Rigging is Hard

I am in the process of creating Suzy, the star Capuchin monkey of the game we have in development. She needs to have accurate movement and the ability to make complex facial animations (Capuchin monkeys are very animated, no pun intended). The rig needed to animate her is very complex, and is the most challenging rig I have ever attempted. This isn’t saying much, because I am an inexperienced technical artist and a terrible animator. Encouraging words, I know.

This has been a long learning process overall. Learning to create the hair effects has been challenging, but fun. It took more time that I anticipated, but this is to be expected when you have to learn not one, but two separate hair systems (Blender and then Houdini). But when it comes to creating the rig, I have essentially jumped head first into the deep end of the pool.

The skeletal structure of the bones need to be defined so that a wide range of movement is possible, without severely distorting the mesh in unrealistic ways. To that end, twist bones are used to make sure that the mesh doesn’t collapse on itself when the arms or legs are moved. There isn’t nearly as much information on correct usage of twist bones for rigging as there is for modeling, so some trial-and-error was necessary.

Hopefully the bone structure that I have defined will be suitable for a wide variety of animations because we plan on selling this asset on the Unreal Engine Marketplace. If Suzy were just going to be used in this game alone, I wouldn’t worry so much about her rigging…I could rig her for our specific use-case. But once she is ‘in the wild’ there is no telling what a developer might do with her.

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