View Full Version : New rig

04 April 2003, 10:53 PM
I have constructe a rig for my character for my animation for class but it has some obvious problems(as I am a noob to rigging and learned all this off of tutorials). I think I know how to fix some of them but heres my question: Would anyone be willing to take a look at my rig and give some advice on what is perhaps a noob mistake or what could be done better? You dont have to do any actual work, just give advice on what you see, what you might do better, etc. I think that would help me way more than asking question after question and trying to attatch crappy pics.



If I get positive results I will post the mb file.

04 April 2003, 01:43 AM
Heck yeah. I've posted MBs before on here and gotten great feedback on my rigging flaws.

The hardest part (after you learn the basics) is coming up with the best way to gain the most control of your rig with the fewest controls. One more thing to keep in mind before your turn your rig in is, make sure your animator can't break it, because they will.

04 April 2003, 03:05 AM
man it just gets worse and worse. now im running into all sorts of problems. Im just gonna make it as unbreakable as i can and post it here cause I am at my wits end. Thx for the interest.

My Character and Rig (

EDIT-added the link to the rig and character. 1.5 meg mb file. Please remember I am a noob so all advice is appreciated, but elaborate so that I can understand and follow along.

04 April 2003, 05:26 AM
I took a quick look at your rig.

- Any reason the model isn't at the origin? Usually character nodes are also located at the origin. This helps if you attach him to a motion path and stuff.

- not too big, but for future use... Maya naming convention is "thisIsHowThingsAreNamed". The first letter is little. After that, in place of spaces use a capital letter at the beginning of the word. It'll add spaces when it shows in the channel box. This'll help ya when you write scripts and stuff, so you know how everything is named.

- you prolly wanna at least drop the IKs and cluster under the character node

- Make sure you draw the joints (that will have IK) at a small angle in the direction you want it to bend (im referring to your arms). Otherwise it'll sometimes bend and twist funny.

- Freeze transforms on your Control Objects. It'll help ya find bind pose.

- you removed attributes from the channel box, but you didn't lock them. I could change them by selecting the joint and using the scale tool (your animator will try that =P).

- Move the pivot of your control boxes to the joints they control.

- you could orient constrain the hand box using this method...
Put a single joint (I tried an empty group, but I believe I had a problem somewhere) underneath Lhandcurve.
Orient Lwrist to the group (so Lwrist controls the group).
Now delete the constraint and orient constrain the group to the Lhand (so the group now controls the hand).
hide the joint (there's no reason not to)
this method keeps the hand from popping when you orient constrain.

I accidentally lost what I wrote 1/2 way through and I know I'm forgetting something... If you want me to post one of my rigs to get some ideas, just ask. My friends seem to really like animating with it.

You got a great start.:thumbsup: Is there anything else you want to add to the rig?


04 April 2003, 05:38 AM
Phew! theres lots to digest there and I think i understand maybe 50% of it. lol. noob to the bone dude. here the probs i had:

-when i did the spline ik for the spine i got some crazy shoulder twist on completion. i fixed it by twisting it back but i didnt like that it happened and dont know why it did that instead of just making a spline like in the tut and and not moving the rig.

-the tut had me parent the hand pole vectors to the shoulder but that was a whole mess of trouble. it didnt really work well(i cant recall why at the moment) and led to more probs. i parented it to the hand just so it stays somewhat near everything but im not sure what is better to do with it.

-weighting.....ooooooooh boy. what a mess. heh

-i cant seem to go to bind pose using the bind pose option under the skin menu. gives me some errors about removing ik, constraints, and whatnot. i looked into making a character pose but have no idea how and the help didnt

-my thumb does strange things when rotating using the fist attribute on the hand control curves. id like to fix it but not mess with the geometry if possible. maybe fix its bone so it looks ok?

can you go into some more detail about the orient constraint for the hand? why would i want to do it? does it have benefits?


04 April 2003, 05:42 AM
oh yea, to address the questions you posed to me:

-the original model was at origin but i modeled her with her legs spread (like if you were doing jumping jacks) and i was having probs with my ik and inverse foot rig so i duplicated it and fixed the legs so they were straight and flat at the bottoms.

-my naming convention....heh lesson learned for the future :)

-the arms had a slight bend initially but after all the spine movement, hand movement and whatnot due to all the boning they mustve gotten messed up.

id love to see one of your rigs for future use. i may redo her skeleton in the future following yours if its really good. for now though i gotta get her ready to animate so i just want to fix what i have so its workable. i have to turn in a playblast for the final animation(min of one minute) on monday and its gettin down to the wire.

thanks for all the help. it really helps me learn.


