View Full Version : Creating an Interface for Facial Rigs in Maya

09 September 2003, 07:13 PM
Hey, I noticed a few XSI rigs that had a cool little visual interface for the facial controls. It consisted of little graphics that could be grabbed and translated resulting in the movement of certain muscle groups (in fact, a student from VFS named Simon Mills posted a reel a while back that illustrated this set-up). I was wondering if there was a way to do this in Maya using clusters. I know how to set up the clusters to control the mesh, but I'm unclear how to create a graphical interface and connect it with the movement of the clusters so the clusters can be limited and controlled by the UI. Any ideas?

09 September 2003, 09:16 PM
There is a facial rig that this guy did for maya that has everything you are asking for.

09 September 2003, 04:37 AM
If you're in the mood for a good read, I suggest taking a look at Jason Osipa's book.

I remember seeing Simon's demo reel over the summer and how it got the wheels turning. Then about a month later, I found this book.

Basically it's just making your control, setting limits for -1 to 1 in X and Y (depending on the slider type) and then linking up your blend shapes via expressions. The great part of this (as you may know) is that you can link 2 shapes to one slider which not only creates less objects to key, but it reduces the amount of "un-animation."

Definitely changed the way I approach facial controls.

10 October 2003, 04:11 AM

I too saw Simon Mills great reel! It inspired me to shamelessly copy the functionality into a Maya face I was rigging at the time.

I'm not on my work computer right now, but give me a day or two and I'll post a little video demo-ing it, and if I can I'll make a quick tutorial for building the controls in there. It's fun to play with now that it's working.

If I forget, send me a holler at and I'll remember to do it! If you like I can send you a Maya .mb of the basic control that you can import into your scenes - it's all nice and self-contained.


10 October 2003, 04:53 AM
Hey guys, thanx for the replies.

nottoshabi: That set-up from Byron looks great! A little more complex than what I need, but what an amazing amount of control! Now if only I could get a decent translation of the tutorial into English. The other thing is that the interface Byron created isn't exactly what I had in mind. Most of the muscle groups seem to be controlled by sliders with the exception of a few mouth clusters where he integrated an isometirc view of the mesh into the control panel. The problem is that it's tough to see the cluster nodes through the mesh, I'd like to learn how to create something simpler (ie. easier to animate with), like Simon Mills demonstrated on his reel. Byron's rig is very well done, but not quite as user-friendly as Simon's seems to be.

jHromika: I noticed that book at Barnes and Noble a while ago, but never picked it up. Maybe I'll flip through it on my next visit and see if it has what I'm looking for. Thanx for the tip.

ObsidianPC: Sounds awesome! Please post a link or e-mail me when you a chance. I'm very curious to how you created the interface!

10 October 2003, 08:27 PM
GRMac13 : How is Simon Mills???

10 October 2003, 02:32 AM
Originally posted by nottoshabi
GRMac13 : How is Simon Mills???

I'm not sure how he is. I don't know him personally, but I was very inspired by the work on his reel. You should check it out sometime. Definitely one of the best student reels I've seen in a while.

10 October 2003, 10:30 PM
Do you know of a link or were I could view it ?

10 October 2003, 10:52 PM
jHromika :

If you're in the mood for a good read, I suggest taking a look at Jason Osipa's book.

Yea! I'll second that; not just because some of my works featured in it, but because the workflow Jason has set out is made so abundantly simple to get to grips with, that the whole creative process reaches new levels of enjoyment....


10 October 2003, 04:58 PM
Atwooki : I have stumbled over the model you have on your avatar here on cgtalk. And I have to say verry impresive :thumbsup: .

Do you have any animations with him?


10 October 2003, 06:44 PM

I'm working on it as we speak ;)



10 October 2003, 06:52 PM
nottoshabi: Sorry, I don't have a link to Simon's reel atm. I remember viewing it on CGTalk back before the summer, I believe. Try searching the forums or post a thread in General Discussions.

Atwooki: Thanx for the book recommendation. I'll check it out. Cool character, btw. Can't wait for the anims.

10 October 2003, 08:06 PM
Great Atwooki. When you r done I would like to see rig of that bad boy. :beer:

Good luck to you.

Thanks: GRMac13 I will check it out.


10 October 2003, 08:46 PM
cheers for the encouragement guys!

Working almost every spare minute :rolleyes:

There will be four chars in the anim: 3 dogs and a guy ;)


10 October 2003, 03:59 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm afraid I got pulled away from all things computer for the last few days for an impromptu girlfriend weekend. I got back and will be answering email and posting the link to the face stuff here in just a little while.


10 October 2003, 05:05 AM
Hey everybody,

Here's a quick UI control demo, as well as a a Maya 5 .mb with one of the control's in it. Just inport the file as many times as you need controls. It's pretty raw, but it's easy to work with.

The model and expressions are pretty simple - I only had about a day or two to do them in addition to the regular work schedule. It's a CG version of a sock puppet character, so it's pretty simple!

It is made of Nurbs Curves - a square holder for the controls, a movable element, and 9 sensors (small circles) that have two added attributes - Range and Sensir Value - the sensor value should start at 0 (the movable component is either out of range or exactly at the range radius) and 1 (the movable component is on top of the sensor)

I usually either connected the Sensor Value attribute on each sensor directly to a blend shape, or used a Set Driven Key on it to enable easy blend shape mixing for expresion sliders later (like E is a mix of E left and E right).

The sensors and movable arrow are connected with a quicke node network made from a measure, add/subtract, a clamp, and maybe one or two others. Anyway, the measures show up in the viewport until you hide them, or turn off their viewport visability in display->measures off.

One note - I haven't tested it with different ranges yet - I always use the same range. If it doesn't work for you give me a holler and I'll see what I can do to fix it.

Anyway, that's the quickie UI. I don't know if it warrents a real tutorial or anything like that. It's certainly fun to use though!


10 October 2003, 05:23 AM
Hey, that's exactly the sort of control set-up I was looking for, Obsidian. Great Job! I just watched the avi and it looks like it works really well.

Unfortunately, I am using Maya 4.5, so I can't open the sample file. :( Thanx for posting though, and I hope you eventually get around to that tutorial!

10 October 2003, 05:32 AM
I will make any tutorials on either Maya 4 or 4.5. I like to make files available for download if I can, so hopefully Maya 4.


10 October 2003, 05:55 AM
Hi again,

Here is a link to the fil for Maya 4.0 and 4.5:

It loads up on Maya 4.5, and I can think of no reason it would not load on Maya 4.0, however I have not tested that.


10 October 2003, 06:03 PM
Hi everybody!

<<Hi Dr. Nick!>>

Yes, indeed. I have updated the .mb and .ma on there so that the range values now work - it was just adding a SetRange node and getting rid of one connection, super good. The naming has been made nicer too, so importing is painless.

Anyway, I think that's done and done.


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