View Full Version : xenoid Huntress Torso Maya 7.0

12 December 2006, 12:16 AM
Booked a thread here to start with! Will look at it once I get home from work. :thumbsup:

Thanks twidup for this great initiative!

12 December 2006, 03:37 PM
Just started to look at the model itself. Separated the armor parts. Gave them naming conventions. Organised the model scene. And here's the result:

Initial design plans:
1. Torso Rig
- Planning to use ribbon spine setup. Even though its a hyper real character, animators have feedback to me before that they would prefer a setup that can be easily used to pose their character. Would attempt to stabilise my research on creating ribbon spine setup using pointOnSurface nodes instead of Maya Hair. Might add in additional FK controls too.
2. Head/Neck Rig
- Basic FK neck which will automatically rotate according to head rotation
- Head Aim control with additional FK control

That's about it for now. Next would be joints creation.

12 December 2006, 07:04 PM
I take it that you are using the tutorial from the Rigging for Feature ANimation DVD as the basis for the theory and then taking it in a different direction so that oyu don't have to use Maya Unlimited if you don't have it available to you. I think this is a great idea, since there would be animators out there that may not have unlimited.

I had to do some quick research to see what you were talking about. But I do understand the basics of what is going on. I do seperated set-up for my parts with controllers.

Though I think I need to take a look into the ribbon setup for my rigging class I am teaching next semester.

12 December 2006, 12:23 AM
Hey Darksuit, you are the most active guy out here in this Rigging Challenge. :)

Yup the basis is from that DVD, but wana make it available for people without Maya Unlimited like what you said.

So many things to do! So little time! :scream:

12 December 2006, 02:09 AM
Thanks =)

I think that once more people start to join in we will see some good ideas... I am looking forward to Peter Thomas' rig. =) I also wonder Proton will do something as well. He did however provide the model.

I have the next month off. So I am using this as a way to relax a bit. =)

12 December 2006, 06:59 AM
Finally got down to create the basic joint hierarchy of the character.

Spent quite some time on this step as I feel this is very important for all the rigging to come. Joints will not be created for the armor pieces yet as they will be of a separate hierarchy. Extra helper skin joints placed in the rib and breasts areas to get a good default skinning. Below are some tests (all Maya default skin weights):

Spine Twist:


Placing one extra joint at the shoulder area tend to hold the volume for the deltoid areas. Something that I always do after reading the Inspired 3D Advanced Rigging and Deformations book. Great book!

Next up, Ribbon Spine setup.

12 December 2006, 09:09 AM
Nice Deformations Xen. However, I am more interested in checking out the Ribbon Spine Setup. I have heard a LOT about it...cheers man

12 December 2006, 12:04 PM
First step of ribbon spine - the creation of ribbon skin joints. Made use of pointOnSurfaceInfo nodes and aimConstraints to obtain my "follicle on surface" effect.

Difference between my method and using of hair follicles:
In my setup, when the CVs of the surface are moved sideways, the skin joints will be able to follow the curvature of the surface as you can see in the left pic. As for hair follicles, the orientation of the joints remain constant when the surface is pulled sideways. Even though I feel that this is a plus point for my setup (other than the fact that we dun require Maya Unlimited), I will investigate further to see if there are any undesirable implications on the final setup.

After the skin joints are done, next will be the way to control them.

12 December 2006, 06:13 AM
Completed the controls for the ribbon spine. As you can see, it consists of an upper spine controller, a mid controller and the hip controller. All these controls can be translated and rotated. Basic idea is this:
- Skin the ribbon surface created earlier on to 3 joints, the upperSpine, mid and hip joints, which are controlled by the respective controllers. In this way, you can use 3 controls to control the 5 ribbon skin joints.
- The mid controller is point constrained to the upperSpine and hip controller, and also aimConstrained to the upperSpine controller. The mid controller will then be able to follow the transformation of any of the upper and lower controllers.
- The rotation values of the upperSpine and hip controllers are plugged into a blendColors node and the output connected to the mid control joint rotations. This created a nice twist when the upperSpine or the hip controller is twisted.

No usual FK hierarchy controls, and I may add them in if I have the time.

