Ears to hear, tail to flail

Last Updated 05.07.2019

Assignment

  • Add a tail
  • add some ears

Goals

  • Understand more uses of the segment rigBlock
  • Explore what you can do with it

Suggested Reading

The following from the docs

  • Segment
  • Builder
  • RigBlock States
  • RigBlocks

Starting Point

If you haven’t done so, open up your file from our segment session. You should have:

  • The following rigBlocks at the skeleton state: master, spine, head, legs
  • Any reference you want ready to go

Let’s begin.

Our horse can run but what if some bothersome flies are about? Why he needs a tail. Let’s give him one.

Tail

So our tail is a segment block just as our spine was. We’ll use a different blockProfile for it though.

We’ve been through this a few times now so I’m gonna go quicker.

Define – Create

Let’s make our rigBlock

Open up the mrsBuilder.

  • Add the rigBlock to our scene | Add> segment> tail.

This will create our new rig block.

Should look something like…

Define – Size

Use the rigblock and define handles to position your rig block on your design or model.

  • Form – You’re not worrying about the pivots here, just bounding box your frame
    • Put the rigBlock around the base of the tail
    • Move the end handle to the end of the tail
    • Scale the end around the size of the end
  • up – Check your up handle to make sure it’s where you want it.
  • rp – Ensure the rp handleis oriented how you want. Generally speaking the rp vector is through the main axis of rotation for that chain.

Settings

Not a ton of things to think through on the tail but there are a few.:

  • ikSetup | For now we can only do ribbon. Spline will be finished soon and will probably be the default for tails.
  • segmentMidIKControl | If you want a mid neck IK control or just a two control ribbon.
  • numShapers | How many shapers do you want? For tails that are generally straight I like two – start and end so that I can control the whole tail like that
  • numSubShapers | When I have two main shapers I want more subs. If I had more shapers I wouldn’t have as many of these.
  • loftShape | For tails in general I liked wide down but you’re welcome to try whatever loftShapes you want
  • numControls | How many controls do you want?
  • segmentMidIKControl | Do you want a mid Ik control or just the start end? I’ve been playing with both depending on the setup.
  • numControls | How much control do you want on your tail
  • numJoints | This will probably be something you try a few times. I’d suggest starting with the same count as your controls and start going up from there
  • ikEnd | My usual preference for tails is tipEnd but you’re welcome to try others.
  • spaceSwitchDirect | If on, each direct control will have space switching setup. We have some concerns on speed for this but if you want the option it’s there.

For more detail, explore the SEGMENT doc and Shared settings doc.

Form

Next we need to shape our spine. First, push to form state.

  • Select your tail rigBlock  in mrsBuilder | 'tail'...
  • Change state | <Form>.

You should be familiar with the controls we have to use here. Hop to.

Note – Turning on default material helps usually

  • Template handles | Use these to generally shape
  • Loft curves | These are used to shape your look
  • Orient helper | Make sure it goes the direction you want

What are we looking for at this state?

  • Shape| You want your template to generally match the look you’re going for. If you’re not working from a mesh and just an image plane really pay attention to your various angles.
  • Orient| Ensure the orient helper at the top of the limb is pointing where you want

Prerig

Let’s go ahead and push to prerig.

  1. Select your tail rigBlock in mrsBuilder | 'tail'...
  2. Then hit <Prerig> | This pushes to prerig state

What are we looking for?

  • Handles |  Place the points of articulation where you want them. Use the jointLoft as a visual guide.
    • I have 5 handles. Note I put my end not at the end but pulled back in the meat a good bit. Alternatively you could try your last prerig handle at the end and ikEnd type of tipBase and with or without end joints.

Insight – I did a gig with a scorpion like monster and it had these pinching claws at the end of it’s tail. So I used the tail setup and then put 4 nub limbs at the end and it worked well.

Skeleton

This state may not be the most exciting but it is important. We want to pay special attention to the orientations after build to make sure they are where we expect them to be and oriented the way we want.

Go ahead and push to to skeleton state and you’ll see a joint added.

  1. Select the spine block 'tail'... in mrsBuilder
  2. Then hit <Joint> | This is to push to skeleton state

What are we looking for at this state?

  • Joint orients | make sure they look like we expect
  • Joint count | Make sure you have the number of joints you want to start iterating with. Again you’ll probably want to try a couple of different counts for your builds and see what works best for your needs
  • Joint parent | make sure the root of your chain is going where you expect. When we get to the head for example, we wouldn’t want that root of our neck to go to the pelvis unless we had a pretty atypical design.

Now that we have a skeleton where we want it I’m going to rig.

Rig

Save off your file as to be safe we’re not going to be saving rigged blocks in our working file. In my case my file is: horse_masterSpineHeadLegsTail_skeleton_v01.ma

You can name yours what you like.

