Maya 2011 Essential Training
Illustration by Maria Reñdon

Creating IK handles


Maya 2011 Essential Training

with George Maestri

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Creating IK handles

Now when you're working with joints in a character, there are several ways that you may want to animate it and there are times when you want to animate it and actually fix points of the joint in place. And to do this use what's called Inverse Kinematics. So I am going to go ahead and just create a simple, simple joint. We're going to go into Animation > Joint Tool, and I am going to select create a simple joint. Now this is the main reason why I tend to draw drawing with a little bit of an angle to them.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 34s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. A note on screen resolution
      1m 50s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Overview of the Maya interface
      7m 42s
    2. Working with files and Maya projects
      2m 27s
    3. Navigating viewports
      5m 56s
    4. Reviewing the Viewport menus
      6m 28s
    5. Configuring safe frames and grids
      3m 21s
    6. Selecting objects
      4m 33s
    7. Using the Move tool
      3m 48s
    8. Rotating and scaling
      4m 31s
    9. Manipulating pivots
      3m 59s
    10. Understanding the Channel Box
      5m 36s
    11. Working with the Attribute Editor
      2m 28s
    12. Using the Hotbox
      2m 59s
    13. Working with marking menus
      3m 6s
    14. Customizing the interface
      3m 36s
  3. 59m 25s
    1. Creating polygonal objects
      6m 28s
    2. Working with polygonal components
      4m 42s
    3. Selecting polygonal components
      5m 44s
    4. Working with Soft Select
      7m 3s
    5. Using the Extrude tool
      6m 47s
    6. Keeping faces together
      2m 42s
    7. Extruding along curves
      3m 27s
    8. Using the Polygon Bevel tool
      4m 14s
    9. Smooth and subdivision surfaces
      7m 6s
    10. Blocking out a character body
      11m 12s
  4. 36m 6s
    1. Working with edge loops
      3m 27s
    2. Inserting and offsetting edge loops
      3m 38s
    3. Symmetrical modeling techniques
      5m 53s
    4. Combining objects
      3m 50s
    5. Using the Polygon Bridge tool
      2m 7s
    6. Connecting components and splitting polygons
      2m 48s
    7. Poking and wedging faces
      2m 49s
    8. Working with polygon booleans
      3m 17s
    9. Modeling with nonlinear deformers
      4m 54s
    10. Modeling with lattices
      3m 23s
  5. 1h 18m
    1. Introducing NURBS modeling
      5m 3s
    2. NURBS primitives
      5m 54s
    3. Using the NURBS curve tools
      5m 7s
    4. Creating Bézier curves
      1m 59s
    5. Creating text
      3m 51s
    6. Manipulating NURBS curves
      4m 13s
    7. Refining NURBS curves
      4m 16s
    8. Offsetting NURBS curves
      2m 31s
    9. Editing NURBS surfaces
      7m 3s
    10. Refining NURBS surfaces
      7m 22s
    11. Using NURBS Revolve
      7m 31s
    12. Using NURBS Loft
      4m 11s
    13. Using NURBS Extrude
      6m 0s
    14. Using NURBS Planar
      4m 47s
    15. Stitching NURBS surfaces
      8m 52s
  6. 35m 53s
    1. Extracting NURBS curves from surfaces
      5m 57s
    2. Creating curves on a surface
      3m 53s
    3. Projecting curves on surfaces
      7m 2s
    4. Trimming NURBS surfaces
      3m 42s
    5. Using the NURBS Fillet tool
      5m 31s
    6. Sculpting NURBS and polygonal surfaces
      5m 52s
    7. Converting NURBS to polygons
      3m 56s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Working with the Outliner
      4m 58s
    2. Grouping objects
      4m 2s
    3. Creating hierarchies
      4m 17s
    4. Duplicating objects
      4m 51s
    5. Understanding the Hypergraph
      3m 32s
    6. Working with Hypergraph connections
      2m 31s
    7. Hiding and showing objects
      2m 12s
    8. Creating layers
      4m 2s
    9. Working with selection masks
      2m 57s
  8. 40m 18s
    1. Overview of renderers
      3m 24s
    2. Understand the basics of materials
      6m 15s
    3. Creating and applying maps
      5m 13s
    4. Using bitmaps as texture
      2m 59s
    5. Working with the Hypershade window
      5m 12s
    6. Working with mental ray materials
      6m 57s
    7. Using displacement and bump mapping
      3m 14s
    8. Using the Ramp Shader
      2m 36s
    9. Using the 3D Paint tool
      4m 28s
  9. 30m 14s
    1. Texture-mapping NURBS surfaces
      5m 46s
    2. Projecting textures onto surfaces
      4m 0s
    3. Texture-mapping polygonal surfaces
      7m 0s
    4. Applying UV mapping
      8m 11s
    5. Using the UVW Editor
      5m 17s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Creating joints
      10m 2s
    2. Deforming a mesh using the Skin tool
      5m 2s
    3. Creating IK handles
      6m 48s
    4. Creating blend shapes
      5m 39s
    5. Rigging nonlinear deformers
      2m 36s
    6. Finalizing the character
      4m 45s
    7. Rigging the character to the scooter
      6m 24s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Working with the Timeline
      4m 16s
    2. Creating and adjusting keys (keyframes)
      5m 4s
    3. Editing keys
      3m 13s
    4. Modifying keys in the Graph Editor
      5m 47s
    5. Modifying keys in the Dope Sheet
      2m 51s
    6. Creating breakdown keys
      2m 28s
    7. Animating objects along paths
      5m 54s
    8. Animation playback using Playblast
      3m 10s
    9. Animating with constraints
      6m 16s
    10. Creating animation cycles
      8m 25s
    11. Using set-driven keys
      6m 13s
    12. Adding sound to animations
      2m 24s
    13. Finishing the animation
      9m 45s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. Lights and lighting types in Maya
      7m 29s
    2. Adding depth-map shadows
      4m 13s
    3. Using Raytrace shadows
      3m 28s
    4. Understanding the basics of cameras
      7m 14s
    5. Adding depth of field
      6m 31s
    6. Adding Bokeh using mental ray
      4m 33s
    7. Using motion blur in Maya Software Renderer
      4m 10s
    8. Using motion blur in mental ray
      3m 5s
    9. Raytracing reflections and refractions
      4m 41s
    10. Interactive rendering with IPR
      3m 33s
    11. Lighting a scene
      8m 29s
    12. Batch rendering
      4m 53s
  13. 25s
    1. Goodbye