I documented all these down as I go along with this character and will hope to release it to you all once I have the time to clean up all the bad English and organization of the document. :scream:

Having said that, I have not yet put this spine rig thru a stress test. But I guess once the whole character is out, I would be glad if any one of you can test it out for me. :thumbsup:

Oh and forgive me for the hanging eyeballs. :D

I also wana say a BIG thank you to Aaron Holly, for his sharing of the ribbon spine technique and the always-so-helpful him. Buy the Rigging for Feature Animation DVD guys! It's really good. Not forgetting the Skinning for Feature Animation and the newly released Facial Rigging for Feature Animation. Find them here (!

As usual, feel free to bombard me with opinions or advice if you do forsee me going the wrong way for this kind of rig!

12 December 2006, 06:40 AM
Looks good so far. Yea, I'd be interested in giving this spine a good thrashing about. *nod nod* Also, I'd be interested in seeing the file .. just to see it.

It looks like it is quite robust, and if you can control it using an IK methodology, then it seems to be all the easier. I do have a few points of clarification though...

When you made the spine, did you make a ribbon for the entire length of the spine, or just the length of the midsection? Also did you just use a nurbs plane with the afforementioned nodes to create the ribbon?

Other than that, it looks like the deformation would be quite smooth and easy to animate with. Keep up the fine work.


12 December 2006, 06:48 AM
Woah Tux, you replied real fast. :thumbsup:

When you made the spine, did you make a ribbon for the entire length of the spine, or just the length of the midsection?
The ribbon is created only for the lower back region, which realistically is the flexible part of the spine. The upper part consists of the rib cage, which prevents too much deformation on the torso. As such, only the lower torso region is given the ribbon.

Also did you just use a nurbs plane with the afforementioned nodes to create the ribbon?
Yes I used a nurbs plane to create the ribbon.

It looks like it is quite robust, and if you can control it using an IK methodology, then it seems to be all the easier.
I'm not too sure though, as some animators do want the FK hierarchy controls to be there. So more comments would be greatly welcomed. :)

12 December 2006, 04:53 PM
Did an initial Head/Neck rig test:

- Typical FK hierarchy neck rig
- Experiment with space switching for head controller using orientConstraints and scriptJobs
> head controller parented to neck2 controller, but orientConstrained to 2 groups - the world parent grp and the body parent grp.
> Both grps have the same orientation as the head joint in the beginning
> Body parent grp is parented to the end of the neck joints while World parent grp is parented to a group outside the hierarchy of the rig
> With an enum attribute on the head controller, setDrivenKey is used to switch between the 2 orientConstraint weights when the enum attribute is toggled.
> A scriptJob is created such that when the enum attribute is toggled, it will match the orientations of the 2 parent grps so that the parent space switching will be seamless.

1. A mechanism need to be in place so that when the head controller is reset to zero, the world/body parent grps need to go back to default values. Use scriptJob again??
2. Scriptjobs may not be the best of ways. But I would prefer my rig to be self-contained, instead of having to source and run mel scripts when something is triggered. Hmmm...

This space switching thing has been bugging me for quite some time now, and I'm glad I'm able to spend some time to work something out for this challenge. Any experts out there on this space switching issue please feel free to advise me on this matter!

More tests will be done to stabilize this. And following that will be the head aim controller, and making the neck controls rotate when the head controller is rotated.

Any advice or opinions will be greatly appreciated! :)

12 December 2006, 01:10 AM
Thanks for posting that variation to the Ribbon Spine, Xen!

12 December 2006, 04:50 AM
Dude....great work so far. :applause:

As far as your parent switching mechanism goes, why don't you try out zooTriggered? Closest thing which does what you want, without getting your hands dirtied in scriptjobs....Ok I know it creates it's own scriptjob, but heck, at least you don't have to do it....

12 December 2006, 07:03 AM
Yo thanks for the tip! I did consider zooTriggered before, but if it were to create scriptJobs too, I think I would prefer to get my hands dirty with it! :bounce:

12 December 2006, 04:05 PM
Just thought I wana spend some time sharing how I created the ribbon spine using pointOnSurfaceInfo nodes and aimConstraints instead of Maya Hair follicles. Here goes:

1. Suppose now I want to create the ribbon spine between my upper spine and hip as shown in the picture below:
Using the CV tool, create a degree-1 curve (start curve) across the hip joint below (known as start joint from now on). Create the same curve (end curve) across the upper spine above (known as end joint). Rebuild the curves using the Rebuild Curve function with options degree=3 cubic and number of spans=1.