  1. Select the master block 'tail'...  in mrsBuilder
  2. Then hit <Rig> | This is to push to rigstate. It will ask for a confirmation saying it needs to rig the master and spine to complete these request
  3. Wait for it to complete

There’s a lot of things happening when we rig. You should be familiar by now.

As such, try your tail, change settings and iterate until you’re happy.

Exploring Options

You can experiment with other processes and options.

Take the spine block back to skeleton state

Options to try:

  • Test your tail
    • If you don’t like the points of articulation, move them
  • Building with different options
    • Different joint counts
    • Different control counts
    • Different ik ends
    • With/without midSegmentIk

Ears

Got our tail, let’s do some ears. I’ve been using segments for ears as well. You’re welcome to try limbs

Define – Create

Let’s make our rigBlock

Open up the mrsBuilder. | cgm Top

  • Add the rigBlock to our scene | Add> segment> earUp.

This will create our new rig block. You’ve seen a segment before.

Define – Size

Use the rigblock and define handles to position your rig block on your design or model.

  • Form – You’re not worrying about the pivots here, just bounding box your frame
    • Put the rigBlock around the base of the ear
    • Move the end handle to the tip of the ear
    • Scale the end around the size of the ear’s bounding box
  • up – Check your up handle to make sure it’s where you want it.
  • rp – Ensure the rp handleis oriented how you want. Generally speaking the rp vector is through the main axis of rotation for that chain.

Form

Next we need to shape our spine. First, push to form state.

  • Select your tail rigBlock  in mrsBuilder | R | "ear"...
  • Change state | <Form>.

You should be familiar with the controls we have to use here. Hop to.

Note – Turning on default material helps usually

  • Form handles | Use these to generally shape
  • Loft curves | These are used to shape your look
  • Orient helper | Make sure it goes the direction you want

What are we looking for at this state?

  • Shape| You want your template to generally match the look you’re going for. If you’re not working from a mesh and just an image plane really pay attention to your various angles.
  • Orient| Ensure the orient helper at the top of the limb is pointing where you want

Prerig

Let’s go ahead and push to prerig.

  1. Select your tail rigBlock in mrsBuilder | R | "ear"...]
  2. Then hit <Prerig> | This pushes to prerig state

Note – you can use the cgm arrange tools to assist dispersing your prerig handles evenly.

What are we looking for?

  • Handles |  Place the points of articulation where you want them. Use the jointLoft as a visual guide.
    • I have 5 handles. Note I put my end not at the end but pulled back in the meat a good bit. Alternatively you could try your last prerig handle at the end and ikEnd type of tipBase and with or without end joints.

Skeleton

Go ahead and push to to skeleton state and you’ll see a joint added.

  1. Select the spine block R | "ear"... in mrsBuilder
  2. Then hit <Joint> | This is to push to skeleton state

What are we looking for at this state?

  • Joint orients | make sure they look like we expect
  • Joint count | Make sure you have the number of joints you want to start iterating with. Again you’ll probably want to try a couple of different counts for your builds and see what works best for your needs
  • Joint parent | make sure the root of your chain is going where you expect. When we get to the head for example, we wouldn’t want that root of our neck to go to the pelvis unless we had a pretty atypical design.

Rig

Save off your file as to be safe we’re not going to be saving rigged blocks in our working file. In my case my file is: horse_masterSpineHeadLegsTailEar_skeleton_v01.ma

You can name yours what you like.

  1. Select the master block R | "ear"...  in mrsBuilder
  2. Then hit <Rig> | This is to push to rigstate. It will ask for a confirmation saying it needs to rig the master and spine to complete these request
  3. Wait for it to complete

There’s a lot of things happening when we rig. You should be familiar by now.

As such, try your ear , change settings and iterate until you’re happy. When you are, mirror your ear and finish your build.

This particular build was an tipBase ikEnd type.

Exploring Options

You can experiment with other processes and options.

Options to try:

  • Test your ear
    • If you don’t like the points of articulation, move them
  • Building with different options
    • Different joint counts
    • Different control counts
    • Different ik ends
    • With/without midSegmentIk

And after that?

You now have base knowledge of the base rigBlocks and how to try things.

  • Improve your quad
  • Go back to your biped and do it from scratch or improve it
  • Experiment, collect your ideas and let us know how we can make things better.
  • If you want to tackle bigger things like adding features, chime in on the forum and let us help point you where to go.
Josh Burton

[MRS Project Lead | CG Monks] Josh is an animator turned TD who hails from Oklahoma, pre-undergrad in the Marine Corps, animation basics at Savannah College of Art and Design, cut his teeth in gaming and commercials before co-founding CG Monks and more recently the CG Monastery. The Morpheus Rigging System is a culmination of years of R&D and he is now thrilled to see what users can create, collaborate and expand on with this open source MRS platform.