Skeletal Rigging

This is the final stage of character model creation, where you'll install a "bones" system in your character so that you can articulate and animate its mesh. The skeleton is much like a real skeleton in that it contains bonelike objects connected at joints that when moved cause the surrounding mesh to move with them. These bone objects are invisible during render time.

3ds Max 8 has an integrated set of features called biped that is used to implement a humanoid skeleton into your model. You can adjust this skeleton in many ways to suit all forms of a character, from humanoid to animal. By default, the skeleton mimics the way a human body can move in realtime by using preprogrammed inverse kinematics (IK). A biped skeleton (more commonly known as a rig) moves naturally using IK. For instance, if you pull on the hand object of the rig, the skeleton's forearm and upper arm move with it naturally, as if you were to grab and pull on the hand of a person.

Rigging a character involves properly sizing and adjusting a rig to fit the dimensions of your character's mesh. After you've aligned and shaped the bones of the rig properly, you attach the mesh to the rig through a skin modifier in 3ds Max. This modifier enables the mesh to move, or deform, along with the movements of the rig's bones. You then make adjustments to both the mesh and the rig so that your character animates without bizarre bends or kinks. See Chapter 7.

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