Rig it Right – July update

Fig3-8On vacation this week and finishing up this month’s quota from the front porch today. The writing went much better this month. Two chapters (and images) complete. I finally conquered a workflow issue I had in Maya that was frustrating me. Trying to explain the outliner vs node editor gets me (and the reader) down into the weeds a little too quickly. So, I pulled in the hypergraph hierarchy window and kept use of the connection editor and that helped out a bit.  In chapter three we go over connecting user created controls; up until now we’ve been rigging 1990’s style where the animator has to dig about in the outliner.

Rules covered in chapters three and four:
Rule #4: Keep geometry (GEO), controls (CNTRL), and skeletons (SKEL) in separate groups in the outliner
Rule #5: Make controls that make sense to the animator
Rule #6: Happy math—controls and joints should be zeroed out


In chapter 4 we go over adding custom attributes and my favorite: the utility node. In this chapter we go straight to and stay in the node editor.  Here is where the wobbly riggers will need to re-read a little bit and work to become comfortable in the node editor until it looks more familiar and less like a bunch of spaghetti connections.

Moving along now.  A weekend and then to the August page quota.



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Rig it Right – June update.


Introduction: basics and the node editor

Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 complete: text and updated pictures.  I’m loving the node editor (which came out just after the first edition was published.)  Looking forward to putting that in all the upcoming chapters.   The chapters are coming along nicely as there isn’t very much drastically changed in Maya so far. New node editor. Some menu names changed. Other then that—the functionality is the same. With the newer versions of Maya you can get away with using the first edition of the book and most things will work.


Chapter one: freezing transformations. Brrrrr.

Thanks for the facebook messages, emails, and linked in messages from everyone giving feedback and telling me how things are behaving in the newer versions of Maya. I appreciate it very much.


To be brutally honest though, I am procrastinating more than ever with this rewrite. Still hitting my quotas, cause I am driven by time and finishing things, but it is hilarious to watch the amount of angst I go through. I know it is because there is nothing new here for me—I’ve made this map before and now I’m just double checking it is ok, improving it. Once I complete a subject I kinda don’t like to revisit it, I’d rather find something new to conquer. Yet, quotas will drive me and I’ll push through.  I’ll bet when I get into the more complicated chapters it will be a bit more entertaining.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it—but find I have to talk myself into sitting still more than not.

I traveled to Dallas last week for the school and wrote. I do like to make use of the travel time and that makes me happy: writing in planes. No email, no internet, no phone. Just me and the keyboard.  Love it. And the perks of having coffee brought to me. I’m pretty darn simple to please. That’s decadence to me. 🙂

I’ll take the weekend off then begin again next week on chapters three and four for July.  Have a happy fourth of July, y’all.   – tina


Chapter Two: Super Toothbrush with deformers

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writing prompt …@ grocery store

In a high pitched valley girl accent, touched with a southern drawl (if such a thing were possible):

“Anyone with a picture like thaaaaat, neeeeds—this.”

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Writing prompt

“Did he say squares or squirrels?”

“At that volume, hard to say.”


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AR enhancement for Rig it Right – YIPEE

The problem with text books are all of those interface pictures. They don’t print the fine detail one would wish.  Either they are too small and readers can not see all the details or they are too big and your editor (and you) start worrying about page count.

What if you could use your mobile device to look at the printed picture and see a better image or even a movie of that step in the tutorial?  Ah yes.  That would be nice.

I downloaded the app Aurasma Studio. (studio.aurasma.com) Many of the students have been using this to enhance their portfolios and motion media professors use it in their SCAD day (open house) demonstrations.


Why not use it for a textbook? 


aurasmaScreenShot_1496885162492.jpgHere’s a small, black and white image for the new chapter 20 in Rig it Right 2. (It will be color in the book.)

Download the Aurasma app  (iphone or android) and focus on this image.

It will load in a close up color image. At anytime I can update that to be a video or a more elaborate image.

The great thing – is you can move the mobile device closer and get a better view of the image as seen in the picture below. That’s excellent if the print in the book is small or you happen to require reading glasses, like myself.  All sorts of possibilities with this.

I’m going to keep moving in this direction to test.  It takes very little time to upload the image to Aurasma and extends the learning opportunity.  (And it’s fun, can’t overlook that.) We’ll see what Focal thinks. Maybe we can put something like this in the second edition?

Here are some other images of tests.  Mostly I’m just using this for menus and selections, not for the images themselves unless it helps the tutorial.


Here is a test of it over the book. This is just a mock-up.


Testing complete. Back to re-writing.  Thanks for following along!


ps – got a second rejection for “Absolute Darkness” last week with actual comments! Real comments—mostly about the cover and encouragement to stay the self published route. I’m so busy on this I don’t have time to shout and cheer. Luckily vampire stories have legs and stick around, especially unique ones like “Absolute Darkness”—I’ll get back to it later.


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Chapter 20 Quick Rig – Complete

0020_0005Whew. Just in time for June 1. I was sweating that deadline: my own internal deadline of one new chapter for this month and then 2 rewritten chapters a month from here on to March. I’ll take the next two days to test the viability of the images and make sure they aren’t too small.  Then I’ll test this AR thing I’m thinking might be wonderful for the educational experience of the tutorials. Plus it’s got the nerd-cool factor.

Focal just sent the final PDF from the first version today. So, I’m set for June’s rewrite of chapters one and two.

Chapter 20 went over two workflows: the quick rig tool and the character control tool in Maya to help shortcut to a quick skeleton and/or a quick control rig.  It was an interesting process and took many, many, many, many tries until I came up with methods that would be clear enough to follow.  The two tools are separate, mostly; but work together, somewhat. The create skeleton tools are what really peaked my interest.  Worth a look. Save clicks—save time.

I do need a technical editor to give these chapters a run through. I’ll suggest to focal that they connect with a SCAD alum. Any volunteers? Paid gig and I’m pretty low maintenance. By the time you get the manuscript (in 6 months or so) I’ve already tested it three or four times across multiple platforms.

Shout out to Alston Jones, Animation M.F.A., for use of this bird model. It remains one of my favorite models to work with.


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Chapter 20 – QuickRig in process

Chpt20aWhile Focal finds the pdf of chapters 1-19 that are edited for me to begin the second edition on, I’ve begun a new chapter covering Maya’s Quick Rig tool and the Character Control Tool.

My thought is that after spending half of the book learning how to rig the bird character we could take a look at what these quick tools might gain us.

It works best on normal biped characters with feet directly under the hips and  flat T-pose. Looks like you can use it more to rough out some skeletons quickly.

Chpt20The funny thing about writing a new chapter on a new technique is that you write the thing about three times. The fourth time – which will be tomorrow’s task – is to go through and find the most succinct way to get these ideas across, streamline the photos and then polish the text.

Most of the researching for this chapter is me grumbling to myself about how each of these tools works.  The dogs sit on the porch and stare at me in a concerned manner.

But time to put things away for the evening and watch the sun set on the mountain. Then it’s back to campus in the morning.

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