Problem Solving Blog- Birds

When making my Kazooie rig I had trouble attempting to get realistic feathers on the wings. This process was difficult as I had to balance getting a sense of speed and movement with moving feathers with the tight time constraints of the rapid project

I considered assigning bones to every feather, but that was an option that took up to much time and seemed it would affect the animation considerably. I used a tutorial in digital tutors that showed how to rig a wing and its feathers. This method offers much more control, but it would have been to time consuming and I wanted an effect that was more random.I also considered using fur and figuring a way to simulate it with wind, but that was a whole branch of animation that seemed to deep for me to dive into in the time allocated.

I finally decided to go with cloth, although it ticked all the boxes I hadn’t pursued it before because I didn’t realize how much control I could have over it.I used the following tutorial by to familiarize myself with the suite of options offered in 3ds max to create cloth simulations. I used the group controls which are part of the cloth modifier, to allow the parts of the feathers closest to the wing to stay in place and fake the way a feather behaves.

After getting the cloth down I had to create a wind to simulate movement. I made inverse so it drags the cloth towards it instead  of away from it and I parented it to the rig so it would follow Kazooie throughout the scene. That allowed me to have even wind throughout all the animation to fake that wiggle was coming from the movement of Kazooie and not just from a random wind source.


In this image you can see how I used soft selection to preserve the root of the feather.


In this image you can see the wind I used, I added turbulence to give the feather a random movement.

The simulation worked, but then I encountered another problem. I made a copy of the feathers that didn’t have cloth simulation,  so that the animators wouldn’t get confused, as the feathers with cloth modifiers wouldn’t follow the animation unless they were re-simulated. That was all good, but the problem was when I re-simulated the cloth feathers, they were so far way from the rig that didn’t join up with again. I attempted to re-simulate locally but that didn’t work, my final solution although time consuming finally worked, I had center the rig in the middle of the world and move into its animation position at an average speed, this actually helped the simulation settle, so it actually fixed another issue in the process.

In the end the effect I got with the wings I believe greatly enhanced the final product and I’m happy I pursued and found an effective way of conveying feathers wiggling in the air. From second 20 to 25 is the best example of the feathers flapping and wiggling.



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