Channel Box and Reverse Foot

Maya: Rigging Fundementals

Todays Class

Channel Box Attributes
Connecting Attributes to drive Objects
Driven Keys
Reverse Foot Setup



1. Lecture
This week we’ll find out about channel box attributes, connections and the reverse foot setup in Maya

2. Practical
We’ll build a reverse foot setup in the second half of the lesson



(right click download)

Morpheus Reverse Foot Start

Morpheus Reverse Foot Finished

Driven Keys Spaceship Rig



In todays class we’ll talk about attributes and how they can relate/connect/control other objects in maya. This is very handy in rigging where we are always using attributes to drive objects.

1. Channel box’s attributes how to make new attributes. modify, hide, lock or make key-able.

2. Connecting attributes to other objects.
– Node Editor
– The Connection Editor
– Driven Keys.

3. The Reverse Foot setup, an interesting ik joint and parent structure commonly used for feet. We’ll build a Curve Control object that drives all the objects in one handy Animation Control and hook it up using connections and driven keys.


Adding Attributes

You can add attributes to the channel box of an object very easily in Maya

Modify > Add Attribute (options)

Long Name: Is the name of the attribute in the channel box, make it short. A capital letter will add a space in the display
ShortName = Short Name
Make attribute: We usually leave this on Keyable
Data Type: This is the type of attribute, a number with decimal places, with no decimal places an on off switch or a drop down list etc.
– Vector (xyz position rarely used)
– Float (a numbers can have decimal places eg 1.232)
– Integer ( numbers with no decimal places 1, 2, 3, 4)
– Boolean (on or off)
– String (words but will be only displayed in the attribute editor)
– Enum (drop down list eg blue, yellow, green)

Numeric Attribute Properties: The max min and default values of the attribute
Enum Names: The drop down list, click in the grey and type some names only for Enum lists

Keyable attributes will appear in the Channel Box of the object. All attributes will appear in the Attribute editor under “Extra Attributes”.



Deleting Attributes

Modify > Delete Attribute…



Editing/Renaming Attributes

Modify > edit Attribute



Locking Hiding Attibutes

In the channel box use the right click functionality to lock and hide attributes. They can be unlocked and retrieved with the Channel Control Window.



Channel Control Window

The Channel Control window allows us to see what’s shown in the channel box. Many attributes are hidden by default and you can clearly see which attributes are locked, unhide or unlock them.

Window > General Editors > Channel Control



Reordering Attributes in The Channel Box

Re Ordering Attributes in the channel box is surprisingly difficult, in fact maya doesn’t support re shuffling at all. By default they’re ordered in the order you create them.

Some people have written mel scripts for this. DK_reorder works for float attribute types but is a bit buggy for others you can find it here

Another can be found in the Zoo Tools mel collection.

The manual way of doing this is to modify your maya file when saved as an asci .ma you can open it up in a txt editor, search for your attributes and reorder the way they’re built then save the file in the txt editor. Be sure to have your scene closed while you do this.


Another video on the manual method is here.


Connection Editor

We can use the connection editor to have an attribute link or drive an object. It’s very useful.

Window > General Editors > Connection Editor

Outputs: The driver attribute that will control or pass on it’s value to another object, often this is the key-able attribute
Inputs: The driven attribute that will receive the value from the control

This is helped with a “from -> to” guide.

Simply find the attribute you wish to connect from and to and highlight them, they will be linked as soon as they are highlighted.

Deleting Connections in Maya is called “breaking” connections. You can do that by

Right clicking in the Channel Box on the attribute name > Break Connections

You may also do this in the Connection Editor or in the Node Editor


Driven Keys

Driven Keys are a fantastic way of adding an animation to an attribute. This can be anything and it has a lot of control and uses in many scenarios.

Animate > Set Driven Keys > Set…

An example of a set driven key is on this spaceship where the explosion and laser have been created using set driven keys.

Later we’ll be setting up a driven key on the bank of a foot control. Here’s a simple demo to show how that will be done.



Reverse foot is a lovely setup for Ik Feet in Maya

A quick overview and images can be seen here.


Part 1. Creating the Reverse Foot Hierarchy

Here we create the basic hierarchy of the reverse foot which the ik will later follow.



Part 2. Adding IK to the Main Skeleton

Now we add 3 IK Handles to the leg skeleton.



Part 3. Connecting The IK to the Reverse Foot

Next we parent the IK handles to the reverse foot


Part 4. Creating the Curve Control

Now we want to make a curve control that will be easy for the animators to use.


Part 5. Connecting up Controls



Part 6. Checking Gimbal On the Foot Control



Part 7. Adding The Knee Pole Vector




Now we’ll perform some surgery to add some advanced features. By advanced i don’t mean difficult just some extra stuff. Part 8 is actually very important and should be added on reverse foot rig.


Part 8. Adding The Toe FK Rotation

This is a very important step to allow the animator to curl the ball of the foot. Before this step the animator will have no ability to do this. After this step we’ll have useable rig ready to go.



Part 9. Giving Full Access to Ball and Toe Pivots

In a fully functioning rig we want to give the animator access to the bank and heading of the toe and ball pivots, just incase they need them. These are less common controls but nice to have.



Part 10. Adding The Swivel

People often pivot of the ball of their feet for many actions such as putting out a cigarette. This control allows for a ball swivel pivot.



Part 11. Adding The Foot Bank with a Driven Key

Perhaps we want a nice bank setup that allows the animator to pivot off the sides of the feet? Here we build that control.



Andrew Silke

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