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It is important to wrap your mind around using a computer, which uses zeros and ones to complete its tasks, to replicate a complex living organism, which uses other living things, such as cells, to accomplish its workload. Our creature indubitably will not have the same complexity as the human one. Mimicking it, however, entails a basic understanding of how life operates beyond what you can see on the outside.

The more we know how the human body operates, the harder it becomes to digitally reproduce. This might be a contradiction to what was previously stated, but you could easily tailspin into an agglomeration of if, ands, and buts. To stay the course, we must focus on superficial elements only. That might seem elementary, but to reiterate, the deeper we delve, the more we realize things are not quite as they seem. Chapter 1 Getting Ready 5 For instance, when a muscle flexes, it is not performing a simple squash and stretch.

Fibrous tissues are actually sliding over one another building bulk. Muscles pull and relax causing bones to rotate about a fulcrum. Tendons glide along ancillary tissue and are guided by this tissue.

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How do we get the digital counterparts to interact with each other? Is it even possible? The truth is our current toolset lacks anatomic accuracy right down to the IK system we use to drive it. We ask ourselves again, what are the results we are looking for? Anatomic accuracy with our current toolset is impossible. However, we can get really close by approximating the motions. All of this boils down to the skin having five major influences: muscle, fat, tendon, bone, and fluid.

The skin undoubtedly has more influence than this, but to make sense of it we must break it down into the most noticeable and reproducible areas. There are several minor influences to be added later such as eyeballs, heart, and lungs that will be addressed individually. Bone, muscle, fat, and tendon are the internal mechanics. Each presents its own set of issues—on an individual basis, nothing insurmountable.

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When looked at as a whole, a completely different story. Each of these parts must work together, one influencing the other. These methods bind vertices directly to joints or geometry, which prohibits the skinned surface from moving independently. This connection forces the skin to move in an unrealistic manner. Whether it is a skeleton or an influencing piece of geometry, the results are the same. Change the divisions to 20 and Step 2: Switch to the Animation module.

From the Skeleton pull-down menu, select the Joint tool. Draw four joints in the side view the length of the plane, as shown in Figure 1. You might need to change the joint display size, depending on your default settings. Step 3: Select the joint chain and plane. From the Skinning pull-down menu, open the Smooth Bind attributes.

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Change the number of joints to 2 and the distance to 2, as shown in Figure 1. Skin the plane to the joints. Figure 1.

Chapter 1 Getting Ready 7 Figure 1. Rotate the cylinder so it is parallel to the plane. Scale the cylinder to the length of the plane and change its circumference to roughly one-tenth of the plane. Position the cylinder slightly under the plane, as shown in Figure 1. Step 5: Select the cylinder and then the plane. Step 6: Select the cylinder and set a keyframe at frame 0.

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Move the Timeslider to frame Translate the cylinder 2 units in the positive Y, as shown in Figure 1. Set another keyframe for the cylinder.

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Step 7: Move the Timeslider to frame Translate the cylinder in the negative X, as shown in Figure 1. Set another keyframe. Chapter 1 Getting Ready Figure 1. Play back the results of the animation. The cylinder pulls the vertices of the plane as if they were attached directly to it. The smooth bind does not allow the plane to deform freely. This prevents the appearance of objects moving under the surface. Notice how the geometry pulls. On the CD is an animation demonstrating the previous procedure.

Study your own hand and compare it to the results of the animation. Pretend the plane is the top of your hand and the cylinder is a tendon underneath it. Real skin does not react in this manner. The outcome is drastically different and unusable. With physics-driven skin, the skin or surface geometry is allowed to move independently of influences. Play the animation called Physics Skin.

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The plane is allowed to deform freely without being anchored to the cylinder. Objects such as muscle and bone are used to support and influence the skin surface. Without these, the skin would crumple to the ground, just as our own skin would. Play the animation called Crumple. This demonstrates what happens to the skin without its internal anatomy. We need to create muscle, skin, bone, and fat. These elements must react and move similarly to their real-world counterparts, simulating living tissue.

Most of us would openly admit that it is difficult to do two or three tasks at the same time. Animating this way would mean remembering and anticipating 5, different tasks. The results would be disastrous. Simulation is the process of recreating a situation based upon a collection of parameters. In the case of skin, it is applying attributes that exist in the real world to computer-generated polygonal geometry. Deforming geometry through simulation is very processor intensive because it involves calculating many different parameters to thousands of deformation points.

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To account for all of the variables in creating realistic skin, we must run what is called a simulation. The best tool for this is nCloth, driven by the Maya Nucleus solver. The Maya Nucleus solver is the engine that drives nCloth. It also has great stability; simply put, it takes a lot to make nCloth explode. Active nCloth objects take on characteristics of a deformable object. They are influenced by gravity, air density, and a host of other attributes. Active objects are entirely controlled by Nucleus.

The only way to interact with them is by influencing them through their attributes, forces, or a passive object. Passive nCloth objects become solid objects that active objects interact with. They do not deform, nor are they influenced by Nucleus forces. Consider these brick walls held up by the Nucleus solver. Passive objects remain under your control and can be freely animated.

Create a plane with a width and height of It should be the size of the grid. Next, create a primitive polygon sphere using the defaults. Change the scale to 2 in the X, Y, and Z. Raise the sphere 10 units in the Y. Your scene should look like Figure 1. Step 2: Switch to the nCloth module. Select the sphere and choose Create nCloth from the nCloth pull-down menu. Now select the plane and choose Create Passive from the nCloth pull-down menu. Set the timeline to play from 1 to Press Play. Your simulation will eventually look something like Figure 1. Quite a lot just happened in that simple little simulation.

Watch it back again. Do not scrub through the timeline, though; the only way for the simulation to calculate correctly is to play through all of the frames. Notice around frame 30, the sphere starts to lose its shape. It is already being influenced by air density.