Rig Atelier




In this window are all the tools for building and modifying your skeleton/IK/Reverse Foot

We completely rebuilt the joint node to have the ability to use it directly, without any rigging layer upon. So, when a joint is skinned to a mesh you can select it directly: click on the corresponding mesh area and it will select the joint automatically.

 Auto Rig : Select your 3D models) and quickly generate a biped rig. Clicking on this button will open up our Auto Rig Window


Auto Rig Window



Once opened, you will need first to place hotpoints on corresponding zones of your character


To do so, simply click Left on the first field



and hold & drag your mouse over your character to place your first Hotpoint (which is the pelvis)

This will generate a big green wheel :


 

Then, do the same for the Neck



Then goes the Shoulder


And the Wrist


To finally end with the Ankle


Once finished, you'll see a note which tells you all hotpoints have been set



Here is a quick how-to proceed gif :



Then, you have 3 fields to check :


  • Skeleton Type : There you can choose whether you want a Unreal Engine 4, Unity, or a custom naming convention for your skeleton. Choosing a skeleton will activate both generation buttons on the bottom-right corner of the Auto Rig window. Custom skeleton can be edited in the Autorigger preferences
  • Spine : offers you a quick and easy way to define how many joints you want from the pelvis to the neck (excluded). So for example if you set 2 spine joints, the hierarchy will be : Pelvis>Spine_01>Spine_02>Neck
  • Finger : Let you decide if you want to auto-detect fingers or if you want to place manually hotpoints for fingertips, as show below :
  • Phalanx : Allows you to decide how many finger phalanxes you need for your character's hands



Once you're done with these settings, you will use a "Two-Steps process" to generate the final skeleton, controls and skinning :

 Auto Rig1st Step: The 1st command will generate a half-skeleton as well as skinning base. You will then need to eventualy adjust the position of joints to match your character morphology (in bind pose mode) and refine the skinning using paint tools (in paint & check mode). 



 Auto Rig 2nd Step: The 2nd command will generate many things: the other half part of the skeleton, full smooth skinning from 1st half rigid weights, then both IKs and Reverse Foots. So you end up with a character ready to be animated!

Joint Features

Create Joint (Shortcut: J): Add a new joint. To do so, press this button and LMB click anywhere on the 3D viewport. Until you press Enter (or unactivate the feature), it will create a new joint each time you LMB click on the 3D Viewport. During creation process you can move a joint untill you release the (creation) click.

Insert Joint: To activate it, this button requires to have a hierarchy of at least two connected joints. Press this button and click LMB somewhere along a bone to insert the new joint. Until you release the (creation) click you can move along the hosting bone axis to place your new joint at the desired place.

Parent Joint: Parent two joint by selecting first the joint to parent and then its father. By the way, if you select four joints and click on the command, the three joints you selected first will be parented under the fourth selected joint.

Unparent Joint: Unparent selected joints.

Center Joint: Center the current joint's position right in the middle of a vertex selection

IK



Create IK (Shortcut: Y): Add an IK solver to your joint chain.

To do so, select the father joint and then the leaf joint (last child) of that chain. The IK target will automatically appear around the leaf joint pivot (you do not need to create a curve controller).

This target allows two different behaviors : FK or IK. You switch from IK to FK just by RMB clicking on the target.


FK Behavior:

When the target is white, the FK behavior is on. It means you may transform your joints in FK as well as move your character and your targets will follow. However, you may still manipulate the target to affect the whole chain's posing.

During an animation, the IK string interpolation between two keys showing at least one white target, simply shows the string joints interpolation, as it would be if there was no IK target.

IK Behavior:

When the target is red, the IK behavior is on. You may only manipulate the target and if you move your character your targets will remain locked.

During an animation, the IK string interpolation between two keys, both showing red targets, solves the string on each frame with the interpolated IK transform values (position, orientation, pole angle).

Spinner & IK

When an IK target is selected, the Spinner rotate part displays a new circular area to control the rotation around the IK Pole Vector (or Pole Angle), the root to leaf vector.

Standard MRS areas, though smaller, work in the same fashion as usual and modify the leaf's rotation.

Its value is exposed in the Transform window, and the Curveboard shows an orange curve representing it.


