I finally put these opinions down as my rules for rigging. These will not be everyone’s rules, for character setup is a very opinionated sport. To complicate things, there are a hundred ways to do everything, which makes it so challenging to learn. For this book we’ll use these rules and refer to them often. I found that if I started with these as a baseline for the basic concepts it helped manage the learning process and maybe even helped curb some chaos. Later, as you get into advanced topics you can choose what rule you want to break or altogether ignore, and develop your own rules of rigging. For now, here they are…
#1. Edgeloops—a good or bad rig starts with the loops.
#2. Never keyframe on the geometry. (Rig for change.)
#3. Lock what isn’t going to be animated.
#4. Keep geometry (GEO), controls (CNTRL), and skeletons (SKEL) in separate groups in the outliner.
#5. Make controls that make sense to the animator.
#6. Happy math—controls and joints should be zeroed out.
#7. Happy history—always delete unneeded history to keep a rig fast.
#8. Joint placement, preferred angles, and orientations: good models can go bad with poor joint placement. Take extra care here before any other rigging—or you’ll be redoing your rig.
#9. BlendShape. Never ever freeze them.
#10. Skinning—make peace with it—a good rig with bad skinning is still bad.
It’s like a mysterious trailer, isn’t it? Sounds brutal, doesn’t it? Skinning and math; what on earth? Don’t worry. I can confidently say that in this book you don’t need to know a whole lot of math. Logic and problem-solving skills, however, you’ll need a good deal of.
Also, this book assumes that you have been working in Maya and have a basic understanding of modeling (at least some polygon modeling) and maybe have even tried your hand at setting keyframes on something. Therefore, this is not a “how to move the camera” or “how to get around in Maya” primer. If you need to brush up, there are plenty of places out there: Lynda.com, learning-maya.com, to name a few.
Excerpt from Rig it Right! Maya Animation Rigging Concepts by Tina O’Hailey © 2013 Taylor and Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
Unlike all of those button-pushing manuals out there, Rig it Right! breaks down rigging so that you can achieve a fundamental understanding of the concept, allowing you to rig more intuitively in your own work. Veteran animation professor Tina O’Hailey will get you up and rigging in a matter of hours with step-by-step tutorials covering multiple animation control types, connection methods, interactive skinning, BlendShapes, edgeloops, and joint placement, to name a few.