Before I began the rigging process, I started creating the additional props I had designed after the final turnaround illustration for sprocket, which are essentially his makeshift pipe, his accessory satchel he wears across his shoulders to keep all his little trinkets in and something for him to hold: In this case I thought it could be his in game weapon that isn't actually a weapon, more a modified version of a welding tool his model of robot would have been equipped to use in their heavy duty tasks.
I made each thing with his rigging and animation process in mind: His bag I didn't want overly large to interfere with his walk cycle, and his weapon I wanted to be large enough to act like a staff more than a projectile weapon, and him swinging it about to bash enemies is how I envision him using it more than how it was originally created for.
Decided on utilizing the CAT Rig method for rigging my character; I find the process to be a lot more straightforward and adaptable to your needs, in a less confusing way, being able to add parts when you need to. Also the walkthrough's on this method I found online were very simple and allowed me to tackle this process with a more clearer intention that didn't confuse me as much as it has done in the past. Being a robot, the process was simplified anyway as I don't have to worry about skin deformation and meshes stretching; Because of my forward planning for limb move-ability in the modelling stage, its meant that i was able to rig each movable part with ease.
The process wasn't without its hurdles though. I spent awhile tweaking the feet, as once I began to experiment with moving the limbs about, I found that some areas didn't look right attached to certain anchors on the rig (the areas that act as the 'balls' of the heel basically stayed stuck to the rest of the leg as opposed to following the rest of each foot).
Working at this stage allowed me to see how my design actually worked practically and to see if me working to my original sketches paid off.... turns out it did, and the believable aspect of Sprockets design also works in motion which was a relief.
Making a basic standing pose for Sprocket was something I also spent a lot of time getting just right as well. I wanted his pose to show his age and character, with a sort of old man style slump with his knees slightly bent and his arms hanging down at his side with his neck arched slightly forward. As opposed to how robots usually are, all stiff and supported by their sturdy frame I wanted Sprocket to look more human in his form, his age meaning that he cant stand as straight as he used to and him having a more of a relaxed and worn out demeanor than the sorts of robots your used to seeing.
For the walk cycle I utilized one of the basic default ones, then adapted it so that it fit in with more of the style I was going with in Sprocket's standing pose. With the default walk there was far too much emphasis on the swinging of his hips and his head, so i toned that down so that his head barely moved that much apart from a slight pan left to right (as if the joints in his neck are stiff with age) and made it so his leg movement seems more relaxed. I didn't work too far from the base walk or start my own from scratch, just because I was happy with the edited version and I think it fits rather well to Sprocket's character. Also, following the tutorials, I added walk motions for sidestepping both left and right and also walking backwards in the same motion. This is so once I export him into UDK, I can export the frames for each type of walk and loop it to be used as that particular walk animation.
The final image of Sprocket: Overall very pleased with how my first character has turned out, took a bit longer than planned but as its my first one out of three, there was several teething things I had to get used to and work around that I know about when I tackle my next two fellahs. There are areas on this guy I need to tweak and polish such as his texture maps and importing him into engine, but for now this guy is essentially finished! On to the next one.