View Full Version : Critique of my rigs in Maya plz!

09-18-2002, 04:39 AM
Hi everyone, I am hoping to get some feedback regarding my rigs in maya. You can check them out here:


I appreciate any and all comments, suggestions, critiques...anything. I am graduating pretty soon and will be looking for a job doing setup, so I want to make sure I really know what I am doing!

The videos on my site are all encoded w/ DIVX by the way...Thanks for taking the time to look at my stuff!



09-18-2002, 07:26 AM

I'd love to check out the rig and give it a go.. would it be possible to get a copy of it to try out?

cheers! :)

p.s. Thanks for the props on the webpage!


09-23-2002, 03:06 AM
all these views, and no comments? Is that good..or bad?

or maybe people aren't even looking.....


09-23-2002, 03:10 AM
I'm going to be taking a look as soon as I finish the shot I'm working on.. I promise! :)


09-23-2002, 04:16 AM
thanks Jason! Glad to have a professional looking over my stuff!

I guess I was just expecting more responses. I'm always looking for feedback.




09-23-2002, 05:32 AM
I love your robot rig man ! ,

I would love to cheeck it out too if its ok , just to learn how you set it up.

09-24-2002, 02:01 AM
Hi Joe.
That rig looks cool from what I can tell.
It was nice to see Tim Naylors name on the site as well.... He and I created the setup class there at Full Sail (did you have him or just Chris M?), I will have to get Jason to send me the rig to check out as well.

I will be back at Acclaim in Austin in a few weeks feel free to drop me an email when you get back to TX.

Brad (Weta worker for one last week)

09-24-2002, 02:17 AM
Hi Brad,

I had just Chris for the setup class, but I think he took alot of the fundamental ideas you and Tim setup and expounded on them. The class turns out to be way too intense for 4 weeks, however, for someone like me, I loved it! Alot of people fail because of the amount of information covered, and most people don't like the nitty gritty technical stuff. Chris uses alot of Jason's ideas too, from what I can tell, and the class all in all is pretty decent. The one complaint I have right now, is no-one can answer my questions except for Chris, and even he gets stumped sometimes. It's frustrating sometimes, but I guess it pays off in the end, because I end up solving my problems on my own, or with some advice, and that's better than someone just showing me.

I actually met you at Siggraph this year! ..not sure if you remember though. I was there with my friend Matt, and I believe I met you during the Reign Of Fire presentation.

I'll drop you an e-mail when I get back to Dallas in a couple months, take care!

Best regards,



09-28-2002, 08:31 AM
That robot rig looks functional and easy to use. Similar to my own tastes...except...

...the first thing I would do if I got a rig like that to aniamte with is strip those annoying expressions off of it.

[ie: the weight shift, etc]

They are more a pain in the ass than a pleasure to work with...

...you will find alot of animators will just want to pose the character they way they want without having to fight with expressions...besides, if you have good animators they won't need the expressions, because they know physical limitations of characters and the illusion of weight very intimately...

...but it is good to see that you know how to do them at least! :)

...just my 2.5 cents.

Oh, and another aesthetic opinion of mine...those control shapes you were using are kind of ugly...I would spruce them up a bit! [yeah yeah, I am being superficial now...:)]

Oh! I forgot something...I do not recall if you had separate control objects for the rotation of the clavicles independently...I would definitely want to move them independently [offset timing, overlap, etc]...

09-28-2002, 10:16 AM
Hey, thanks for the reply bentllama!

I have heard the arguement both ways about the expressions...I have them there though because I did want to show that I CAN do them. I agree with the comment that a good animator won't need them, and they would just cause a big headache. That's why I like expressions though...you can always just turn them off. As for the breathing and heartbeat though, I think those are very useful. The ones for the back rotations are helpful too, since I used spline IK. (can still switch to FK though).

As for the control shapes...hehe...I agree...seiously though, what would you have in mind? Something more conforming to the shape of the figure, or maybe some arrows?

Thanks for the suggestion on the clavicles! I only have one control object for both the IK handles, but I think i'll make one for each too, that way it's able to do more.

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!


09-28-2002, 09:44 PM

still haven't had a chance to look at the 'bot.. just aren't enough hours in the day. :) But I did want to comment on the breathing/heartbeat expressions..