04 April 2003, 02:05 PM
The reason you'd need to use the method above for the orient constraint is because your wrist will pop when you try to do a normal one. Try it the normal way first just to see. Then think about what you are doing when you use my method. It's just for keeping the either the wrist or ctrl object from popping when you constrain them.

If ya need more detailed instrucions, I'll write 'em. Now to address your other problems....

04 April 2003, 02:56 PM
Here's ([239k] the last rig I made. I spent a lot of time researching how to make it easiest to control.
I'm also willing to take crits.

Now, more on your rig-

First off, to get to bind pose you need to disable the IKs. To do this, under the Skeleton drop down menu, uncheck the Enable IK Solvers. Now try going to bind pose, it should work. Recheck it when your done with bind pose.

If the bones are moving when you add IKs, thats because they pop to meet the pole vectors. Some people wait to attach the pole vectors until after they bind. I just snap the pole vector to the elbow, now it wont pop when you add the pole vector.

Do you rotate your joints when your moving them around? because you had some joints (in the back) that were oddly rotated. Just translate them until you bind. You can even press INS and move a joint in the middle without messsing with the ones below it in the hierarchy.

Weighting always sucks. But the better you get at rigging, the less youll have to weight. Also, don't rule out doing a rigid bind all the time. It seems like noone uses it, but it's easier to get better deformation is a lot of cases.

Here's a suggestion. You may want to add a rotation limit to your knees and elbows. They truely never go straight. And without they pop when they go straight. Some people don't like that because it will "limit" your control over the rig, but I don't see it as loosing anything important.

04 April 2003, 04:31 PM
Heres a problem that probably led to the bones in the back being rotated. I used a spline ik to make the back ik so that i could use a limit on each cv so that the spine would then bend none at the root and most at the top. However when i did the ik, the shoulder joints(collarbones) rotated from being in the proper places in the shoulders to 90 degrees from that. so i ended up with the right shoulder coming out of the front of the character and the left shoulder coming out the rear. remove my splineik and try it yourself and youll see. I have no idea what the problem is but I fixed it by just rotating the ik's twist attribute. so that is an area that is messed up right now.

thanks for the bind pose info. now i know how to fix it finally.

when i added the pole vectors, the ik rigs on the arms did in fact move a little bit probably due to where my pole object was when i created them. can you elaborate a little bit on how i should parent the pole. I will try the pivot at the joint it pole constrains to see if it helps any.

how do i limit the rotation of a joint?

Thanks for all the info. I am learning tons here.


04 April 2003, 04:51 PM
on a side note:

I love your rig! It seems to be very nicely setup with all the controls that a person would need. I have so many questions The head setup, the wrist rotation setup with the hand ik curve, etc. Id love to pick your brain sometime. Do you use aim or icq? Or something easier to chat in than this board?


04 April 2003, 07:33 PM
notta clue on what happened with your spline IK. This is the procedure I usually do when making joints.
Draw the wht whole chain in one orthographic view.
Translate the joints in to proper place.
Reorient the joints (so that Y runs along the joint) and X and Z go in the same direction.
Then add spline or IKs.

About the pole vectors, snap the control object (your pole vector object) to the elbow. Now add the pole vectors. That way they cant move because it's pointing in the same dir.

Rotation limits are in the attribute editor for the object. There's a "Limit Information" drop down. Then under Rotate click the Rot Limit checkbox and type in the Min value.

I got AIM but about to head out. I'll PM you with my screen name later tonight.

Most of the techniques I have picked up has been from all the tutorials I've read and Jason Schleifer's Creature Rig in a Pipeline DVD ( I can't say enough good stuff about that DVD. The funny thing is, to fully use his stuff you have to know what a lot the stuff in Maya does. So just play around with things (when you get some free time). And he really advocates MEL scripting (he includes 16 scripts w/ the DVD). and learning MEL has really helped me automate legnthy tasks. :drool: Enough of me drooling over his genius.... Oh and he'll happily answer any question ya got (he moderates some of the forums here), he seems like a really cool guy.

Expect to hear from me later today.


04 April 2003, 11:41 PM

Anyone else want to take a look at my rig and offer advice?Doogie has given tons of great advice and Im sure theres tons more out there. 122 views should get me more than one person replying.


