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Animating Spirit Dragons

Jul-09-2016 PST

This is Mod Hing, Animator for The Guardians. I’m prone to share most of the challenges I faced in trying to bring the spirit dragons of The Arc (as first mentioned in Mod Joe’s dev blog) alive.


Spirit dragons will be the highest-tier slayer creatures that you will face round the Aminishi island. Before I started animating, most of the things I essential to consider were:


    How the dragons will move inside the set area

    How can it be prone to translate motionless around using a 'ready' stance for combat

    How to handle certain technical limitations within our in-house tools during rigging and animating the dragons


First, I essential to investigate the way we wanted the dragons to go to around. We leaned towards Chinese dragon designs, which we decided should travel inside the wave like motion where the head leads the body. So where the head turns, each segment of the body follows inside the delayed

manner inducing the characteristic motion.


Finding out how I was prone to animate the dragon when using the tools we've took some R and D. We currently work with an in-house animation tool which doesn’t possess a wave deformer, so there isn't any quick and easy approach to make dragon model animate inside the fashion we wanted.

Another way would happen being to employ a spine-like system with rotation, but because our tool features a non-standard rigging structure it could took quite a while, requiring me to provide each frame adjusting the pose manually. It wouldn’t happen being impossible, nevertheless it wasn’t efficient

enough to meet your requirements.


So if you choose bit of research with my team leader, we made a decision to use translate instead of rotations to animate the dragon.


First, the dragon was modelled inside the straight line so it could be easier can modify its physique, and so it could deform better. I then rigged up the body into separate segments. To get the basic wavelike animation, I animated the neck inside the dragon rising and down, and copied this motion to all

or any the segments of the body behind the neck. After this, I selected all the body segments, counterbalance the animation by one frame and copied and pasted the animation to the body segments. I then deselected the body segment behind the neck and did the identical. Then it is an instance of

repeating the offset, copy and paste process, each time deselecting a segment behind the very best segment until I’d gone all the way round the hierarchy. With the main animation complete, it absolutely was just the case of adding extra motion for the arms, legs together with features.


When it found combat, we didn’t want the dragons to remain in their travelling state as, they'd used ample room. We decided the dragons ought being coiled up during combat showing they're dedicated to attacking you, ready to strike. The problem utilizing a different pose is that it can produce a

popping effect. One moment the dragon is stretched out inside the wave shape together with next - pop! - they're curled up.


To take like a real level transition, we necessary to adding kind of blending. Again, our tool doesn’t have a very blending system, and then we essential to select a approach to mimic it.


We achieved this through the use of another cycle for the start inside the travelling and combat-ready animations. So for your travelling animation, it could start when using the ready pose plus one server cycle it could merge for your travelling pose creating a smoother transition so the travelling

animation may have. It blends because the applications are calculating the in-between pose inside the ready pose together with travelling pose. This is called Tweening. So for example, when you have two poses - a standing pose together with a sitting pose - the in-between pose will probably be a

crouching pose. To get it even smoother, you'd pick the standing pose together with crouching pose and add another in-between, and so the new pose might be approximately the standing pose together with crouching pose and so on. Then, we finish it through the use of some final touches. The

same thing will likely be done for the ready animation, even so the other way round.


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