Basic Character Rig


Hi guys,
playing around with character rigs recently, and here is a first basic version:
There are still no twist bones or a decent fk/ik blend setup on this rig, they will follow later in another rig, using different methods…
you will need the PEN_Attrbute_Holder 2 Script from Paul Neale which i included in the .rar file, but make sure to check out his site: just copy the script in your 3dsmax/script/startup folder before you fire up max. There is another Script called in the rar archive, you can use this script to open up a interface which lets you easily select all the important control objects in the scene so you dont have to click around in your scene. just run the script after you loaded the file.
basicaly i need some feedback, critics and so on… except that there are no twist bones and a fk/ik blend…
what kind of control would you add, what would you change ? …
There are custom attributes in the Foot_CTRL’s, the Finger_CTRL’s and in the EyeTargets…
thanks for any input


EDIT: if you read this paul neale - thanks man, i learned a lot by watching your rigging dvd's - they are awesome.


i was messing around with interfaces that would make an animators life easier. i was testing this with a simple leg rig. the rar file contains 4 different setups:
[1] no control interface at all: you have to grab the shapes to move the foot around. this is the easiest setup, lots of clicking around in the scene but a very fast setup.
[2] custom attributes: this one is using max in build custom attributes which you can create over the animation -> add custom attribute menu. all custom attributes are stored in the master control shape of the foot. pro: one shape controls the entire foot/leg. con: you can only add a spinner or a slider not both at the same time. i prefer a slider/spinner setup, this way you can quickly animate with the slider and tweak it with the spinner. If you ever wanted to enlarge the range of a spinner, you would have to delete the attribute holder and apply it again, which sucks cause all your wireing you did before is lost.
[3] scripted custom attributes: in this setup i used max script to add custom attributes. again, all the controls are stored in one shape.
pro: you can setup your custom attributes like you want, a spinner, a slider, both together, very fast to animate, you can add custom attributes or change the range without loosing your wired parameters. con: requires basic max script knowlege. takes a while to write this kind of script the first time, but once you have it, you can save it and re-use it in all your rigs.
[4] morpher: this time i used the morpher modifier to store “attributes”. like in the last 2 setups, all controls are stored in one shape. pro: using the morpher allows you to quickly add or remove attributes, without deleting the others. you can even setup the spinner increments (5, 1, 0.1). con: only spinners.

its all a matter of personal preference, i prefer the setup with the scripted attributes, cause its so powerful. if you dont have time to script stuff, use the morpher setup. if you need sliders, then of course use max custom attributes.

here are the files, feel free to play around with them:

If you guys know another method of controlling a rig, post it here :wink:



Olli… great job on the leg rig…i liked the scripted custom attribute one. Its very helpful for guys who just care about animating stuff. Was eagerly trying to check out ur full rig… but the link is not working. Please post it again when u get a chance…

keep up the good work…l8r



the link should be working again, dont know what happend, sorry for that…



hahaa…I like it!! especially the swivel…nice! Not sure how to use the eyes thou!!.. one more question how to I make use of the pen_attrib_holder??.. I have no clue on how to use this. But the rest byitself pretty good and easy to use. BTW did you put file in the free rigs post?? Lotta ppl can get help from that…later



just copy the pen_attribute_holder script to your scripts\startup folder.
you dont really need this one for the legs, but its pretty useful for the hands. you can use this awesome script to save poses, so you can easily re-use them later, you can also blend between poses, its a pretty useful script. btw, that eye thingy was just for fun. i cant remember where i saw this one before, but i thought that it would be kinda nice to have that (the dilate of the pupil), btw, you can move the eyes around by using the EyeTargets for each eye, or the master control shape of the eyes to move them both at the same time…



Yeah I got the eye thing figured out. Actually I already have the pen_attrib_holder in my script/startup folder. But im still not sure how to use it. Say I click on the presets and it says add preset.. and i dont have a clue how to use it from there. You think you can gimme a quick walk thru on how to use it..say to close the fist and how to set the presets for this??..Hope im not asking for too much!! Thanks for your help…later


sure, watch this video:


btw, you need the tscc codec (


Awesome… I`m at work …so cant implement it now. But the video explains a whole lot, so will get to test it after work and let you know. Thanks for all those prompt replies. Once i get a hold on this … will try to implement a facial rig using all this features. Thanks again…



I believe there are also vids on my site showing PEN Attribute Holder in action and how ti works.

Just so you know olli96 you don’t have to reset each finger one at a time with the buttons that you scripted into the CA defs as you can use the reset button in the Attrbute holder for this. You probably already know that though.

Your welcome by the way and I do hope to get around to the 4th in the series of DVDs at some point. Im in the middle of a feature film so I just don’t have the time these days.

Oh, PEN Attribute Holder is slowely getting a rewrite as well so that it is cleaner code and has options built in for resetting and keying attributes in each rollout seperatly. At least that is the plan.


Just so you know olli96 you don’t have to reset each finger one at a time with the buttons that you scripted into the CA defs as you can use the reset button in the Attrbute holder for this. You probably already know that though.

:scream: damn it, i had the button all the time in front of me, and never realised it :eek:
oh, and by the way, i am really looking forward to the facial animation dvd and of course the new PEN_AttributeHolder :slight_smile:



hmm, it seems that i have some trouble with my webspace :argh:, i will upload the rig again in tomorrow when i fixed my webspace problems. btw, i am working on a new rig with some more features like twist bones in the forearms and a fk/ik blend. i still havent found a good solution to make the bones stretchable, but i will look into that in the near future…



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