04 April 2003, 04:49 PM
Hey Yank, this is just a guess as to what is going wrong with the splineIK because I can't download your rig but is your splineIK running past the area that your arm attaches to your spine? In other words is the end of the splineIK solver on a joint higher (closer to the head, lower in the hierarchy) than where your collar bone attaches to the the spine. If so than that is likely the problem, the splineIK solver is passing rotation data to to joint that is the parent of the arm chain, which messes everything up.

Some other good resources for character rigging information are, he has some great free video tutorials and an excellent rigging video for purchase that runs ~$50. Also has some good training DVD's but they run about $70 a pop. AliasWavefront's rigging book Learning Maya Rigging and Animation has some good info as well, you can read a review about it here:

Hope this helps, keep at it! :thumbsup:

Doogie: I like your tip about limiting the rotation of the leg joints to keep them from popping when they go straight, never thought of that but I like it :thumbsup:

04 April 2003, 05:31 PM
yeah I'd love to see your rig, YankyBJeans. I'm all about looking at other peoples rigs to see what I can gain from them. And if I can give any advice, I will. Your link doesn't seem to work though.
Feel free to email me your rig if you want.

I know lots of rigging tricks, if I see ones that will be beneficial to your rig I'll let you know. If you want to see one of mine I'll send it to you if you're interested.

04 April 2003, 12:49 PM
Sorry guys, had to take my rig offline because I ran out of webspace. lol. I will try to get it back up as soon as possible. I am all about gettin more tips and techniques. Thanks.


04 April 2003, 01:37 AM
Hey all, great thread you guys got going here, one can learn alot.

Doogie, i had a look at your balcksmith rig, really nice stuff there, but there are some other considerations you might like to look at:

1. of course this is personal preference when animating, but i like to have the back and shoulder controls visible from the front too, so i make them circles around the whole back (and hips and shoulders.

2. Maybe put a toe roll and pivot on the foot controls?

3. Your elbow controls are not zeroed out.

4. Another thing when animating, i like to be able to have both my head and wrist orientated to either world space or to the rotation of the preceding joints (you could call it local space i guess).

5. Independant shoulder controls are useful for shruggin?

6. Also a neck control for doing the 'walk like an egyptian dance'

7. Thumb control?

Remember though, controls are only useful if you will need them. Eg, Gollum would probably have needed every control under the sun, but when doing a 20 second commercial for TV, Independant shoulder controls may not be necessary. You can 'over' rig! the suggestions i have made may not be necessary for your needs, remember that!

Sorry to tear your rig apart, but i know that's what made me a better rigger...constructive crits!!!!

Keep up the great work though, especially on the strecthy back. There's something like that on one of Schlieffer's DVD, haven't had a chance to try it myself yet though.

04 April 2003, 03:53 AM
Thanks for the responce. Im always looking for improvement. I didn't include my whole book on this rig because it was for a simple animation, no need for excess. Though there are a few things I could use some specific advice.

Head controls.. the one i used worked for what i needed, but if you twist it around enough it doesnt match... and doesnt have the 'egyptian' control

Now to the thumb. These seem to move in many more directions than the other fingers. So Add Attrib would make too many controls =/ I was thinking about making some IK or something for it.

Any better suggestions for either?

Those implicitSpheres cant be zeroed out =( I dont think it matters as much for pole vectors... but I dont really use them as much as i did on that rig anymore.

I got some footroll controls on the footCurve. Would you need something more?

Yeah, i know quite a bit about 'over rigging.' The rig from school that were supposed to learn from (i think failed for most people) because it was overdone. So it was too much for people to take it, and unusable because of all the controls (and automated stuff).

The biggest goal with this rig was to get the most basic controls to allow you to get the most freedom. Think most following rigs will mostly add stuff to this.

You got me =P the back (and back controls) were from Schlieffer's DVD. It took quite abit to learn to get the whole thing to work right (even with the instructions). I really, really like keeping the upper and lower back separate. I wish i had this when i was working on my last personal project... i didnt get too much info when i asked about usefull back setups.

Lastly, im not quite getting what ya mean in #4, the orientation comment.. Could ya give some examples? Numbers or somethin? or maybe graphics, I like pictures.

Whew, that was quite a bit. Thanks again for thr crit. It gave me some things to think about.


