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Character Rigging Showcase

Character Rigging Showcase

Russell Griffith-Marlin
by r3drigs on 30 May 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

As a student at Gnomon I learned so much over the course of my 3 year journey. I'm beyond excited to be able to present in this opportunity and show some of the rigs I've been working on. Being able to work with fellow students to bring their ideas and characters to life has been such an wonderful experience!

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Kumo Rig

A character by Michelle Lumowa.

I had so much fun developing the rig for this character as she created and animated Kumo during our time at Gnomon working on this project for our Demo Reel. We worked closely through updates and revisions to bring her vision together for a final animation in Unreal Engine 5. This rig features a number of fun features to allow for extreme poses and a responsive chain setup that could meet the needs of animation.

We were faced with some big challenges while in the development phase of the project. 

Our 2 biggest challenges were the legs/feet and the chains for the weapon needed to be thrown long distances while keeping control in the animators hands.

How would the legs work and what would that look like animated? What do the chains need to seem solid but allow for squash and stretch yet still be manageable for the animator?

The first issue was the legs and how to have full range of motion. I used 2 sperate IK's, one being the IK Spring Solver and a regular IK rotate solver. Having the spring drive the lower leg and the rotate IK to drive the upper leg.

With this in mind a Pole constraint would drive the upper leg with some reparenting of controls, I was able to have the IK Spring Solver drive the lower ankle position. The legs work like a normal IK leg just now using that Spring Solver I was able to attach cubes at the ankles to then allow for full range of motion on the lower legs without affecting the overall leg orientation.

Using this setup I was able to place a Reverse foot set up to drive the feet and attach the toes like fingers. This all combined together allowed for full articulation of the foot and toes.

For the chains it actually became really straight forward after a bunch of testing. Long story short I found that treating the chains like a stretchy IK spine or limb was the route to take in this situation. I then needed to figure out how they would attach to the arm, since the chain is split for independent motion of each setup, yet still be driven by the arms so the animator would only have to deal with shaping the chains.

For the chains themselves the IK spline was set up so there would only be 4 controllers for each chain to allow for shaping but also not be overwhelming with controls. Using deformer clusters and parent constraints every other cluster is parent to it's neighbor so that gave us free animation as the chain ends would always be reaching for the arm or spot they would be attached to!

A stretch option was added for both chains to help with the more extreme poses. The blade chain needed to travel a long distance so in the graph editor I set up a simple multiply on the curve shape to  0 or 1 begin to stretch. This lets the animator decide if they only need 0.30 of a stretchy curve for quick adjustments through the animation.

This Rig features all the standard bells and whistles! Full rig scaling independently of each other or once the chains are attached they can scale with the main rig as well. There are visual controls for easy non keyable controls visuals for the animator to help when working on specific things. Also a full IK FK setup and a joint based face rig.

Here is the final render of the animation! Finished in Unreal Engine 5.

Character Rig By Russell Griffith-Marlin

Character Animation, Modeling, and Textures by Michelle Lumowa

Abyssal Rig

A character by Vanessa Torres

This is one of my first rigs and really excited to be able to share this epic character! The character is called Abyssal and was done by a fellow student at Gnomon.

This character was a lot of fun to bring to life! 

While the body is mainly an FK rig and features some IK bits it was a challenge to get this creature moving to meet the needs of the project!

The helmet/head needed to be independent of the body yet also remain attached... So my initial approach was to figure that aspect of the head. I found myself leaning to IK and kept the head joints based from the spine. This allowed for the neck and head to move separately but then came the chains.

For the chains I ended up using a IK rotate solver using 3 joints I created off the clavicle so they wouldn't be driven off the shoulder but would be driven by the clavicle. 

So now with the IK in I decided to create a control and parent the IK handles in their respective controls. All that was left was to constrain those controls to the helmet head joints I put in place for the chains to be always trying to reach. This gave some really interesting results allowing the head to hit some wild poses.

This was a prop I made for a Props for Games class and just happened to fit right in with the project and character! 

The rigging portion of it was mostly the same setup as the head chains. Just the inverse of the idea. Now the chains are driven by the lower vase and the upper chains are just trying to stay attached to the top ring. This made for some really cool animation now being able to just swing around the pot and the chains were just along for the ride!

Each chain has it's own pole constraint allowing for the chains to get a bit more free animation with the push or pull of those controls along side the main vase mover. You could swing around the vase and actively aim the chain for the desired push and pull poses.

Here is the final render finished in Unreal Engine 5. The rig has been optimized to be used in a game engine so all textures and aspects for the rig are ready to get in game!

Rig and Animation by Russell Griffith-Marlin

Character Model and Texture done by Vanessa Torres

Orc Rig

The Orc character was created, modeled, and textured by Adam Eli.

