PART 2: Tag Tab

Continuing our discussion on the Character Template system, we are going to get in depth on the Tag Tab.

The Tag tab is what you’re presented with when you first add a Component Tag. At first, it’s pretty daunting. There’s a fair amount of attributes and, plus the shit ton of tabs we listed in the last post.  Now, like I mentioned in the last post, the Tag tab is how you specify what type of component you are creating and all the like.

Now, the first thing you’ll see is the type dropdown. This dropdown has a boatload of options.  What’s not apparent at a glance is that the number of tabs you see in the Attribute Manager is directly dependent on what you choose  for the type. To get even more confusing,  a lot of the types, show the same number of tabs. So what the hell is the secret? Well, this is definitely a case of read the manual. The manual breaks this down pretty well.

There are essentially 3 types of components: Anatomical, Helper, and Character. The anatomical types are: None, Pelvis, Limb, Spine, Hand, Foot, Digit, Head, Tail, Wing, Custom. They all are basically the same. Same tabs, same features, etc. The only real difference is just that there are different icons for each one to make it easy to distinguish. But in all reality, you arm component could be set to spine, and nothing bad would happen.

The only other difference, is in the Hand and Foot components. They behave slightly differently when built, in that they display all the user data for any child digit joints. This means you could select your hand to edit your fingers, instead of needing to select each individual finger. A nifty help, but in terms of template setup, no difference in behaviors amongst them all.

The next type are the Helper types: Group, Controller, and Component. Now, full disclosure, I don’t remember what the Group type does. It does not have an Insertion Tab like the other two, and I have never used one. So…just ignore it for now, because I don’t remember it’s purpose. The other two are extremely useful and helpful. They basically allow you to define bits of your rig, and place them in other places than what’s been defined in the anatomical type. So maybe you have an object that needs to be inserted under an object found in an earlier component. Then use the Component type. It basically gives you the ability to place objects wherever you need them to go. The Controller type is the same thing, but it allows you to effectively tag an object as a Controller. which means if you were to set the Character Object’s display to be Controllers, these objects would displayed.

The Character type is used to define your Character. Usually your top most object with the component tag will be set to the character type. All other Components need to reside underneath this one to be included in the template.

Now, when you switch types, in addition to the number of tabs changing, the attributes in the Tag tab change as well, based on whether it is an Anatomical, Helper, or Character type.

Helper types, only allow for a name and icon field. And honestly, the icon field is sort of useless, since you really gotta try to make it visible(ie by changing Character Object display types).  The Character type, allows you to specify what type of character you are making(ie biped, insect, etc). Don’t rack your brain over it, because it’s only affecting the size of your rig that gets built automatically. You can choose your own icon here, which would be displayed when you create this template, so that can be cool.

The more interesting bits, are in the Axis group. This allows you to specify which direction is Forward, and which is Up. By default it’s -Z and Y respectively. This corresponds to the Front View. This will affect how your character is built, and how it’s facing.  The Sizing determines the height your character is built at. By setting it to Auto, it will try to use whatever size is defined in the Help, and use it so long as the Character Object has the Auto-Size check box on. You can also choose to set a custom size, or not do any whatsoever.

The settings that show up for the Anatomical types, are meant to control the naming of things. The Name field is for what your component will be called in the Object Manager after it’s been created. If you leave it bank, it will use the object’s name instead. The object in this case is the object the component tag is applied to. The Display Name is for what is displayed in the Button in the Attribute Manager, that lets you create the component.

Below the Naming and Icon business, lies the Main Controller and User Data fields. Main Controller lets you define what object or controller object will be selected when you select the Component in the Object Manager. It’s important to note that this ONLY comes into play when you are in the Animate mode. Otherwise, it just uses the object that has the Component Tag on it. The User Data list is for any objects in your component that have User Data. This will allow all those object’s User Data to be displayed in the Controls Tab of the Character Object. This allows you to keep all the necessary bits of a component in one, easy access place.

The Transform group allows you to specify how each component you create will be moved. You normally don’t need this. Where it comes into play is for components that get inserted into the same location multiple times(ie Fingers). It allows you to specify a transform to apply to offset each new Component.

That’s a lot to take in. Start off by just Creating your Character using the Character type, then work on your anatomical ones.  Then add any helper types as needed. Next time we’ll take a look at the Insertion tab and try to demystify it.

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