good rigging practices

Hey guys, Angela and I have come up with a list of good/helpful rigging practices….

1. Make sure to freeze transformations and delete history on any controller curves before constraining them to joints/IKs.

2. Types of constraints:

a) point constraints affect translation

b) orient constraints affect rotation

c) parent constraints affect both translation and rotation

d) aim constraints are usually used for the head and/or the eyes; they affect where the   geometry/joint is pointing

This tutorial done by a former RPI student shows how constraints work, starting at 4:30

(If you’re looking for help with a basic rig, you can also watch other tutorials on his channel, he has quite a few).

3. When rigging IK arms and legs, make sure the IK tool is set to RP Solver instead of SC solver. Also, when you have made the IK, the white arrow around the rotate solver should be pointing backwards for the arms and forwards for the legs.

4. Keep the outliner organized (joints should be in a “joints group”, control curves should be in a “control group”, etc.)  Make sure to label everything so that you can remember what it is (ie, label left_shoulder, left_elbow, left_wrist, NOT joint1, joint2, joint3).

5. You can test your rig by binding skin and detaching to fix any issues.

6. IK Splines should be used for a character’s spine and tail (if applicable). Not sure if a tutorial on this was done in class, if not I will be doing one in the near future.

7. If you are using smooth bind, make sure you have the correct settings. Usually “bind to” will be set to “selected joints” and “skinning method” will be set to “dual quaternion”. For our purposes, max influences should be set to 4-5 max, you can probably get away with less.

Milestone Project 1:

Animation I

Milestone Project 1: Character and Environment

 Due: Nov 2.

 Create an environment for your character and pose the character within it.

This will be the set for your final shot, which we will work on throughout the remainder of the semester.  The environment at this stage should be refined enough to be usable, though you can continue to go back and add detail, improve textures, etc.   The environment should include materials and lighting.

Models should be done by Oct. 23 for in-class rigging studio. Make sure you aslo upload your character sketch.


1. Finish character model

2. Rig it

3. Create an environment

4. Set up a shot camera

5. Pose the character in two poses that each clearly communicate an action or emotion

6. For each pose, render one still image at 1280×720 (HD 720p).   Save as high-quality JPG’s.

Some Texture Pointers

Texture Resource:  CGTextures

Texture Placement Grid 

CrazyBump (we have a site license for this)

Some tools used:

  • Create Polygon Tool
  • Append Polygon Tool
  • X key to toggle snap to grid when using move tool
  • UV snapshot >  Targa > 512 x 512
  • Save texture in the sourceimages in the project folder
  • Photoshop
  • One PSD file for all data for your data
  • Name layers in your photoshop file
  • UV snapshot on the top> Blend mode screen and the background layer black
  • Name Materials
  • Fast seamless tile: Duplicate layer then filter>offset  and then create layer mask and the gradient
  • One powers of 2 higher than what size your texture is going to be
  • Overlap texture/ add drop shadow to give a feeling of and edge
  • Merge Meshes
  • Blinn and turn off reflectivity
  • Renderer to High Quality Renderer
  • Lighting Use all Lights and then create point lights
  • create a specular map one material at a time.  go back to photoshop and lower the brightness if the material is not reflective and raise the brightness on the material that are reflective. Add monochromatic noise to the specular map. Invert and set blend mode to screen and blur slightly.  You can also add a tint.
  • In Maya in the material attributes attach the file to the specular color
  • Use CrazyBump to make bump map
  • Use a Tangent Space Normals