14 May 2009, 17:16 by rigg_vader

Learn how we handled the unique challenge of rigging the shoulders and arms of the marine - raising the bar in game rigging! This tutorial is aimed at beginning to intermediate riggers + anyone else interested in checking this part of the production out.

In a series on how we have rigged some of our characters for animation - here is a rundown of how we attacked setting up the shoulder and arm area of the main character "The Marine".

You might want to be a prospect rigger or 3D person to get the most from it, but I'll try to make it worthwhile, for anyone who finds this stuff fascinating - like I do! Just gloss over stuff, if there are parts you don't understand :-)

Cool pose

The challenge

The shoulder/arm area of a biped character can be hard to setup, so that it looks right.

People have been known to use all kinds of tricks and techniques to get good results - From muscle simulations, corrective morphs, to lots of extra joints and other deformers. Since this is a games production, we are limited to using normal skinning and a fairly low number of joints.

The Marine design features all kinds of padding, buckles and other details in the shoulder area. These all have unique materials and behaviors we expect when they are deformed. And of course we are working with a mesh that has a relative low number lines to work with, with a lot of the detail coming from texture maps. So texture stretching is a bit of a concern.

We also want to avoid falling into some of the standards pitfalls that games tend to do. At the same time we should aim to raise the games rigging quality bar a bit. So with this in mind and being limited by the design and by what technologies we have for deforming, we have to try to get as far as we can. This with normal bones, skinning, a good dose of attention, experience, planning + a lot of compromise!

How we went about it

First things first - Getting out of the T-pose

Often Biped Characters are rigged and skinned in the so called "T-Pose". This does not seem to be the ideal pose for doing deformations on the character. The main reason for this is: The longer you deform something from it's original modeled position, the more it's gonna collapse and suffer!

The T-Pose

Deforming form the T-pose.

Deforming from the T-pose

Getting into the relaxed pose

So, we chose a different pose to be our default. The focus is that the character should be standing in a more relaxed stance and it's limbs should be closer to "the middle of their range of motion".

A more relaxed pose

Deforming from the relaxed pose

Deforming from the relaxed pose

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Comments

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5 years, 4 months ago

Always interesting to learn small facts about game development.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Keep up the good work guys! The deformations on the mesh look great

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5 years, 4 months ago

Awesome - great insight into the world of a rigger :)

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5 years, 4 months ago

Nice Work Jakob !!!

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5 years, 4 months ago

very good!

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5 years, 4 months ago

This could easily be done in Strata. Btw will your rock character feature ingame Jakob? Nice and simple tutorial though:)

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5 years, 4 months ago

Success in the making!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Hey - Thanks for your nice comments guys, keep them comming :-) Just to clear things up:

My name is Sune and I am the master of all things rig here at ZPS (Including this article) - hence the user name "rig_vader"!

Jakob (Also known as "Bokaja") is our modeler and the creator of the sweet character models and their textures.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Oh man making chararcter models like that must be fun ;) something i always have been wanting to be able to do :D Two thumbs up!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Rigg_Vader, please use your dark powers on Bokaja then..turn him to the dark side, it should be fairly easy:)

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5 years, 4 months ago

Awesome work there rigg_vader... I did a similar thing while working with a mod team last year to make the mod Mentality, it heaps out a lot :)

Rigging is cool but now I'm focusing on animation, thats why I've enlisted into Animation Mentor :D

Best of luck with this game boys, its looking great...

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5 years, 4 months ago

*it helps out a lot :)*

:: need an edit post function :: :p

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5 years, 4 months ago

This is some neat stuff Sune. Very good work.
I'm not very good at rigging myself, I'm mostly into modelling and texturing. :)

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5 years, 3 months ago

Looks absolutley great.

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5 years, 3 months ago

I know very little about this stuff although I'm quite interested so thanks for writing such a detailed article. Making a game (any game) seems like an overwhelming task given the huge amount of detail in current games (AI, textures, animation, and all the other stuff involved). Reading this article helped me to put this stuff in perspective a bit better. Thanks for posting it and I look forward to parts 2 & 3!

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5 years, 3 months ago

I Would Like to now if you made the model only in High res or you just made low res and then made a Normal map in Zbrush? I myself have been making models in 3ds max and also used Zbrush to make some Normal Maps, but it's look nice and great work on the marine there.

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5 years, 3 months ago

i'm pretty interested in making games, and it has always been my dream to work in team on a game with nice graphics and god gameplay and then make it comercial, but i am only fourteen and live in the niddle of jylland where there is no firms making games, it's only in copenhagen:(

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5 years, 3 months ago

Hi Guys,

Awsome to get so much feedback! Stay tuned for the next parts.

@AndreasDinesen: I think Bokaja (Our Character Modeler) uses a combination of techniques, including using both a low poly and a high poly. He has made an overview of his workflow, that he will be posting shortly though.

Your friendly neighbourhood rigg-vader

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5 years, 3 months ago

Nice job on the post rigg_vader. I'm always fascinated by behind the scenes looks at game development, even if I don't always understand some of the more technical stuff. You did a great job of making someone that has no idea what goes into the rigging and modeling of a character model understand your process.

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5 years, 3 months ago

are they showing anything at E3 09?

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5 years, 3 months ago

@Misterpurp

We are riding out the wave that is E3 this year, with small updates to the site. But, we will fight E3 head on next year! :)

We can tell you that we are going to be rolling out some serious magi on IM.com within a few weeks. :)

Keep it tight, marines

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5 years, 3 months ago

After having trouble with the shoulders of my own characters, I've come to much the same conclusions as you guys. Looking forward to the next parts. :)

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