What was the problem?

There was little consistency for both the animators and the riggers from rig to rig. The Hunters were rigged one way and each Monster was rigged another.

This led to a lack of common tools.  For instance, each character had their own FK/IK match script rather than one common solution.

What was the solution?

In order to keep the rigs consistent for the animators and quick to create for the riggers, a set of rig components were created.

Creation is similar to other 3DS Max tools so that there was no special knowledge needed to use them. As with a Max constraint or IK handle, the first joint is selected, the tool activated and then the final joint selected.

Each component stores information about itself in case the component needs to be refreshed or re-created. The components also create standard Pickwalk relationships so that there’s consistency for the animator.

A simple FK chain is created between the start and end joint.

A typical IK setup is created with a control object for the IK handle and the pole vector.

An FK chain and an IK chain are created and a custom modifier is added to all of the controls.  The modifier handles visibility switching as well as matching between the FK and IK chains.

This will add a soft stretchy IK setup to an IK Chain. A custom attribute is added that allows the animator to dial in the stretchiness, as well as how strictly to follow the original joint lengths.  Bend bones can be added for more control over a curved arm/leg shape.

The stretchy IK setup will work with a normal IK setup but also works with FK/IK matching.

A stretchy spline object is created between two points. The interior controls maintain their distance from one another and can be moved as a group by moving the base object. This can used for tentacles and tongues that need to stretch for their melee attacks.