Building A Basic Animator Friendly Rig

Maya: Rigging Fundementals

Todays Class

– Big Buck Bunny Skeleton To Rig
– Two different versions of a Simple Rig
– Putting it all together to make a clean simple rig



1. Lecture
We’ll go over the simple rig again and how to add curve controls neatly. With a slight recap of week one’s simple rig.

2. Practical
We’ll put some curve controls onto big buck bunny


Simple Rig – Parent Vs Constrained Controls.

There’s two ways to make controls take over our rig.

1. Parenting controls and the rig together
– Geo Group
– Rig Group

2. Constraining the controls together
– Geo Group
– Bind Skeleton Group
– Controls Group
– RigHelpers Group

The constrained version requires more from the rigger but is more elegant and allows for a number of production advantages, the main advantage is that the animators can see exactly what they have selected.

The parented version is simpler and arguably faster to setup, it’s a dirty quick method but one that can work just as well producing quality final resulting animation.


Building FK setups with Curve Controls

The following 4 videos demonstrate the basic creation of curve controls in both the constrained rig and the parented version. These videos are for a basic FK setup only and can be used on fk arms, spine fingers neck, ears, tail etc. Anything with a basic fk setup. These methods use curve controls that zero out correctly and follow the rotation of the joints, so we are assuming we have set up our joint chains with correct rotation order etc. Perfect if you’ve skinned together a basic FK skeleton.

Building the Controls

Mirroring the Controls with Behaviour
The easiest way to mirror curve controls without a negative scale and keeping mirrored rotation behaviour is to mirror the curves with the joint mirror tool.

1. Create a joint at world center
2. Parent the group of the curve controls to the joint
3. mirror the joint with mirror joint tool (behavior on, and YZ)
4. Unparent the curve controls from the joint into world space

Note* all controls are mirrored like above except for the feet which remain in the same rotational world space, not mirrored

Option 1: Parenting Controls Together

Option 2: Constraining Controls Together


Creating Curve Controls on Big Buck Bunny’s Arms

This is the contraint method of setting up curve controls on a skinned fk big buck bunny skeleton. It follows the exact method we saw above.


Rig Helpers

Up until now we’ve seen the 3 of the 4 groups we need for a constrained rig… Geo, Controls and Bind Skeleton groups. Now we want to add the final piece with a rigHelpers group.

Rig Helpers are elements of the rig that we need to take special control of our characters. These are things like

– ik
– spline ik
– aim contraints
– ik/fk switching


Since we want to keep our bind skeleton group clean. We do not want to mix in ik chains or other controls into this group. This is great because it means a rigger could be working on the deformation of a character separate to the actual control rig. Or we could update it later.

We’re assuming the joint positions are correct and won’t change in the section below.

Multiple Skeletons
It’s common practice to have multiple skeletons in a rig. Each skeleton will serve a different purpose.

To demonstrate this simply lets have a look at a fk/ik 3 skeleton switch setup. This setup uses 3 skeletons, and even 4 if we wanted to add our bind skeleton.

1. Fk Skeleton
2. Ik Skeleton
3. Switch Skeleton

Now lets have a look at this in a simpler terms. Using an ik chain in a rig helper to drive the bind skeleton which we want to keep clean in another group.

Rig Helper IK Leg Setup

Looking at Rig Helpers example on the Morpheus Constrained version rig.


Building An IK rigHelper setup on Big Buck

So since we have controls to think about building the ik leg setup in a rigHelper group gets a little tricky. These videos take us through the process.

Building Controls – Dual Leg Skeleton Setup
The important difference for the curve controls is that we’re making them for Ik. So we need the following controls

1. foot control
2. ball control
3. hip control
4. leg pole vector
5. optional toe controls (if you have toe joints)

The Dual Leg Setup Building the 2nd Skeleton

Linking The Dual Leg Setup To The Curve Controls


Creating the Hip Controls


Creating A Move All Control


Orienting The Head With An Aim Constraint


Check Rotation Orders on World Controls

By default all objects in Maya are set to XYZ gimbal rotation order, but many controllers are better setup in other orders such as ZXY. In particular pay attention to the feet and hips.


Colouring Curves

– Colouring Curve Controls
1. Attribute Editor
2. Attribute Spread sheet


The Inherits Transform Checkbox for Double Transforms


Adding Selection Sets

Selection sets make is easier for the animator to easily select multiple objects easily in groups. Sets are usually

1. For fingers
2. for all body controls
3. later we’ll put all facial
4. Later we’ll put all controls

Riggers might also want to create a set for all of our bind joints, the ones we use to skin.

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