An expression on the heartbeat's a good idea, but breathing should be controlled by the animator.. being able to determine when and how a character takes a breath can really bring life into the being, or take life right out of it. For example.. if my character is going to lift something heavy, I'm going to have him breath in and out quickly a few times.. then hold his breath.. then release.

By having hte animator keep track of the breathing, they're more aware of the intensity and intention of the character in the scene.

You may have some overrides for the expressions tho, so this may be completely moot. :)


09-29-2002, 04:29 AM

I never even thought of all that! The way I have it right now is the speed of the breathing expression is controlled by the Y translation of a locator, so it can be fast, slow, or dead.

It really limits the animator though, because the expression uses a COS function, so it's still rythmatic, no matter how fast or slow it's going....I'll have to figure out a workaround so perhaps the animator can have the expression on when he wants, but also be able to manually control the breathing.

Thanks for the suggestion!

09-29-2002, 04:58 AM
I would even recommend removing the expression entirely.. it'll slow down the rig (even a tiny bit can cause heartache) and in the end, the animators will probably never use it.

It's just like those expressions that keep the hips balanced.. they look cool, and it's great you can create them.. but a good animator is going to go "AGGH! KILL 'EM!". And even if they can turn them off.. then they're still evaluating.. and they still cause the scene to go slower.

I'm a huge fan of simple rigs.. that do exactly what you need them to w/out going overboard. Your rig should be fast, intuitive, and simple. The animator should look at it and go: "oh!".

And they should have absolute control over everything. :)


09-29-2002, 12:48 PM
Hey Jason, thanks for the input!

I see your point with the expressions, and I completely agree about the simplicity of the rig. If the animator can't use it, then it's not much of a rig.

I finished a new rig I was working on this week. It's a little different than the rest of the other ones I have done. This one has NO EXPRESSIONS, and virtually no limitations.

You can see it here:


Also, you can download the rig from the page and try it out!(Maya .mb file 1.6megs)

All I ask is no-one uses it for anything but educational and personal projects.

I'd love to hear suggestions, comments, or questions about it.
Let me know guys!




09-29-2002, 09:43 PM

got a quick chance to check out the rig.. it appears nice and simple to use (yay), but I do have a few comments/suggestions (d'oh!) :)

1) I couldn't figure out how to twist the back using the back controls.. I grabbed UpBack and rotated it, but it wouldn't twist

2) Check the rotation orders.. right now, if you rotate the skeleton 90 degrees in y, you have no axis available to lean him over to the side.

3) Rotating the toe control "LtFtToeBox" caused the ankle to swing a bit

4) I couldn't seem to lift the ball of the foot w/out making the toe wiggle

5) You may want to separate the finger and hand controls.. I find that when animating I tend to do the main hand guestures, then later go in and add finger animation.. just helps to keep them separated.

6) You may also want to add extra controls for individual finger joints

7) The neck could be broken up a bit more to have a smoother interpolation.. look at all those bones.. they should bend smoothly!

8) I like the fact that you've got easily recognizable controls for objects.. what would also help would be to have different colors based on the side.. red for right.. green for left.. etc. helps the animator differentiate.

other than that, it's starting to look like a rig I'd enjoy animating! :)


09-30-2002, 04:11 AM
Hey Jason thanks for the crits/suggestions!

I fixed a few of the problems. Added back controls (used expressions, d'oh!), but it works fine. Fixed the rotation order problem you were having. It doesn't seem to be apparrent to everyone how the U and arrow below that work, maybe I should make something more logical.

I also went through and color coordinated everything..good idea by the way!

As for the feet, I might switch that up a bit, maybe just make one control object and have a set driven key footroll instead of all those boxes.

I should've put more joints in the neck, but didn't take the time to do that.

I see your point with the fingers/hands. What would you reccommend as controls for the fingers other than the joints and channels?

I updated the file on my site too, for anyone that wants it.

Thanks again!



09-30-2002, 04:43 AM

that is one sweet looking rig I've only checked out the animations on your site, but its really an inspiring piece of work! :arteest: I wish I could offer you advice, but my experience level is so low, all I can do is drool... :)

I wonder if you could mention where you learned your rigging techniques? Any recommended materials or sites? Thanks for posting your skeleton example, thats very generous.

Anyways, look forward to your next rig!