04 April 2003, 05:25 PM
Ok, I put my rig back up so that I can hopefully get some more wonderful crits. Keep in mind this was my first character rig, learned entirely off of tutorials. :) I have found many errors in it and ran into a few things that are still beyond me. Also, as I cannot find the last character version, this one is pretty close and is in a state of semi-pose. I dont know how to return her to bind pose and still have her ik stuff on. Anyways, crit away.

Character Download (


-Side note: I have a "melvin the robot" rig that I downloaded somewhere here on cgtalk. It is quite snazzy and I would be interested in knowing who did it if anyone knows.

04 April 2003, 02:06 AM
You got the beginings there Yanky. Heres a few tips.

1. Very Important: Make sure your controls are zerored. This makes it much easier to get to your default pose.

2. Root control: I like the pivot of COG to be right on the pelvis so when you rotate the Root control the character pivots around its center of gravity and not around the control object. Select your Root object and press insert and 'V' snap the pivot to the center of the pelvis.

3. Transform control: To translate and rotate your character you have to open the outliner and select and move the master group, you should create a control object for this and then parent the master group under the control object.

4. Hand and wrist control: Well you don't really have any, as far as I can tell. How do you bend and rotate the hand at the wrist? The hand actually rotates through the forearm but thats a different monster all together.

5. You may consider parenting your foot Ik pole vectors control objects under the respective foot control objects. Cause if you extend the foot out in front of the body the leg will flip.

6. This could go into the realm of over rigging but you could independent control over the hips and shoulders.

Well thats all I can think of at the moment. I'm currently working on a rig and a character. When I'm done I'll send to you if you'd like to see it. Or if anyone else would like to see it, and tell me how to make it better.

Oh yeah Doogie I think ajsfuxor meant with the #4 comment. I think he means the he prefers the control of the joint (or control objects) preceding the head and arms to filter down to the head and arms. Such that if you rotate the torso (control or joint) the head and arms keep their local position to the torso. As you turn the torso the head and arms follow they don't stay stuck in their position. Which if it is the case it is way I like to to keep my rigging controls too. I think thats what he meant?????

04 April 2003, 02:57 AM

1-you are totally right. is there a way to freeze transformations on the objects that arent zeroed out when im at bind pose? i keep getting errors about certain things that I am trying to freeze having incoming connections. I am not sure what this really means.

2-that is a good idea. ill try that.

3-another good idea. ill try this too.

4-this has been a problem for me since I forgot to set that up initially. i just manually rotated the joints when i needed them to move but some kind of control object might help. i actually got really crappy deformations there when i tried to get a twist. it seems my arm cannot really twist on its own axis. i would be really interested in a solution to this. i did look at the cane toad tutorial but for where im at now i would lose my weights if i implimented it.

5-i did this eventually in my scenes because i got tired of animating my poles seperately

6-i would like to know more about how i can use my hips to get a nice feminine sway. is it as simple as manually moving the hips when doing my walkcycle or is a control object of some kind better? any tips?

I would totally like to see your rig when its done. Let me know.
Thanks for the constructive crits, I am learning tons this way :)

04 April 2003, 03:24 AM
1. the reason (more than likely) you get that error is because your control objects are already part of a hiearchy, therefore you have incoming connections. you must zero (freeze trans) before you group them in a control hiearchy

4. Well if you look at Doogie's rig he has his hands set up almost the way I do. Basically a quick explanation for this set up is.
1. create a control object.
2. 'V' snap it to the wrist
3. point contstrain the IK handle to the control object
4. orient contstrain the wrist joint to the control object.
If your arm flips badly its because your control
objects local axis are not aligned with the wrist
joint local axis.

You should not have to rebind the geo if you do this.

6. basically you just orient contrain the hip center to a control object, just make sure you don't have anything below it in the control hierarchy, and if you place it below your main root control it should work fine. Much like your main root control but all the hip control object will control is the hips. I always use control objects if I can help it, I never want to actually select and rotate a joint. That way i can easily zero things out. Just a personal pref..... I scared of joints. :bounce:

Also did you model the character? I like it. Shes got a lot of character.

04 April 2003, 04:37 AM
kpm3d is right about using constraints. Any of your bones can be under hierarchies by themselves. But you should constrain them to all of your control objects, instead of parenting things under them (unless you have other control objs, like the pole vectors).

I also recommend after constraining the ik's, you hide them. If you need a specific attribute off the ik to control, make an attr on the control object and connect it (with sdk or connectAttr mel, etc.).

