Tips for binding\painting weights


You can also select the skinCluster from Inputs and turn the weight/envelope to zero before you duplicate. Even the smallest shift in verts from the original unweighted mesh can cause big problems when you overlay multiple blendshapes.



Thanks a lot man!


wow, this thread is really good…
thanks for making it a sticky… :bowdown:

i’m still only half way through it, but still there is so much new i have already learned…


I need to weight some medium poly hands. However every thing is close together so its is tedious to paint weights, could someone please tell me how i can weight each vertex to the joint numericaly and indivualy? Thanks guys


Use the component editor wich is under: Windows/ General Editor.


<reposted in a new post in the Alias/Autodesk Maya forum>


Hi guys!
I’ve just searched the forum and could find a lot of valuable input on how to deal with weight mapping. But I still have on question: Does the “MAX INFLUENCE”-option really work? I did activate the “Closest in Hierarchy” as the Bind Method in the Tool Options and set Max Influence to 3.

Then I paint some weights and probably do some mirror etc. and sometimes it happens that a joint at the very bottom (root for example) influences a vertex at the very top (head). If the “max influence” + “Closest in hierarchy” really would work that should never happen. Or am I wrong?

I’m thinking that the Binding Method only applies at the beginning and only works with the automatic skinning. But is there any way to make it work with manual painting? So that weights shifting only applies between the 3 nearest joints?

It’s really a pity that even in version 7 painting weights is still a pain in the ass. Export/Import Weights doesn’t work at all and also mirroring weights seems to be quite buggy. Even “Holding weights” is ignored in several cases… :frowning:


onkelandy> After you smoth bind do a normolize weights that will clean up all that mess and actually have cv’s beighn influenced by the 3 joints that you asked for. Normolize weights actually fixes a lot of issues with the skiining proses. As for transfering weights, mirroring adn all that other fun stuff. We use our own tools or some one elses. There are a lot of people out there that, have created tools for doing that stuff.


Thanks for your reply, but I don’t quite get it.I’ve turned on “Normalize Weights” all the time…? Is the command “Normalize Weights” acting different? My real problem is not the max influences - I guess it works as long as the “maintain” option is active. But the setting while biniding the skin with “closest in hierarchy”.

So again… how can I prevent Maya from skinning the top of the head to the root joint? That doesn’t happen after binding immediately, but happened sometimes after smoothing or mirroring and so on.
Thanks for your help!

Could you also tell me which tools you use for export/import weight maps? I’ve found a workaround that is quite okay but not perfect: duplicating the geometry with input graph and then transfering the weights from the duplicate back to the original. Is there a better solution?


I ment to say Prune small weights. I’m sorry for that. Pruning the weights will take care of that problem. Also when you paint weights never smooth, always add. If you want to smooth make sure you lock all your joints except for the ones that you want to smooth between. When you smooth maya throws the weights all over the place. Never were you want it. If you are a newb you should definatlly not smooth only add. As for transfering do a serch on this site or even highend3d.


My skinning workflow:

  1. Select joints that will be used for binding. Never use joint hiearchy.
  2. Bind Method -> Closest in Hiearchy
  3. Set the max influence to 1. This will make it very rigid to start.
  4. Hold all weights.
  5. Edit smooth skin -> Set max influnces to 3 or 4 at most.
  6. A warning telling you that it could not set all the points is fine.
  7. Begin unholding joints 2 at a time and use a small value to add. (0.05 - 0.1)
  8. Go back and forth on the two bones and smooth at the end.
  9. Hold the first joint and unhold the next one.

This workflow allows me to skin usually(not always) in one pass no matter how dense the topology is. This has worked quite well for me.



He Nolan! This sounds quite good. I’m going to try it with this initial 1 influence and then setting it to 3 afterwards. Thanks!

As far as smoothing is concerned, I know that Maya throws the weights to all places. But it shouldn’t when “binding mode -> closest in hierarchy” is activated at the beginning, right? Lately it also happened that Maya was completely ignoring holded weights! It’s really a pity that still in version 7.0.1 skinning is such a pain.


As far as weight throwing, the thing you need to make sure that you NEVER do is smooth->flood, even if you have hold weights on. For one it’s never controlled and skinning is something that you should be in control of and never Maya.

This may be tedious but if you select 1 or 2 verts at a time and do an Add with a really small value (0.05) you can control the smoothing.

Using the method that I described is a method that works great for any level of detail on a character.

As far as closest in distance and heirachy, I tend to get closer results with hiearchy on the first pass than using closest.


Is there a way to set the paint tool to paint both sides of the mesh?
C4D has an option to paint through the mesh and I use it a lot.

I prefer to paint joints with the model faceing the left or right viewport as much as possible.
And the paint all (not flood) function is also a great way to paint hidden vertices.
But I can’t figure out how to make the brush paint through both sides of the mesh in Maya 7.


Hi guys, great thread. just wondering if you could help me out. im trying to add influence objects which works fine but when i try to add the influence object to selected verticies of my mesh maya tells me ‘no skinned objects were found in the selection’. obviously im selecting the verticies of my skinned mesh. a little anoying as i cant use this feature which would really help. it says you can do it in the help file etc so what am i doing wrong? oh and one more thing, what is a SDK??!