2. Loft a surface from the start curve to the end curve with default options. Delete the start and end curves. Then Rebuild Surfaces with Number of Spans U = 1, Number of Spans V = 4, Degree U = 1, Degree V = 3 and the rest default. This will be the result.

3. Next will be making the joints "stick" to the surface. In this case, we will be creating 5 joints altogether, each joint on each isoparm. First, create a pointOnSurfaceInfo node by typing this into the script editor:createNode pointOnSurfaceInfo;

4. Using the Connection Editor, connect the World Space attribute of the shape node of the lofted surface to the Input Surface attribute of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node. Alternatively you can type this into the script editor:
connectAttr -f loftedSurfaceShape.worldspace[0] pointOnSurfaceInfo1.inputSurface;
Set the U value and V value of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node to 0.5 and 0.001 respectively.

5. Create 3 empty groups and name them posGrp, aimGrp and upGrp. They should all be at the origin. Then parent the aimGrp and upGrp to the posGrp.

6. Using the Connection Editor or script editor, connect the position attribute of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node to the translate attribute of the posGrp, the tangentU attribute of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node to the translate attribute of the upGrp, and lastly the tangentV attribute of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node to the translate attribute of the aimGrp.

7. Next, create a joint and parent it to the posGrp. Set all the translate and rotate values of the joint to zero to position and orient it to the posGrp.

8. Select the joint and hit Ctrl-g to create an extra group on top of the joint. Then aimConstraint this extra group to the aimGrp, with World Up Type as Object Up, and use the upGrp as the World Up Object. Just to take note, I want my joint orientation to be the same as that of the upperSpine joints, with my y axis up, and secondary z-axis on the positive x axis region. Thus, my aimConstraint will have Aim Vector as 0 1 0, and Up Vector as 0 0 1. With respect to the surface, the tangent U direction will coincide with my up vector, thus connecting the tangentU of the pointOnSurfaceInfo node to the upGrp. Same thing applies for the aimGrp.

9. Repeat steps 3 to 8 for the other 4 joints, varying the V value in step 4 to be 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 0.999.

With this setup, when the CVs of the ribbon surface is moved, each pointOnSurfaceInfo node on the surface will evaluate a new position, tangentU and tangentV value, thus changing the position and orientation of each joint. Thus the result:

After this will be a way to deform the surface as you deem fit. Like what I described earlier, I deformed the surface using 3 joints skinned to it.

That's it! Hope this helps and I'm glad to share my findings with you all. :bounce:

01 January 2007, 02:33 PM
More or less finished with the torso rig.

Low res Youtube vid:

This will be tentatively my final torso rig. I feel that ultimately, if this character would be used in production, I would setup scripts in shelves or character pickers to do the space switching instead of using script nodes. Much cleaner and faster approach. Thus, I took them out here, and space switching of the head control would be the usual "jump" of parent contraints.

Added in FK controls on the ribbon spine, so now you can use the usual FK hierarchy spine controls and yet have the flexibility of directly translating the upper, mid and hip controls.

Added aim control of the head. This creates an additional option of head control space switching.

Created very rough IK on the legs so that the pelvis control is moved to give a brief idea of how the final rig hierarchy will be.

Hope to get more crits and comments so that I can improve on this further. Thanks!

01 January 2007, 04:17 PM
Nice goin Xen, although IMHO, I think you ought to get rif\d of the stretchyness. After all this is a Hyper real challenge...P.S. for the input of the point onSurface node, you could also use your surface's ".local" attribute....thats what the follicles use

01 January 2007, 04:39 PM
Thanks for the comments.

Yeah i'm trying to think of a way to restrict the amount of stretchiness in the spine rig, but yet still able to allow the animator to directly translate them. Let's see if I can come up with something. :)

01 January 2007, 01:18 AM
Whoa, awesome spine setup. It's been a couple of months since I touched Maya, those DVD's seem like a good purchase. Think I'll go order them this weekend!

