How to make my model's top section rotate without rotating the entire model?


I’m trying to learn a bit of Maya modeling so that I can be self sufficient when it comes to creating super basic assets for my game development. I’m trying to understand skeletal rigging and how it modifies the model geometry itself.

I’ve got the most basic model - a cube with proportions that make it into a 3D rectangle. I’ve rigged it with a very simplistic skeleton. My goal is to learn how all of this works, and create a character that has motion similar to maybe the magic carpet from Aladdin - it’s a rectangle but the edges somewhat move like it has arms and legs.

When I rotate some joints, it distorts the entire model. I added a bit more geometry, some loop cuts, thinking that it’d allow the top section of my model to rotate a bit more freely without having to deform the entire model, but it still just seems to do the same thing.

How can I make the top section of my model be capable of moving forward and backward in such a way that it does not cause the entire model to move forward?

I’ve attached several images. First is the model and skeleton before any joint rotations. The second is what it looks like when I rotate around the neck joint - you can see the entire model tilts forward. The last is what I’m aiming for - mostly just the “top section” tilting forward.


Weight map painting. Paint top 8 vertices full weight white to rotated joint.
Weight bottom 8 verts to waist or root joint.