Archive for Tutorials

Tutorial: Create a Procedural Ribbon in Maya

Tutorial: Create a Procedural Ribbon in Maya

Since I put up my rigging reel I’ve received a lot of questions and requests for a tutorial on the procedural ribbons, so I’ve finally put together a tutorial on them. When I finished the tutorial I realized that it was really slow-paced, so I’ve written a script for it (attached at the bottom of this post). So for those of you that find it easier to figure out what’s going on by skimming through some code, you know what to do 🙂

ProceduralRibbonDemo

This kind of technique might be old news to some people, but it’s too awesome not to be shared. These ribbons actually evaluate slightly faster than the traditional ribbon-setup, which is crazy considering they’re so much more flexible. What makes this setup powerful though, is that they utilize the nonLinear deformers in Maya, which means you inherit the same flexibility as you have with deformers, so you won’t take a performance-hit as you’re just adding functionality to an already existing deformer. This technique could of course be altered to ride ontop of FK-rigs, which could be used to rig tails/tentacles/fishes etc. When I figured out this technique I felt like it opened a door to a new way of thinking about rigging challenges.

The tutorial:

The script:
The ribbon produced by the script is almost identical to the ribbon created in the tutorial, with the exception of some cleanup in the setup and an option to offset where on the surface the twist occurs.

Download Script

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Tutorial: Create a Sine with Nodes in Maya

Tutorial: Create a Sine with Nodes in Maya

Wow! It’s been more than a year since my last post here… Time flies 😕 Anyway, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the procedural ribbon from my rigging reel, and I promised I’d do a tutorial on that, I’ll try to get that done next week or so 🙂

This however, is actually the thing that got me started on the procedural ribbon in the first place. My first thought was to start with getting the sine-function to work with nodes, and then work my way from there. The ribbon turned out totally different from this tutorial though, but I thought this could still be a useful technique to share.

First off, there’s several tutorials out there on how to create a sine-function in Maya, but I’ve never seen anyone do them with nodes. The main reason you would want to do things with nodes instead of using expressions is that expressions doesn’t always evaluate when you want them to, some times you have to scrub the timeline or playback the scene to force an evaluation of the expression. That can be really cumbersome if you need to adjust attributes that affects the result of the expression without seeing the changes instantly. Also, nodes evaluate way faster than expressions 🙂

The concept:

This is very basic, and the concept is very well demonstrated here, the tutorial just shows you how it can be applied to several objects in a way that lets you control the entire chain of objects affected by the sine with one controller.

Even if you know how a sine works, there’s still something to take out of doing it this way in Maya. Instead of dealing with just the math to get this to work (which you do with expressions), you’re dealing with a more practical setup, which easily can be modified to behave however you want it to. So as long as you know the “pattern” of the mathematical function, let your rigging brain take over and do a practical setup in Maya that lets you extract the behaviour of the function.

Here’s an interesting example Disney Research Lab released a little more than a year ago:
Computational Design of Mechanical Characters

The tutorial:

I’m using the translateY to output the sine in the tutorial, but remember that if you for example use this on a joint-chain, you could just connect the output to the rotate of the joints instead.

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