Maya: Character rigs/skeletons


  • Joint: The point around which a limb can move
  • Parent joint: The joint which controls another selection of joints that it is attached to.
  • Child joint: The joints that can be controlled all at once by the parent joint or on their own

Creating a skeleton hierarchy: In order to create an effective parent system on your character’s skeleton, you must name each joint accordingly, so right-arm for the right arm, left-arm for the left arm, etc. A basic skeleton/rig will include most of the necessary joints and bones that you would find in a real human skeleton, like spine joints, knees and elbows.

If a good hierarchy system is not created, the character will not animate in a realistic way and will simply look wrong when moving.

Controllers: Because a human’s joints can only move so far in a direction, a lock will need to be put on each part of the hierarchy, and these will also be necessary to move the skeleton/rig with more control, with controls such as raise, lower and rotate.

This will also give you the opportunity to use reverse kinematics if you wish, including a master, or main controller, where one joint controls a large selection of other joints at once.

Animating a rig:

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 09.52.23

After importing a 3D model, I used a ‘Quick rig’ to create an automatic rig for the model created by Maya, by selecting ‘Auto-rig’ in the pop-up box. In order to make selecting each joint easier, I used the drop-down display on the right side of the screen.

To make keyframes for the joints easier, simply use the shortcut S each time you want to Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 09.54.50create a new frame for a joint.

Personalised character

To complete part of our assignment, we each created a character model based on our own facial features using Adobe Fuse.

In order to re-create my face, I took an image of my actual face on photo-booth ( a head-on and a side-on one), and used it as a reference point for the model’s head. To mould the face, I used the sliders in the customise menu to bulge and re-size parts of the face, such as the cheek-bones, the nose and eyes and eyebrows.

To create the rest of the body, I selected the appropriate limbs and torso, to fit my body. In the clothing menu, I chose the type of shirt for my torso and the trousers I needed for the legs.



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