Party Bot, Part 03: Prepare for Posing by Renaming Objects, Creating a Hierarchy, and Adjusting Axes

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Instructor Donovan Keith

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Rename your objects and create a character that’s ready for animation.

If you’re just preparing a still image, you can get away with a lot of bad habits. In this video we’ll be preparing our model should we ever want to pose or animate it in the future. Topics covered include:

- Appropriately naming objects.
- Standardized `L_` and `R_` presets to designate the side of body.
- Nesting objects inside of each other so that the arms move along with the body.
- Making objects editable so that you can move individual points and polygons.
- Using the Axis Center command to easily place axes where they need to be for natural rotations.



In this video, we're going to take the simple character that we modeled in the previous step, and name our objects, and set them up in a hierarchy to make it a little bit easier to animate our character later on. Now, to do that, I'm going to go into my scene right here and I'm just going to the maximize this view by middle mouse clicking. And you'll also notice that I've taken the liberty of adding some simple colors to my objects and you can easily do that by clicking on an object, going to the basic tab, and changing use color to automatic and setting a display color right here. Now, let's go ahead and start naming these. So I'm going to click on the head right here and you'll see that the cube is selected in the editor as well as in the objects manager, and I'm just going to double-click and name this Head. And that's basically what I want to do for each and every step right here. I'm going to click on the body, double-click and name that Body. Now, another technique that we can use is to click on one object at the top of our scene, and then hit the ENTER or RETURN key and that's going to go into our name changing field. So I can name this Hat. I'm going now use the down arrow on my keyboard to select the next object. I'm going to hit RETURN and name this Mouth. I'm going to name this L_eye and the L_ stands for left. Down below that, I'm going to hit RETURN and do Left_pupil, and we can continue with this procedure for the rest of our objects. I'm just going to move this a little bit closer here so it's easier to see what's going on. This guy right here, I'm going to name R_pupil. Down arrow again and this one, I'm going to name R_eye. Down again, this is my left or L_leg, and down below that, I'm going to hit RETURN and this is L_foot. Down below that is my right foot, so I'm going to hit RETURN R_foot and above that is R_leg. Hit the down arrow again, R_arm, and one more time again, hit ENTER and this is L_arm. So I now have all of the elements of my object right here, but they're all separate. So what I want to do is link them together in a meaningful way and when you're doing simple character animation in general, the most important part of your character is actually sort of the hips or the body. This is where the sort of the center of gravity of your character is and where a lot of movement comes from. Now, this is kind of interesting. If you move this object by the side, you'll notice that you still recognize that you've got a character here even if your character doesn't have a body. So that might be a fun thing to play around with later. So I've got my body right here and I want this to be the top most object in my hierarchy, is what it's called, and below that, I want to add in anything else. So the head is a child of the body and I'm going to do that by clicking and dragging head on to body until I get this downward facing arrow, and then I'm going to release. It works just like folders in a file system. Next, under body, I want my left arm and my right arm and I'm also going to want my right leg under my body, and my left leg under my body. And in general, you want to have the same order. So left, right, left, right. Now, if I grab my body, this top most object, and click and drag right now, you'll see that the head and the arms and the legs are coming with it, but the rest is sort of sitting there in place and that's because I haven't set up that hierarchy completely yet. So now what I want to do is add the feet under the appropriate object. So I might drag my right foot under the leg right here inside of the leg, and if I click and drag my body, we'll see that everything looks pretty good, but if I hit Undo and now grab my left leg and click and drag, we'll notice, oh, whoops, I'm bringing the wrong foot along with the ride for me. So pay close attention to the naming of these as you drag them in. I'm going to drag this into right leg instead, left foot inside of left leg and just to make my life a little bit easier, I'm going to handle the ordering of my pupil and my eye outside of the head at first. I'm going to drag right pupil inside of right eye, left pupil inside of left eye, and this just makes it easier to grab the eye and get both pieces at the same time. Now, my right eye is going to go inside of the head and the left eye is going to go inside of the head, and again, you see that we're leading with the left followed by the right. You can prefer the other way if you like. The mouth, I'm also going to add as a child right here and you can also fold some of these to make your job a little bit easier. So I'm going to fold the right eye by clicking on that plus sign and drag the hat in just below right eye. Now, it is a good chance you accidentally dragged it down here. Just click and try again just really tight right there. Now, I've got my body and when I move it, each of the