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Organizing a rig using custom names and colors

From: Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max

Video: Organizing a rig using custom names and colors

Even if we only have a little experience with rigging inside a 3d application, we will be aware that scenes can get pretty complex in no time at all. With this in mind, a best practice option would be to organize our rigs as we work. I really would strongly recommend getting into the habit of doing this, as it will make our work and the work of others who may need to ultimately use our rig so much easier in the long run. First, let's tackle the issue with actually naming our rig.

Organizing a rig using custom names and colors

Even if we only have a little experience with rigging inside a 3d application, we will be aware that scenes can get pretty complex in no time at all. With this in mind, a best practice option would be to organize our rigs as we work. I really would strongly recommend getting into the habit of doing this, as it will make our work and the work of others who may need to ultimately use our rig so much easier in the long run. First, let's tackle the issue with actually naming our rig.

Good naming conventions will make selection on manipulation of rig paths far quicker and easier than it would be if we were to just keep all the defaults in place. If we come and select our CATParent object and then move over to the Modify panel, we can see in the CATRig Parameters rollout we have an option for applying a name to the Helper object. Let's give our CATParent the name of OurRig and then press Enter. One important concept we need to understand regarding organization with CAT is that it uses what I like to call a propagation system.

What I mean is that CAT passes certain organizational elements down the chain. So, if we now select any bone in our rig, we can see that it has the prefix name of OurRig. This is true for every aspect of the system. This functionality means we have the ability to give a number of rigs in a scene distinct names that will separate them from one another without having to go and rename every individual bone. If I just select all of my current CATRig and press the W key to enable the Move tool, and holding down Shift, I just copy my rig to the left and then say OK to the Clone options.

If I then bring up the Select from Scene dialog using the H key, you will notice that picking out the names of individual bones will be quite a challenge as the rig prefix and the bone name simply run into one another. Worse still is the fact that the body parts of both rigs are mixed together, so for instance we can see we have OurRigRThigh and OurRigRThigh001. To fix the mixing problem, I'm just going to cancel out of the dialog and select our CATParent Helper.

And I'm going to name this "TheRig". If I press the H key once again to bring back our dialog box, you'll notice that all of our bones are now separated out according to the Helpers. We have all the bones associated with OurRig, and we also have all the bones associated with TheRig all grouped together. Now, to tackle the issue of prefix and bone names running into one another, I generally like to use underscores. For instance, if I just cancel the dialog box and come back over to the name of our CATParent and place an underscore at the end of its name, and then I come back into my Select from Scene dialog box, you will notice that it's just that much easier to read.

I think the underscore at the Parent level means we only need to type it once, and as you can see in this list, it will propagate throughout our entire rig. We can extend this organizational technique even further and change the name of individual hierarchies in our rig and have that name pass down to all of the child bones. Let's select the left collarbone of one of our rigs and give it a more descriptive and easy to read name. I'm going to call it Left underscore Arm and then place an underscore at the end and press Enter.

Now, if we click on any of the children of this bone, we can see that the Rig prefix, the Hierarchy prefix, and the individual bone name carries all the way down to the last bone in the hierarchal chain. This propagation concept also carries over when it comes to creating custom colors for our rig. Artists oftentimes like to use color conventions to help them distinguish certain parts of the rig at a glance. As an animator, you may have a certain color coding system.

With our bone selected--and we can select any bone in the chain, it doesn't really matter-- let's come over to the right of our name dialog box, and let's click this Color Swatch to change the color of our bone. Of course, you can use any color of your choice. For me, because I often use the Biped system in Max, I'm going to use a standard Biped color and set this to an RGB value of 28, 28, and 177, and then just click OK.

As with the naming system, all of the bones in this hierarchy receive this color change. Let's do the same with our Leg, let's select a bone, come over to our Color Swatch, and give it a value of 28, 28, and 177, and again click OK. Now we have the left side of the rig nicely color coded. What, though, if we wanted to have a single bone in the middle of the chain colored differently? In this instance, we would need to select the bone and use the separate 3ds Max object Color Swatch.

Once in here, we can pick a color of our choice and click OK, and you'll notice only that bone receives the color change. This means we have a few extra options when color coding our bones. Hopefully you can see the potential benefits that come from having a well-organized rig. In our next video, we will move on to examining the tools CAT makes available in connection with editing our rigs.

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This video is part of

Image for Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max
Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max

40 video lessons · 2709 viewers

Joel Bradley
Author

 
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  1. 3m 52s
    1. Welcome
      52s
    2. Working with the exercise files
      38s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      59s
    4. Setting up the 3ds Max project structure
      1m 23s
  2. 5m 29s
    1. What is CAT?
      2m 4s
    2. Locating CAT features in the 3ds Max user interface
      3m 25s
  3. 26m 3s
    1. Using the preset rigs
      3m 38s
    2. Organizing a rig using custom names and colors
      6m 1s
    3. Editing the preset rigs
      4m 33s
    4. Exploring the 3ds Max Modifier List
      5m 11s
    5. Repositioning bone pivots
      3m 8s
    6. Using control gizmos
      3m 32s
  4. 28m 15s
    1. Understanding hubs
      3m 19s
    2. Adding legs to a rig
      4m 21s
    3. Working with spines
      4m 44s
    4. Adding limbs
      4m 45s
    5. Adding extra bones to the head
      6m 0s
    6. Adding toes and tails
      5m 6s
  5. 16m 17s
    1. What is a muscle strand?
      6m 15s
    2. Using a muscle strand on a rig
      3m 22s
    3. What is a CAT muscle?
      3m 1s
    4. Putting a CAT muscle to work
      3m 39s
  6. 11m 42s
    1. Understanding the Setup and Animation modes
      3m 17s
    2. Exploring the Absolute layer
      3m 13s
    3. Explaining adjustment layers
      2m 23s
    4. Exploring the CATMotion layer
      2m 49s
  7. 16m 4s
    1. Working with the hand and foot hubs
      4m 1s
    2. Exploring the foot pivot system
      3m 40s
    3. Exploring the CAT display inside track view
      4m 5s
    4. Using the IK/FK system
      4m 18s
  8. 15m 31s
    1. Exploring the CATMotion Editor
      2m 28s
    2. Customizing motion
      4m 49s
    3. Directing motion
      5m 25s
    4. Grounding motion
      2m 49s
  9. 29m 41s
    1. Building a rig: The lower body
      7m 1s
    2. Building a rig: The upper body
      8m 36s
    3. Making good use of secondary bones
      4m 54s
    4. Creating a rough skin pass
      3m 45s
    5. Creating a stress-test animation
      5m 25s
  10. 42s
    1. What's next?
      42s

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