09-30-2002, 04:48 AM
Heya! glad that the suggestions were helpful! Expressions aren't always bad, quite often they're the only way to do things! In my next dvd for Alias|Wavefront I go over how to use expressions in a way that makes sure they're as efficient as possible.. and I go through some of the other techniques which you can use to do similar things which may indeed be faster, and give the same result! I'll let you guys know when it's available. :)

As for the fingers, using joints is fine.. just add more control. I usually have one set of main controls, and then another set of controls on top of it.. for example, a hand control which has finger_curl, spread, etc. Then there's a control for each finger which does an offset baced on the main controls..

I'm not sure if this is the absolute best way of doing hands.. but it seems to work relatively well, and you can get any finger expression you need.


09-30-2002, 04:56 AM

Thanks for the props! :) I learned my rigging techniques from a few places: school (Full Sail in Orlando), on the web (highend, personal websites of artists, etc), at SIGGRAPH, and through ALOT of trial and error.
I am trying to write a tutorial right now on setup, but I am also trying to get a demo reel together before I graduate, so it's on hold for now. I'll be sure to post on here when I finish the tutorial.

I really like Tim Naylors tutorial on Highend, the Maya 4.0 notes, and Maya's Rigging and Animation book.
I would like to het ahold of the DVD Jason Schleifer did, and the "Inspired Character Setup" book.

Also, for everyone out there already working in the industry...what should I put on my reel to get a job doing this? Any suggestions would be appreciated!


09-30-2002, 05:14 AM

just downloaded the latest one.. the color coding is nice.. makes it muc heasier to see what's going on. :)

The rotation orders still don't seem to be correct, however.. LtFootBox has a rotation order of xyz. Try zxy or xzy.. you'll find it much better when you turn your character around. Notice as well that rotating the boxes on the torso doesn't actually twist the torso.. you have the ik hooked up to the rotateY of the UpBack, but the rotateY of UpBack leans the back side to side.. AND twists.. you may want to adjust these controls so the ry is always rotating around the up axis..

keep going! :)

As for getting a job.. the best way I've found to get a job as a character rigger is to show on your reel that you've solved problems that people run into. Demonstrating a character rig is a great example.. show playblasts of how it moves & how to use it (if you can do screen-grabs of the character being manipulated, that works well, too!). Show how the skinning works.. etc.

Also, try and solve problems that you know people run into every day.. a creature TD has to be able to do just about everything. What if your character needs to pick something up & put it down again? what if they're scaling a wall? What if they trip, fall, and tumble down a slope?

Attention to detail, problem solving, and the ability to work fast and with a group of people is the way to go. :)


09-30-2002, 05:30 AM
Thanks again Jason, I see what you're talking about now...
I'll go through and fix the back/torso tonight. My biggest issue when rigging is keeping in mind that the character has to be able to move around the world freely, and that rotation orders that work when still won't always work once you start animating. I should really go "play" with my rigs more before I finish them, so I can find out the limitations.

The footbox has got to go....I showed it to a friend of mine, and it confused him to death. He's an animator, and he got frustrated with having 3 seperate boxes. I'm gonna figure out something better. I think i'll go ahead and add a color warning system to let the animator know when he's gone "too far". Are those annoying at all? I haven't done it in awhile, and I figured it'd be good to show that I can do.

I'm gonna go work on this, i'll post an update later tonight when i'm done.

Oh yeah, thanks for the advice about the demo reel, that's really helpful to me!



09-30-2002, 10:14 AM
Updated the back/torso area again, redid the feet controls (thanks to Goosh for the inspiration of the controls!), added a color warning expression and some stretchiness to the backbone.
I will add radius/ulna rotation and a window with sliders and buttons for animation soon!

you can download it here:


I need help getting that UpBack node to rotate properly:rolleyes: . If anyone has any suggestions after looking at it, let me know. The rest of it seems to be working ok I think, but of course, suggestions/comments/crits always welcome!




09-30-2002, 01:15 PM
Finished the MEL Window. Buttons to select all the control objects and sliders for all the controls, everything keyable. I'll finish the rest of the rig tomorrow and start adding a muscle system soon. Website has been updated again, enjoy!




