Feels like Déjà vu all over again.
Remember a few months back when I had to come up with a very ingenious way to rotate open the landing bay doors by using locators, fixed track to constraints and meticulously align each bone to the axis of the door so it would open perfectly along the border? Yeah… it was actually very much easier than that, I just had to align the bone along the border of the door, and simply rotate the Y local axis. No locators or constraints or alignment of perfection, just selecting two vertexes and snapping the beginning and end (tail and head) of the bone, and in pose mode, just rotate it locally. So this new version of the skeleton has a lot less bones, and a lot less to control since everything I won’t be moving manually will be hidden. Probably even the bay doors, since I’m going to be using an action constraint and animate the whole landing gear and then just assigning the action to a slider on my customized control panel.
While making some tests, I started to list down all the little geometry I still need to model, the one that goes hidden and just shows up when the plane transforms. I would like to know if there will be a way to hide that geometry while it’s in fighter mode, to save up on unseen polys. I might stroll around the Blender forums!
I also made the flaps, slats and ailerons as action constraints to a slider in the control panel. They need extra polys to fill the gaps when the flap is fully extended, but it certainly looks correct! The rear landing gear was a nightmare to rig, but I managed to make a decent animation with a very slight intersection in the bay. I didn’t have to make all those contraptions with locators, only bones, restricted to some axis or rotating freely (in quaternion, have I mentioned I looove quaternion?) and simple track to constraints for the pistons.
One of the things that I now need to work on is the arms. They are unseen while it’s in fighter mode, but once it goes to GERWALK, it’s very obvious that they are missing. I transformed it to this mode to see how many more things needed to be around. Mostly articulations, and I won’t spend much time making them very detailed, since it’s only hinges and borders that won’t take the spotlight when this baby is punching other robots (or Godzilla, who am I kidding this robot is only 15 meters high, Godzilla would eat it up for breakfast) around.
This is when things get a bit ugly. The Battroid mode (or robot mode, however you wanna call it) is filled with challenges to solve. It’s not as appealing as the Anime, since the Anime uses movie magic to fit and stretch and squash certain parts of the plane. So since I’m going for a realistic approach, I can’t scale up or down things, and some parts need to fit in a slightly different way than the Anime. The torso looks too long, the head too small, the legs look too thin and the wings look huge. Those things would have to be visually tricked to look appealing, by playing with the angles and the way the parts are put together. That also implies I need to find out the inner mechanism basics to add the correct bones and inner geo.
Once I have those mechanisms figured out, I’ll do the transform animation and make sure everything fits perfectly and in the most appealing way, then use that animation to create the action constraint and just make the slider do it, so I can hide the rest, not to be seen ever again.