So, the models of the main character and his abilities are ready, now it's time to prepare it for animation. In my case there are 2 steps: rigging (create and setup virtual skeleton) and skinning (connect mesh vertices to the virtual bones).
I have experience of creating 3D models, but I've never rig them myself before. I decided to dedicate some time to research and learn the theory before I start.
Unfortunately there is not much really useful stuff about rigging and skinning in the internet. Most of the tutorials are very basic and generic. I started to dig deeper and found some interesting stuff.
First, I found this course - Character Creation Volume 2 – Rigging.
In general this course is quite useful and gives basic understanding how the whole thing works. The main disadvantage for me was that the model and techniques and author shows are more suitable for cinematics rather than in-game animations.
The real gem and revelation for me was course The Art Of Effective Rigging In Blender.
In this course I found everything I needed - the author is professional rigger and really knows his stuff; rigs can be exported to Unity and Unreal; author showcase intermediate and higher level techniques.
The only disadvantage is very strong french accent :) But it is nothing compared to amount and quality of knowledge that you get from him.
Having all this in mind I started to create my own rigs...
To start I made a deformation skeleton which is basically set of bones without any controls. Then I skinned main character's mesh to this skeleton and tried several poses to see if "skin weights" are correct.
Then I created the rig. In my game character has a wide spectrum of possible moves and animations (moving on slopes and walls, air movement, ground attacks and air attacks, animations for special abilities, etc.) so the rig should be able to provide this freedom.
I ended up with this:
The main features are:
- FK/IK switch for arms and legs
- isolated rotation switch for arms, legs, neck and head
- hand and fingers controls
- foot roll in 2 directions
- cloth controls
- hair controls
- switch to snap sword to the hand
- sword controls (bend and twist)
- facial rig
I also made rigs for all the special abilities except tentacle because it supposed to be created and animated procedurally.
It's just a simple IK-chain that will be animated procedurally in the game engine.
Pretty simple. It will be used just for a flapping animation.
The tail will be animated procedurally and for the head I made a simple rig like that.
Next step will be animation and integration. This step will take some time because it also requires some theoretical preparation.