01 January 2007, 01:23 AM
Thanks Stewart!

Yeah the DVDs are awesome... Go get them! You wun regret it. :)

01 January 2007, 09:42 PM
Xenoid, thanks for sharing some of your rigging techniques.

I checked out your rig video and was encouraged to see your progress so far. I noticed that you can key the translational values on the controllers, whereby enabling stretch. It's just an opinion, but I think that your rig is GREAT for a cartoony rig but not appropriate for a Hyper Real rig. I try to avoid keying any translational values that I can avoid because when animating a huge scene, translating objects all over the place gets really confusing. It also doubles the amount of animation curves that the scene is dealing with, whereby making it harder to tweak the overall animation. That said, I do like the focus piramid that you used for your head aim constraint and it reminded me to incorporate it into my own rig. I also don't know how anyone other than a belly dancer can move just their belly around independant of moving their upper torso. So I don't know if I'd allow my animators to do it either except on a cartoon rig.

Have you weighted/parented the armor to the torso yet? I know that armor testing isn't till like the 4th month, but we should all be thinking about it earlier rather than later. Let me know if you have any automation solutions I can try out! ;)

I posted my video as well and welcome an equally detailed critique. I don't want you to view this as a personal attack on your rigging skills, simply suggestions for future rigging techniques that you should keep in mind.

Keep up the creativity! I love it when people think outside of the box!

01 January 2007, 12:37 AM
Thanks for dropping by my thread N8Girard!

Yeah I understand your concerns about Hyper-Real rig not requiring translation controls. I did struggle with myself in the beginning, but I still went ahead with the translation controls so that animators can have more options to create the pose they require. If I have the time, I'll think of a way to restrict the translation such that it will not be TOO stretchy. :P

Not too sure about the "moving belly around independant of moving upper torso" part, but sometimes, they do want to easily define a pose of a certain area of the body without it moving other parts. So that they do not need to counter-animate. I do not animate much myself, but just did it based on comments from other animators I know.

Wonder if I have enough time to finish this part ultimately, but I'll try my best. Still got some glitches to iron out.

01 January 2007, 07:53 AM

You are right, some animators DO value the overall pose more than the motion itself. It's a difference in style of animation really. Pose to Pose animation (like in Madagascar) is intended for quick, snappy movements where the audience reads the motion in the clarity of the poses that are actually held. In that instance, it is the value of the silhoette of the pose that determines the quality of animation. So, for an animation style like that, a rig where everything is independantly controlled without disrupting the other pose elements is valuable.

Another style is to take the pose and offset each of the bones to facilitate waves of forces flowing through the body. In that case, it is crucial for each bone to affect the others on down the chain so that a proper wave can be created through the body. This fluid motion is appealing to the eye and often leads to the breaking of every bone in the chain in order to see the wave. Animators who animate in this style need no limits and will break the rig many times over to get the motion that they want out of it. Just like Goofy's reverse foot drag, impossible poses often lead to beautiful motion so long as the wave can be seen in the offset of bones.

So you see, we are both right. It just depends on the animation style of the animator that you are working with. :thumbsup:

01 January 2007, 08:06 AM
Nice insight into the issue N8Girard. Thanks for the great explanation! :thumbsup:

01 January 2007, 08:24 AM
Just recieved my issue of 3D world Mag in the mail the other day (issue 87) one of the things in the issue was what looks like a Ribbon spine setup without useing the hair folicle method.

01 January 2007, 08:37 AM
Hmm I'll try to look at it if I can get hold of one. Thanks!

01 January 2007, 03:27 PM
Finally got some time to get down to getting better deformations, fixing some bugs with the rig, and making it more stable to use. No restrictions imposed on the translation of the spine controls, so it allows more flexibilty for animators. However, it will be up to the animators to determine how much is too much. :)

This is my final torso rig:

Still noticed some glitches in waist deformation after I have finished the video, so will go back to correcting that in the final stages of the rig.

Next up, ARMS!

01 January 2007, 04:10 PM
Good job Xenoid! I checked out your video and I think you've got some very nice deformations and excellent automation for the spine twists and bends. That ribbon spine worked very well I see! I also like that you incorporated an FK spine as well. I also like the simplicity of the rig controls. There are very few of them and it is very obvious what each one does. Of course it will get more complex with each challenge, but right now it looks like you are doing a good job of keeping the number of controls and therefore the number of keyframes down.

My only comment is that I still don't see any breast controls yet. That's fine if you are treating the upper torso armor as metal, which it looks like you are doing, but you should be able to see the tops of her breasts jiggle just a little bit even with the metal "bra" on. Of course it's up to you whether or not you want to implement them, and they don't even have to be implemented until the armor stage anyway since they directly move within the armor.

