Dynamic Poses On Maya

Alec asked us for tomorrows class for us to play around with the Jack and Jill rigs, i loved having the rest of the day to figure out how the rigs control which was pretty easy to grasp, im sure Alec created them for that purpose!

I decided to look into dynamic posing for what i wanted to make to show tomorrow.

A Dynamic Francisco


I like how this model dedicates his shots to dynamic positions rather than just the typical stance you would see in fashion, quite refreshing and more appealing to look at if you ask me.

Coco Rocha – 


A photo from Coco Rochas photography series on her ten favourite poses, this pose is known as the Contrapposto, an Italian tern that describes balance of weight on one leg over the other which the Greeks had perfected in sculpture – it really does give of the impression that the subject is a sculpted model in the picture!

What is Contrapposto?

Christopher Peddecord –


Chrisopher Peddecord has a Pinterest dedicated to life dynamic poses in photography, i will defiantly be coming back to his page for future inspiration/reference when modelling or animating!

Here are my three dynamic poses i created tonight after already doing two other poses without any reference and i gotta say how much difference it makes! You can see the weights of the character working out more and looks believable in comparison from creating poses from memory.

These are the dynamic poses i created earlier on today without looking at reference, i still do like these although the ones above certainly have more life to them whereas the bottom video poses look stiff and awkward.

Ill probably edit this post at some point with feedback from my tutor Alec or anyone else who wishes to give a critique!

Like i predicted, Alec did like the poses i did with reference and only commented on the falling dynamic pose saying he was confused refer or not it was a karate move or falling, either or im happy with i guess~



New Teams And Initial Research Into Walk Cycles

With the beginning of creative strategies and understanding by the end of it i should have the following pieces of work complete, a walk cycle of either the Jack or Jill model in motion, a body mechanic of the model doing something such as a turn, jump or lifting an object for example. We also need to have a scene that visually represents a narrative

(We are yet to meet for this discussion),

Speaking of “we”, i have found myself to be in a group with Gianni Francesso, Rhea Hanlon and Philip Mcdowell – i am eager to see how we as a unit correspond to the given task!

After being put into our groups, we promptly started to look into visual research of interior scenes that would help inspire everyone in our group before deciding on the theme we wish to set our project on. (Research on the scene will be on another post)

For now when i arrived home i decided to look into walk cycle tutorials to grasp a better understanding of the human walk  – these are what i have found so far below.

“How to Animate a Walk Cycle in Maya – Explained in 5 Minutes!” – Accessed 03-10-16

A simplistic way of creating a walk cycle no? What i liked mostly about this was the use of the graph editor in this tutorial (i wish to get to know the editor better), as i never really grasped the tangents on how they should flow depending on what sort of animation you’re looking to create.

I loved the length of this tutorial as personally i cant really stand sitting listening to a potential monotone narrator that will instantly bore me half to death, that and i have quite the low attention span for tutorials online – i prefer to have someone with me in person whilst learning something so i can ask as many questions as i can in the moment.

Another thing ill want to keep mindful of is whether or not ill want my animation to reflect something realistic or not, exasperated maybe like a video game character or cartoon?


Ayyyy my partner in crime Samantha had shown me these grid animation references on YouTube, thanks!

“Animation Reference – Female Standard Walk – Grid Overlay” – Accessed 03-10-16

“Animation Reference – Female Standard Walk – Grid Overlay
Video From Endless Reference http://www.endlessreference.com

The best Animation Books that every animator should own
The human figure in motion
By Eadweard Muybridge

The Animator’s Survival Kit
By Richard Williams
http://go.magik.ly/r/endlessreference…” – YouTube Description

I love the female anatomy as its so elegant naturally compared to that of the male anatomy, though i also love to see males have the confidence to have that elegant appeal that woman are naturally labelled to have. (Pfft who needs labels?)



“Animation Reference – Athletic Male Standard Walk” – Accessed 03-10-16

“Animation Reference – Athletic Male Standard Walk – Grid Overlay
Video From Endless Reference http://www.endlessreference.com” – YouTube Description

Gotta love the natural power a mans stride possesses (I only wish my walk was like that..) I think after looking and comparing the two visual references the clips do show some immediate differences such as the movement in the males shoulders, they move correspondingly to the hips more than the female although her hips move more than the male. Size also plays a big part, the taller the subject, the wider the stride will be on the walk cycle (I do prefer taller characters so i may apply a long stride).

Even though we will be using a 3D program, we can still use 2D elements to help with the animation, here would be an example of what i am talking about~

this is an Animation workflow topic :
Can ‘good old’ 2D animation drawings be of any help in making a ‘Fancy’ CG animation ?

