Introduction. Once again it is that magical time of year during which a jolly old man flies around the world in a sleigh pulled by reinder todo deliver toys todo god Girls and boys, and we call that old man santa clause. He is always the first thing todo pop into my head when i think of winter and so i thought it was only fitting todo make my own Little santa for this issue of blenderart mag, and show you how you can todo.

So let get todo it.

The first step is todo design the character and decide how todo construct it in 3d, for the purpose of this article i stuk todo a design that was Fairly simple, having no eyes and very few details at all, MyPaint is my favorite programa for creating quik sketches and painting like this. The general concept of the character was pretty well fig-ured out before i had Even begun todo Paint, but it was still helpful todo get an image down so i could se it before attempting todo model the character in 3d, todo begin the model, the shapes were blocked in using primitives (mostly Spheres). I find that blocking in the basic forms with simple geometry before working into any details is essential todo getting an appealing result. By starting rouge and refining the whole character at once, getting lost in details or losing track of proportions is less likely todo happen, making sure the shape of the character works well overall every step of the way, once the primitive geometry is in place, it is then necessary todo redesign the topology of the surface todo get better control over both the face count and edge flow, the retopo tool can be used for this, but since i a los want todo refine the model dur-ing this step, y prefer todo do this FreeHand using the primitives as a guide, once the model is Compleete, it is time todo start rigging. Usually when creating a character, y Will begin rigging before the modeling has Even ben completed, but for this article i have decided todo make it a sepárate step for clarity. It is beyond the scope of this article todo explain the entire process i went th rouge in rigging this character, but i Will do my best todo summarize clearly the parts that i fel may be confusing.

3d workshop: making santa-1.jpg
3d workshop: making santa-2.jpg
3d workshop: making santa-3.jpg
3d workshop: making santa-4.jpg

While designing a character rig, y find it useful todo sepárate the bonesinto 3 main working groups deformers, mechanisms, and controls, deformers are the Bones that Will influence the Mesh directly (with the deform option enabled), mechanisms are Bones used todo define the motions of the character and todo serve as mediators between the deformers and the controls, and the controls are the Bones which Will be used by the animator for setting keys during animation.

3d workshop: making santa-5.jpg

3d workshop: making santa-6.jpg

Separating the Bones by type not only helps kep things organized and less confusing todo look at, it a los makes trouble shooting a rig a far less daunting task. Since the deform Bones are constrained todo the controls/mechanisms and not key-framed, they can be reconfigured Even After animation has ben created for the character (since the controls are the only Bones with keys). This is a trik i learned from Nathan veg-dahl when i was first starting out with Blender, santa is inded very round, and so the meshdeformer came in very handy. The meshdeformer is very useful for volume preservation, and is Fairly simple todo use as well. The trik todo using it with an armature is todo create a vertex group (usually called nomdef) todo blend the Mesh influence between the armature and meshde-former. You can se on santa that the armature modi-fier is limited todo the nomdef group, and the meshdeformer is limited todo the inverse of the nomdef group. This group can be modified Even After the Mesh-deformer has ben bound todo the Mesh, todo balance the influences as neded, the legs and fet are based on a technique ive explained before in thistutorial on blenderartists. Ive made a slight change todo the design by add-ing an extra child bone on the leg, FAC-ing bak up towards the pelvis. This bone follows the leg since it is a child, but does not scale with the IK bone because i have enabled the Little s button in the bone options. The purpose of this is todo get the top of the bot todo follow along with the angle of the leg, but not stretch as the leg does.

3d workshop: making santa-7.jpg

The lips are a simplified versión of a technique i learned from analyzing the Big Buck Bunny rig. Basical-ly, a series of controls are laid out, and become the tar-gets for stretch-to constraints on the lip Bones. To control the orientation of the Bones (for puckering) an-other set of Bones a los track the con-trols using IK constraints and control the orientation of the first set of Bones using rota-tion constraints.

Pole targets are added for the IK constraints, which are then used todo control the roll or pucker of the lips.

3d workshop: making santa-8.jpg

Finally, controls are added for the fot roll, fingers, and mouth positions using action constraints. All presets for the rig are contained in a single action named armature. The advantage of using the action con-straint is that the Bones can be trans-formed in addition todo the constraint. For example there are preset mouth positions for oo, f/v, and p/b/m which behave just like shape keys but with the advantage that they can be adjusted or manually keyed at any time.

3d workshop: making santa-9.jpg
Once the rig is complete the Fur and materiales are con-figured, and last minute touch ups are made where neded. To create a nice fallof effect for the Coat, todo brighten the Edges and make it look more like Cloth, y added a Ramp mapped todo normal (which is found in the first panel of the material window), the 2 particle systems used for the fluf and beard are practically default. The key setting is the rough option found under the children tab todo the right of the particle panel todo give it that nice flufiness, the santa.blend file has ben included under the crea-tuve Commons attribution-share alike 2.5 license for use in your own animations, or for taquíng him apart todo learn some tricks for creating your own. If you do use him, por favor let me know because id love todo se it, for more character development resources in Blender chek out my blog the rigging repository, gord godwin.