Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Alien Invader How to strip the rigg

Alien Invader
I've been asked how to strip the rigg from the Alien Invader model and thought I might as well share it here.
If you need to strip the rigg from the Alien Invader model in order to create a fresh rigg or assign motion capture to the model using something like motion builder, here is how you do it. If you have the Cyber Punk, Cyborg or Space Soldier you can use the same process, the only difference will be the node prefix. For the Cyber punk the prefix will be CyberPunk, for Cyborg the prefix is Cyborg and for the Space Soldier the prefix is SpaceTrooper. You can find these and many other of my character models here for download on Turbosquid.

A character for animation has three components:


In order to create a new rigg or new set of controllers you need to strip out the old controllers including IK, control handles and constraints leaving you with just the skeleton and mesh(s). This model also has duplicate skeletons for the arms which are part of the IK/FK switching set up which makes them controls. They are also removed in the steps below.

Step one separate mesh and skeleton from controllers.

Go to frame zero (this is the bind pose). Open the hypergraph find and select node AlienJntAss middle mouse and hold, drag out to the side release. Find and select node AlienMesh middle mouse and hold, drag out to the side release. Find and select node AlienLP33LaserRifle middle mouse and hold, drag out to the side release.

Alien Rigg hierarchy

When you middle mouse drag out a node like this in the hypergraph what you're actually doing is pulling the node and it's children out of the hierarchy and creating a new hierarchy tree. Pulling out the wrong node can really mess up a character model.

Step two delete controllers

Select nodes under node AlienLP33LaserRifle delete. Select node AlienMaster, delete. Find and select node AlienBrainConrtol, delete. Find and select node AlienJntBrain, set rotate Z to Zero.

Step three delete animation

Stripping the rig breaks the animation. You need to remove the broken animation to have a clean model for re rigging. Select every node in the skeleton make sure you have every node. A quick way to do this is to marquee select the skeleton hierarchy in the hypergraph (make sure all joint nodes are visible in the hypergraph before doing this). Now open the graph editor zoom out and make sure all keys are visible select all keys from frame 6 onwards, delete.

Step four optional clean up

You have now stripped the controllers. There are some handles which are left over, if you want to remove these too the cross handles are a display option. Select the node with a cross handle, open the attribute editor, in the display options set display handle to off. For the remaining nurbs handles in the hypergraph right click in empty space >option>display>shape nodes. You will now see that the joints have the nurbs handles assigned to them as shape nodes, you can delete them. They have generic names like CTRL_circle6Shape or curveShape3. An animator would not normally have access to these shape nodes which is why they are not labeled.

How to turn joint displahandles on

How to make shape nodes visible in the hypergraph

Hide the shape nodes through the display options once you have finished editing. You do not want the shape nodes visible for normal use of the hypergraph as it doubles the number of visible nodes.

Note the skeleton joints are named so you should get an idea of what the joint does straight away. You are left with just the character mesh, rifle and skeleton. The model is now ready for a new rigg.

For rigging tips and best practice I recommend Jason Schleifer. I will be back with more from the Flame Troll shortly.


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