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Poser 6 to Max 9 character rigging tutorial.

This is a tutorial for rigging a Poser 6 character using 3D Studio Max 9. Expect to spend 2 to 4 days rigging a high polygon character. Unfortunately, rigging is not a simple, or trivial operation. It's very time consuming, and tedious.

When it comes to character animation, Max has gotten a lot better, but it's still very difficult to use. The skin modifier is not the best, because the deformations can get real ugly when the joints are rotated to extreme positions. On the other hand, bidped is very convenient, so this makes Max a compelling choice.

Overall, biped, and skin should be good enough for most situations, unless your character is doing martial arts, or gymnastics. If this is the case, then I would suggest using another program such as Maya. You could also use poser, if you are comfortable animating in that program.

Now, on with the tutorial. In the interest of saving space, I will skip some steps, or simplify my explanations, because I am assuming you already know how to use Poser and Max. This is necessary to keep this tutorial as short as possible.

First, setup te character in Poser. Adjust the angles of the arms with these settings:twist = 0Front back = 0Bend = 40

Now you can add props/clothing.After you add the shoes, level out the shoes, so it's parallel with the ground.

Export the head and body separately if you want toinclude facial morphs with your character. If not, then export it as a single model. Use the OBJ format. The default values are fine.

Import the poser model into max:

First, change the units to feet. When you import your man, he will be a little over 6 feet tall.

Open Max, import OBJ, deselect "default" object. Set vertex scale = 100.Rename objects, and fix smoothing on model. Make sure head and body share same smoothing group.Detach the eyeballs. They are animated separately.Fix any texture problems. The materials almost never import properly.

If you are using morph targets, import all morph objects, and set up the morpher modifier. Check your work before moving on to the skin modifier.

If your model has clothing, you may want to delete the parts of his body that are covered by clothing. That way the skin modifier has less vertices to deal with.

Select the head, and add the Edit Mesh Modifier. It should look like the following:

+Edit MeshMorpher+Editable Mesh

Now, attach the body and weld the vertices in the neck. You should now have a single mesh with a seamless neck/head. Make sure your check that your morpher is working properly.

Add a biped.

My biped has these settings:Spine links 4 Neck links 2Fingers 5Finger links 3Toes 1Toe links 1

Go to display tab and hide all helpers.

Adjust all the bones to fit the mesh.
Skin Modifier

Add the SKIN modifier, and add the biped bones. Do not select Bip01 (root), or the footsteps.The stack should now look like this:

+skin+Edit MeshMorpher+Editable Mesh

Begin tweaking the envelopes for the upper body and upper arms. Adjust the envelopes so that the envelope includes only the vertices its supposed to influence. Don't worry about accuracy, because you will be changing the envelopes again. To select the endpoints, just click on the green axis line. Try to click on a part that is nearest the endpoint you want to move.

When you adjust the envelopes, try to make the yellow vertices cover the parts of the mesh that bend. The red vertices are controlled exclusively by the bone, the yellow is the shared vertices that do most of the deformations, and the blue vertices are the ones the blend with the neighboring bone.

Select the biped, and make sure you turn off figure mode.Rotate the arm bone so that is falls to the side of the body.
Go back to the skin modifier and select envelope mode.Select the biped arm bone, and modify the envelope while the shoulder is bent. Try to make it look as natural as possible. Alter the chest, and clavicle envelopes too.

Next rotate the arm up. Rotate the clavicle up too.Now, adjust the arm, chest, neck, and clavicle envelopes.

Now its time to rotate the arm so that it juts out in front of the body (the clavicle must be rotated too) Tweak the envelopes as needed. Without question this is the most difficult pose to get right. Most likely you will never get it perfect, so the best you can do is make it look acceptable. Hopefully you will never bend the shoulders to this extreme position. If you do, you will have to animate it carefully, or you will need to use a skin morpher modifier to fix any problems. An alternative would be make another model in that pose, and go through the whole process of skinning it. You will have to use creative editing to make it appear as a single model going through different poses.

Go back and test the previous rotations of the shoulder. Make sure the other poses still work. Don't worry about minor problems. The goal is to find the envelope combination that works best for all poses.

Most likely, you will have to go back and make more adjustments.

Finally, rotate the arm backwards. There shouldn't be a problem here, since the arm has limited movement in this direction.
You should now have an envelope combination that works well for all poses of the shoulder area. Minor problems can be tweaked with the paint weights tool.

I would suggest that you spend time trying to get the most out of an envelope before you resort to the paint weights tool. The paint tool is a real pain to use, so I rely on it for spot treatments.

Make sure you save your progress in case you need to revert to your original settings.

In the paint weights options menu, turn down the max size to .3. This will make the brush diameter smaller. Uncheck Draw normal, and draw trace. This can help speed up the brush response. If you are using a mouse, uncheck pressure sensitivity. The rest of the defaults are fine.

If you want to reduce a bones influence on an area, move the point in the graph to a negative number, and uncheck Paint Weight Blend in the side rollout menu.

Now it's time to test the torso and waist envelopes. Make sure the twist and bend deformations are smooth. Once that is done, it's time to work on the other difficult portion of the body.
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