…but, yes of course !…

Ever since I work in animation,
I ‘ve always drawn thumbnails on a piece of paper
before animating a 2D or a CG scene.
it just helps me to figure out roughly where I want to go.

Recently, we got a new tool in our animation software at Dreamworks Studios that allows us to sketch in the animation in the camera view, for reference only . ( using a Cintiq and a stylus pen )
I have been using this new workflow in order to create my scenes on “Kung Fu Panda 3” and other projects .

I find that planing my scene in 2D can be a big time saver,
it’s especially useful on physical broad animation .
It helps me create stronger ,more dynamic poses and give a more organic & cartoony feel to the animation & timing .
( I personally try to stay away from live action reference for broad style projects , because it can influence the animation towards a more realistic feel )

————–advantages of doing a 2D first pass ————————–

1- all the “thinking” and planing is done early at the drawing stage
( posing , rough timing , even rough expressions )

2- It’s easier to create strong, dynamic poses, in just a few lines.
( I know for experience, it can be tricky for me to find a dynamic appealing pose while working on the CG character in the 3D environment )
the fact that drawings exist on a flat 2D space , makes it easier to come up with good silhouettes .

3- Because sketching rough drawings is pretty fast, we can show a first pass to the directors very early on , to get their input and make necessary adjustments, even before starting the CG.

4- it is simply just fun to draw !

————–Some disadvantages to this technique————–

1- does not work very well on very subtle acting or very realistic human animation . ( Live action reference is probably better for that)

2- Even though we don’t have to draw “on model” , it can be tricky to draw the characters in perspective, keeping the proportions , especially if there is a strange camera angle or motion)

3 – it can be tedious to try and match each 2D pose onto the CG character. (it’s important to note that the 2D drawing pass should be used as a rough guide only !
it’s a springboard , should leave room to explore and improve .

4- This workflow is not adapted for all animators: not everyone can or wants to draw.

-YouTube Video Description

I feel this persons video and justification is perfect for how 2D before 3D will in turn make your animation better.

With that, i decided to look up some 2D references for a walk cycle – i could make my own reference of walking at the gym… Maybe~

Stepped posing would be something similar to 2D before 3D i feel, you get your key frames for the animation then fill in the in between parts to make sure you get a smooth, clean motion in the piece that you’re creating in Maya.

I looked up some key frame poses for a walk cycle and was not disappointing in my findings,  essentially there are usually between seven to nine frames in a walk cycle i have came to notice in alot of peoples reference sheets.

Accessed – 03-10-16

An extracted from the Animators Survival Kit created by Richard Williams, i love, love, love this reference image as it even shows what level the head should roughly be between poses.



Introduction To The Brief

Second year already! 

After a long break and a nice week zero to get to know everyone, i am ready to get back into the swing of things for this semester! (Or at least i hope im ready…!) 

Assignment one: Creative Development

Below I will be extracting parts from the brief which i would like put down in my blog just to refer back to in case im unsure of something. 

Individuals will be required to form/join teams, which will enable them to explore three of the areas of expertise listed below.  Lectures and practicals throughout the semester will help inform and prepare students for each area.

This type of project creates a new team dynamic and structure.  In previous projects the individuals have come together and rallied around a central project.  This assignment inverts the norm by making the team structure and dynamic support and develop the work and processes of the individual.  In this situation it is very easy to fall into the trap of working alone.  Teams will need to communicate well to guide the central themes that are to be achieved.  Teams will meet regularly to share project outcomes, techniques learned during the process and support each other in solving problems.

Week 4 – Monday 17th Oct – Have your walk cycle(s) and body mechanics animation ready for formative feedback via a tutorial/seminar
Week 6 – Monday 31st Oct – Team Presentations will demonstrate your modelling project and allow for formative feedback to be given.
Week 6 – Friday 4th Nov – Submit blog link & final files for Part One & Two – See blog submission guidelines towards the bottom of this page.
Week 12 – Friday 16th Nov – Submit blog link & final files for Part Three.-  See blog submission guidelines towards the bottom of this page.

Part One: Animation

Based on the research of the principles of animation & animation techniques, create a series of animations, using a rig provided.
  • Walk cycle – Consider exploring different characteristics
  • Body Mechanics – Examples could include – Getting up from a seated or laying down position, a jump across a gap, turning 180 degrees etc
  • Plan, research, peer assess/critique and help your team mates.

You may also want to consider the following:

  1. Video reference
  2. Blocking vs Straight ahead animation.

Part Two: 3D Modelling and UV Mapping

Create a 3D interior/exterior scene that conveys a narrative.


