I've been using Max since v3 (I am using cgSkin with v8) and have a pretty good understanding of the basics but not much of the advanced (i.e. most of the stuff covered on these boards). I have used Max to model mostly Battletech oriented machines for about 5 years and have only been attempting to skin for the past few months. I am not a professional cg person, but my knowledge of Max is enough to generate extra cash that the program pays for itself (mostly through doing simple 3d logo work for folks to cheap to pay a pro).
The models I am using are the Joan of Arc tutorial model I made (around 30K verts) and several different Poser 6 meshes imported as .obj's (around 33k verts).
When using cgSkin I use it as in the tutorial. I snapshot my model, then removed the poly's from around the joints, detach the remaining polys as new objects and link them to their associated bones of a biped the apply the cgSkin modifier to the original mesh and use the parted out polys as the control points. I have had very good success with the spine, forearm/bicep, thigh/calf, calf/foot, forearm/hand.. etc. The trouble I have is with the thigh/pelvis and a small bit bicep/clavical (though the b/c is mostly due to me trying to move them in an unnatural manner).
On the thigh/pelvis I have the rear working really good. I have removed the polys on the thigh down to about 1/5th of the thigh and for the pelvis just about 1/4 up the bum, flexing looks very natural forewards, backwards, sideways. The front is driving me crazy though. I have progressively removed polys from both the front of the thigh and the front of the pelvis to the point that both deform beyond what looks natural and have left polys in to the point of only 1 row of missing polys separating the pelvis from the thigh, but I continue to see the same problem, which is: When the thigh is rotated up above 50-60deg the entire front of the hip joint basically becomes impressionist art, faces pop in different directions completely unnaturally. The inner thigh will pucker creating a noticable pocket (even with no opposing pelvis control polys near). The only way to rid this is to leave the control polys of the front thigh going up almost completely to the pelvis, but when this is done the outside of the thigh then 'tears' as the polys begin overlapping the hip (again even if there are no opposing control polys for the pelvis close by). I tried doing the 'elbow trick' as in the tutorial but it just resulted in the model skin tearing much earlier. I also tried apply cgSkin modifier to the control point polys before using them to drive the main model polys, but it did not see to make any difference in the behavior of the joints.
I want to like cgSkin, I really really want to like it. But I just can't justify the money for it if I can not use it successfully at least once in the two week trial period. I have spent an average of about 4 hours a night working on it at am just not getting anywhere.
So my question is: Does anyone know where I can find a tutorial for cgSkin that focuses on skinning the human pelvis/thighs? If I could just get that one thing to work I would be all about shelling out the cash for cgSkin.