Character Making Pipeline -Sketchup -3dsMax -Motionbuilder

for a simple stick character using the bone tools in 3ds max

  • 1. make a simple stickman in Sketchup, using an anatomical skeleton image -( make sure non e of the joints are hyperextended.
  • 2. export stickman mesh as FBX (choose cm as units) and import into 3dsMax. Im using 3dsMax 2010.
  • 3. in max delete all the helpers and select all the bits left and collapse to single mesh. Convert ot editable mesh, select all verts and weld then select polys, select all and Clear all smoothing groups.
  • Make sure its lined up with 0,0,0 feet on the ground, hips at 0 x,y
  • 4. R click, select ‘Object Properties’ then choose See Through, then click off, R Click and ‘Freeze Selection’
  • goto Create/Systems/Standard/Bones choose Create Bones. The bones should be in the same position as the bits of your stickman mesh (Animation/Bonetools)
  • use the Left view, click drag to draw a Bone, then every click draws another bone – start at the hips & draw bones up the spine to the head. I have 1 hips, 3 spine, 1 neck, 1 head and then when you R-Click to stop drawing bones it will put an end bone on top of the head.
  • Switch to front view, choose Modify in the Tools panel and choose Bone Edit mode in Bone tools to edit the bones -select individually to tweak – Im adding ‘fins’ to help me see whats going on
  • Switch to left view draw 2 leg bones &1 bone for foot and 1 bone for toes then Rclick (its will draw an End bone on )
  • Switch to front view again, In Animation /Bone Tools go to ‘Bone Edit Mode’ then select all the leg + foot bones move into position where left leg is. You may have to rotate the foot bones, to help that switch on side fins , choose LOCAL rotation and Angle snap to rotate them correctly (Pic 01)
  • Pic01
  • select all the leg bones and duplicate them, drag over to make the right leg
  • Select the ‘Select and Link’ tool from top menu – Click on thigh bone and drag to hips bone. you will see a dotted white line and the cursor will change to 2 small squares. This will make the hips the Parent bone of the whole leg. Repeat for the other leg thigh bone.
  • Its a good idea to select each bone and name appropriately eg. LThigh, LLeg, LFoot
  • Do this then check in the schematic view to see of the parenting is OK.
  • SAVE!
  • Now in Front view draw the clavicle and arm bones. Switch to top view to move them into postion. If you need to rotate them start at the top bone, keep Bone edit mode off as then the IK will rotate the whole arm, move down the arm rotating each bone into position of you need to.
  • In front view select all the arm bones, open Animation /Bone Tools / Mirror the click X and copy. This will create a flipped set of arm bones, move into postion. ****MAKE SURE YOU USE MIRROR IN THE ANIMATION/BONE TOOLS – NOT THE ONE FROM THE TOP MENU – OTHERWISE IF WILL FUCK YOUR SHIT UP LATER (- THANKS AUTODESK for not making it context sensuitive you twats)
  • Use the ‘Select and Link’ to make the clavicles the children of the Spine 02 bone (last bone before neck) see pic 02 for complete bones and schematic view showing names
  • Pic 02
  • Now we have to make some IK chains
  • Choose the L Thigh, then go to Top menu /Animation/ IK Solvers/HI Solver -a white line appears from the L Thigh, drag down to the L foot, and then a crosshair appears at the top of the foot. Drag the crosshair up and down to see the knee flex. Select the L foot and repeat the process to link the L foot and L toe. Repeat for the other leg.
  • To help animation draw a rectangular spline around one foot. Rclick ‘convert to’ / ‘editable poly’ to make it solid, the select the ploys and then use insert to make a selection inside it then delete that section so you end up with a wide rectangle (pic 03)
  • pic 03
  • duplicate for the the other foot then use ‘Select and Link’ to parent the 2 IK crosshairs from each foot to their respective rectangular controller
  • To help swiveling in the knees go to the Tools pane on the R hand side, Choose Create/Helpers /Dummy, draw a dummy cube in front of the knee, duplicate it for the other knee. Select the L Leg IK crosshair, the in the Motion Panel (in the Tools pane) under ‘IK Properties’ choose ‘Pick Target’ None and click the Left hand dummy. Repeat for the other side and then use the Select and Link to parent each dummy to its respective foot controller (so that when you grabe the handle and move it the dummy moves too. This dummy causes the kneed to rotate a bit when you rotate the foot handle.
  • Now the arms!
  • Just like for the legs use Animation/IK Solvers/HI Solver to link the LArm to the Lhand. Repeat for other arm. Check that when you pull the IK crosshair towards the body the elbow bends the correct way. If not you may well have hyperextension where the arm aits too straight. better to rotate the bones a bit so the arm is a little bit more relaxed (bent inwards) I had to do this an then adjusted my stickman mesh)
  • Make dummies below and behind each elbow, target them like you did for the knees above (not sure but am making a controller for the hands and parenting the hank IK and the cube to it – just like for the feet)
  • Now make a small cube at 0,0,0, call it ‘b_Root’
  • Link to it the Hips, Foot Controllers, Hand IK’s and the elbow dummies. Now if you select B_Root and move it, everything should come too. (pic 05 – I have coloured my stickman light blue)
  • Now to weight all the bones.
  • Select the stickman, add a skin modifier Click Bones/Add from the list select and add everything. In the bones list you should see a bunch of bones. For this model for simplicity sake we want each bone to only affect one bit of the mesh so that for eg the thigh moves but doesnt bend (like a robot leg. )
  • Click ‘Edit Envelopes’ then make sure ‘Vertices’ and ‘Select Element’ is checked -this means that when we grab one vert on the mesh it selects all verts on that part of the mesh
  • In the Bones list select the RThigh Then click a corner of the Rthigh mesh – all the verts should seleect -now Tick ‘Rigid’ and then enter ‘1.0’ into ‘Abs. Effect’ under ‘Weight Properties’. This means we ignore the falloff effect of the envelopes and give all the bone motion to the parts of the mesh we have got selected. pic 05
  • repeat for all bones -turn off the skin then grab a bone to see the mesh move.
  • Remember if you have to edit the mesh for any reason (eg stray verts etc.) then make sure you go up the stack to get ‘Editable mesh selected last – else the skinwont work properly and the bones wont move the mesh.
  • In Motionbuilder use FBXPlugin Import. then choose ‘create models’
  • it is possible to open the UDN Female character and delete the mesh, import Stickman then reskin