pieces come with it. The left leg, right leg, and so on and so forth, hat and all of that. And then I'm generally ordering these in terms of the importance of my posing. So I might actually move the head up to the very top right here because I'm probably going to want to animate the head and the body sort of in order there. Next up, I might want to improve upon where these objects are rotating from. So if I grab this arm right here and I take my rotate tool and I click and drag, you'll notice that it is rotating from its center, which is pretty good if this was just a capsule flying through the air. But I want it to rotate from the shoulder up here, and there are a couple of different ways to approach this and probably the simplest one is to make your object editable. So, to do that, I'm going to select my left arm right here and press this icon right here in the upper left of my interface or hit the C key on my keyboard. Now, when I did this, the icon for my arm changed from this tube to a triangle. This represents a polygon object. Now, the cool thing here is that I can now come in and grab the points. I'm just going to hit Undo really quickly, grab my move tool, and I can grab a point and move it out or I can grab a polygn or right click and drag just like multiple polygons and drag those out. So I can modify my shape now in a very specific way, but I have lost, and before I keep going on here, I'm going hit Undo and that's a good rule. Every time you do something that might be a mistake, very quickly hit Undo. And I'm going to go in and I'm going to select this object and you'll see that I no longer have my object tab with my parameters that would allow me to adjust the height, the radius, the fill it and all of that. So making an object editable is a permanent change and that's why it's always a good idea to save in versions so you can always go back to an earlier version with your object in its fully editable state. Okay. So now, I've got my object right here, I'm going to grab my model tool and make sure that I have the move tool. And I'm going to go into my four-way view as I do this, and now that I'm in my four-way view, especially if we go to the front, we'll see that the objects look different. They've got this sort of wire-frame view and what's called an ice apartments view or a simplified representation. So that's just further evidence this has very much changed. And what I want to do is grab my axis mode right here which is this sort of thing that looks like an L. Now, in after effects, you might know this as an anchor point. If I click and drag this on the green handle right here, I can move it up like so, and if I start to rotate, you'll notice that the object itself isn't rotating, just this axis is rotating. So I'm going to hit Undo and I'm now going to leave this axis mode and this is now going to allow me to click and drag to rotate my arm, and it is now rotating from that pivot point. So let's go through that procedure again. I'm going to show you one more little keyboard shortcut. I'm going to click on the object I want, I'm going to go to my move tool, so I'm going to be manipulating my axis with the move tool. I want to make it editable or hit the C key on my keyboard and I can enter my axis mode by tapping the L key on my keyboard and that will toggle that on and off or if it's already off, I can press and hold the L key which will temporarily take me into this axis mode. I can grab this handle, drag it up to the top of my object, and then let go of the axis handle here. So that's looking pretty good. Now, I also want to do the same thing here for my right leg and my left leg, but it's going to be a little time consuming to keep manipulating these axes for each and every one. So another thing we can use is this tool called axis center. So I'm going to select both of these legs and make them editable, and now that they've been made editable, we can see the axis sort of between them and each of their own sort of individual axis. And I'm going to use the axis center command which I believe is in Mash, axis center and I can pull up this axis center dialog right here. And it allows me to adjust where the axis is relative to the top bottom and sides of my objects. So this Y option right here, I'm just going to drag all the way over to the top and hit Execute, and you'll see that the axes have jumped to the top of my object. I can do the same thing with the feet, for example. I can make them editable and I'm going to move their axes down to a little bit for the back on Z and a little bit down on Y and hit Execute and we'll notice that these axes have jumped more or less to where their ankles are. The head, we might want to have it rotate from its base, so I'm going to make it editable and I'm going to move the axis down on Y and zero at Z and hit Execute. And so now, my axes are all very neatly placed for easier manipulation. The legs rotate from the top, the feet from their ankles, and the hat right here I can just, again, make it editable, grab my move tool, hold down on my L key, and then grab and drag this down and it's probably better to do this by four-way view so we can really see what's going on. But now, my hat can even rotate from the base of my object. So that's a few different ways to do this. So in this video, we have set up our object for animation. We've added names for all of our elements, we've created a hierarchy where they are nested together, and we've even gone to the trouble of going in and selecting our key objects like our arms and our legs, and we've moved the axis both by going into axis mode and by using the axis center command in order to more exactly position them.
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