Lots of great tips here…really good stuff…
Here’s my workflow method:
Usually when I am working with a character, it is usually at least 80K polys or higher. That being said, I have a considerable amount of work trying to keep each vertice weighted exactly how I want all the time. First off, like rhonedog pointed out, your maximum influences is important. You must be aware that each vertice must have a value of 1 divided into a maximum number of influences you define for it. Personally, I don’t ever use more than 3 when binding. I also do bind to selected joints, using closest distance, rather than closest joint.
Here’s how often I use the component editor: never
I paint everything. I work one joint at a time, from the root to the tip. Each joint gets a pass of paint, a pass of weight removal, and several smooth passes, then I move onto the next joint and continue. I don’t go back, I just do them one at a time. I call this a “pass” when all the joints are done. I usually end up doing 2-3 good passes (2-3 hours per pass) before a skin is finished. I use very few tools, instead, I rely on tricks I have learned through the experience of painting.
Every stroke changes a vert’s weight to a joint. You have to account for this weight somehow. Think of where that weight might have possibly moved, then logically decide how you’re going to defeat the system and apply your weighting.
Instead of replacing with a value of .2, replace with a value of 1 close to the area you want the .2 influence, then smooth.
One last thing…animate the joints and set hotkeys for getting to the smooth paint options box (will help you speed up). This way you can hit a few buttons, scroll in the timeslider, and continue painting without even noticing.
Weighting is a confusing process…you just have to be patient.