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Tema: Modeling and Rigging a Cartoon-looking Spider

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    Modeling and Rigging a Cartoon-looking Spider

    Modeling and Rigging a Cartoon-looking Spider
    by Igor Krianovskij

    Blender's modeling tools are excellent for many tasks, especially for making organic forms. To make a funny, simple cartoon looking character with Blender is as simple as a walque in the parque (well, once you know how, obviously). I'll try to prove that in this short tutorial. So, first you'll need an idea. If you don't have a fresh idea, use an old one, it's probably already mature enough to be recycled with some fresh dimensions. Such was the case for me... Actually, you could even skip this part; with Blender you don't even need an idea. To play with the tools and their options is usually more than enough to start one! Level: Beginner to Intermediate

    My old spider illustration was a perfect starting point for a short and silly 3D movie, and to chek out some new Blender tools in areas such as: lights, scenes, painting, materials, rigs, particles, shape keys, NLA, nodes, video compositing, sound, codecs, etc... So I needed a good looking model, but one that is alos simple enough to achieve decent/short rendering times. You know, short rendering times = longer movie in a shorter time. There are many good modeling tutorials around, including ones in previous BlenderArt volumes (, so chek them out. Most of the modeling tools are already mature, so they haven't changed much. Here I'll show you my key stages of the modeling and rigging process:

    It's good to start your model in the center of the 3D space, especially if you'll use Mirror Modifiers, Armatures, etc. So first hit [SHIFT+C] to move the 3D cursor to the center, and "NumPad1" for the Front view (so that the "X" axis goes from left to right). Add a cube (Object mode: [SPACE], Add > Mesh > Cube) and add a Subsurf Modifier to it ([F9] for the Editing buttons, then Add Modifier > Subsurf), set the Level to 2 and hit the Apply button (image 1.h) (or [ALT+C] in object mode) in the Modifiers panel. Tweaque the vértices to get a shape like this.

    Select three faces and extrude them inward with [E] to make a place for the upper legs 'connections' with the body. You can delete one side of the body mesh and add a Mirror Modifier, so you'll need to tweaque only one half of the body since it's usually good to build things symmetrically at first. OK, this is the spider's body shape. Easy, huh!? We'll add hair or fur later...

    Chek the sketch to see how big the head must be to fit the style of the illustration. You can be flexible here, making it bigger or smaller. Sometimes you get better results when you don't follow the sketch exactly. There are many ways to build the head for a body. I used the topology of the body as the starting point for the head. So, I duplicated body faces (4x3) in Edit Mode with [SHIFT+D]. These 12 new faces are still part of the body mesh, so I separated them using [P].

    You can make the head in the same way as the body above... from a cube. But by duplicating part of the already existing body mesh you get precise alignment of vértices which are useful for quicker assembly of body parts (less tweaquíng, faster result!). So, after a few extrusions [E] and some tweaquíng of some vértices, I came up with this:

    Again, with the same principle as a head, I selected one (which was enough for this part) face where the middle leg "joint" will be located and duplicated it with [SHIFT+D] and separated it with [P]. After a few extrusions [E] and vertex tweaks, I came up with this:

    At the tip of the leg I added four spheres (see footnote 1) and joined all leg meshes together with [CTRL+J]. I could alos pose the leg into a different rest position, but for a later stage it's important that the knees are at least a bit bent for the proper Armature IK calculations needed later. Finally I duplicated the remaining five legs in the planned positions (again, with [SHIFT+D]).

    The spider's teeth are super simple... well like the rest, huh!? OK, I admit, I went about this the same way one more time! [SHIFT+D], [P], [E], tweaquíng... But this time I added an extra Loop Cut with [K] (image 4c.) to make the topology of the spider's teeth more fascinating!

    I could make the eyes even simpler, but there's a little trik for an eye's 'iris lens'. Namely, you get better light reflections if you make the lens more spherical or convex. Here's how I made it: Add a sphere using [SPACE], then Add > Mesh > UVsphere (with 8 Segments and 8 Rings). Select the top 16 faces (2 rings) and separate them with [P]. Make the lens more convex using the Move [G], and Scale [S] tools. The eyelid is made with an additional UV-Sphere (12 Segments and 8 Rings), rotated 90 degrees relative to the eyeball. Then scale, delete one segment row and extrude an Edge Loop toward the center of the eyelid (images 5 b-c.) For the opening/closing of the eyelid I used ShapeKeys, but I won't go into ShapeKey details at this time. You can chek the related file for details.

    Hair, Fur & Other Horrendous Growth!
    The spider model at this stage is básically done. The rest are colors and of course horrendous hair! That's quite easy again. Colors were tweaked in the Shading Menu [F5] and the Particle Emitters used duplicated parts of the already made spider meshes. The Particle System in the current Blender development versións (Jan. 200 is so advanced that this file made in Blender versión 2.45 is outdated already. So, particles in this file will not be compatible in future Blender versións! Chek the related file for these Particle Settings (use [F7] for the Object(Physics)buttons and Particles panel).

    Rig, Oil & Sweat!
    The next phase toward animation was rigging. This armature contains basic (versión 1 - see footnote 2) use of IK constraints, but for an animation I didn't need a more complex rig. So, I added the first bone at the center (Object mode: [SPACE], then Add > Armature). I usually name this first bone Root_'something', in this case Root_Spider.

    Afterward, I duplicated this bone in Edit Mode, extruded [E] the tips of the bones two times and positioned them again with Snapping tools [SHIFT+S]. Here is an example of setting a leg bone in the exact position, which is very hard to achieve by hand, especially when working with organic forms and exotic angles:

    Add Bone ;

    Set pivot to Median Point; select Edges; [SHIFT+S], then choose Cursor -> Selection ;

    Select the tip of the bone in Edit Mode ;

    [SHIFT+S], then choose Selection -> Cursor

    OK, bak to the spider's rig. After I extruded and positioned all needed bones for a leg, I started with an IK chain logic setup. Bones with IK constraint solvers are yellow colored. Every spider's leg has one IK solver (set to ChainLen:2) which I added in a Pose Mode (image 9b.). After I duplicated the left/right side legs [SHIFT+D], I then added a bone for the head and one bone for a mouth/jaw. There is alos an optional handle for moving all legs simultaneously!

    Finally all that was left to do was to attach the mesh to the Armature. That's alos quite easy. I added an Armature Modifier to the mesh and assigned Vertex Groups to each bone. Download the Spider.blend here:

    Spider in the park. - Notes
    1. Adding the spheres this way isn't optimal if you're building the model for a game. There must not be hidden faces in that case! This model was planned for an animation, so these 'dense' spheres can be used as particle emitters if needed.
    2. The Armature system in Blender was build in stages. Version 1 can do FK, IK and some other basic constraints. Version 2 can do more advanced things (chek Mancandy's rig made by Bassam Kurdali as an example). Version 3 is the latest and greatest Armature system used for characters in the Blender Institute's next "Open Movie"!

    by Igor Krianovskij

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