Quadruped Rigging Tutorial for Softimage XSI
Requires Intermediate knowledge.
I should like to demonstrate a control rigging system that I have developed for using in XSI. If you have the latest version of the software then you will know that there is now a quadruped rig proportional guide, but you may wish to use this system for your own custom built control rigs. As a system it works for most types of four legged animals, whether they are cartoon style or naturalistic models. Building this set up will ensure you learn plenty about bone structure, hierarchies, parenting and constraining control objects. The set up allows you to use a mixture of IK and FK animation and you can use it as a basis to add on more of your own set up ideas such as expressions if you're so inclined. This system has been used to rig a big cat, dog, horse, bear and cow with only a small variation on the design.
Stage 1: Reference material.
First of all your going to need some pretty accurate reference material for your animal. There is obviously a massive amount freely available on the internet so it is easy to find images like the one I grabbed from www.fineart.sk. You need to know about bone structure and muscle development as well outward appearance of the animal for texture etc. You may wish to build your mesh first as either a polygon model or a nurbs model, the choice is yours. If your going to build a polygon quadruped then check out the tutorial at Roger Rosa's own web site as it tells you just about everything you need to know to create a quality model easily. I chose to do a horse because of the challenges they present to the artist and animator. Below is the image that I used to base my bones on.
Click here for a full size image.
In Model or Animate mode click on wireframe and select rotoscopy options from the drop down menu. The property editor now appears. Click on new, new from file and select the horse image from where ever you saved on your computers hard drive. It is a good idea to have reference pictures stored in the pictures folder while you are working on them.
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