Rigging this character has been a wonderful experience and taught me so many new things as well using previous concepts in new ways! This character features a long hair rig and waist cloth rig for the animator to be able to  shape the hair and cloth real time.

This is my most recent rigging project and is being updated daily to be brought into an animation currently in development.

The Orc rig contains the usual IKFK systems. With the challenges of this rig being the hair and cloth I got right to work testing out some ideas.

Eventually I landed at IK splines again... IK splines everywhere! 

Having them being rooted to base controls like the Head control and main cog control allowed for the roots of each IK spline setup to be driven but always reaching for the square controls at the end of the hair or cloth.

With the hair needing to be adjustable real time with the animators needs the IK spline I planted in the hair joints seemed to allow for just that. Only to pick a direction with the base triangles then using the cube and square controls to pull the hair how ever is needed.

This setup also gave some animation relief since the hair is now IK and it's end squares are driven by the upper chest and the roots by the head the hair now stays in place but can follow with the head when rotated in any direction.

Using this same concept I was able to simplify the process and create active cloth that the animator can just do a pass on when they are ready. Giving full control to the animator and they only have to handle 2 controls.

It was difficult weight painting it to get the smoothest possible results but thanks to NgSkinTools I was able to achieve a nice set of weights that gives a nice even deformations around the cloth.

The Orc is a collector of many things. As such I brought the props to life using a simple single chain ik solver to get free motion on the chains attaching these props. So the animator can freely toss them around with only having to animate the desired prop on the characters waist leathers.

This Rig features scaling for both the Orc and Amulet to fit in any scene!

Character Rig by Russell Griffith-Marlin

Character Design, Modeling, and Textures by Adam Eli

Major Kusanagi Rig

A character by Ben Ramos.

This character is based off the designs of Major from the Ghost In The Shell. I had the opportunity to put my skills to the test with this rig and creating a full face rig along side the usual rigging systems. The character features a rifle prop, face rig, and a hair sim from Yeti that was brought into Unreal 5 for the final result.

This was a really in-depth project into a subject I hadn't really done before that taught me a lot about skinning in general while learning weight painting the face rig. This was my first project to incorporate NgSkinTools which turned out to be a wonderful addition to my rigging toolbelt!

The main highlight to this rig is the joint based face rig combined with blend shape options for the animator to have full control over their expressions and the rig be game ready!

Blend shapes have the main head shape to drive the rigged mesh control sliders then using a rows and columns system to keep things tidy from brow shapes, lip shapes, and full expressions for the artist to have full control over their performances. These blend shapes are set up and ready for use in engine to get even more out of the rig once in a game engine.

This rig features Yeti hair and setup in Unreal 5. The hair currently shown in Maya is purely stand in as the final result is intended for in real time renders or gameplay.

Here is an example of the hair in Unreal Engine 5.

This project taught me so much about weight painting and deformation in general. Plus the opportunity to dive into NgSkinTools.

I was a big fan of the anime Ghost in the Shell growing up so this one really hit home being able to rig this character by Ben!

Character Rig by Russell Griffith-Marlin

Character Modeling, Texture, and Groom by Ben Ramos

Clare no.47 from the Manga/Anime Claymore. 

Original Concept by Norihiro Yagi.

Here is my final rig that I'd like to present to you!

I created this character as a project for Characters for Games during my time at Gnomon. Everything was modeled and sculpted in Maya and ZBrush. All texture and presentation was done in Marmoset Toolbag 4.

Claymore was just one of those shows for me. I was beyond thrilled when the idea was approved by my teacher to create as low poly as it would go model to really push the things I'd been learning up to this point. In total the poly count sits at roughly 20k. 

I learned so much about texture baking and the ins and outs of character modeling which down the road paid off when I began my first steps into becoming a rigging artist.

Learning to make a character from scratch, sculpt, and texture it taught me a lot about reading the flow of topology and understanding the visual cues from the model on where joints might be placed. Even how the topology lay out effects the results of weight painting. 

This character was my very first attempt at rigging. Thankfully my teachers were there to guide me in the right direction despite not fully understanding the fundamentals at the time!

This is a fairly simple rig. Solid but simple. It's focused for use in game engines and cycled animations. The most notable parts are the secondary armor setups that make this rig fun to animate. The blade has a single joint used for socketing in Unreal and the waist armor is set up for sim in engine to get the most out of the waist armor as the character runs, walks, or slashes.

Character Model, Textures, and Rig by Russell Griffith-Marlin

This has been such an amazing experience that lead up to submitting for the Rookies as I wrap up my time at Gnomon. Now creating art with others that I once could only dream of making! Learning along side some incredible artists and fellow students as we navigated this journey together. 

I'd like to take a moment to thank anyone who toughed it out through all this rigging! I really appreciate your time in looking over my works and projects!!

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