I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted with this rig, but since there were restrictions in the game project for how many joints we were allowed to use per character I decided to try to stick to those restrictions in case Valiant Corgi wanted to use my rig to animate their character. The joint limit was 64 joints and the rig ended up being 60 joints.
I also had my own restrictions, since this was a 2 week project and I placed a 1 week restriction on myself to finish the actual rig, with planning and animations taking up the remaining time.
I started the rigging process by creating an initial skinning skeleton to determine where I would need to add joints or rethink my joint placement/approach to the rig. I recognized that the biggest problem area would be the butt and possibly the shoulder/upper arm area.
After some constructive criticism from my teacher, on both the model and the rig, I first had to use the lattice tool in Maya to straighten the shins on the model so that I’d get straighter lines from the hip to the ankle. Then I added one joint per buttock so that you’d be able to control how much the buttock would follow the leg, to get the deformation to look better.
I also moved the upper arm joint further up and into the shoulder area, as well as moving the clavicle joint closer to the front of the neck.
You can see the final distribution of joints across the mesh in the image above.
When I felt happy with how the skin joints were distributed I went to Valiant Corgis animator Hini Häggmark to see what he wanted to be able to with the rig if he were to animate it.
I suggested squash and stretch in some areas as he wasn’t sure exactly what he’d need, except for the tie being FK controlled, but given the time restrictions I had applied to myself I ended up limiting myself to making a squash and stretch spine as the most complex part. Part of the reason for that decision was also due to the game project itself, where I wanted to be able to send the rig to be animated in a timely manner if Valiant Corgi ended up using it.
The rig ended up with IK/FK for the arms and legs, a ribbon spine, FK controls for the tie, and FK controls for the fingers. Below you can see some of the animations made with this rig.