Creating a Skeleton in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Spine Bones

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Industry
  • Games
Subject
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Character Animation
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Advanced
Duration
8 min

Creating a Skeleton in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Spine Bones

In this 3ds Max multi-part series, you learn to build a skeleton. In this first tutorial, you will create the spine chain for your skeleton.


Notes
  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.
Transcript
00:00:03 --> 00:00:08
Before you start building the skeleton, make sure layer Bones is set current.

00:00:08 --> 00:00:10
You will start by building the Spine bone.

00:00:11 --> 00:00:17
The spine bone is the easiest bone chain to build as it's centered to the character and doesn't need to be moved or mirrored.

00:00:18 --> 00:00:23
Start in the Left view. This will orient the local-Z axis of the spine bones to that view.

00:00:23 --> 00:00:30
As mentioned before, this favors the bending of the spine forward and backward as a primary rotation.

00:00:31 --> 00:00:36
Actually, you're going to need two chains, one for the pelvis pointing down,

00:00:36 --> 00:00:40
and one for the spine, moving up all the way to the top of the head.

00:00:41 --> 00:00:46
Start with the spine. Go to the Create > Systems tab and click the Bones tool.

00:00:47 --> 00:00:55
Ultimately, you want to ensure that the bone chain you create has bones that are properly positioned to rotate the chain in specific joint placements.

00:00:56 --> 00:01:02
However, a useful approach is to position the chain first and then go back and fine-tune the joint placements.

00:01:03 --> 00:01:08
Here, you'll use three bones for the spine, one bone for the neck and one for the head.

00:01:09 --> 00:01:14
Depending on the complexity of the character, you may decide to have more or less bones.

00:01:14 --> 00:01:21
Unless you have specific needs, you won't need more than two or three spine bones to rig a character for games.

00:01:21 --> 00:01:24
Start clicking away to create the spine.

00:01:24 --> 00:01:30
Depending on the Width and Height values, the size of the bones could be more or less large.

00:01:30 --> 00:01:36
Undo the bone chain if necessary and set the Width and Height values to 1.

00:01:40 --> 00:01:43
Click to create the spine,

00:01:44 --> 00:01:47
neck and head bones roughly in place.

00:01:48 --> 00:01:50
Right-click to end the process.

00:01:50 --> 00:01:55
Bone sizes can be important when the time comes to skin the character to the skeleton.

00:01:56 --> 00:01:59
This depends on the rigger's workflow when using the Skin modifier.

00:01:59 --> 00:02:06
If the rigger elects to skin the character based on Skin Envelopes, then bone sizes become important.

00:02:06 --> 00:02:12
If the rigger elects to use Skin Weights (Vertex Weights), then bone sizes become irrelevant.

00:02:13 --> 00:02:17
Weighting vertices is often the method of choice for professional riggers.

00:02:17 --> 00:02:20
It is the method you will learn about later in this tutorial.

00:02:20 --> 00:02:25
This is why you can afford to have what are seemingly small-sized bones for this skeleton.

00:02:26 --> 00:02:32
At this time, notice that you cannot reposition the bones in any controllable fashion.

00:02:36 --> 00:02:43
For that, you need to access the Bone Tools dialog from the Animation menu and enable Bone Edit Mode.

00:02:44 --> 00:02:50
Now you can use the Move tool to reposition individual bones so that the joints are placed where you need them.

00:02:50 --> 00:02:59
Even though a real spine is further back in the body, placing it a little more centered actually helps when rigging a 3D character.

00:02:59 --> 00:03:05
Notice also that in this video, the first two spine bones are smaller than the third.

00:03:06 --> 00:03:14
That's because the third bone is located where the rib cage is, and the rib cage is rather rigid and actually deforms very little.

00:03:14 --> 00:03:21
When you're done editing the position of the joints, it is usually a good idea to reset the stretch of the bones in the chain.

00:03:22 --> 00:03:28
This resets any type of weird or unwanted scaling that may have taken place when repositioning the joints.

00:03:29 --> 00:03:36
This is done by selecting the bones in the chain, and then clicking the Reset Stretch button, lower in the Bone Tools dialog.

