In the 3D Character Program, students learn the crafts of modeling and rigging. This is where the characters are made.
Once a design has been sketched on paper, modeling students sculpt them in 3D. It not only has to look beautiful, but the arrangement of points and edges also have to facilitate the next step: articulation. That’s where rigging steps in.
Rigging students place bones into the body to bend it properly and control the shape of the form in the myriad of possible poses. Students also learn to articulate the face, segmenting the muscles and motions of the face and head to make the character talk and emote in a convincing and appealing way.
Each week, modelers and riggers (Character TDs) from the best studios in the world work with the students one-on-one to give them the best opportunity for improving their own work.
Our programs are designed to give the students exposure to the other disciplines. In the 3D Character Program, for the first 4 terms, students focus on modeling and rigging equally. Then 3D Character students gain some experience in animation, so they are able to understand the perspective of the users of their characters, and pre-emptively solve problems that would otherwise only be noticed later. This insight gives them a great advantage: riggers and modelers who can also animate are in great demand.
After the two courses on modeling, two on rigging, and a class on animation, the student focuses more specifically on their area of greater interest, selecting two of four electives covering the technical, tools side of rigging, or the sculpting and facial expression side of modeling.
Essential Maya software skills for success
For students who are new to Maya or transitioning from different 3D software packages this is the place to start. This course will teach our students the fundamental skills they need so that instead of learning Maya basics during their program classes they can focus on learning animation principles, modeling and rigging.
This course explores the Maya interface, creating objects, primitives, lights, cameras, rendering and materials. Students will understand about grouping, parenting, constraints and hierarchies preparing them for further modeling, rigging and animation courses.
Students that already have experience with Maya may be eligible to bypass this course by submitting their demo reel or portfolio to our review board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduction to the principles of polygon/subdivision surface and other modeling formats, applied to simple objects
This class teaches topology layouts in theory and practice, achieving desirable shaping, modeling workflows, and the best rest state for rigging. Students model organic and inorganic objects, model a designed vehicle, and a designed character bust.
Students learn basic modeling concepts, working with manipulators, isolate selection, primitives, history, loft, bevel, extrusion, duplication, transformation space, soft selection, reflection editing, lattices, converting geometry types, projects, and workspace.
Introduction to the principles of rigging, applied to simple objects
Students use their modeling assignment to learn basic rigging concepts, including hierarchies, constraints, skinning, blendshapes, connections, joints, orientation, inverse kinematics, expressions, math operators, xray, curve controls, custom attributes, sets, Set Driven Keys, and hypergraph connections.
Intermediate Modeling Techniques
Students use the polygon/subdivision-surface modeling tools to make a character model based on a chosen character design. Areas of focus are bodies and hands.
Students learn the best practices for modeling an entire character in a hero pose, searching for appeal as well as technical integrity.
Through iterations and direction from the instructor, the students refine the shapes for maximum appeal and usability. Concepts such as normals, UV texture projections, and smoothing are discussed.
Intermediate Rigging Techniques
Students use the rigging concepts they’ve learned to place joints into their character model and apply smooth skinning.
This course teaches body rigging. Rigging controls like forward/inverse kinematics, twisting, and world/local constraints are added for ease of use during posing. Then shapes and customizations are applied to refine deformations. Concepts such as multiplier attributes, lattices, wrap, nonlinear, and wire deformers, beginning Python scripting, and gimbal avoidance are covered.
Improve Your Character With Animation
Character students' introduction to the principles of animation, with emphasis on extreme poses and movements, in order to identify weaknesses in your character. Students will learn how to use these experiences to inform the modeling and rigging process. Students now get to use the character they've been building, posing and animating them.
This gives the 3D Character student a well-rounded education, being able to experience the end-result of their labor from the users' point of view. This insight enables them to take their character work to a higher level, faster.
Students learn facial rigging techniques that will help them break up facial articulation into the most usable set of functions and shapes.
Students take their deformation work to a higher level of refinement, and develop their grasp of complex rigging issues. Students learn how computation speed and performance requirements affect the decision-making when a rig approach is considered. Difficult problems are tackled, such as shoulder deformation, clothing, user interfaces, rigging automation, and scripting.
Students learn how to use ZBrush software, sculpting a character from a design. NOTE: This course requires the purchase of the student version of ZBrush, typically $450. Students learn the process of topologizing a dense sculpted mesh into a usable 3D model in Maya.
Students learn the best modeling work-flow and practices in order to make appealing characters. Students tackle advanced facial modeling and learn the landmarks including: how to evaluate a model from multiple vantage points, how to simplify lines, what to look for to reveal model problems.
Students also model a hard surface object or set piece for their character.
Rigging Automation and Tools Development
Modern rigging does not rely on hand-making rig parts for each character. Auto-rigging scripts and tools make many tasks easy. They take data like input positions and number of spine joints needed and then build a control rig in a few mouse clicks. With the control rig built, optimally, Character TD’s spend most of the rigging effort per character on the deformation rig. Building those tools and modifying them for a production’s needs is a large part of the rigging process. This requires a Rigger/Character TD be proficient at scripting languages.
Now it's time to place your characters into a set!
Learn how to make buildings, interiors, exteriors, and set pieces.
Use rhythm and style to make your sets shine.
Learn the secrets of set modeling, with instruction in UV's, Cloth simming and particle distribution of elements.
Learn studio pipeline needs: Asset Management, Previs, Cameras and Lights.