3DCAFE Support file ANIMATING A SPIDER IN 3DS MAX W hen I started this tutorial I was under the impression that I knew how a spider walked. I thought it was like any other creepy crawly critter. Hour after hour I tweaked motion graphs trying to make my spider have a half way believable walk cycle. I could never get it just right. It never looked convincing enough. I needed to see the real thing. This required that I study the motion of a real life spider. There is no substitute for the real thing. The animator is the one who gives the image life. We are the ones who ask the question, "Does this look right?" not the computer. In order to know what "looks right" you have to study the motion of your subject. If it has a real life counterpart go look at it. The computer is a great tool, but that’s all it is, a tool. Don’t get me wrong MAX has all the tools you need to make anything have a great walk cycle. Even a plug-in as powerful as Character Studio only does so much. You have to give the animation life. This is one of the reasons why animation houses don’t care if you know how to use the latest plug-in or not. They want to see if you have the ability to animate, not use a mouse. One of the techniques used by animators is to study the real thing and try to capture the essence of it in animation. Disney was known to bring in real life animals right into the studio for his animators to study. So, as an example, let’s go through my motion study of a spider walk cycle. (Yes, I had a spider running across my desk.) Don’t open MAX just yet. Instead get out a paper and pencil and do some sketches. Plan your animation. Don’t jump in with all eight legs at once! Lets start by taking a look at some sketches I put together after observing my spider. The image above is a concept sketch I made for modeling the spider’s leg. Though I am not going to go through how to model the spider I included it here to emphasize the fact that we are dealing with a creature that has many joints. We are going to simplify this by auto boning an existing linked mesh structure. This will greatly decrease the number of objects needed to animate. So don’t be intimidated by the spiders complexity. Motion Study Looking at the front leg first, notice that the spider reaches forward, places its foot and then "pulls" itself. This motion is much more exaggerated for the spider then for insects. Bugs "scurry," spiders crawl. I think that this "reaching and pulling" is where a large part of the creep factor comes in for the spider. Its important that we try to capture this quality. The "reach" is almost directly out in front of the spider. And the "pull" brings us back to where we started. (It was difficult to illustrate, but realize that the body is being pulled forward equal to the stride length.) I noticed that each leg placement, especially the front legs, the motion is very deliberate. The spider is not just throwing its legs out there. The nasty knows where it wants to place its feet. Try to convey
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