Head_BonesRig.mov ?



I just wonder, there is a mov file named Head_BonesRig.mov in the 3dsmax6 tutorials cd in Version6Features folder. It’s an excellent facial rig thats created with bones, but there is no info on how it’s created, or who made that rig.

Here you may check it out. I reduced it to 250kb for everyone to see…

I was thinking about making a facial setup just like that. I’d like to know more about the rig, especially who created it. If anyone knows, please let me know :slight_smile:



Hey Tughan,

I am glad you liked the face rig…its always nice to hear that your work is appreciated. Anyway let me know what your questions are and I will try to answer them. In the meantime here are a couple notes regarding the rig.- It was actually made in MAX 4 about 3 years ago as an RnD test on facial rigging with bones…something I used to always use back in the old 3ds DOS days but had given up in favour of morph targets. Based on this test (and a lot of other research) I havepersonally come to believe that facial rigs based on bones and then suplimented with morphs/blend shapes (or whatever else you call them) are in fact the most powerful. Great examples of facial bones systems can be seen with the Messiah animation software…though I believe you can create them in any software package.

  • The rig consists of actually 2 systems. The main system is straight max bones, of which many of them have squash enabled so that they simulate muscles under the skin. The other system (of which you can’t actually see in the video) is a couple of hard surface simulators (in the cheekbones, edge of jaw bones, and the adams apple) to create the illussion of skin sliding over bone…these were created with BonesPro3 metabones.

  • Regarding the video…the animation on the right is actually a realtime screen grab of the facial rig in the viewport which shows its interactive speed. The great thing about this partiuclar rig is that it was also animated in realtime! Actually is was animated in realtime in 3 layers. The head motion (where its looking), the eyes, and the jaw (opening and closing) the is motion captured to the movements of your mouse…I captured them one at a time (starting with the head, then the jaw, then the eyes). Finally the only bit of hand animation was on the lips for extra detail…much of it was automated with the jaw opening and closing.

  • In general the facial rig consits of IK chains, straight FK linkages, look-at constraints, position and orientation constraints, motion capture controllers, and finally, and most importantly List Controllers. All actually pretty standard stuff (I don’t even have any expression or script controllers in it). The power is just in the combination of the various controllers. In fact its worth mentioning that I think most people overlook the power of Max’s animation controllers…partilcularily the list controller.

  • The skinning was done with Bones Pro3, though in truth you could achieve the same results with any of the various skinning solutions out there. The only thing is that with other skinning methods a different solution for simulation the hard surface/skin interaction woudl have to be used.

    Anyway thats a brief overview of the facial rig, let me know what other questions you might have are, and thanks again for the compliments on the rig.


Firstly I’d like to thank you very much for your reply. I asked “who’s the creator of this great rig?” but I didn’t expect to get a reply directly from the creator. :slight_smile:

Actually I got the idea of the rig. Knowing that “no maxscript used” really a relief to me. But what I’d like to know is which bone is linked to which bone, and which bone that IK Solvers starts from and ends to?

It could’ve been a tutorial about that. :slight_smile:



Hey, your welcome…its actually kinda funny I stumbled across the mesage at all…I haven’t been keeping very close tabs on this forum but last night figured I would take a look :slight_smile:

Anyway I need to sort out a place to post the images so I can link to them here for an explanation (I will try to sort that out tonight)…as I can’t actually post to CGtalk as I haven’t made enough posts yet. But in the mean time if you want to send an email to me at harvey@studio4031.com I will email the file to you. Let me know if you have BonesPro…if you don’t I will strip that out of the file.

Then once I sort out the webspace thing I will post a more detailed explanation about the rig here so others can see it too (by the way, if there are any other instersted people please speak up and let me know). Also if there are others out there who want to look at the file please just email me!


Ok, thanks to Tughan I have some space to post the files so anyone can download them! (I really must get my new website finished) Thanks Tughan :applause:

Below are links to various files for disection by those who want to. Please feel free to hack the files to pieces and ask any questions that come up. I must warn you though that while the principals used in the rig are solid there may be some issues that you find…it was after all made a few years ago as an RnD project.:slight_smile:

       Anyway, on with the files:
 This is the movie file that Tughan uploaded earlier but this one is a higer resolution movie...in case you haven't seen it.

This is the complete file…including all the BonesPro 3 properties. Only download this version if you have BonesPro3.


This file is for those of you who do not own BonesPro3. I have stripped out all fo the BonesPro properties from the file. It is important to note that BonesPro does not effect the rig at all…only the skinning. So in this file the head is not skinned but the rig is intact.