00:03:36 --> 00:03:42
Here's another situation to be aware of: notice what happens if you relocate the head bone in the scene.

00:03:43 --> 00:03:48
The nub at the end of it doesn't reorient itself to stay aligned with its parent bone.

00:03:49 --> 00:03:55
To fix this, you can rotate the nub, but an easier method is to actually delete it.

00:03:55 --> 00:04:04
To recreate it in the correct orientation, select the parent bone (in this case the head bone), and then click the Create End button.

00:04:05 --> 00:04:08
You still need the nubs in the chain for IK and FK purposes.

00:04:09 --> 00:04:13
There are very rare situations where you can actually do without the nubs.

00:04:13 --> 00:04:17
Undo the steps to go back to the correct head orientation.

00:04:17 --> 00:04:20
Exit Bone Edit Mode when done.

00:04:20 --> 00:04:22
Rename the bones in the chain.

00:04:22 --> 00:04:25
Name the spine bones: Spine1,

00:04:29 --> 00:04:32
Spine2 and Spine3,

00:04:36 --> 00:04:38
and the other two bones:

00:04:40 --> 00:04:42
Neck,

00:04:43 --> 00:04:45
and Head.

00:04:48 --> 00:04:51
Rename the nub bone: Head-nub

00:04:52 --> 00:04:56
It is also a good idea to give these bones a prefix identifying the character.

00:04:56 --> 00:05:01
After all, there could be another character in the scene sharing those bone names.

00:05:01 --> 00:05:09
To automate that process, select all bones and then from the Tools menu, choose Rename Objects.

00:05:10 --> 00:05:13
Disable Base Name and enable Prefix.

00:05:14 --> 00:05:17
Name the prefix: "zombie_"

00:05:18 --> 00:05:24
The underscore is optional but it makes for a nice separator between the character identification and the bone names.

00:05:24 --> 00:05:28
Click the Rename tool to rename the selected bones.

00:05:28 --> 00:05:33
If you test them out individually, you'll notice they all have the "zombie_" prefix.

00:05:34 --> 00:05:40
Another useful technique is to add a "_bone" suffix to the bone names.

00:05:41 --> 00:05:45
This works as a friendly reminder that these objects are in fact bone objects.

00:05:46 --> 00:05:52
This becomes invaluable as you start adding more entities to the rig in the form of shapes and helpers.

00:05:52 --> 00:05:57
Make sure all the bones are selected again and disable Prefix mode.

00:05:57 --> 00:06:04
Enable suffix. Name it "_bone" and click the Rename button once again.

00:06:04 --> 00:06:10
Verify the results. All the bones have proper prefix and suffix values.

00:06:10 --> 00:06:14
Leave the Rename Objects dialog open.

00:06:16 --> 00:06:21
Create a new chain for the pelvis. That's just one bone with its nub oriented down.

00:06:22 --> 00:06:27
Be careful not to start it too close to the spine bone, otherwise it would connect to it.

00:06:28 --> 00:06:36
In Bone Edit mode, align the pelvis bone to the first spine bone in Position XYZ, Pivot to Pivot.

00:06:40 --> 00:06:44
Make sure you are NOT reorienting the pelvis bone though.

00:06:48 --> 00:06:55
Adjust the nub but you'll most likely need to delete it and recreate it to make sure it's aligned to the pelvis.

00:06:59 --> 00:07:02
Reset the Stretch on these two bones

00:07:05 --> 00:07:08
and rename them: Pelvis and Pelvis-nub.

00:07:22 --> 00:07:25
Make sure the pelvis and its nub are still selected.

00:07:25 --> 00:07:32
Use the Rename Objects dialog to add both the appropriate prefix and suffix labels to the bone names.

00:07:33 --> 00:07:37
Close the Rename Objects dialog and exit Bone Edit Mode when done.

00:07:37 --> 00:07:42
If you wish, you can edit the pelvis bone's size to make it bigger.

00:07:42 --> 00:07:49
This will have no effect on skinning later, but it will make that bone representing the center of mass more prominent.

00:07:52 --> 00:07:56
In the next movie, you create the leg bones.
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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Character Animation
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