Gentle Fury
10-02-2002, 08:25 AM
Yes i was fortunate to be in Tim Naylors final class before he shipped off to begin his journey on his way to (not exactly at the time) ILM. That was the only class in my quest to complete Full Sail that i was so happy to have gotten a 72 (i think i was the 3rd best grade in the class too!) Good ole Naylor the Impaler! Of the 35 students in my class only 8 of us passed and graduated together :) Now, im wondering, do i know these other people that are posting on here?? I have to completely agree with the statement made about simple rigs. If you wanna add some expressions onto them make them as simple as you can. The keeping the body between the legs thing is wonderfully fun for a setup guy to make and play around with when done making it......but just a royal pain when it all comes down to working. I had worked on an animation with a rig someone had given me once, and it was not only set to do that, but to automatically roll his feet!!!! Imagine how long that lasted when the character had to do a head over heals rollover! Not fun, and it didnt take me long to go delete those expressions. The other thing i cant stand is millions of mel switches and levers! Drives me crazy! I want everything as simple as possible when im animating! I want to grab a box and move the hand, or foot or whatever.....you have that basically set up like that, the only gripe i had about the skeleton setup was the fact that there are too many body controls. takes too long to get the character into a pose when you have 7 upperbody controllers. Simplicity is the key :) I think you really did a great job on those rigs though......keep up the good work!

Happy Rendering!!!

10-02-2002, 09:31 AM
I looked at the rig *briefly*, and have a few suggestions. I definitely agree with Gentle Furyīs last post...keep it simple! The IKJoe rig was more in the direction that I like (simple and clean), although I looked at that only briefly as well.

I donīt like those circle controls on the back rotations...difficult to manipulate, especially īcause it looks like Mayaīs rotate icon..Iīd try to put these main back swivels on one control object. Also because, with your way, it gets confusing after a while in knowing which control object you need to animate. Those extra back control cube-splines are additionally confusing, especially with the y-rotation/spine twist, which I would not find very intuitive if I were animating.

This red-alert message thingy when the spine is disconnected is an interesting idea, although Iīm not sure how much use it is. Usually in animating, pose dictates all; that is, if it looks good, then thatīs the pose you want, even if youīve had to cheat it by stretching joints or whatnot. Maybe the red-alert thing could be used practically somehow (like when the hand separates from the arm), but Iīm not sure.

Why didnīt you add negative roll to your foot-roll control? Having to do this with the footīs X-rot seems like an extra step, also if you have the roll value at 45, the footīs X-rot doesnīt behave correctly. I might also add a driven key so the clavicle automatically lifts as the arm reaches above the shoulder (in addition to having the clavicle up-down control that you have).

OK now letīs talk about this control window you created: The idea of the extra viewport window is also interesting, although Iīm not sure if itīs necessary (if itīs NOT necessary, DON`T do it!). The sliders that you created for every control object in the menuLayout are definitely *NOT* necessary (IMHO). I say this because I have also done control windows like this, only to find out at the time of animation how useless they were. Most animators would prefer to pose their character interactively in the viewport, and sliders for things like rotation and translation are not useful here (again, IMHO :)). Not to mention the fact that the menuLayout resizes every time you change the menu -> very annoying. Additionally, the selection of your characterīs control objects is much more efficient if you simply dedicate a SHELF for this. This also frees-up wasted viewport space -> your window is way too big for me!!!

So, my preferred method: put the control-selection buttons in one shelf, then use the channel box to animate all the control objects you canīt control in the viewport (finger bend, for example).Get rid of useless control windows taht clutter workspace.

Golden rule: The best way to become a good character rigger is through animating your setups!!!

Oh, and keep up the good work!


10-02-2002, 04:20 PM
dwalden74, Thanks for the comments/critiques, they are really helpful! :thumbsup:

I'll try to answer a few of your questions.

The rig is not meant to be basic, but instead give the animator total control over the character. The Circles are there for the FK back rotation, so 3 boxes for IK 3 circles for FK, one control object to translate/rotate all of them.

I'd like to hear more about what you think particularly regarding this comment:
"Those extra back control cube-splines are additionally confusing, especially with the y-rotation/spine twist, which I would not find very intuitive if I were animating."

If you rotated the cubes and the IK back didn't follow, then what would be the point? If you find a better way to do this, please let me know, so I can include it.

I agree about the shelf instead of the MEL window. I don't use the sliders, I don't use the selection boxes, but some people like stuff like that, so I threw it in. It's different for everyone. You can always just close the MEL window and animate using the control objects traditionally. I actually plan on making a shelf with little icons for each control (picture of the hand for the hand selection, etc).

