ZooTools Biped Proxy Rig

Maya: Zoo Tools, Skeleton Builder

In This Class You’ll Access…
Build biped rigs super fast with Zoo Tools auto rigger Skeleton Builder. Skele Builder is a python based modular rigging framework by Hamish McKenzie and it comes with a lovely default rig with loads of features for animators. The rig features full space switching versatility fk/ik baking, right click menus and a full animation pose library.


One of the best features of this rig is how it can be stripped down and rebuilt in a matter of seconds, change pivots without needing to adjust or re-skin. And no need to worry about joint alignment, it’s all handled automatically!

Easily redesign control curves, create your own and then hook everything up to a great trigger UI system for easy selection. We’ll be covering the Zoo Tools Skeleton Builder rig in future animation classes, so learn how to build this fantastic rigging system now. And if you’re a python guru add your own rig controls in the backend… though python isn’t covered in this lesson.

Running Time: 1:08 hrs
Software: Maya 2016
New 2017 Page

Instructor: Andrew Silke

Class Time: 1:08 hrs

1. Zoo Biped Proxy Overview (6:41 mins)

1.1 – Biped Proxy Overview (6:41 mins)

2. Overview Of Proxy Scene (6:38 mins)

2.1 – Proxy Scene Contents (1:05 mins)
2.2 – Triggers Geo (2:05 mins)
2.3 – Proxy Objects (3:28 mins)

3. Proxies, Skeleton Match And Alignment (10 mins)

3.1 – Check Setup (1:41 mins)
3.2 – Proxy Match Skel (2:49 mins)
3.3 – Unparenting Proxies (1:31 mins)
3.4 – Joint Alignment (4:39 mins)

4. Skinning Prep (9:03 mins)

4.1 – Twist Joint Fix (1:54 mins)
4.2 – Matching Mesh (1:22 mins)
4.3 – Pivot Positions (5:47 mins)

5. Skinning (14 mins)

5.1 – Skin Joints Explained (1:42 mins)
5.2 – Quick Skin Bind (42 sec)
5.3 – Paint Skin Weights (1:38 mins)
5.4 – TF Skin Smooth (1:00 mins)
5.5 – Rig Build Twists (3:11 mins)
5.6 – Skin Wrangler (3:42 mins)
5.7 – Return To Skeleton (1:20 mins)
5.8 – Mirror Skinning (1:33 mins)

6. Adjusting Pivots After Skinning/Rigging (4:20 mins)

6.1 – Rig Adjust Pivots (1:36 mins)
6.2 – Adj Pivots Toggle Skin 1 (1:09 mins)
6.3 – Adj Pivots Toggle Skin 2 (1:35 mins)

7. Customising The Controls (6:47 mins)

7.1 – Building Control Shapes (56 sec)
7.2 – Colouring Controls (1:54 mins)
7.3 – Replacing New Controls (2:06 mins)
7.4 – How Match Control Works (1:51 mins)

8. Adjusting Skeleton Joint Counts (4:34 mins)

8.1 – Change Joint Counts (2:29 mins)
8.2 – Cartoon Hand Setup (1:02 mins)
8.3 – Cartoon Hand Controls (1:03 mins)

9. Customising Triggers (4:51 mins)

9.1 – Custom Trigger Design (2:04 mins)
9.2 – Custom Trigger Setup (2:47 mins)
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  1. Richard Williams
    May 28, 2017 at 3:26 am ·

    LOL. Using my rig while following video 1.1, Maya crashes when I skin the rig with Shift-Y Skin Selected. I’m assuming it’s because I’m not skinning to a single mesh like you are, but to multiple geos in the rig simultaneously. Here’s the workflow:

    1. Import John_6_geo_v002 Symmetry.ma into proxyZoo_proxiesOnly_2017.ma
    2. Delete namespaces
    3. Parent geos into geo_grp
    4. Translate proxies in Y and X to fit mesh
    5. RM Proxy/Match/Build Skeleton
    6. RM Proxy/Select Skin Joints
    7. Select multiple geos
    8. Shift-Y Skin Selected
    9. Crash
    Is skinning to multiple geos the problem? If so, What’s the way to handle this?

  2. Toby Leung
    August 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm ·

    Hi Andrew, sorry here’s another question of mine. So I’m using Maya 2016 and I downloaded the ZooProxy file for 2016. I was following video 8.1 to change the joint counts of the rig for my more cartoony character. Like what you said, I changed the joint counts in options, then right clicked on it to select update skeleton. However this error script appears:

    # Error: zoo : Failed to execute MenuCommand(u’proxyOptions’, ‘_menu_triggers[0]’, Trigger(u’proxyOptions’))
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “C:/Users/ttleung/Documents/maya/2016/scripts\zoo\libs\maya\triggered.py”, line 152, in execute
    exec resolvedCmd in localsDict
    File “”, line 5, in
    ImportError: No module named zmaya

    why does this happen? Is there a fix to this? cheers!

  3. Andrew Silke
    August 29, 2017 at 12:26 am ·

    Toby, yes looks like the proxy here needs the same update. I thought I’d upgraded obviously not, is fine in 2017. Anyways that’s done download the .zip again if will be v04_02 which has the fix for 2016.

    Also be sure to watch the 2017 page, this page is a little old and the scripts have been updated to reflect the 2017 tutorial. So the 2017 tutorial page should match here to 2016 pretty well, maybe not perfectly but almost everything is the same, this is older videos. Not big changes but some nice updates that are reflected in the 2017 page that you’ll have here with the latest prefs.

    Also a note, don’t load zooTools standalone from this page I’ll remove those links! Grab that from the prefs page which is the latest. Best to use the C3dC Prefs and not standalone, but if you have to ZooTools stand alone is now linked from the C3dC Prefs Page.

    As per Richards old comment, we found out that one was indeed an issue with the skin marking menu which is only in 2017. And has been fixed there.

    • Toby Leung
      August 29, 2017 at 1:57 am ·

      yup just downloaded the latest Biped Proxy file and the ‘update skeleton’ issue is fixed. Thanks a lot!

      Yes I’ve installed the C3dC Prefs from the start, and have been watching both pages of your tutorials so I hope I’m not missing anything haha. Btw would you still recommend using the Skin Wrangler Tool for characters that does not really have a normal human proportion.

      • Andrew Silke
        August 29, 2017 at 2:27 am ·

        Yeah I use Skin Wrangler on everything. The main tip if you have dense geo is to skin to a lores model. For example, the Nat Lores mesh here is literally the mesh I used to skin the hires nat you see on the main page of the site. Once you’re in 2017 you can use “shift y” marking menu then “Transfer Skin Weights Zoo”. In 2016 go to the Zoo Tools Pro (menu) > Rigging > Skin Weights Tool. That works wonderfully. Then the braverabbit smooth skin to smooth out any kinks.

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