How to Make a Parent Switch

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How to Make a Parent Switch

Post by Andrew Conroy on Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:36 pm

This Doc will cover how to make a switch that allows you to parent an object to another
and then switch it on and off. In other words, this will allow you to pick an object up and
put it down.


Step one - Create the object you want to pick up. Say, a coffee cup. Create a nurbs circle and
place it around the object. Be sure to “Freeze Transformations” before moving forward. Group
the control to itself. This creates a node that we can parent things to.

Step two - Select the character’s “Name Control”. By name control I mean the large control on
the floor that you might move but never animate. With that control selected, Shift select the
group above the coffee cup control you created. Now, go to constraints > Parent - option box.
Be sure that in the option box you have reset your settings and that maintain offset is checked.
And, Parent.

Step three - Do step two to all the object you would like to have the coffee cup parented to at
different times in your animation.

Step four - We need to create an attribute on the coffee cup. Select the Main Cup Control.
Above the attributes you will see an edit menu. Click Edit. Then Add attribute.
This will pop open a menu. In the space next to “Long Name” type parent. This is the name of
your control. There are six option below. Choose “Enum”. After selecting Enum you will see
two words pop up in a box below. Green and Blue. Click these words and change them to
something like - “Hand, World” you may want to add more than two options for your parent. If
so, click just below the word Blue in the box and you will be able to add more options.
Once you are satisfied with the options you have created, click Apply.

Step five - Now it’s time to create Set Driven Keys in order to switch the parents on and off.
In the animation drop down, go to the Animate menu. You will see “Set Driven Key”. Inside of
that you will click “Set”. This will open up a workspace window. The top set of windows in the
workspace are for the “Driver”. The driver controls the “Driven”. The windows below are for
the “Driven”. Select the coffee cup control and click “Load Driver”. In the Hypergraph, select the
parent node below the Coffee Cup Group and click “Load Driven”.

Step six - Now that you have everything set up in your set driven key window we need to do
a little back and forth between objects to link them together. If you double click on the object
in the “Set Driven Key” window they will be selected in your maya scene. Click on the Driver.
You need to see what option is currently selected. It will most likely be the first option. In most
cases - Left Hand. Now, you will click on the parent in the Driven window. you will see a list of
attributes that coordinate with the controls you parented to. turn all of the 1’s to 0’s except the
attribute named Left Hand. (or something along those lines) Make sure that in the Set Driven
Key window Parent is highlighted and in the driven window, the parent constraints attributes
are selected. Hit “KEY”. Now, switch to a different option in the parent attribute on the Coffee
Cup control. You will then go back to the parent constraints attributes and switch everything to 0
except the attribute that lines up with the option you would like to coordinate with.
Throughout this process you will have to make sure that only one option in the constraint has a
1 in it and that after changing the 1’s and 0’s you always hit “KEY”.
Once this process is complete, you should be good to go! Give it a test and see what happens!
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Andrew Conroy
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