Tuesday 22 November 2016

It's Red!

...and here's a turnaround...

...but there's a catch. This isn't the fully rigged version. It is coming though!
Also, there are still one or two things in the model that I want to tweak further. (mostly things to do with the lines, and making sure they look clean and flow nicely)
Other than that, he is the finished article.

While I'm here I want to talk about some of the challenges that have caused me to neglect the blog.

It turns out that with a 2D / 3D hybrid character like Red, there is no perfect position to place the mouth and the eyes. You may not notice this, but in the turnaround I have animated the eyes moving forwards and backwards. I have also animated the width of the mouth.
So from the side, his eyes need to be further back into the face, but from a three quarter degree view, his eyes need to be closer to the nose. Similarly, the mouth needs to be much wider when looking from the side, and much narrower from the front. These 'compensations' (or cheats) are not really noticeable, but are necessary to make the character look great from all angles. This is something I'm looking into building into the rig, either so it is automatic, or so that animators can easily control it.

You might also notice that the picture of Red at the very top shows the mouth cutting into the face, whereas it is solid black in the turnaround. One of my discoveries was that there is no perfect way to transition smoothly from a cutting version of the mouth to a solid black version of the mouth in any one shot. (other than by making the switch when the mouth is closed).
So what I am going to do is add a way to toggle between the solid version or a cutout version (which is specifically for side views only). So just like the eyes, we will need to tweak the character to whatever looks best for a particular shot.

Then we have the legs...

From the original design, I can see that one leg is shorter than the other, and it looks fine. The leg with the black foot starts at the chest, while the leg with the red foot starts and the hips. My first attempt was to recreate this in the character rig, but it didn't work very well. Since then I have decided to root both legs at the chest (in terms of IK mechanics), but only draw the shorter leg from just above the knee to the foot. I believe this is going to be more intuitive to use (although I wont really know until the rig is finished).

(Oh, and I haven't forgotten the eye brows! - they're just not used in every facial expression)

The rigging pipeline has become rather complex, although not because the rigs themselves are complicated! They wont be! No, it's simply that I'm putting a lot of 'niceties' that make the character easier to use.
For example, all the arms and legs are going to use a custom bezier joint setup, combined with IK / FK switch, combined with a Soft IK setup (the soft IK setup removes the popping effect when an IK reaches it's limits). Believe it or not, this has turned out to be the simple bit since it's all scripted. The main things that have taken (and are still taking) time to figure out are things like the ideal joint / control positions, and actually making choices about how different parts of the rig should be controlled.

Once it's done I will be demonstrating how to use it, but you will have to wait a little longer!

Ethan Shilling


  1. Hey there! I'm truly sorry about all the crazy thinking and adjustments this character is demanding... When I drew out the expressions, I forgot it'd have to be adapted for CG and only had the storyboard in mind - but even back then I realised Red (and other UPA style characters) didn't really work in 3D and asked for the perspective to be cheated. I must say however that I'm very impressed with how far you've managed to push boundaries! Absolutely mind-blowing!

  2. No need to be sorry.
    It has been a challenge, but when it's finished it's going to be worth it!