04 April 2003, 12:26 AM
Ok, what i meant with the wrist/head thing is this

(It gets a little more complex than this in implementation, but you will get the general idea)

When you rotate your back control forward, I like to have the option to have the head orientated to world space, meaning the head rotation axis will always remain the same as the world rotation axis. I also like to have the option so that if i rotate the back control forward the head follows.

SO, if the back control is rotated 90 degress forward, and if the head rotaiton is set to world (the control I put in), then the head will still be facing forward. But if the head rotation is set to local, then the head will be facing the ground.

Think of it this way. Rotate your own back forward towards the ground, but keep your eyes locked on something dead ahead. Notice how your back is rotating, but your head stays locked straight ahead. Now do the same thing, but without locking your eyes on anything, and notice how your head rotates with your back.

Do the same thing for the wrists.

I know it sounds a little confusing, i will be posting one of my rigs very soon with all the bells and whistles that i know of. As soon as i can get my webspace up.

Also, the thumb shouldn't be too difficult. The only controls i pout on it are as follows:

a) Thumb curl :just like the other fingers, the thum curls inwards
b) Thum Rot X:For rotating your thumb thumb inwards towards th palm
c) Thumb Rot Y: For strecthing your thumb towards yout wrist (away from your Index finger)

Just remember though, your LRA's will need to be a bit different from your fingers, as your thumb rotates on a different axis.

try to think of how your own thumb works, should make it easier to understand.

Again, my rig will be posted soon, so you can see what i mean.

04 April 2003, 06:13 AM
ajs, check my tut, there is a really nice and clean way of doing what you want for the head orientation. It does require a bit more work in the setup area, but it's worth it. It works for the hands, neck, head, whatever you want to do.
Just click in my sig, it'll take you right there. Let me know how it works for you.

04 April 2003, 06:39 AM
DMC...i already use it in my rigs, was explaining it to the others on the thread.

04 April 2003, 04:12 PM
excellent info and tips guys. keep it coming!


04 April 2003, 06:37 PM
d'oh!!! Sorry about that.

04 April 2003, 08:18 PM
i<d also love too have a look at your rig


04 April 2003, 03:47 PM
ajsfuxor I see what you're saying about, having the option to keep your head oriented to the world, or local to the character. Could you elaborate on how you go about making that switch in control. Also is really necessary to have the option to switch between the two forms of control. In an animation wouldn't be easy just to counter animate to what you want. So if you had local head control. And the char leans forward you just counter animate the head to look forward instead of having to switch the head to world control. Or are you just coming at this from a shot setup point of view. For instance "in this shot" it would be easier to just set the head to local (or world) depending on what you are doing in the shot. Anyway this is a pretty good thread I think. THX!


04 April 2003, 05:31 PM
I haven't tried it, but i figured you could just orient constrain the hand Ctrls to the shoulders. Then just hook that up to an extra attribute on the handCtrls. That way you can key it on and off (with blending).

Interesting feature I will prolly add.

04 April 2003, 06:39 AM
Hey guys, sorry can't talk much now, am at the beach and am not in Maya geek mode yet... (will return to geek mode on monday)

BUT...the one thing that i know is the root of all evil is to counter animate, evil stuff. At all costs, avoid.

Anyways, still trying to get my webspace up so u can all tear apart my rig, but will post a more detailed explanation of how to implememnt the control in the next week.

in the mean time...have a good weekend y'all!!!

PS. I agree, very good thread.

04 April 2003, 05:09 AM
yay props to me for creating a good thread :beer:



04 April 2003, 03:25 AM
Come on guys, keep posting your tips and rigs! I learned something cool yesterday- there is a way to uncombine stuff that you have mistakenly combined earlier, called the seperate tool! That totally made my day as I had combined all my head objects and couldnt then go back and texture them.

Maybe someone can go into how to use influence objects a little bit since that seems to be the consensus on what to use to prevent breakage? Aside from hunting down tutorials and then trying to figure them out, it would be nice to have an experienced user explain them a bit.


05 May 2003, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by Doogie

Now, more on your rig-

First off, to get to bind pose you need to disable the IKs. To do this, under the Skeleton drop down menu, uncheck the Enable IK Solvers. Now try going to bind pose, it should work. Recheck it when your done with bind pose.

Doogie - you ROCK :buttrock: was agonizing over that same issue here for a while.

thanks so much for this most excellent thread, everyone. big time helpful!

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