Better Skinning

Webber Huang shows a great tool and workflow in the video I installed it but sadly it doesn’t work for my character with ribbon limbs setup.

Recently I’m using the smoothSkinClusterWeight plugin by Brave Rabbit, which already help speeding up smoothing a lot. Hopefully I could use it some day. Skinning is a not a fun task always.

Last Job

I was in charge of all the body and facial rigging for the TV commercial Lots of corrective fixes were missing. The ribbon limbs were buggy. Some helper joints didn’t work as expected and no way for quick finger gesturing . . .  Now I’m finishing a better rig, hopefully before the start of the next job.

Recently I would recommend the free rig, Ray from cgTarian, which has great appeal on the face and clean technical setup.

Animation Test This is just the basic body rigging. Good deformation and facial setup are my next goals.

Animating fingers

Most of the hand setup use attributes with SetDrivenKey to do auto curling and useful gestures like fist, spread and relax … But they sit on top of normal FK controls, which mean I have to check and avoid counter animation from time to time.

My approach is to set up FK fingers only and use sliders instead of attributes. E.g. a curling sliders is scripted for each finger to drive the corresponding 3 finger segment sliders. So both the FK controls and “sliders” are controlling the same rx ry rz of the FK controls. Yeah ! No extra keys and less distraction.


Don’t just animate. Act.

This is one of the most mind-blowing videos I recently watched. I guess this is a general problem in the generation like me that we don’t plan enough. You can change “relatively” easy in 3D. But very often this doesn’t mean a better quality.

Animating . . .

Not much technical stuff updated. The past few weeks I’ve been animating the characters rigged by my autorig scripts. New ideas keep coming up :

  1. Having a picker UI is more handy, especially when posing gesture.
  2. On-spot eye rotation controls are better than the aim control. Selecting and translating the aim control and then the corresponding control for each eye are not efficient.
  3. Soft IK is helpful. When the arm/leg moves slowly, the pop becomes obvious.
  4. Avoid FK/IK switching. Use IK for the whole shot even when it is needed for certain period only. The switching could be troublesome sometimes.
  5. The elbow joint should NOT be placed too far from the mid point. The forearm may look weird when you twist the hand.


By the way I find the great animatic / layout / pencil test of “A Soñar con Disney”. Can’t stop watching it again and again.

Pose library

Having a break in the job on hands, I find I need a few more others tools beyond my autorig script to ease my work. Years ago I modified the poseMan script and used it for a while. Actually there are some popular free alternatives with fancy GUI but I like how straight forward it look and use. With time I may rewrite it before messing up the original codes too much.


Work in Progress

Couple of busy weeks again continuing the rigging of a few characters for a TV commercial. It could be a long page of ideas to share but I’m in a hurry to finish the tasks on hand. Here captured my most recent autorig tool, if someone is interested to see.


Wrap and more …

It was a long week.

I watched Digital Tutor – Blend Shape-Based Facial Rigging in Maya by Delano Athias. I would say it’s one of the best of DT Series I would recommend. The result rig included is still buggy but the processes are well explained. I learn a simpler way for follow-align setup, using blendParent by keying constrained channels.

In my autorig tool, I wrote some functions to connect control joints to wrapping surface. This allows the parts wrapped to be keyable too. But maya’s wrap needs extra steps to get the scaling right. These are kindly shared by Mathieson Facer in

More tasks to be solved and fixed in my list . . .

Weight Painting Tool

I’m trying to do weight painting suggested in the tutorial : Expressive Facial Rigging by Josh Sobel. His workflow involves selection of target vertices, adding weight of 1 to target joint, and applying proper smoothing with unneeded joints locked. Maya’s paint skin weights tool is barely enough so I want more.

  1. Better view of weight assignment.
  2. Quick switching between paint mode and selection mode.
  3. Sliders for quick test on translation / rotation.
  4. Working mirroring even with joints translated / rotated.
  5. Working mirroring even with RHS vertices assigned to LHS joints.
  6. Nice weight relaxation on selected vertices.

The last two weeks I’ve been creating and testing one, with the above (1) to (4) working. The initial idea was from the script sdd_weightTools ( by leifeng ). Feature (5) and (6) are actually nicely done in the script ngSkinTools ( by Viktoras Makauskas ). These two are harder to implement since they may involve python API. Hoping to learn it one day and have these integrated. I already have tons of tools messing around !