In this tutorial I am going to explain the main steps that I followed to create an avatar, including modelling, texturing and animation process. Therefore I will divide this tutorial in three sections.
-The first thing that I did was include the reference images to maya, to do this I created a plane. (create/NURBS primitives/plane). I repeated the process to insert two planes, one for each image (front and slide image).
-From this moment I started to model the avatar. Firstly I created a cube for the body, I deleted half of this and then I started to sculpt the basic shape.
-Using the extrude tool I created neck, head, legs and hands. In some cases I had to use “the insert edge loop tool”.
-The next step was increase the number of polygons keeping the shape, for that I used the option edit/smooth.
-After that, I added more detail to the avatar, including elements like the belt, the bracelet and the sleeves of the T-shirt. I selected “mesh/mirror geometry” to create the whole avatar. The result is this:
-Finally, for the environment I created a tombstone ,a dead tree and a podium, again I started the process using a cube for each one.
Texturing (UV unfolding)
Using “mesh/separate” I divided the avatar in several pieces (head, arms, hands, belt, boats, legs and bracelet), before I had to select each face of the body piece. To open the UV texture editor I clicked on “window/UV texture editor and later to set correctly the view I selected “Create UV’s/planar mapping“.
The next step was to select the cut edges and use the following tools on UV texture editor (polygons/cut UV edges and unfold). I had to to the same with each part of the body
Tip: it’s very helpful use “polygons/layout” to improve the view. In the followings images I am going to show some screenshots of the process where we can see some cut edges as a example. To texturing the hair, I separated the face and the hair.
I divided the character in all these parts because I wasn’t able to create a planar mapping of all body at a time
I selected “image/create PSD network and update PSD network” to generate a Photoshop file and start to work with this application. Once I created each texture in Photoshop I assigned each one the correct part of the body, to do this process I only had to select the object and click on “assign new material/lambert/file” and choose the file which I generated using Photoshop. The pattern textures that I applied to the models were obtained from internet. I repeated the process with each environment object (tombstone and podium).
I had a lot of problems when I wanted to texture the tree. The tree has a very irregular shape, so it was impossible applied a texture. For this reason I applied a Lambert in brown color.
The result of this process is this:
Also I added to the floor and to the tomb stone a couple of texture normal maps using bump mapping technique. I created it using Crazy Bump application. Now, we can see the result after apply the different textures to the meshes.
Preparing the skeleton
According to the animation process, the first thing that I performed was to create the skeleton. For this purpose I did:
-Select Skeleton/join tool. Firstly I created the right leg.
After, the upper zone.
If the join size was too big, the way to correct it is selecting display/animation join size.
Then I renamed each join, that is the hypergraph hierarchy.
Like we can see, I created two different hypergraph hierarchies, so I had to link them. According to do it, I created another join called j_root which is going to move all the structure.
Clicked on the j_r_leg and j_root (the order is important) and selected edit/parent to link both structures. I repeated the process with the j_r_hip and j_root.
In this point, I had to duplicate the arm and the leg. I selected skeleton/mirror joint and I set it up as we can see in the next picture.
To adjust the rotation of the joins (skeleton/orient joint)
Legs: I added a ik handle ( skeleton / IK handle tool/ikRPsolver) for each leg, furthermore I also created a locator to control the orient of the knee (create/locator), clicked on the locator and the handle that I just created before, then I selected (constreint/pole vector), after that it is possible to control the orient of the knee.
Arms: I repeated the same process with the both arms.
The other parts of the body if I would want to move it I would use Forward Kinematics (FK) using the rotation tool itself.
Once I set up the animation tools, the next step was to link the skeleton and the mesh. To do this, I clicked on the root join and the character mesh and then I selected (skin/bind skin/rigid bind).
I had a problem when I wanted to move some parts, for example , when I wanted to rotate the head, the mesh became deformed, so I had to assign other points of the geometry to the join that moves the head, according to do it I used the edit membership tool (edit deformers/edit membership tool) . I repeated the process several times with other parts of the body such as arms and legs. Now I am going to show the problem and the solution of the problem with a couple of pictures.
The worst problem appeared when I wanted to move the arms, because this process moved points of the body mesh.
In this case, I assigned the wrong points to the clavicle, chest and rib joints.
Finally, to create the animation I placed the avatar in the right positions and used the set key option.
The result animation is shown below.