The warning for the poses is just to show the animator that they have broken the physical limitations of the character. An added helper, really not neccessary though if you have a good animator.
I'm working on a demo reel right now, so i'm pretty much inluding everything on this rig I can think of that I haven't already done.

I see your point about the feet, although I personally found it way easier to use. I don't like negative foot rolls, I'd rather have something to target exactly where everything is going.

I usually do the set driven keys on the clavicles and scapulas to adjust for the arms moving, however, it's easier for an animator to put it in exactly what they want than for them to counter animate the whole time the set driven keys. Maybe a switch to turn it on or off would be helpful for this.

The main thing people keep telling me about rigging is "total control" for the animator, so I'm trying as best I can do tailor the rig to meet those needs. It's hard because everyone has their own way of animating.

I appreciate your suggestions, keep em coming! :)

10-02-2002, 04:53 PM
Just thought I'd give everyone a glimpse of what I'm working on today...Very much a WIP but take a peek:

http://www.electronicgaming.com/muscletest.avi (720KB)

Let me know what you think...I hope to have the modeling part finished by the end of the day.




Gentle Fury
10-02-2002, 08:46 PM
wow, the muscles look great!! I cant wait to see those set-up....hollow man style!! Hey joe, btw, you remember me? I met you and matt at siggraph in the food court :) Gave you a card......and a bullhorn if im not mistakin....lol. Mine was the nifty black one with the shiny letters :) So, have you started applying places??

And Jason, you look SOOOOOO familiar.......when did you graduate?? Better yet what was your final project, as i remember people better that way (since we got to see them every day!!).

Well keep it up, maybe try setting up a more cartoony character next, and give him all the squash and stretch traits we have all come to know and love from Tex Avairy and the likes :) I would love to see someone make a good cartoon setup! If your interested (and not easily offended) i might need your expertise on a project i have planned (though, i'm just in the writing and story boardin phase now, so it wouldnt be for a lil while).

Happy Rendering!!!.................and Rigging!!

10-02-2002, 08:54 PM
Heya Gentle Fury,

I graduated from UCSB back in '96.. what was my final project? I don't remember! my second to last year I did a really long piece that was very embarrasing.. lots of moving cameras.. odd music.. no character animation at all (d'oh!) :) My last year in university was spent doing more teaching & interning at Alias|Wavefront than really doing my own project.

If I do look familiar tho, it may be because I've been doing demos & talks for the past 6 years.. so if you've ever seen a Maya demo at Siggraph, or in the past 3 years seen a LOTR talk by an animator.. it might have been me. :)


10-02-2002, 09:42 PM
Hey Jason, if you don't mind sharing, on LOTR do you guys use Dynamic simulations for muscle deformations? :) If so...and if you can tell..do you guys build skeletons and muscles for each character and use soft/rigid body simulations for the fx? If not and you do something besides influence objects :rolleyes: for the muscles I'd really love to hear!

Gentle Fury, I do remember you, I actually checked out your website when I got back from the conference. Cool stuff. As far as setting up something cartoony...maybe someday, but right now I'm really going as realistic as I can get..I don't think cartoony will be getting me a job :annoyed: plus i'm looking forward to animating this crazy muscle system....I just finished modeling him, now to start the setup (yay!).

I haven't started applying for jobs yet, just been making contacts over the last few months..Hoping to find some work in film or games doing setup. I wouldn't mind starting out as an enveloper or something, just whatever gets me in the door.




10-02-2002, 09:45 PM
Heya joe,

we have a plugin written in house which handles all our skinning & muscle dynamics.. the only thing we really use maya dynamics for is some particle stuff, and maya cloth for the clothing and other dynamics. that's about it, tho! :)


10-02-2002, 09:53 PM
Cool, thanks Jason!

I know Maya dynamics aren't that great... :surprised
but I dont have much of a choice :) I'm gonna turn these bones into rigid bodies, the muscles into soft bodies...hit play...and well...pray...

seriously though, I think it'll work out ok as long as I don't "experiment" too much and start letting Maya make decisions for me..heh..

btw, how do you think the muscles look so far? I should update again, cuz I just finished modeling them, the skull, feet, and hands are bare though, looks kinda freaky!



10-02-2002, 09:56 PM
I'm on a linux box, so unfortunately I can't see your movies right now.. :( when I'm done with my shots, I'll check 'em out on my mac.

yeehaw! :)

btw.. maya dynamics aren't bad, we just are using our own 'cuz its easier for us.. you can certainly use maya's soft body dynamics to do muscle dynamics!


