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Rigging Norman

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Rigging Norman

I am brainstorming ideas for my next animation project and want to model and rig a simple but interesting character for it. I was thinking about having an android-like, steam punk character that resembles the structure of Norman - for example with cylindrical limbs and spherical joints, a geometric head structure, etc- but of course, with more embellishments. Would that be something easy to model and rig?

I have very little rigging experience and feel like if I referenced it from a pre-existing rig, it would make it easier for me. Does anyone know if/where I can find the step-by-step process of rigging Norman.

Rigs, like Norman, that LOOK easy and work well are rarely easy.
IMO, it would be easier for a beginner to start from scratch. Certainly use an existing rig as reference but it's easier to work step by step, piece by piece following tutorials either online or in books.

Hands - set driven keys
Arms - IK/FK switching
Legs - IK w. foot set up
spine - twist and possibly stretchy spine
face - blend shapes (or at least eye control/blink/aim

the best/easiest part re: steam punk or mechanical will be the binding & weights.

First stop should be Rigging101 - this also has Package man another great rig for reference.

Also, on 11 sec. Club, there are links to other rigs and tutorials.

Could you explain further about the "binding and weights" you mentioned?

For the face, I was thinking of making it very simple - i.e. have separate pieces detached from the head as eyes and eyebrows, and either not have a mouth or have a separate screen in front of the face with the mouth done using 2d computer animation. Do you think that is doable?

Thank you for the advise and the resources! I know this sounds like a naive question, but how long must one usually spend in making an efficient rig for a human-like character? I am asking because I am planning on doing this for an independent film to be completed in 20-weeks : including animation, modeling, etc.

save yourself a lot of headaches and use the trials of different 3d programs that come with rigs already built. after using them you will find your way. and find out what you need and need not do

Binding- attaching your model/geo to your rig.

Weights - Each joint has a model's vertices "weighted" to it - when it moves or bends the geo moves and bends with it. (for better or worse)

>> I am asking because I am planning on doing this for an independent film to be completed in 20-weeks : including animation, modeling, etc.

Hmmm.... 20 weeks ... If you keep it REALLY simple.
Maybe even something like this from Animation Mentor

Think about what you want your character to do and that will effect your model/rig. Is it on wheels? Maybe you won't need legs but will need SDK to make them turn. One arm with a 2 piece claw - you could cut down on Set Driven Keys.

In terms of your schedule ... The tradition production pipeline would look something like this (not necessarily in this order) so You'd have to spread it out over 20 weeks. do YOU think you can do it? If you had help or folks to collaborate with who have more experience, you can get a lot more done.

Character design - do you know what you want it to look like? how it moves? what it does?
Modeling - as detailed/simple as you want it
Riggijng - as detailed/simple as you want it
Storyboard - maybe you already have this sketched out?
Animatic - don't skip this step!
Animation - blocking
Animation - final
Materials/texturing - or just go with default grey.
Lighting - how complex?
Rendering - are you rendering? in layers?
Final cut - editing - or is it just one scene?

What's your final output? a finished render or a playblast?

If you could take a class on rigging and tie your project into it, that would be the best solution. There's a LOT more to rigging & would be time consuming to learn. Especially if it may not be your main focus.

Sorry so long. I've fallen down that particular rabbit hole a few times. Learned tons but the modeling and rigging always overshadowed the animation.

In your other thread, you mentioned that this independent film is for a class. Do the guidelines for the project state that you have to create all of your assets from scratch, or can you use and/or modify existing assets? If you can use existing assets, you can start with Norman and modify him. There is a written tutorial on how to modify the Norman rig, just Google it. As for how easy it is to create a rig like Norman, I believe it was the senior project for 4 students at Academy of Art University, and up until about a year ago, was only available to AAU students. A rig of Norman's complexity will be a challenge if not near impossible for some one to do that has no rigging experience and a tight deadline for an entire film. B'ini gives some good advice on the things to focus on if you're just beginning to rig. Look on You Tube for rigging tutorials as well, there's a wealth of information out there. For other rigs to try out and reference, check out the Andy rig and the Hogan rig.