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volume 1, issue 30

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Thinking Outside the Box:
Character Studio (part 2)

By Paul "Villam" Steed

 

Moving on. I work almost exclusively in one window. I’m continually selecting the model, hitting ‘p’ and clicking ‘zoom extents’, hitting ‘z’ to zoom in and then ctrl ‘r’ to rotate. Now don’t ding me for my hotkey selection. I’m in the process of getting a dial-in Logitech mouse and the marking menu plugin for Max. Just bear with me.

So now we need to assign the Physique modifier to our mesh and link or ‘initialize’ it to our biped. However, don’t just select all your geometry and link it to the biped in any old fashion. Here’s how I do it. Starting with the head pieces I select all the geometry and assign Physique to them from my Modify command panel. After I’ve done that I click on the little ‘Attach to Node’ icon…

…and click on the head of the biped. This brings up the following dialog box…

Now turn ‘Vertex – Link Assignment’ to ‘Rigid’, change ‘Blending Between Links’ to ‘No Blending’ (click on the arrow), and uncheck the ‘Create Envelopes’ box. Now hit ‘Initialize’.

Doing this is specific to setting a character up for importing to Q3:A since the head has no unique animations other than it’s there on top of the model where a head should be. Thusly, we make it rigid and link it to the head only since we don’t want it deforming extraneously (wouldn’t be picked up by the program anyway). Here’s how it looks with the Physique modifier attached to the head…

That little yellow line that runs from the neck to the head is referred to as the ‘link’. This ‘stick man’ representation is pretty damn useful. Before we go on, let me go ahead and jump track a bit and clarify how your characters have to be structured and their geometry named to be assimilated into an md3 format using the methods and tools I use. To explain this tag system, naming conventions and breakdown of the models sub-structuring, look at the following exploded view of the model…

Particularly note the naming conventions. This is very important. The head objects (h_helmet, h_faceplate), upper body objects (u_torso, u_larm, u_rarm) and lower body objects (l_legs) have to be identified using exact naming conventions. Think of them as completely separated models that happen to travel around in the same general location (thus appearing to be a complete character) lumped into a sub-class simply by the first letter of their respective names. Note the faceplate of the helmet is detached because material or shader assignment/attributes also dictates the structure of your model. In this case the faceplate has been assigned an environment map shader that is different than the default shaders generated by the grabber code and requires special parameters.

 

(Continued on next page)

Credits: Thinking Outside the Box logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Thinking Outside the Box is © 1999 Paul Steed. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't even try it. We've got really big guns, and we're ripped, baby.