10-02-2002, 10:08 PM
ahh i see, that's cool then, i'll have it updated by the time you look at it. :)

side note...I just watched the LOTR2 trailer off the apple site.
looks like Weta is giving ILM a run for their money in the FX department..from Massive :drool: to explosions you guys are setting new standards for everything! I am going to pick my jaw up off the floor now and attempt to recollect myself... :drool: :applause:

Gentle Fury
10-03-2002, 01:59 AM
maybe someday, but right now I'm really going as realistic as I can get..I don't think cartoony will be getting me a job

dont knock cartoony style! Even if the places you are applying to dont use it doesnt mean it would be bad. As a matter of fact, a rig for a character that is totally outside the box would be a great portfolio piece as it demonstrates ultra-diversity, and the ability to stick it out when it comes to an unusual project!

Your not only going to be working on bi-peds or even anything that exists in real life. So making a rig for something that you can't observe in nature work well, then that is def a step up for you! ;) ;)

Oh yeah and jason, were you at the Maya party at siggraph this year?? I'm still trying to figure out where i know you from......lol

Happy Rendering!!!.........and Expression Slaving **blip blip**

10-03-2002, 03:06 AM
Yeah, cartoony stuff rocks! :)

Yep, I was at the maya party.. I was actually up on stage at one point receiving a "Maya Master" award.. (oooh.. ahhh.. haha :). Coulda seen me there!

Thanks -dc-! We're trying.. but ya gotta remember.. we've got people from ILM here.. and people from here are at ILM.. people in the industry move around quite a bit.. it's really more due to the director/art directors who determine the look and who decide what is correct in the end. With enough time, dedication, and correct direction, it's possible to get anything really.. just gotta have someone at the top making the right decisions. :)


Gentle Fury
10-03-2002, 05:53 AM
That's where i met ya then!! I knew you looked familiar! As a matter of fact i was standing right next to you thru the demonstration, saw you go up to the podium and saw your friend/s near ya shake your hand as you came off the stage.....lol = ;) That was a pretty fun party.......i was hanging out with the drunk brits from Double Negative and Henson Workshop all nite....those guys know how to party man! Oh yah and Drew from Xbox....he's a cool cat! Ah Siggraph, that was a fun week of drunken dibotchery.......ummmm and the convention was cool too ;)

10-03-2002, 06:07 AM
hey joe just had a look at your latest rig, wow really coming on nicely:thumbsup: , i like the idea of a selection shelf.
and keep the mel window, its fun just to play around with:D


10-03-2002, 01:07 PM
Hey thanks fish! I'll finish the rig after i'm done with the muscles, and i'll post an update when it's ready.




10-03-2002, 01:24 PM
what, still not finished:shame:
it's not like u rigging with muscles or ....errrrr no wait never mind:D


10-03-2002, 03:27 PM
hehe fish...yeah, i'm a slacker! :cool:

I can't decide how to do these muscles...a couple ways I think would work: use lattices with clusters, set driven keys for the flexing, or smooth bind, add some influence objects, or make clusters out of the geometry itself, arghh too many decisions...

are there any other ways I don't know about that anyone would reccommend?



10-04-2002, 04:12 PM
got the muscles bound to lattices which are bound to the joints, working out ok so far. Next steps are to edit the weights, and make everything flex and move properly before adding a character on top. :)

here's a quick pose I did with the initial bind...




10-07-2002, 12:58 AM
A quick update for everyone. I went through and got rid of the control circles that everyone was complaining about. There are now only 3 control objects for the entire back/hips. Let me know if this works better... :)




10-07-2002, 12:34 PM
Hi dc-
I glanced at your updated rig today and it seems your going in the right direction. You mentioned that one of your goals was to give the animator maximum control, and while I do agree with this, you should aim to make the rig as understandable, simple and user-friendly as possible, allowing the animator to focus on animating in a natural and creative way instead of animating "against the rig" or wasting time trying to figure out how to get certain poses, etc... So, again , the best advice I can give is to animate the thing in a practical situation. Or if youīre not happy with your animation skills then give it to an animator collegue or friend to test it out. Thatīs probably the best thing you could do at this point... then, just take it from there!

