With that I decided that if I learnt enough to do with rigging and if my skills were decent enough I could potentially be used as a back up rigger for the group if a problem with Clym arose. So I thought that the models I rig should be similar to the style of the film, hence I started of with the squirrel. I chose the squirrel because of the fact it is short and blocky and quite similar to the characteristics of the child and penguin (ex penguin) in our short film. I started off with the squirrel because I felt it would be a simple enough model to rig whilst learning the basics and brushing up on skills. For the squirrel I intended to create a fully functional rig, with IK controls, blendshapes and proper skinning. Looking back in hindsight that may have been a bit over ambitious because it was my first proper rig and I was bound to run into trouble. This most certainly was the case as I ended up having major problems with the weighting and skeleton issues, which thus meant I could not create set driven keys for the hands (the hand joints had removed themselves from the joint hierarchy when I added bend to the arm IKs). The blendshapes were a success, and I found them thoroughly enjoyable. Creating blendshapes have to be my favourite part of the process. Although I had my fair share of problems I definitely learnt a lot throughout this process, the squirrel got me familiar once again with the basics of rigging, skinning, creating IK handles and the component editor.
The next model I attempted to rig was 'Joe'. I chose this model because of the simple geometry and I thought it would be perfect to attempt to create stretchy limbs and a slightly more exaggerated control scheme. I ended up using a tutorial from youtube to create the stretchy limbs as it really simplified the process, it became like second nature after I did it a few times. I also added a reverse footlock for this rig and got all the limbs bending and stretching properly. The area where I got stuck was once again the weights. I was having the same issue I had with the squirrel rig, in that I would paint weights, and influence would get randomly placed across the rig, as well as influence removing itself once I deselected the joint I had been working on. The problem got so severe the model was almost tearing itself apart when I would move the controllers. This made me very angry and resulted in me completing a whole new rig just to problem solve the weights issue. In the end I did resolve the problem I had been having which was to do with choosing an option for adding weights that apparently was very buggy, thus the influence problem. (I painted the weights using a new method involving the component editor and adding values of 1 to the selected joints for the various solo meshes). Even though I had resolved the biggest hurdle facing me, more problems still kept arising and the rig become too much hassle so I decided to call it finished. I made up for the lack of set driven keys by creating a separate hand skeleton and giving that some basic set driven key functions. He has problems with his torso controls but this is down to me messing with a few things in the torso and trying to add stretch aswell as twist.
My final rig used my own finished model of the eel for the short film. I made this rig purely as a test for painting weights and sorting out all the weighting issues I had been having. I decided to use this model because I felt I was ready to attempt it and the model was simple enough for the weighting test. I had alot of fun and made the rig relatively quickly. As mentioned before I did eventually solve the weight problem, it all happened whilst watching a video on youtube on painting weights. The guy had said not to select a certain option, and then it dawned on me that it had been causing me all the problems I had been having all term. I learnt how to use the sine deformer, and created clusters using an IK spline handle. Aswell as that I feel confident with painting weights now, the component editor and parenting handles together. I also made a master controller which works fine and moves the mesh as needed.
Looking back at it all I do feel confident with the basics and some more intermediate aspects of rigging. If you asked me to create a rig I think I could do a decent job, there are still problems I need to solve and areas I need to perfect, but as with anything that comes with practice. I have basically created a usable eel rig, which incase Clym did not finish his eel rig, mine could be used instead as a backup. I have learnt lots and there is more I would like to learn, I did briefly start learning maya muscle, and that is something I will definitely look more into as I want to rig the models I make in my own time, which are quite hi res, detailed and realistic.
Just to clarify -
Squirrel has - no finger/foot controls
Joe - no finger controls, torso has twist problems and head has no controls.
Eel - fully complete and functional