Add the joint to the mesh with the lock influence on. Then add the influence to the cv’s you want. You can’t add a joint to cv’s you can only add joint to geo. As cv’s dont have a skin cluster geo does. SDK means Set Driven Key.


You say ‘Add the joint to the mesh with the lock influence on’, however im not trying to add joints to the mesh im adding geometry as influences…?
anyhow iv discoverd i can simply paint the weight of the influence geometry as it appears in the joint list once it has been added as an influence so i can choose where it influences which is what i needed.
thanks anyway

one more thing while im here, whats it all about when you cant return the skin/skeleton back to bind pose without ignoring all nodes in ‘modify>evaluate nodes’? and when i ‘re-evaluate’ the nodes once the skin/skeleton is back to bind pose, quite often the spline in my spine set-up doesnt return back to bind pose and some other things are slightly out. could someone please briefly exlplain what the evaluate node thingy is actualy doing because i seem to have to use it but i dont understand what it does? thanks


I read the whole thing, whoa. Remarkably, I have a few things to add.

First I would like to say that I detest painting skin weights which is why I came up with the following workflow.

  1. (I had to add something before one) Make a neutral pose before skinning and anytime you make a change to the rig. because working with the bind pose sucks and you’ll probably have to delete it anyway.

  2. Make quick select sets for your joints that you will use in your bind. When you create the quick select set THIS IS IMPORTANT select the joints in the order in which you want them to appear in the paint weights editor. I start with the root, make my way up the spine then hit the limbs. This will greatly speed up the selection process when you bind skin time after time after time after time.

  3. Select your joints in your quick select set, THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT select the joints by opening up the quick select set and selecting top to bottom, select the top most joint in the list and then scroll down and shift select the last joint in the list. If you just right click on the select set and select members you will end up with no discernable hierarchy in your paint weights editor.

  4. Smooth bind to selected joints.

I don’t agree with the statement that a good rig needs no weight painting, but take that for whatever you will. At this stage I usually have a reasonably good deforming character, but that doesn’t matter because I then:

  1. flood the whole mesh to the root.

  2. From there I work OUTWORD from the root. I begin with the torso painting only a value of one set to replace, also my brush is hard edged so I get only values of one.

  3. I then select all of the vertices on any one of the limbs and flood them all to the highest joint on that limb (we’ll use the arm for example) I’ll select all the vertices in the arm and flood them to the shoulder, then I select all of the vertices below the elbow and flood them to the elbow joint then all the vertices below the wrist flood them to the wrist. Then the fingers, flooding to the first knuckle then the second. T

I paint the entire mesh like this with this radiating redundancy. Going outward painting values of 1 to whatever joint will have the most influence over the vertex. I do this because we have all run into the strange phenomenon that occurs when you subtract weights and the vertices end up being weighted to another limb on the other side of the body. The reason why this happens is because the vertex with the severely fragmented weight was ever so slightly weighted to those other bones and when you subtracted the weight it put it where it thought was the most logical place and that was where it already had weight, don’t blame Maya, if you weren’t such a slob that wouldn’t happen. So the Idea here is that by weighting everything 100% to whatever joint you have insured that there is absolutely no weight assigned to a verticy that is associated with an unwanted joint. If you’ve taken care in the first few minutes of painting weights you will save yourself a lot of hassle later.

  1. I now go back and in the same manner as before working outward, smoothing between the joints. I just found out about that global smoothing script, I’ll use it next time at this stage and see how it works for me.

  2. (!!THIS IS THE BIG TIME SAVER RIGHT HERE!!) Now since I’ve never got my rig right on the first try I have to unskin and reskin a lot. So what I do is save a copy of my rig and skin then unskin my mesh, make my changes to the rig or the mesh, save my new neutral pose, select my quick select set of joints and skin my mesh. Then I REFERENCE in the old file, select the old mesh, select the new mesh and copy skin weights. This way you at least start from where you last left off rather than repainting the whole thing again. Unreference the old file and keep going.

That’s about it. I then set up my deformers. I try to steer clear of influence objects because I think they are time intensive and sloppy. I try to get as much done with joints as I can then use deformers and if I really have to I’ll use an influence object. I don’t like blend shapes either because they are linear animation and the body moves in arcs, I also don’t like setting them up again and again. I get around using influence objects and blendshapes by using joints, deformers and constraints.



Big thanks to your reply. This is really a cool new approach to painting weights. I’m quite curious how practicable it really is…
Anyway - you mention a smooth script. Can you post a link, please? Thanks alot!


im having problem with the blendshape part here. i have rigged and skinend my first character in maya and am now about the fix all the strange deformations. i have copied the entire mesh and fixed a blendshape for the knee, when bending it i have moved vertices on the hip and in the knee so it looks good. everything works as far as that i can move my foot up. then move the slider on the blendshape to get a good result. but now i cant move my control object for the foot. or well i can move it but the foot wont follow. and if i dont move the foot ctrl from the beggining and just use the blendshape slider the foot goes up. how do i get the blendshape to only change the vertices i have moved and not the whole leg?