Reverse Foot


Create Reverse Foot: Add an automatic reverse foot to your joint chain. 

To create a reverse foot, just select Father (usually thigh) and Leaf (usually ball) joints and hit the command. It automatically sets up a sole/target and 4 locators, positioned by default at their estimated place on the front, back, right and left of the foot skinned mesh. You may need to adjust them by positioning and orienting them so that the roll, twist and bank anchors and rotation directions are perfect.

Exactly like the (standard) IK, the Reverse Foot allows two different behaviors : FK or IK. You switch from IK to FK just by RMB clicking on the sole/target.

FK Behavior:

When the sole is white, the FK behavior is on. In this case, moving the hierarchical ancestors of the leg (eg. the root joint) will cause the controller (and consequently the foot) to move alongside, leaving the leg joints relative positions unchanged. By the way you can handle your thigh, knee and ankle joints directly in FK. Useful behavior to move a piece of skeleton and take the controller with it.

IK Behavior:

When the sole is red, the IK behavior is on. In this case, moving the hierarchical ancestors of the leg (eg. the root joint) will forbid motion on the controller, anchoring its position in the 3D world, and consistently placing and orienting the leg and foot. Useful behavior to handle contacts on the ground or on a precise point of the 3D world.

During an animation, the reverse foot follows the same rules as the IK controller between two keys showing a red target, hence roll, twist and bank angles are also interpolated to solve the joints positions on each frame.


Spinner & Reverse Foot

When a Reverse Foot sole is selected, the Spinner rotate part displays three new icons on Move, Rotate and Scale areas. Those areas can be used in two different ways:

  • Using LMB on  XYZ areas drives the rotation of the foot (sole)
  • Using RMB on X area drives the Roll of the foot
  • Using RMB on Y area drives the Twist of the foot
  • Using RMB on Z area drives the Bank of the foot
  • Snap or Align: Snap your RF controller to foot sole or align it horizontally while preserving your pose (available in Spinner RF mode)

By the way, in similarity with IK target case, the central circular area handles the leg Pole Vector (or Pole Angle).


Snap or Align in action:

 


IK & Reverse Foot tangent mode

IK and Reverse Foot have their own tangent mode () in the Curveboard. It is the default mode for any target's curves but of course, you can manually tweak your tangents.


In this mode, the curve interpolation between two neighboring keys automatically switches between Spline, SplineClamped and Linear depending on the IK/FK combination, and the key values set on those keys.

Spline is the default mode. Other modes are activated in the following cases :

  • When two successive keyframes are in different IK/FK mode (one is red and the other is white), the red key is deemed a contact point and all curves behave as in Linear mode.
  • When two successive keyframes are in IK mode (both red), and key values on a curve are identical (or very close), akeytsu assumes this value mustn't vary between the keys, therefore this curve behaves as in Linear mode.



IK & Reverse Foot in Transform, Cyclemaker, and Mixer features

All the features exposed in these windows operate on an IK controller, a reverse foot controller, or any joint of the associated string with the constraint of handling the whole joint string alongside with the controller. As a result, except for the Copy, Paste and Paste After actions, all operate on the string joints as a whole, and place the controller accordingly:

Hitting Reset on the controller or any of the string joint will reset the whole string to its bind pose positions, relatively to the string root parent.

Hitting Mirror or Cycle Side on the controller or any of the string joint will mirror the whole string.

Hitting Extract Stacker on the controller or any of the string joint will extract the whole string and the controller.

Hitting Merge Stackers will compute the string joints positions and adapt the target on the result. In the case of a reverse foot, an estimation of the roll, twist and bank angles will occur.

The Copy, Paste and Paste After behavior is quite different:

When copying and pasting the controller target alone, its values as a world object are impacted, and the controller is moved as a world object (allowing you to anchor the controller to the exact same spot in different animation keys for example).

When copying and pasting any of the string joints, the whole string is copied and pasted, relatively to the string root parent (allowing you to keep a limb still relatively to the rest of the body for example).




Camera

This button allows you to create a new camera from the actual perspective viewpoint.

