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The Game Animator's Guide to Maya

The Game Animator's Guide to Maya

ISBN: 978-0-470-09959-9

Jun 2006

243 pages

Select type: E-Book


Product not available for purchase


The Ultimate Resource for Professional Game Animators

Game animation is a demanding art. Not only do you have to deliver realistic, beautiful animations, but you have to do so under strict real-time, video-game constraints. The Game Animator's Guide to Maya is your focused resource for using Maya to create professional-level game animations for console and PC games. Written by a game industry veteran and featuring interviews with professional animators and artists from around the country, this focused book features specific, detailed, real-world game animation techniques. It's the perfect reference and tutorial for those looking to develop or refine their game animation skills.

The enclosed CD features more than $3000 worth of exclusive content, including models, high-resolution textures, animations, concept art, and animation reference videos. It also includes the Maya Personal Learning Edition and project files so you can complete the hands-on tutorials.

The Game Animator's Guide to Maya gives you an insider's view of the animation business and teaches the skills necessary to animate everything from characters to vehicles to lip-synching audio. First, you'll get an introduction to the industry and typical game development pipelines, then learn rigging and animation basics before moving on to advanced techniques and the detailed tutorials. Inside, you'll find:
* Game Career Guide: Industry information, demo reel advice, job descriptions, game asset pipeline overview
* Animation Techniques: detailed explanation of animation terms, techniques, tools, concepts, and editors
* Rigging and Animation Setup: IK and FK, joint hierarchies, skeleton controls, constraints, selection handles, and more
* True Game Animation: real-world assignments that mimic the day-to-day jobs of professional game animators--walk cycles, run cycles, idle cycles, action sequences, lip-synching to audio, and more

Chapter 1 Careers in the Game Industry.

Developers and Publishers.

Artist Jobs in the Industry.

Junior Artist.

3D Artist.

Concept Artist.

Character/Environment Artist.

FX Artist.

Technical Artist.

Senior Artist.

Lead Artist.

Art Director.

Demo Reels.

Art Tests.

The Game Development Pipeline.

Chapter 2 Animation.

Animation Concepts.



Secondary Motion.



Overlapping Action.

Arcing Motion.

Squash and Stretch.

Settling and Resting.

Straight-Ahead Animation.

Pose-to-Pose Animation.

3D Animation Terminology.






Forward and Inverse Kinematics.

Vertex Animation.

Blend Shapes.

Animation Cycles.

Set Driven Key.

Rigging Tools and Commands.

Joint Tool.

IK Handle Tool.

IK Spline Handle Tool.

Paint Skin Weights Tool.


Mirror Joint.

Smooth Bind.

Detach Skin.

Go to Bind Pose.

Animation Tools and Commands.

Setting Keyframes.

Set Driven Key.

Blend Shapes.

Graph Editor.

Dope Sheet.

Trax Editor.

Animation User Interface.

Time Slider.

Range Slider.

Playback Controls.

Upcoming Lessons.

Chapter 3 Project: Calamity Jane.

Assignment Breakdown.

Tutorial: Blend Shapes.

Creating Blend Shape Targets.

Assigning Blend Shapes.

Setting Up Set Driven Key.

Tutorial: Rigging Calamity Jane.

Creating Leg and Feet Joints.

Setting Up the Arm Skeleton.

Mirroring Joints.

Creating Specialized Joints.

Setting Animation Controls.

Binding the Skeleton.

Painting Skin Weights.

Tutorial: Walk Cycle.

Establishing Arm Movement.

Ensuring Smooth Cycling.

Incorporating Secondary Animation.

Tutorial: Action Sequence.

Setting Pistol Constraints.

Continuing the Animation.

Chapter 4 Project: Dire Wolf.

Assignment Breakdown.

Tutorial: Rigging the Dire Wolf.

Hind Legs.

Front Legs.

Remaining Joints.

Animation Controls.

Binding to the Skeleton.

Painting Skin Weights.

Tutorial: Run Cycle.



Finishing Touches.

Secondary Animation.

Chapter 5 Project: Giant Kraken.

Assignment Breakdown.

Tutorial: Rigging the Giant Kraken.

Continuing the Skeleton.

Applying Animation Controls.

Binding to the Skeleton.

Painting the Weights.

Tutorial: Idle Cycle.

Beginning the Animation.

Smoothing the Cycle’s Repeat.

Creating the Head Movement.

Tutorial: Attack Animation.

Finishing the Sequence.

Tutorial: Death Animation.

Chapter 6 Project: Storm Tank.

Assignment Breakdown.

Tutorial: Rigging the Storm Tank.

Parenting to the Skeleton.

Creating Animation Controls.

Tutorial: Walk Cycle.

Setting Back Leg Movement.

Creating Middle Leg Movement.

Creating Body Movement.

Establishing Gun Bounce.

Tutorial: Action Sequence.

Creating Body Movement.

Making Recoil Brace Animation.

Continuing the Sequence.

Chapter 7 Lip-Synching.

Acting in Video Games.

Using Audio in Maya.

Tutorial: Lip-Synching.

Phoneme Shapes.

Matching the Mouth.

Tutorial: Conversation Animation.

Creating Eye Movement.

Adding the Details.

Animating the Body.

Arming the Animation.

Adding Secondary Animation.

Chapter 8 Other Animation Projects.

Assignments Breakdown.

Tutorial: Taking Flight.

Tutorial: Oozing Blob.

Oozing Down the Street.

Getting Mean.

Stretching Out 225

Tutorial: Getting Ready to Drive.

Final Thoughts.



  • APPLIED: This is the only book that applies Maya’s rigging and animation tools to real-world tasks and projects faced by professional game animators
  • TUTORIAL BASED: The techniques discussed work for a variety of game styles and types across today’s console and PC platforms, and they are reinforced by in-depth, hands-on tutorials
  • REAL WORLD FOCUS: Sidebars feature interviews with celebrity game animators working at today’s top game developers
  • EXCLUSIVE SOFTWARE ON CD: The CD has more than $3000 worth of exclusive content, including models, high-resolution textures, animations, concept art, animation reference videos, and the Maya Personal Learning Edition.
  • PREMIUM PACKAGE: The premium package features high quality coated paper for crisp image reproduction as well as a 16-page color-insert showcasing the book’s animations.
  • WIDELY USED SOFTWARE: Maya is increasingly being adopted by top PC and videogame developers, including Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Sony, Nintendo, Namco, Square-Enix, and others.
  • STUDENTS WILL LEARN HOW TO: Create a game model using a concept image as their guide, Model with predetermined real-time polycount limitations in mind, View martial arts videos on the book's CD to animate their characters more realistically, Prepare a model for texturing with UV mapping and layout techniques, Create different kinds of textures, Master the rigging process, from setting up a skeleton to preparing blend shapes.