Happy rigging-

10-10-2002, 05:48 PM
Hey thanks alot for the feedback Dwalden, really appreciate it!

I'd like to get your guys opinion on my muscle system, and how it's coming along. I've got a little clip of it going pose to pose on a turntable. If you see anything that needs fixin, let me know! All comments/suggestions/crits welcome as always...


Best regards,



10-18-2002, 12:47 AM
Well everyone, my time at school has come to an end, and I have made a demo reel! I will update the skeleton rig soon with some new features I have been working on for everyone to download.

You can check out my demo reel here:


It's 720X486 19.1MB DivX AVI @3:10, sorry for the big file size!

Let me know what you think!!!




10-19-2002, 07:42 AM
Hi Joe!

I'm a Maya student who wants to mainly focus on character animation, and so I've been trying out any rigs I can find on the net to see what I like/dislike in a rig.

So far I really like yours! I'm making a little animation test with it so that I can find out if anything bugs me. So far there are just a few little things I would add/change..

(if you can already do any of these things just yell at me)

1. It would be really cool if you could choose to set the hands to move with the body as apposed to being sticky.

2. Would it be possible to somehow link the arm pole vector controls to the arms/body so that they don't just stay there. Because in my animation test I practically have to animate the pole vectors as much as the hands.

For example, the skeleton jumps back in surprise, which causes the elbows to aim forward to point to the stationary pole vector constraints. Obviously you still need to animate them, but if they at least moved with the body, that would help. :)

Along the same lines, the controller that moves both feet and the controller that moves the whole setup stay stationary also. Though I suspect that would be hard to change without them affecting the rest of the setup...

3. Negative footroll would be cool. To tip the foot back on it's heel.

4. The previously mentioned UpBack not twisting.

5. A slider for making all fingers (per hand) clench at once would be nice.

Also, I haven't been using the 'Window of controls' except for the fingers. So perhaps you could make a 'Lite' version that only dealt with things that can't really be animated in the viewport, like fingers and toes, footroll etc.

6. This is mainly a maya thing but, you've nicely coloured all the controllers, but as soon as any of them are selected, they all turn purple to show that they are linked, which means you have to deselect everything if you want to see where things are.

Apart from all the above hehe, I'm finding your rig to work wonderfully. Just two more questions/ideas:

1. Is there a reason why the rig is centered at 0,0,0 rather than having his feet on the ground plane? Because I would have thought that most peoples 'floor levels' would be at 0,0,0

2. Hehe if for instance......someone say.......accidentally closed your 'Window of conrols'.........how would they get them back? :shrug:

I know my post is long and makes it seem like there are many things I don't like, but that's not the case. I am still able to easily animate with it. I just think it could be even better!

And of course, everything I've posted it just my opinion, and is based on what I personally like.


10-19-2002, 07:53 AM
Oh and you can't seem to be able to set keyframes in the 'Window of controls'.

Ok that's definitely it!!!

Did I mention you're the greatest???

10-19-2002, 09:14 AM
Hi Jozvex, thanks for all the feedback. I'm glad to hear your animating the rig!

Let me try to answer some of your questions...Also, I will have an update soon of the rig with some new features.

As for the questions:

1. I agree, however, feedback from some animators told me otherwise, and they preferred having the hands separate. This one's just personal preference really.

2. Same answer for the pole vector constraints. They were originally parented to the hands, however, they were causing too much counter animation/stress on the animator, so I left them seperate. If you want to change it, all you need to do is parent the pole vectors to the hand control boxes.

3. Negative footroll is coming on the next update. I wrote an expression that helps keep the controls as "floor targets".

4. This one's got me boggled....I got it twisting, but not really...I dunno, this one I HAVE to figure out..just for my own personal satisfaction if nothing else :)

5. Hey great idea! I'll go ahead and do that :thumbsup:

6. This is all Maya prefs, can't really help you here.

I do think most people use the grid as the floor, but I didn't in this case. I will from now on though, as I think it will make everything easier.

If you close the control window, in Maya, go to Window>Animation Editors>Expression Editor, Click on Filter select "Script Node" and then click on "character controls" and hit "test". That'll do it!

To set keys using the window you have to right click over the attribute you want to key...I might make a lite version of this like you suggested. The window serves as no use to myself, I use character sets (which the next update will also have).

Thanks for all the comments/suggestions, I really appreciate it!
Let me know how your animation turns out.. I'll let you know as soon as I have an update for you to download. Take care!

