Character Rigging 101

One of our most popular Rigging Dojo courses, in Rigging 101 we focus on learning the character rigging why, not simply learning Maya. We work hard balancing the art and technical skills needed help improve your ability to rig characters and get hired.

Our 101 courses are mentored with industry professionals so you always have a trusted guide for your learning journey. Being able to ask questions and have downloadable video critiques along with lifetime course access help create a lasting resource for our students.

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Class Syllabus:

Week One:
Set up and get a baseline rig up and running quick with automated tools
Model selection and Maya setup

Week Two:
Joint placement, reference and research.
Art: skeleton draw overs and “seeing the anatomy” as pivots for motion
Tech: Dealing with Maya joint drawing and orients for stable clean skeletons
Joint Orient master reference, rotation order and clean skeleton assignment

Week Three:
Skinning foundation
Philosophy and organized rigging controls

Week Four:
Understanding Maya tech:
Tentacle Rigging Doc Oc challenge

Weeks Five:
Deformation helpers and twist setup
Feedback, catch up time.
A deeper look in to the deformations and skinning and helpers

Week Six:
Understanding the animation puppet rig techniques and design
(foundation rigging for spines, limbs and fk ik rigging)

Week Seven:
Rig your character
Just do it week! : Continue working on rigging assignments from week 5, rigging application, build baby build, hang in there, hang tough, you can do it!, You’re the best around/Nothing’s ever gonna keep you …from rigging a character!

Week Eight:
Advanced deformation techniques for polish
Deformation details Rig refinements, muscles, PSD,

Week Nine:
Optimizations and some clean up
Find ways to speed up the rig and deformations, looking for places to improve playback and rig performance.

Week Ten:
Wrap up with critiques.
Face tips and final polish
and face discussions and Muscles
We will cover final critiques, feedback, quality assurance, making sure you know how to continue strong after this course in our forums, and in the production world.

Our goal is always to enable a character TD to understand the core rigging ideas so that they can read any tutorial, examine any rig, work in any situation and be able to learn quickly from any source.

Behind the scenes:

During our last run of our Rigging 101 course, we did a week by week post about what we were working on with our students.
It is our best way to show and share with you what makes our course stand out and benifit our students that, over and over again, have told us they have been unable to find in any other learning opportunity.
So enjoy this week by week breakdown of what our Character Rigging 101 and we hope to train with you soon
Josh, Brad and Chad
Rigging Dojo

Week 1

Week one is deceptively simple, but it is a test of lots of areas all at once. Can you read and follow directions and communicate well, can you learn to evaluate and prep a model for rigging so it doesn’t cause issues later including looking over topology and starting pose. Get some tools and scripts installed like the mGear rig and get it working or did you give up, get stuck and loose focus.
Online classes are harder in some ways but because we are result focused, working remotely we get an incredible view at how good an employee a student would be, how do they approach asking for help and how resourceful are they in trying to solve their own issues, and lastly, how well do the share and help their classmates with what they figured out?…/mGear

Focus on really seeing the reference and not just the icon of what you think the anatomy looks like leads to better skeletons, deformations and natural movement once animation starts.
We also hit the tech side of understanding the Maya Joint and skeleton creation process. How to place them, controlling orients and relating this back to deformation quality and rig stability.

Week 2

is a hard week and pushes the students to balance technical with artistic skills.
It is often an undo week, where many students undo or unlearn things they thought they understood and we start the removal of bad habits created from other training sources.

Week 3

Another week and we are now digging in to skinning and deformation, connecting the work from last week on Joint Placement to how it effects our skin weights. We show them how to make using the existing skinning tools work best and explore NGSkinTools to have a foundation to build on later with helper joints, corrective shapes and twist or bendy joint layers…it all has to start with a good base deformation foundation.
Students also start looking at the UI/UX part of rigging and work on understanding how to build controls for animators and why they are built a certain way so they can start laying out controls for their final skeleton.

Week 4

Last week students dug in to learning about character UI and control building, this week started off with a look underneath all the connections and tools and math needed to start driving those controls.
Understanding what Nodes are, connections and the tools to work with them and a look at the 3d math like Matrix and Vectors that helps understand what is happening when you parent or constrain or simply move something around in the viewport. Then they explore constraints and build a foundation to start rigging something in this case -tentacles like Doctor Octopus from Spider man.

Collecting our links over the past year for all the good math for artists we have found. Here they are in a nice, easy to find place for everyone.

Week 5

We dive back into deformations this week with a deeper look at advanced workflows and more details on using the Maya skin tools and NGSkinTools. Working smarter not harder with skinning and knowing the tools and how control them for the desired result is key to good workflow.
Then taking the rigging learning from last week it was now time to apply it to setting up helper joints like twist extractors and also understanding their limitations.

Week 6 -10 Time to rig a character!

There isn’t a perfect rig for every situation
Advanced rigging doesn’t mean complex and fragile
The basic fundamentals of rigging, manipulating pivot points and hierarchical relationships through connections of varying types is what it all comes down to. (AKA zero it, group it, connect it, tweak it, constrain it) whatever you do in your rig, never forget it has to get from pose A to pose B for the animator without exploding
A complex rig, full of layers of controls, at the core, is still just pivots and relationships.
Students this week get to learn about and start exploring rigging the character and seeing similarities between parts of the body like spine and fingers or legs and arms. We look at space switching and start digging in to understanding how to hook up all the controls, twists systems and rig the character to be able to be animated.

Want to work on a rig also? We have our free 101 quadruped rigging series that our good friend from Rigging 101 (the site) Javier “Goosh” let us host and share with you all.

Quadruped Friendly Rigging – Rigging

Advanced deformation cleanup:

Rigging is underway and now we look back to deformations and how to improve and fine tune them.
Without a full muscle system (or even with one ) it is still common practice to use blendShapes with some sort of pose space driver to fix and adjust the mesh when skinning and helpers can’t do any better.
There are nice new tools in 2017 of Maya that allow for doing these without external tools and hacks, though there are some limits to how complex the shape system is some TDs have found, it is still a great starting point to keep everything self contained in Maya.…/…/maya-2016-5-2017-invertshape/

Morgan shared a tip on how to invert a shape when you want to make a corrective blendshape and have it work on a skinned mesh, right in Autodesk Maya


Final week:

Last week was our final week for our Rigging 101 course and we finish up with students continue to work on their core rigs. While they do this, we move forward to talk about optimizations, basic face rig concept and a starting point and finish critiques and QA along with a discussion on how to continue learning from here. Students keep access to their course area and can continue to work on their projects, share updates with our private community of alumni and industry guests as well as get other perks for being part of our student and alumni community.

Thank you for checking out our course

Apply Here

*Note: First time students there is a 25$ registration fee.
*Rolling start dates based on application numbers and mentor availability.

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