Animation

Controls
The majority of my animation was done through the manipulation of my rig through the various controls that had been constrained each different IK handle. Once I had a limb in a place that looked good I would key its values and move forward to the next pose.

Realistic movement
Early into my essay I was thinking about how to create realistic movement for my character who is a mix of a bat and a man so I first got references of bat movement and did research on how bats (more specifically vampire bats) move. I found that vampire bats can walk, run and jump and often a mix of all of them, creating a sort of hopping running motion as seen in the gif below.

Vampire bat on a treadmill

One problem became apparent to me that in my designs my creation had both a bat arm/wing and a human arm at different lengths which caused animation to be difficult. I overcame this by lowering the body of my character so that both limbs could easily touch the ground while keeping the same motions as a vampire bat. I also gave my character large legs so it would be more realistic that he would be able to launch itself off pillars and off the ground similarly to real vampire bats.

Another issue when it came to animating was flying. When I first came up with my character I decided that it wouldn’t be able to fly but would be able to glide similarly to animals like sugar gliders/flying squirrels due to it only have one proper wing. To make it seem realistic I made it so when gliding my character would be slightly tilted as to compensated for not having as much wing material on one side instead of veering off to one side.

Skin weights
When going through the animation process my character ended up in poses more extreme than the ones i’d tested when painting skin weights, this brought up a few issues such as the jaw or head pulling/pushing in certain areas when prone. This was easily fixed as when doing weight painting it effects the whole mesh throughout the timeline rather than for just a few frames.

Blend shapes
Originally I had planned to use blend shapes to animate the face and head, with a few different heads to make my character look angry, tired and a neutral face to swap in between which can be seen below.

Unfortunately when I went to attach each head to the original it became apparently that because I had already rigged and skinned my character that Maya could not create a blendshape, and so I went with the more manual option of using a face rig comprised of both FK and IK controls.

Driven keys
As mentioned in a previous post I decided to use driven attributes to help animate my character. In total I had 5 driven attributes. One was for the wing where you could change the value between 0-10 to fold or spread the wing which was extremely helpful for landing and jumping into flight. Another attribute was for the human arm which curled the hand into a fist which can be seen towards the beginning of the animation and throughout the walking cycle of the bat. The last 3 were various foot attributes on each foot that allowed you to change the foot curl, swivel orientation and heel rotate of the foot, making animating my character when walking or holding onto the concrete posts more realistic and easier to animate.

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