Rigging Metagross (video to come tomorrow, I hope)

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Tonight I put together the control rig for Metagross. I hope to get a demo video together soon (I want to do it tomorrow, but I might be busy with work and non-CG stuff). But here’s a quick overview of what it can do:

  • IK legs, with automatic piston movement. The pistons use the classic method of tracking the two pistons at each other.
  • Claw adjustment (just as per-leg sets, didn’t want to take the time to do per-claw movements). This is controlled by a small ring below the leg. Push the ring up to open the claw, pull down to close it. Uses the transformation constraint to copy the ring movement to claw-bone rotation (no drivers needed!)
  • Eye look target, both per-eye and a master control for both eyes
  • Body raise/lower, independent of center-of-gravity
  • Brightness adjustments for all the lights (eyes, side lights, arm lights, etc).

The legs are actually made from a serious of dupligroups. Each leg is made up of 8 or so empties, each one dupligroup-ing a set of geo from the leg. These are broken up by how the pieces of move. For example, there is an arm-baseplate group, a piston group, a connector-shaft group, a claw group, etc. These empties are constrained to bones in the “movement rig” (which is hidden) and those bones are in turn manipulated by the pretty control rig scene above.

This means that rig-geo object updates don’t need to be done for every piece, just the empties on each arm. It also saves RAM at render time by instancing all the arm geometry across the different arms. (so you get 4 arms for the price of one!)

TBH, I’m rather impressed with myself for setting that up. I guess it makes sense in the end since it’s the same type of method I set stuff up with in Maya all the times (groups with geo loaded in them). But I actually spent quite awhile trying other ideas that didn’t work for how to efficiently duplicate the legs. At one point I was considering dupligrouping static pieces and adding rigged-bits separately to each leg! The current rig is far more efficient than that, and I’m really pleased with how it has ended up. This whole project has been a big study in concepting and hard-surface modeling, and I’m honestly amazed how closely the final result resembles the idea I had in my head. On my personal projects, I’ve been trying to shift my focus away from always “finishing” the project, and trying to focus on the process and creative journey of the whole thing (oh God, that sounds so pretentious…).

But really, this project has taken ages, but l’ve learned a TON along the way. I know how to do things I didn’t even know existed when I started (fuck yeah panel loops!). I always feel a little uncomfortable doing fanart, but it’s awesome to see a Pokemon come to life like this, and having someone else’s concepts to work off can be a great way to jump-start a good, massive project.