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Where do I start? How to learn to be a character TD.

We get this type of question often enough that we should just share an answer.

QUESTION:  “I am continuing in learning Rigging by myself. Now I’m really struggling with one question, what to learn first, second and so on…. I’m going back and forth at the moment I really would like to have a bit of a clue which learning path to follow


Start with what excites you most. If you are learning something on your own the best way to learn it is to have a clear goal and work on something that is exciting or interesting to you.

Most of you have done or own many of the existing rigging books and DVDs that are out there and are great reference to have.

Any of these resources will work to learn from if you use them correctly. How do you do that you say? Well first before you spend time blindly charging step-by-step through a tutorial learn the tools that the tutorial  covers by reading the manual! Max and Maya have detailed documents describing the tool and how it works. If you don’t know what the tool is and what the options are for it, then you won’t have an understanding of why it is being used by the tutorial author.

So the start to any learning path should be the software docs, RTFM, they work hard to write them, if your learning something new you should read them. Learning to search and find answers is going to be your best skill during production.

Start with Scripting or Rigging? If you do not know how to rig, you will not know how to script a rig. Learning to script and program is important and if your very excited to code then learn how to program.  Learn python and proper programing skills before trying to hack away at a MEL/PYTHON/MAXSRIPT code in the application.   This will loop back to reading the manual because in order to script and program tools, it helps to know what is in the software, know your tools, speak the language and then you can extend and code for it.  Listen to ROB make the case better than anyone (He and I argue the details of his point but he is mostly right:) but don’t tell him I told you that.

Now that you have read the manual and are ready to go through your chosen resource (DVD, book, web tutorial ) just do it! If you want to make rigs, do the rigging section or if you want to learn deformations and skinning first, learn to make a skeleton and then work on weight paints and test joint positions.   Rigging and Skinning and Scripting can all be learned non-linearly but work on one at a time to start.

None of this is fast, it takes practice and research and more practice.  Once you get through and are comfortable with the tutorial then check out the same information in a few other places. Compare them and try adjusting or working on editing your first rig to try out any new techniques in the new tutorial.  Examples might be changing your ik stretch from scale to translate on the joints or change a reverse foot from skeleton joints to group nodes or replace expressions with math nodes.

Editing your first rig will help you learn very quickly because you all ready know it and tearing out bits and putting in new bits will give you great production troubleshooting practice.

Hope this helps some of you out.

5 replies on “Where do I start? How to learn to be a character TD.”

A book for python in Maya to start.

Also these videos.

These are great and will help you teach yourself.

Practice working on a specific goal, switch your parent shape script to python for example. Watch the skinning video we just shared from our mentor David, he shows some basic scripting for speeding up your work

And last, take a course with us, let Ryan teach you the 101 level of getting python setup to create rigging tools.

I think then you can read the books on python and they will make more sense once you have had time to try them out.

Hello, put simply, I am looking for suggestions for books that could teach me how to use Python (or MEL) in rigging. I can make great rigs (for characters) with only using a line of MEL to parent shape nodes (the rest is done without coding, don’t overestimate me XD) and I want to learn how to use Python to expand my rigging skill set (or skill set in general). I currently have three books that I got specifically to teach my Python, but none of them really go into using Python in a 3D setting (and, in the past, teaching me any sort of coding was like trying to teach me Mandarin with an online translator. It just didn’t work.) Any suggestions would be appreciated. I currently have “Python in Easy Steps”, “Python for the Absolute Beginner”, and “Python for Dummies”.

I want to be a nice rigger i know basic rigging but dont know anything about scripting & programing. Do i need to learn scripting also? How to start learning scripting, plz suggest.. thank you..

Thanks for contacting us, please follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for all our free information and links to tutorials. Our Vimeo account also links to many free and great rigging tips.

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