Hello everyone.

It’s quite a long time I’m trying out to skin a character (some characters, in fact).

But, clearly, I miss some hints and skills and am realising that I just can’t reach these hints and skills by myself. I’ve learned how to model, how to texture, how to do some other things all by myself, but skinning… am not able to.

I know I started with bad mesh topologies, and still I can’t figure out well how the right topology is; and, I guess, I had also wrong bone location inside the mesh so I did some experiments (moving joints back and forth, left and right) but still I’m not satisfied.

I painted, assigned weights one-by-one, played with envelopes and with Biped (links, envelopes, bulges and vertex - and yes I use 3ds 5), and again the result terrifies me.

I read various tutorials on rigging, and in almost all there are some words about skinning; but these “some words” were not enough for me. Maybe I’m stupid, and since I don’t see anywhere a “Skinning” clear explanation as I see about modeling, rigging, texturing, now I am thinking “hum… so skinning might not be so difficult, it’s just a problem of mine”.

Can I ask for a GOOD explanation/tutorial/“just-everything” showing me how to place polygons on a mesh and how to rightfully link the mesh to the right-placed bones to give the mesh the awesome deformations I see in so many models and images you all show here and there?

Really thanks in advance to anyone!


Have you done the skinning tutorial in the 3dsmax tutorial manual?



Yes neverwake, I tried it, but am still here.

My problem is that I can skin knees (looking for a bit of realism, I mean), but when it comes to shoulders and groins (is it the right word?) all becomes ugly and confused. So where am I doing wrong?


I think part of what you’re doing wrong is not realizing that groins and shoulders are traditionally very hard to skin ;).

Seriously, people spend a lot of time there. The hip/groin is especially troublesome when you try to make a character run, walk, jump, kick, and sit - all with the same rig. Sometimes it isn’t worth the trouble, so you use more than one rig depending on the scene.

It COULD be your modeling… so post a wireframe and we’ll take a look. But you still should realize that this is an area with especially no magic button, nor a “1-2-3 steps we are done!” technique. It’s just a lot of manual labor, practice, and experience.

But post up a pic and we’ll see where you’re at. :slight_smile:



Ok then, I really want to understand where am I missing the point.

Here’s a couple of pics:

I think topology is not so bad, maybe bones are not exactly in place, but deformations are not really… um… nice…


Looks OK to me.

Here’s a tutorial that explains some skin weighting issues…look down towards the bottom.
(originally in French)


Thanks EricChadwick, I already did that (wonderful) tutorial about one year ago and there I found ALL what I ever found on the Net about skinning… many other tutorials make not much than repeat what Joan of Arc tutorial say. But still I can’t skin even nearly as good as I see in many pics and movies here! Why?


It takes a lot of trial and error to learn how to skin well. One method that seems to help people is to create some test animation for the character, where it does some extreme bone rotations, approximations of the movements your character is likely to go thru during its regular animation. Exercise motion is usually helpful. Some people save this animation to reuse on every character they skin.

Then while you are adjusting weights, scrub through the animation to see how it deforms in a variety of poses, and tweak as you go, constantly re-checking.

Many people use more than just vertex weighting to pose their characters. Morph targets can be combined to help get certain deformations to look more natural. Steven Stahlberg explains how he does it with Maya (“blendshapes” roughly equals “morph targets” in 3ds max)

Good luck! Remember it sometimes takes many months/years to get become really proficient. And even then you’re never “done,” there’s always new techniques and software to learn.


Heh, Eridan, did you made any progress in your search or skinning tutorials. I’m into skinning my character(see my Wip) and I did a tut which came with a book, it was very usefull for simple actions like walking and stuff, but for my needs with my actual character it’s not “deep” enough". Maybe even if you didn’t find any tuts we could share some experiences about Do’s and Don’t-s.



Yeah groins and shoulders are the hardest areas to get the skinning right on. i find painting weights with Skin to be easiest (after the initial envelopes are set up).

Looking at your model I’d say that the mesh topology looks fine, you should be able to do it with that model. However I think the bone positions need to be moved. The hips need to pivot from higher up the pelvis. If you can, find a series of planar images of a real (female) skeleton and try and match that up to the mesh you’ve got as closely as possible. Then align the bones to the images of the skeleton as closely as possible. Remember that the posisitons of the ‘bones’ aren’t important, it’s the positions of their pivot points that matter as that’s where they’ll be rotating from. You absolutely have to get those pivot points lined up with where the real bones rotate. That should get you off to a better start. It might even be worth altering your mesh to match the real skeleton for the purposes of testing.


Thanks for all your answers.
I had come to a decision: just abandon. I know it’s a trial and error, and know also that it’s a continuous improvement, and one can never say “well i’m good at it” because one can always get better.
But I simply can’t get the hints.
Started modeling, some years ago, and finally - watching images, wires, etc. - got the touch.
Then, started texturing and, even if I’m not good at drawing and painting, finally got the right way-to-go.
Then I wanted to make a complete character, so I got to skin it; and tried, and tried, and tried again, and searched and looked for but found nothing useful. At least, nothing that seems useful to me.

The point is, I see I know how it should be done but doing this… just doesn’t work, something is missing. And am not able to find what.

Just gave up.

Now I am restarting as non-organic modeler, trying to complete some ideas I have. Good bye to skinning and organic modeling, it’s not for me.


There was nothing wrong with the model that I could see. Organic modelling is no different to anything else. If you’re not liking the process of rigging the characters, then just don’t do that bit. At some places they’ll have different people to do modelling and the rigging anyway, so you might never have to worry about it.

But if you’re more comfortable sticking with non-organics, then go for it.

Good luck either way.


Hi Robinb

Thanks for wishes :slight_smile:
I do like all parts of a 3D creation, from start to end, both organic and non-organic creation, but would feel a more complete “artist” (i know am not an artist yet, just a wannabe) if I could do all in every field.

Thanks again.


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