Critique of my rigs in Maya plz!


Hi everyone, I am hoping to get some feedback regarding my rigs in maya. You can check them out here:

I appreciate any and all comments, suggestions, critiques…anything. I am graduating pretty soon and will be looking for a job doing setup, so I want to make sure I really know what I am doing!

The videos on my site are all encoded w/ DIVX by the way…Thanks for taking the time to look at my stuff!





I’d love to check out the rig and give it a go… would it be possible to get a copy of it to try out?

cheers! :slight_smile:

p.s. Thanks for the props on the webpage!



all these views, and no comments? Is that good…or bad?

or maybe people aren’t even looking…



I’m going to be taking a look as soon as I finish the shot I’m working on… I promise! :slight_smile:



thanks Jason! Glad to have a professional looking over my stuff!

I guess I was just expecting more responses. I’m always looking for feedback.





I love your robot rig man ! ,

I would love to cheeck it out too if its ok , just to learn how you set it up.


Hi Joe.
That rig looks cool from what I can tell.
It was nice to see Tim Naylors name on the site as well… He and I created the setup class there at Full Sail (did you have him or just Chris M?), I will have to get Jason to send me the rig to check out as well.

I will be back at Acclaim in Austin in a few weeks feel free to drop me an email when you get back to TX.

Brad (Weta worker for one last week)


Hi Brad,

I had just Chris for the setup class, but I think he took alot of the fundamental ideas you and Tim setup and expounded on them. The class turns out to be way too intense for 4 weeks, however, for someone like me, I loved it! Alot of people fail because of the amount of information covered, and most people don’t like the nitty gritty technical stuff. Chris uses alot of Jason’s ideas too, from what I can tell, and the class all in all is pretty decent. The one complaint I have right now, is no-one can answer my questions except for Chris, and even he gets stumped sometimes. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I guess it pays off in the end, because I end up solving my problems on my own, or with some advice, and that’s better than someone just showing me.

I actually met you at Siggraph this year! …not sure if you remember though. I was there with my friend Matt, and I believe I met you during the Reign Of Fire presentation.

I’ll drop you an e-mail when I get back to Dallas in a couple months, take care!

Best regards,




That robot rig looks functional and easy to use. Similar to my own tastes…except…

…the first thing I would do if I got a rig like that to aniamte with is strip those annoying expressions off of it.

[ie: the weight shift, etc]

They are more a pain in the ass than a pleasure to work with…

…you will find alot of animators will just want to pose the character they way they want without having to fight with expressions…besides, if you have good animators they won’t need the expressions, because they know physical limitations of characters and the illusion of weight very intimately…

…but it is good to see that you know how to do them at least! :slight_smile:

…just my 2.5 cents.

Oh, and another aesthetic opinion of mine…those control shapes you were using are kind of ugly…I would spruce them up a bit! [yeah yeah, I am being superficial now…:)]

Oh! I forgot something…I do not recall if you had separate control objects for the rotation of the clavicles independently…I would definitely want to move them independently [offset timing, overlap, etc]…


Hey, thanks for the reply bentllama!

I have heard the arguement both ways about the expressions…I have them there though because I did want to show that I CAN do them. I agree with the comment that a good animator won’t need them, and they would just cause a big headache. That’s why I like expressions though…you can always just turn them off. As for the breathing and heartbeat though, I think those are very useful. The ones for the back rotations are helpful too, since I used spline IK. (can still switch to FK though).

As for the control shapes…hehe…I agree…seiously though, what would you have in mind? Something more conforming to the shape of the figure, or maybe some arrows?

Thanks for the suggestion on the clavicles! I only have one control object for both the IK handles, but I think i’ll make one for each too, that way it’s able to do more.

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!




still haven’t had a chance to look at the 'bot… just aren’t enough hours in the day. :slight_smile: But I did want to comment on the breathing/heartbeat expressions…

An expression on the heartbeat’s a good idea, but breathing should be controlled by the animator… being able to determine when and how a character takes a breath can really bring life into the being, or take life right out of it. For example… if my character is going to lift something heavy, I’m going to have him breath in and out quickly a few times… then hold his breath… then release.

By having hte animator keep track of the breathing, they’re more aware of the intensity and intention of the character in the scene.

You may have some overrides for the expressions tho, so this may be completely moot. :slight_smile:




I never even thought of all that! The way I have it right now is the speed of the breathing expression is controlled by the Y translation of a locator, so it can be fast, slow, or dead.

It really limits the animator though, because the expression uses a COS function, so it’s still rythmatic, no matter how fast or slow it’s going…I’ll have to figure out a workaround so perhaps the animator can have the expression on when he wants, but also be able to manually control the breathing.

Thanks for the suggestion!


I would even recommend removing the expression entirely… it’ll slow down the rig (even a tiny bit can cause heartache) and in the end, the animators will probably never use it.

It’s just like those expressions that keep the hips balanced… they look cool, and it’s great you can create them… but a good animator is going to go “AGGH! KILL 'EM!”. And even if they can turn them off… then they’re still evaluating… and they still cause the scene to go slower.

I’m a huge fan of simple rigs… that do exactly what you need them to w/out going overboard. Your rig should be fast, intuitive, and simple. The animator should look at it and go: “oh!”.