Once created, a camera will allow you to frame your scene through time, as such : you can key this object transforms/properties :

  • Move X, Y, and Z
  • Rotate X, Y, and Z
  • FOV, which acts on the "Field of view". A high value (i.e : 109.00) will distort perspective, while a low value (i.e : 15.00) will flatten the view

To keyframe your camera, as for joints, IKs, ReverseFoots, Blendshapes, and since your camera object will be a new object : you'll need to tell akeytsu you want to keyframe it by adding "hammers" next to it in the picker. To know how to use hammers, please refer to the animation part and look for the Mixer and the Picker windows 

Each new camera will be placed in the current character
You can decide to create a character node before creating a camera, so the camera will be stored in a dedicated character
If
no character is selected, then akeytsu will generate a dedicated character for the camera


Access 
to default and animated cameras through the current view label using RMB (bottom left of current view) as shown in the following GIF :

 

Default cameras
- List of default viewpoints (Perspective, top, bottom...etc)

Animated cameras - List of all your animated/custom cameras. Once selected, you can jump to your animated camera view using the shortcut "Shift+V"

Perspective: Displays perspective view (Shortcut "1" - top number key)

Front: Displays front orthographic view (Shortcut "2" - top number key)

Back: Displays back orthographic view (Shorcut "3" - top number key)

Right: Displays right orthographic view (Shorcut "4" - top number key)

Left: Displays left orthographic view (Shorcut "5" - top number key)

Top: Displays top orthographic view (Shorcut "6" - top number key)

Bottom: Displays bottom orthographic view (Shorcut "7" - top number key)



Camera Controls

As shown below, you can switch between a free camera and a target camera. To do such, simply right click to any of its components (camera, target line/point)

  • When the camera is white, you are in free mode
  • When the camera is blue, you are in target mode
  • When In Free mode, you can move and rotate the camera : the target will follow and target's interpolations inherits from camera's ones (as for a white IK)
  • When In Target mode, moving the camera won't change the target position and the target will stay planted (as with a red IK)
  • In both modes, the target always constrains the camera forward look axis. The camera looks at her target 

To change the current view camera and go to your desired animated camera :

  • Choose a viewport by clicking inside of it (like shown above, you can have a two view mode (shortcut : F2))
  • Open the View & Preferences menu by clicking on this button at the left bottom corner : 
  • Hover your mouse pointer over the Animated cameras entry
  • Pick the desired camera

The Properties window will display more settings about the selected animated camera :

  • Ratio : choose the framing ration amonst a variety of available formats
  • Mode : choose between Landscape & Portrait modes
  • Near clip : define the plane where camera should start capturing elements
  • Far clip : define the plane where camera should stop capturing elements

 Rewind Camera Target: Recall the target position without affecting camera orientation

This smart feature, available into the Spinner while a camera is selected, allows you to quickly recall your target in its "init" position. Usefull to start a free camera (white) keyframe sequence after a target camera (blue) one!


Joint Orient Menu

This menu gives you options to orient your joints (pivots) according to "aim" and "2nd" settings.

Orient Joint: Orient selected joints according to the settings below.

  • Aim settings: Choose what axis (x, y, z, -x, -y, -z) will always aim to the child joint, used as roll/twist axis.
  • 2nd settings: Choose what axis (x, y, z, -x, -y, -z) will complete the father-joint-child plane, when associated with aim. You ought to experiment with this to find your preferred setting.


Rig Atelier Preferences

Auto-orient on creation: Automatically orient your joints at creation, according to "aim" and "2nd" settings above.

Joint Snap YZ plane pixel threshold (ortho views): Allow to adjust the precision of Y or Z plane snap feature. Entering "0" will turn off this feature.

IK target scene size: Allows to resize the IK and Reverse Foot targets/soles of the current scene.

RF bank angle max value: Maximum angle values allowed concerning foot bank (scene setting).

RF twist angle max value: Maximum angle values allowed concerning foot twist (scene setting).

RF roll backward angle max value: Maximum angle value concerning foot roll on the heel (scene setting). 

RF roll angle bending limit value: Maximum angle value concerning foot roll on the ball, without taking off the ball (scene setting). 

RF roll angle unbending limit value: Angle value concerning foot roll on the ball, from ball take off up to straight foot (scene setting). 

RF roll forward angle max value: Maximum angle value concerning foot roll on the toe (scene setting). 

RF zero value snap threshold (Roll, Bank, Twist): Angle under which the foot snaps to 0 value (scene setting).