Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Skin Mirror Tools

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5 min

Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Skin Mirror Tools

In this tutorial, you experiment with Skin Mirror Tools. For the Mirror tool to work well, the mesh has to be symmetrical, so you'll be using a proxy mesh to work the skinning and then transfer that data to the original character mesh using Skin Wrap.

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.
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In the last movie, you adjusted the skinning on the left leg, under the hip area.

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In order not to waste time, it would make sense if you could transfer that skin information from the left leg to the right leg.

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Skin Mirror tools allow you to do that but they work best when the character is symmetrical.

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The legs and upper body are symmetrical but the hips and belly areas are not, due to the shirt sticking out of the pants.

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A useful approach in such a case is to use a temporary symmetrical mesh to work the skinning.

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Not only would it simplify Skin Mirror functions, but it would also make vertex loop and ring selections easier.

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At this point, the geometry is such that a loop selection would not go around the belt area for example.

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Once the proxy mesh is skinned properly, you can transfer back skin data using the Skin Wrap modifier.

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Make sure the zombie mesh is selected and that you're not in any type of sub-object mode.

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Make a copy of the object and name it "zombie_proxy".

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Press H and select the original 'zombie_mesh" object from the list.

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Remove the Skin modifier from the stack and hide the mesh.

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Select the proxy mesh again and go down the stack to the Editable Poly level.

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Add a Symmetry modifier between Editable Poly and Skin.

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The mesh is now symmetrical.

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Set the Symmetry Threshold to 0.

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The character is perfectly symmetrical and centered to the World, so all middle vertices separating left and right side will weld properly.

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Right-click the Symmetry modifier and choose Collapse To. Click Yes to dismiss the warning.

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Now that the character is symmetrical, you can use Skin Mirror tools.

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At this point, it is clear that the right leg needs work as you test it out between frames 360 and 440.

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Go back to frame 0 and enter Edit Envelopes mode.

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Select a leg bone and then its opposite, and notice that their affect on neighboring vertices are different.

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Enable Mirror Mode. The vertices on the mesh become color-coded although they may be a little hard to see.

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Blue vertices represent the model's left side, green vertices its right side, and red vertices are sitting on the Mirror plane.

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By default, the Mirror plane goes through the object's pivot point.

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This is again an indication of how important the initial setup of the mesh was as seen at the very beginning of this tutorial.

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There are five mirror tool icons to consider.

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The second and third icons relate to mirroring envelope data.

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Since you're not working with envelopes, you don't need to worry about those.

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The first icon enables you to mirror paste a selection of vertices.

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With this, you can select one or more vertices that you have already adjusted,

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and use the Mirror Paste tool to transfer that data to the other side.

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The last two icons enable you to mirror/paste all vertex data from one side to another.

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In this case, click the Paste Blue to Green Verts to transfer all skinning data from left to right.

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Exit Mirror mode.

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Notice how the problems you had earlier between frames 360 and 440 are now gone.

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Enable Envelope mode again and go to frame 0.

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Select a few opposite bones and notice how the vertex color codes now seem identical on the left and right sides.

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Exit Edit Envelopes one more time and save your file.

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In the next movie, you adjust the Hips area.
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