Throwback Thursdays! Cape Creation in 3ds Max for use in Unity, a Cape Rigging Tutorial

By | August 24, 2017

Currently this is my most popular tutorial (soon to be overtaken by The XYZs of Sculpting Clothing Folds in Zbrush (Super fast beginner tutorial) )! Whether you need a caped crusader or a be-mantled baddie, this cape rigging tutorial is for you!

In this cape rigging tutorial I’ll demonstrate cape creation in 3ds Max for use in Unity. In the process we’ll go over spring rigs, importing animations and meshes into Unity, setting up animations and animators (aka mecanim), and a bunch of other things.

About capes, for inide devs there’s really no great way to implement them. In some instances it will be a trade off between the cape’s existence and computer performance, in others it will be a trade off between convincing animations and convincing physics. In general in real-time you can have either a very fluid animation that clips uncontrollably or a stiff animation that doesn’t clip. Keep that in mind when evaluating this cape rigging tutorial!

Unity’s interactive cloth solution doesn’t work for clothes, despite the misleading shared etymology. At first it might seem passable but as soon as you add movement to the character the cloth will clip through the entire character. If you then add a sphere collider and adjust collision layers, the processing needed to calculate the collisions becomes unacceptable; you get significant slowdown.

It is too time consuming to animate capes by hand in max, but using physics to pre-render or rather pre-determine bone movements leads back to the trade-off between fluidity and clipping. All-in-all this is the (second) least bad solution, though you’ll still need to run the physics simulations for each animation, as demonstrated by this cape rigging tutorial.

You can buy third party solutions which are well worth the money if you have the money, but remember we’re indie developers. The best solution is to design characters without capes. The next best solution is presented in this tutorial.

Creating the spring rig (rigging): 1:40
Skinning (weighing): 6:10
Animation: 7:30
Save: 7:38
Creating keyframes (by collapsing trajectories): 8:50
Smooth loops: 10:20
Exporting: 11:15
Unity: 12:05
Creating avatar: 13:15
Configuring mask: 14:15
Creating animator: 15:15
Troubleshooting: 16:39
Cape in-game!: 17:20

Are you an artist who wants to make video games without having to program? Check out my textbook, in stores now: 🙂

cape rigging tutorial

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