And they should have absolute control over everything. :slight_smile:



Hey Jason, thanks for the input!

I see your point with the expressions, and I completely agree about the simplicity of the rig. If the animator can’t use it, then it’s not much of a rig.

I finished a new rig I was working on this week. It’s a little different than the rest of the other ones I have done. This one has NO EXPRESSIONS, and virtually no limitations.

You can see it here:

Also, you can download the rig from the page and try it out!(Maya .mb file 1.6megs)

All I ask is no-one uses it for anything but educational and personal projects.

I’d love to hear suggestions, comments, or questions about it.
Let me know guys!






got a quick chance to check out the rig… it appears nice and simple to use (yay), but I do have a few comments/suggestions (d’oh!) :slight_smile:

  1. I couldn’t figure out how to twist the back using the back controls… I grabbed UpBack and rotated it, but it wouldn’t twist

  2. Check the rotation orders… right now, if you rotate the skeleton 90 degrees in y, you have no axis available to lean him over to the side.

  3. Rotating the toe control “LtFtToeBox” caused the ankle to swing a bit

  4. I couldn’t seem to lift the ball of the foot w/out making the toe wiggle

  5. You may want to separate the finger and hand controls… I find that when animating I tend to do the main hand guestures, then later go in and add finger animation… just helps to keep them separated.

  6. You may also want to add extra controls for individual finger joints

  7. The neck could be broken up a bit more to have a smoother interpolation… look at all those bones… they should bend smoothly!

  8. I like the fact that you’ve got easily recognizable controls for objects… what would also help would be to have different colors based on the side… red for right… green for left… etc. helps the animator differentiate.

other than that, it’s starting to look like a rig I’d enjoy animating! :slight_smile:



Hey Jason thanks for the crits/suggestions!

I fixed a few of the problems. Added back controls (used expressions, d’oh!), but it works fine. Fixed the rotation order problem you were having. It doesn’t seem to be apparrent to everyone how the U and arrow below that work, maybe I should make something more logical.

I also went through and color coordinated everything…good idea by the way!

As for the feet, I might switch that up a bit, maybe just make one control object and have a set driven key footroll instead of all those boxes.

I should’ve put more joints in the neck, but didn’t take the time to do that.

I see your point with the fingers/hands. What would you reccommend as controls for the fingers other than the joints and channels?

I updated the file on my site too, for anyone that wants it.

Thanks again!





that is one sweet looking rig I’ve only checked out the animations on your site, but its really an inspiring piece of work! :arteest: I wish I could offer you advice, but my experience level is so low, all I can do is drool… :slight_smile:

I wonder if you could mention where you learned your rigging techniques? Any recommended materials or sites? Thanks for posting your skeleton example, thats very generous.

Anyways, look forward to your next rig!


Heya! glad that the suggestions were helpful! Expressions aren’t always bad, quite often they’re the only way to do things! In my next dvd for Alias|Wavefront I go over how to use expressions in a way that makes sure they’re as efficient as possible… and I go through some of the other techniques which you can use to do similar things which may indeed be faster, and give the same result! I’ll let you guys know when it’s available. :slight_smile:

As for the fingers, using joints is fine… just add more control. I usually have one set of main controls, and then another set of controls on top of it… for example, a hand control which has finger_curl, spread, etc. Then there’s a control for each finger which does an offset baced on the main controls…

I’m not sure if this is the absolute best way of doing hands… but it seems to work relatively well, and you can get any finger expression you need.




Thanks for the props! :slight_smile: I learned my rigging techniques from a few places: school (Full Sail in Orlando), on the web (highend, personal websites of artists, etc), at SIGGRAPH, and through ALOT of trial and error.
I am trying to write a tutorial right now on setup, but I am also trying to get a demo reel together before I graduate, so it’s on hold for now. I’ll be sure to post on here when I finish the tutorial.

I really like Tim Naylors tutorial on Highend, the Maya 4.0 notes, and Maya’s Rigging and Animation book.
I would like to het ahold of the DVD Jason Schleifer did, and the “Inspired Character Setup” book.

Also, for everyone out there already working in the industry…what should I put on my reel to get a job doing this? Any suggestions would be appreciated!




just downloaded the latest one… the color coding is nice… makes it muc heasier to see what’s going on. :slight_smile:

The rotation orders still don’t seem to be correct, however… LtFootBox has a rotation order of xyz. Try zxy or xzy… you’ll find it much better when you turn your character around. Notice as well that rotating the boxes on the torso doesn’t actually twist the torso… you have the ik hooked up to the rotateY of the UpBack, but the rotateY of UpBack leans the back side to side… AND twists… you may want to adjust these controls so the ry is always rotating around the up axis…

keep going! :slight_smile:

As for getting a job… the best way I’ve found to get a job as a character rigger is to show on your reel that you’ve solved problems that people run into. Demonstrating a character rig is a great example… show playblasts of how it moves & how to use it (if you can do screen-grabs of the character being manipulated, that works well, too!). Show how the skinning works… etc.

Also, try and solve problems that you know people run into every day… a creature TD has to be able to do just about everything. What if your character needs to pick something up & put it down again? what if they’re scaling a wall? What if they trip, fall, and tumble down a slope?

Attention to detail, problem solving, and the ability to work fast and with a group of people is the way to go. :slight_smile: