20. "&" used to be part of the alphabet. Think about it Mr. &erson!
(alphabet, "alpha beta", the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. Running out of idiotic headers and not of useless information)
Because ultimately I am making the rig and animations in Maya, I practiced importing the model complete with all layers (bones, muscles & skin) to there from Lightwave and it worked out perfect! To be honest, I am still facing a bit of a problem: I don't know how to use Maya at all
. I need to read some serious-ass 3D books to manage.
Some 6 hours later, 5 am
I opened a book, shuffled to page 215 and jumped right into Muscle deformations, skipping every single chapter from navigating in Maya 3D viewport to painting weightmaps. Let me tell you little about manually modeled muscle deformations at this point. Better known as "PSD" (Pose Space Deformation). PSDs are widely used in the film industry (for example, ILM created the Incredible Hulk using PSDs). PSD works in a way that is very innovative and provides the artist with ultimate control over the deformations. Using muscle simulations may have unwanted results that can be impossible or very slow to mend (Weta and Phil Tippet use lots of muscle simulations, so they are not all bad). PSD doesn't have this problem because it basically works like this:
You pose a joint, everything goes to hell: muscles intersect with each other, nasty shapes bulge out of the joints and the bones bend and twist like rubber. To fix all this you simply deform the muscles, joints, bones to collide with each other, wrinkle and stretch naturally and say "stay bitch!". Life turns great, muscles bulge like nothing and knees and elbows stick out like they ought to! PSD, the best a man can get!
Very few / no games support PSDs at the time of writing, which is odd, because PSD is the best thing since microwaved rice! 3ds max, SoftimageXSI and Animation Master Support PSDs. The two Applications I chose to work with (Lightwave & Maya) do not natively support them. At this point I was a bit worried because my thesis is solemnly based on PSDs and not so many plugins are out for OS X versions of the applications!! Fear not, I got hold of a mel script called Shape Builder (it actually came with this book I got, so um.. this was not too hard for me..) which makes it possible to create Pose Space Deformations very easily. After 20 or so minutes I already had some nice looking calf bulging action going on in Maya! At this point it actually seems that I may be able to finish this damned thesis. And what is best, ahead of schedule! It is so easy! As easy as forgetting to wake up in the morning.
The animation file included is just something I recoded from my screen. I opened up the example PSD scene in Maya and just rotated some of the joints in the example model (copyright CG|TOOLKIT) to show some basic PSDs.