Good work though so far! It's been a fun challenge and it's great to see everyone's unique approaches to it! Keep it up! :thumbsup:

01 January 2007, 01:49 AM
Thanks for checking it out N8Girard!

Yeah I also like the fact that the ribbon spine can be twisted on both ends, which creates much more freedom in creating poses. I must say the FK controls do not work as well as that in splineIK spines, but it does help in giving more options in the spine controls.

I'm leaving the breasts controls aside first. These will be more of the final stages, whereby i'll add all the subtle details into the rig. Just that I am doing a modular approach, which I'll tackle all the main components of the rigs first, then go on to the small parts. Thanks for the reminder though! :)

01 January 2007, 04:37 AM
Yea, that is a great way to approach it. You could do the subtle dynamics after all the key parts are done. This way you don't waste you time doing jiggles when your arms may erase the effect.

01 January 2007, 10:41 AM
Hey guys...!
This is one of the best threads I've seen in months...! I got a link to this thread from another one which was recently posted in the Maya character setup forum, until now I neva knew such a forum existed...!

I would like to thank Xenoid a whole bunchh for sharing your rigging skills and the way you did the ribbon spine setup along with also sharing the information on the dvd by Aaron.
I checked out your rig on the youtube link & dude, your rig & deformations are awesome and very realistic... I really liked the way the spine bends when you twist the character's hips. Obviously you have put in hours of effort for achieving such an awesome professional result.

My thanks to Nathanael Girard to for sharing your opinions on the whole process... I also saw your reel and the work you had done in your TD reel. It sure was very inspiring for me...

I myself am workin on my current rig which will be rigging of an Ogre which was modelled by a friend of mine at Gentle Giant.. along with my toon rig which is right now with my animator who will be animating it. Had tons of issues which had to be fixed but it sure was worth the effort...

anywayz.. I'm signin off now.. N keep up the good work guys..!


01 January 2007, 03:21 PM
Wow thanks a lot for your kind comments Nikhil! I'm just sharing the little I know and experimented with everyone. Hey, we all took a lot from the community, so it's always good if I have something to give back. :)

I'll need to thank Aaron Holly too for his generosity in agreeing to me sharing the techniques with you all. Go get the DVDs if you can. They're superb...

Your dragon rig looks awesome too by the way! :thumbsup:

01 January 2007, 08:38 PM
Hey Xen...!

Thanks a ton for appreciating my work..Fellow riggers are hard to find in todays CG industry... n I'm glad tht guys like you are willing to share what you have learnt...

Well.. as for me.. I've been relying heavily on the Art of Rigging series by CG Toolkit along with the Alias learning DVDs. I did learn a lot from too... n yeah I sure am going to get the dvds you mentioned.. All said n done its a learning process.. & as long as we have the will to learn n share its always for the better of us all... I guess I'll be putting up my rigging challenge on the Ogre once I start work on that in a week or so...


Take care...!!

& Happy Rigging..!!


01 January 2007, 10:21 PM
Hey guys...!
This is one of the best threads I've seen in months...! I got a link to this thread from another one which was recently posted in the Maya character setup forum, until now I neva knew such a forum existed...!

My thanks to Nathanael Girard to for sharing your opinions on the whole process... I also saw your reel and the work you had done in your TD reel. It sure was very inspiring for me...


Thanks for the comment Nikhil! I just redid some of my demo reel today and sent it off actually. I'll post the updated version on my website soon.

I visited your website and checked out your rigs. It looks like you like dragons too so I thought that I'd drop you a thread of a dragon that I'm working on as well. I'm still in the modeling phase right now but I'm just modelling it so that I can rig it which will be the fun part! :) I think that a dragon is a good creature to work with because of the complexities of the rig and motion that a dragon has.

I also have an entry for this rigging challenge if you wanted to check it out:

The rigging references that you listed are EXCELLENT! You'll learn a lot from them. Good luck to you Nikhil!

02 February 2007, 01:40 AM
Just to keep this thread alive...

Haven't been doing much with the arm rig... Really caught up with some stuff during this month... and will probably continue until 31st March...

Hopefully I can catch up in the later stages...


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