Best regards,



10-19-2002, 10:36 AM
Updated Skeleton Rig for download!!


I still have to finish the hands, they need a bit more work.

New features:

UpBack Twist problem solved
Arm Turn Solution added
New Finger Expressions
FootRoll Expression for Negative footroll
Character Set for Animation
Little things here and there.... :)

If you have any questions/complaints/comments let me know!

Best regards,


10-20-2002, 02:57 AM
Thanks for taking in my suggestions and responding!

And thanks for the updated skeleton!

UpBack Twist problem solved


Arm Turn Solution added

Can you elaborate on that? What do you mean?

New Finger Expressions

Again, what are they?

I like the new finger control objects though!

FootRoll Expression for Negative footroll

That's good, though I was expecting it to pivot back from the heel rather than from the ball of the foot. It may again just be personal preference, but I can see some problems with having it pivot back from the ball.


If you look at the image I have attached, I took screenshots of the footroll progressing from one extent to the other. Not only does the foot roll, it moves quite a large distance as well. Which means you would need to animate against that distance while it rolls.

Get what I mean? It should stay along that blue line.

Character Set for Animation


Hehe I must be annoying but oh well.

10-20-2002, 03:37 AM
I see your point, and I agree...Fixed the footroll and updated again.

Made a simple IK/FK switching script too for the arms and legs.

Thanks for the feedback as always!



10-20-2002, 07:00 AM
Hi again,

That FK/IK switcher is great!

But of course, it would be even greater if the IK On/Off checkboxes were ticked by default, because IK is on by default and so to turn it off, you need to tick the box and then untick it again hehe! :p

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist picking on that.

But one thing I forgot to mention again in my previous post is that even though you say that keyframes can be set via the 'Window of Controls', I still can't get it to work!

If you right click on a control slider you get these options:

The path to the attribute
Set Driven Key
Break Connection
Lock Attribute
Ignore when rendering

There's no Set Key!

And now back to the footroll. It is now much improved, but is it possible to stop the heel from sliding?

In this latest version it rolls back from he ankle, which I supposed is more realistic, but could it be made to roll back from a new location at the back of the heel?

I'm really glad you are making all of these improvements! I'm bound to run out of ideas soon and then it'll be my dream rig I think!

10-20-2002, 07:51 AM
Hey Jozvex,

I think it's time for me to put on my coding hat and go to work on a new more "animator friendly" MEL window, as this one is, well, useless :cool:

I'll make one that has all the keying features you'll ever need....and I'll fix that heel sliding around. :thumbsup:

If you do any animations with it, let me know, I'd love to see them!




10-22-2002, 05:07 PM
Ok, major update to the rig:

3 new mel windows
Shelf with Custom Icons

:) Download, play with it, tell me what you think....


you'll need WinRAR to uncompress, which you can download free
at: www.download.com

Best regards,


10-23-2002, 02:09 PM
I might have some time to check out your file shortly...looks/sounds good so far.

10-23-2002, 03:00 PM
haha. Ok, thread exploded overnight.

The rig looks really nice!

Jason, I aspire to be a moleman. One of those morlocks locked away in the basement. (Though to be honest I would rather be part of a smaller house so I could have more input) You use skin simulation? I can't figure out what kind of surface to use that slides over the muscles without 'snagging'. Of course, I am only me and don't have a R&D department. (Well... I have a notepad and a toilet. Spend creative time every day or so)

But yeah, that rig looks nice. Is this going to be an underlay for a skin deformation?

10-30-2002, 05:00 AM
Hey Zero, thanks for the compliments...it will in fact be an underlay for a soft body deformation system to affect the skin, i'll add fat pads and tendons too.



11-08-2002, 02:30 AM
It's me again!

All the improvements are great!


The arm pole vectors are giving me LOTS of trouble. I probably just don't know any good techniques for working with them.

In my animation, the skeleton puts his left hand up to his face and it's then that the pole vector goes beserk.

Any slight movement in that hand makes the elbow zoom around all over the place no matter where I move the pole vector constraint.

Oh and it appears that lifting a foot so that his knee is near his body causes the leg bones to separate.


Maximus Groff
12-17-2002, 08:35 PM
Hi there..

i downloaded your 'rig' and this is what happening to my minot.

Im going for the arms now.. any suggestions ?


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