I would also like to mention that I have included in the files the original Patch model the the head was modeled from. Also the files have been organized into layers so make sure to use the layer manager to navigate the scene as it will be a lot easier than just unhinding things by name. Oh ya…these are Max 6 files.

I hope you find it useful and educational…and once again if you have any questions (about this rig or other rigging questions) please ask away!


thanks harvey, just a bit of a typo in the last url
should be

thanks again


:banghead: Ahhg…sorry about that. Thanks for catching that one Mark.


That is a nice setup Chris. Well done.

We tend to stay away from facial rigs and stick with targets only because of the series work that we are doing. I find it difficult for the animators to deal with on a mass scale. I wish I could though as the test rigs that I have created have alot of range when used with targets mixed in.


Hey thanks Paul. And I totally see where you are coming from…there are not a lot of chances to use a good bones rig on fast series work. But like you say when combined with morph targets there range is so much bigger becuase you are not limited to the preset models and combinations. Also they are just plain fun to play with…moving bones around can be realy fast to set-up some crazy silly animations!



Your rig is amazing!  I've done a lot of rigging on characters but always avoided using bones for facial animation, instead resorting to morph targets.  I just wanted to send my appreciation for the brilliant but relatively simple setup you provided.  I was able to dissect most of what was going on-- although the bone chain(s) down the middle of the jaw confuses me a bit.  I'll have to take a closer look.

Anyway, I recently modeled a mouth (without a face) to use for lip-sync practice and examples. All that was left was to rig it, and you helped me put the last piece of the puzzle into place. I’ll soon be posting it on my website and I’ll be sure to credit your valuable knowledge.



Hey Jim…I am very glad that you liked the rig adn more importantly that you were able to take some of the ideas from it and use it in your own work! I am looking foward to seeing your finished rig. Also the bone chain running down the middle of the jaw is actually the bone chain to which the IK chain is applied that drives the jaws movement.


It has come to my attention that some of you are using max 5 (don’t know why I saved it out as a max 6 file anyway)…so I have uploaded a version that works in max 5. I must appoligize as I didn’t have as much time ot clean up this max 5 version and also that it still contains all the bonesPro data…which means that if you don’t have bonesPro…it will still work but will give you an error message when opening.

    Here is the link: http://www.tughan.com/~harvey/WIP/HeadBonesRig_MAX5version.zip[](http://www.tughan.com/users/harvey/WIP/HeadBonesRig_MAX5version.zip)

Hope this helps those of you still on max5…and I must reccomend an upgrade to max7 when its released…excellent rigging tool additions!!!


hey there, this is for the creator of this excellent rig. Not that I don’t appreicate what you’re doing here, b/c you have no idea how excited I am about seeing this, but I was wondering if there’s a break down for non-3dsMax users like myself. I use maya, and I really hate using Morphs for my facial anis. This way seem to be the answer I was looking for but never really put too much thought into rigging the face with bones cause I thought it would be harder than morphs. Will there be a tut for us non max users? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one wondering about this. Excellent work man,

later -


Hey Binder,

Sorry for the delay in aswering your question…been pretty busy lately. Anyway the basic principals can be used in any package, as I am sure you figured would be the case. Once I finally get my new site up I will try to add a generic breakdown of this rig so that anyone can recreate something similar regardless of the application they are using.

In the meantime if you have any specific questions please feel free to ask!


Like Chris said, main principals can be used in any package to create a facial rig similiar to this. I know that Andrew Silke (character animator) used a Bone driven Facial System for his Cane-Toad animation. And he used Maya for that. Here you may visit the tutorial page about it. I think that you’ll like it. :slight_smile:


Woww… just exactly what I’m looking for… but the link doesn’t seem to work?? Can someone point me to an active link? Another question, haven’t tried bonepro, but heard a lot good thing about it. How does it compared to Max 7 Skin? Thanks!!


Not really sure why the links are dead…Tughan will have to answer that one. It may be that he doesn’t have the space to store them anymore. If that is the case if anyone else has a place I can store the files so they are available for anyone to download please let me know.


Links have been updated! Thanks again Tughan!


link are dead again, anyone know where i can get it, it looks great


Links are alive alright. They just doesn’t seems like jumping. :bounce: I mean, Harvey’s links texts are right, but their directions is wrong. Here are the correct links util Harvey edit his post again…


This is the complete file…including all the BonesPro 3 properties. Only download this version if you have BonesPro3.

This file is for those of you who do not own BonesPro3.

BTW, sorry about the problem. My server changed user paths without my notice. Anyway, all files are still there…