Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Andy Rig - How To Use It

Meet Andy! Andy (short for "androgynous") is a very flexible rig for character animation, and one that we recommend for student use here at Animation Apprentice.

Andy is useful for both male and female character roles, and can be easily customised.  To get started, you can download Andy for free here at Creative Crash.

SCAD - birthplace of Andy
Who or what is Andy?
The Andy rig was originally made for students at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) before being released to the wider Maya community.  Andy was designed to play "both male and female roles" and to be "generic enough to act in many different scenarios". Multiple hair styles and textures are available, and more can be added.

Getting Andy downloaded and set up
After downloading the Andy .zip file, you will have to un-archive it.  If you can't unwrap the texture files locally, do it online here.

Once you have extracted the Maya file, create your Maya project in the usual way, copy the Andy Maya file into your scenes folder, and copy the texture files into your project's Source Images folder. Now you're ready to get started.

How to turn on Andy's facial controls
Locate the "Andy_World" shape below the character and locate in channels "Face Sliders" and change from "OFF" to "1". You can also turn Body Cntrls and Face Cntrls on and off here as well.

Note however that one of the weaknesses of the Andy rig is that it can be hard to get good strong expressions, especially in the eyebrows.

Troubleshooting - Andy isn't working well
You may be working on a machine that does not support viewport 2.0 (Andy does not like viewport 2.0). In Maya 2015 or older, set the default viewport to "Legacy Default" under Preferences > Display >Viewport 2.0. In Maya 2016, go into the viewport and look for Renderer > Legacy Default Viewport.

Customise Andy - girl or boy?
Select andy_world (the big circle at the bottom of the rig). In the Channel Box, make changes to the Hair, Chest, and Clothes attributes. You can make Andy male or female, and change his/her clothing.

How to adjust the level of geometry detail - Hi Rez or Low Rez
Select andy_world, change Level. The lowest level of detail in the geometry and (therefore the fastest for real-time playback) is Proxy. To get the best render results, select Smooth. 

Character Sets
Andy has character sets, i.e. a collection of animatable parameters, allowing you to keyframe lots of elements at once. One way to keyframe Andy is to keyframe the character sets directly, rather than keyframe the individual controllers.

To select and activate a character set, go to the far lower right of the Maya screen; to the left of “No Character Set”, click on the small red pointy-down triangle, go to >Andy_all >Andy_Body or Andy_Face.

Using this approach, you don't need to keyframe all the individual controllers. Their attributes will be automatically be keyframed because they are included in the character set you have selected. After selecting the character set, go to frame 1, then use >Animate >Set Key

IK/FK Switching
Andy's arms come set to IK by default. If you want to animate a walk or run cycle, it's best to switch to FK. To do this, select the arrow next to Andy's hands and set IKFK in the Channel Box to 1.

Below is a nice character walk with Andy by Rich Jeffrey



Credits - who made Andy?
Andy was modelled and rigged by John Doublestein, and designed by Craig Scheuermann. Textures were made by Ying-Chih Chen.

Is there a video walk-through?
There is! See video demonstration below:






To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

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