Chapter 12. Character Rigging
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WITH THE BASE skeletons in place, we could just bind the geometry to them and begin animating. At first this would work well, but sooner or later we would start to notice that our ability to make the character move is heavily restricted. At present, the character is like a car without seats, pedals, or even a steering wheel. We can get it to move and we can control it, but not without some difficulty.
This is where adding a rig will help. Rigging is the process of adding controls on top of the base skeleton. Initially these controls will act as a visual aid, helping us identify which area we are manipulating. On a deeper level, they will allow us to move and pose the character in ways we can't accomplish with just the base skeleton.
As you can imagine, rigging a full character can be a complicated task, and to the novice it can be quite daunting. You can't simply throw a rig togetheryou have to think about what you want each control to do, and whether it will make life easier in the end for the animator. The key is making a rig that anyone can just pick up and play, enabling them to get poses quickly and easily, while at the same time making sure no part of the setup can be damaged unintentionally in the process.
Rigs come in all shapes and sizes, and you will find that everyone has their own way of rigging. Rigging can be quite a personal thing, so don't be concerned if the rig you will create during this chapter is not the same as ones you may have seen in other books or on the Internet. Once you have an understanding of the fundamentals of rig building, you can then create your own to suit your needs.
With this in mind, we will take a different approach in this chapter than we have so far. We'll begin by spending some time learning the underlying theory and new terms involved before we proceed to the actual task of creating a rig.