This was the third specialization project I took upon myself during my time at TGA which I spent four weeks working on. This project was meant as a mean to teach myself about rigging quadrupedal creatures but instead of doing something more traditional like an existing animal I decided to partake in something more challenging. I was really excited about this project because I have had a very great interest in dragons ever since I was a child and I got even more excited after finding the dragon I was going to rig. The model is made by RaGe_3D.
This was one of the toughest rigging challenges I have ever done but it was really fun to do from start to finish so I was working with it very ambitiously. There were many new things I had to teach myself, the most difficult being the spine and the tail, I even spent a lot of time analyzing fictional skeletal diagrams of dragons in order to figure out the placement of joints.
It became apparent early on that I would need to use a ribbon spine in order to make it work properly, this was also the first time I ever made a ribbon spine. After much trial and error I found how to make the spine work properly, using both FK and ribbon spine to control it, after which I incorporated in the neck also later.
There were four other places where I used ribbon spines in order to achieve the result I wanted, namely in the gut, the throat, the tongue and the nostrils. Originally I made a ribbon spine for the tail as well but after extensive testing I did not find it viable since it made the tail too hard to control and made it seem stiff. After more testing I found that an IK spline yielded the best results.
I was highly considering doing both IK and FK for the wings but found it unnecessary therefore I settled for FK wings and using set driven keys to fold and unfold the wings.
Since there was not much of a support for eyelids in the model I had to come up with another solution, which is why I came up with the solution of using a nictating membrane for the eyes which is both used by birds and some species of reptiles.