  • Model the environment and prop models with UV maps.
  • Coordinate modelling tasks with your team and create a full layout scene.  Each member should attempt a an equal share of props for their portfolio & development.
  • Render HD stills and/or a short camera animation with Ambient Occlusion or other clay-rendering techniques, Include comparison wire frame renders also.
  • Give credit to the team on their props on your blog and create a portfolio page demonstrating your own final props.
  • Plan, research, peer assess/critique and help your team mates.

Consider the following:

  1. Composition
  2. using reference images for modelling
  3. Polygon count/efficiency 
  4. Organising scenes
  5. 3D modelling techniques
  6. Good topology workflow & use of topology references.
  7. UV mapping techniques
  8. Explore how to display the scene in a 360 degree format

Part Three: Explore one of the following (A to H):

A) Lighting:

Light one of your previous scenes or the current modeling project.


  • Compare different lighting scenarios and/or different render engines and their material/Shaders
  • HD still renders.

Consider the following:

  1. Which render engine you will use, and/or compare different ones.
  2. Photorealistic, Hyperealistic & non-photorealistic texture styles
  3. Different moods
  4. Colour balance
  5. Materials
  6. Direct/Indirect light
  7. Render passes & compositing.

B) 3D Sculpting:

Based on one of the following pieces of concept art or your own creature design from a previous project:


  • Highpoly sculpture 
  • Re-toplogised mesh suitable for animation 
  • HD stills and/or turntable render
  • Give credit to the concept artist on your blog/showreel.

Consider the following:

  1. Character pose and underlying forms
  2. Silhouette 
  3. Details 
  4. Material/Shader
  5. Topology tools & techniques



C) Concept Art:

Character and environment designs

Create a range of concepts that describe a world of your choice.


  • A range of environment and/or character sketches & digital paintings of your chosen world.
  • Ideation and research

Consider the following:

  1. 3D projection mapping for creating 3D versions of your concepts
  2. Art & design theory – Composting, tone, colour etc


D) History and Theory:

Write a 1500 word report on a role in the Visual Effects and Animation industry ~ Discuss with Alec Parkin & Yuanyuan Chen


E) Compositing VFX:

Add 3D elements to a photo or live action background.
Footage can be provided.


  • A shot of live action footage or photo with composited 3D art..
  • A break down render demonstrating the composited layers and/or post effects
Consider the following:
  1. Scene Continuity
  2. 2D & 3D Tracking 
  3. Matching Colours
  4. Matching Lighting
  5. Contact Lighting
  6. Atmospherics
  7. Light-Wrap Techniques
  8. Edge Blend Techniques
  9. Working with Shadows
  10. Grain Management
  11. Lens Distortion & Aberrations
  12. Match Move
  13. Rotoscoping


F) Simulation:

Based on scenes from your modeling project, explore different aspects of dynamic simulation.


  • Simulate & compare a range of different dynamic elements
  • Renders of these simulations

Consider the following:

  1. Particle animation 
  2. Maya Bullet Dynamics
  3. Rigid/soft body dynamics 
  4. Maya fluid simulations 
  5. BiFrost water simulation
  6. nCloth

G) Rigging


  • Rig a biped character, including face setup.
  • Record a screen capture demonstrating your rig.

Consider the following:

  1. IK/FK arm switch
  2. Stretchy ik limbs
  3. Squash and stretch face setup
  4. Reverse foot rig
  5. Benefits in IK or FK spine setup


H) MASH Procedural Effects – Maya Motion Graphics


  • Create a set of MASH animations for a showreel start and end title 

Consider the following:

  1. The role of Motion graphics in 3D and 2D
  2. How motion graphics uses minimalism and/or simplicity in design and colour.
  3. Composition 
  4. Narrative

Submission Format:
Individual submission will take our usual form of:

  • Portfolio 
    This project should have it’s own portfolio section on your personal website/blog. Portfolio should include final designs, renders, animations etc, created by you during each phase of the project.
  • Blog 
    Your blog should capture your research, application of theory, and importantly your reflection as you go through the process of creating the content.  This project should have it’s own section and be organised in a thoughtful way.  It should also illustrate the development of your understanding of each of the areas of expertise above.  Include a final 200 word reflective post on the assignment & module.
  • Team Assessment form 
    Team assessment is an integral part of individual and peer development and should be completed at the end of each phase of the project.  Peer assessment will have a contribution to overall assessment in the assignment.
  • A copy of your software files
    Please attach your maya animations/modelling files and where applicable your photoshop/sclupture files in .zip archive – large files you can use google drive/dropbox and copy the link to your submission.