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Maya 2011 Essential Training
9h 8m Beginner Jun 01, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the Maya interface
  • Organizing scenes
  • Creating hierarchies
  • NURBs modeling for solid objects
  • Adding color to models
  • Applying bitmap textures
  • Working with mental ray materials
  • Polygonal modeling for characters and organic objects
  • Deforming with the Skin tool
  • Setting up lights and cameras
  • Creating realistic effects such as depth of field
  • Working with the Timeline
  • Creating animation cycles
  • Batch rendering
  • Rendering with the mental ray engine
3D + Animation
George Maestri

Creating IK handles

Now when you're working with joints in a character, there are several ways that you may want to animate it and there are times when you want to animate it and actually fix points of the joint in place. And to do this use what's called Inverse Kinematics. So I am going to go ahead and just create a simple, simple joint. We're going to go into Animation > Joint Tool, and I am going to select create a simple joint. Now this is the main reason why I tend to draw drawing with a little bit of an angle to them.

So let me show you why I do this. Is we are going to go ahead and hit Enter, and I've created a simple joint chain. Now this could be an arm or leg and typically IK is used on what's called the legs. So if we wanted to animate this, at this point all we could do is animate it with rotation. So if I wanted to, let's say this is a leg, I could rotate it at the hip. I could rotate it at the knee. But if I wanted to, for example, bend the characters leg and keep the foot in place, I really can't do that.

I can't manipulate this with translation without all the joints moving in one direction. So right now it's only rotations, and that's what's called forward kinematics. So basically you start at the root and move forward. So, for example, let's go ahead and create a very simple situation here. Let's go ahead and create a simple sphere. Let's say I wanted the end of this to touch the sphere. Let's say I wanted the character to pick something up. So what I need to do is position this, and then I need to rotate this in order so that it actually touches the sphere.

I can't just grab the end and say here, touch the sphere. But I can do, using what's called inverse kinematics. So I am going to go ahead and undo my way out of this, and let's go ahead and set this up. So in order to set up IK, what we need is a joint chain, and then we create what's called an IK handle. So we go under Skeleton and we select IK Handle Tool. So go ahead and go to the top. So that's the start of my chain, and this is the end of my chain.

Now what it's done is it's created another little object here. So you can see here, I've got now my joints have changed the color which means they are under the control of something else, and I've got this little brown thing here at the bottom, and that's called an IK handle. You can see it right here. Now if I go into my Outliner, you can see now I've got my joints and I've got an IK Handle. Now what the IK Handle does is it takes control of that joint chain. So if I move this, now the joints always stretch between the beginning and end of that IK handle.

So now if I have that problem of I want to set the end of my chain wherever I want, I can do that very simply and this is great, particularly for the feet and legs of characters, but also really for any sort of mechanical object. Let's say you had a robot and you wanted to pick it up. You can very easily set up an IK handle to do that. So now I can place my foot basically anywhere I want. But there's still a little bit of a problem here in that my top joint is still free-floating. Now in some cases this might be the way you want this to work, but there are times when I want to take this and make sure that my bottom joint is locked.

So we can address this by going into the attributes of the IK handle. So select the IK handle, go into the Attribute Editor, and now we can see we have a number of attributes for the IK handle. First of all, it tells you what the start and end joint of the skeleton are, then it goes into what's called the IK Handle Attributes. What I'm looking for is called Stickiness. So when Stickiness is off, when I move this the whole assembly moves.

But when I select my IK handle and turns Stickiness on or make it sticky, now that joint is sticky and it doesn't move. So this is great. So now I can actually move both ends of the chain and both ends stick to where they want to go. So now there's also additional attributes here for my IK Solver and one of the most important ones is called IK Blend. Now there are times when you want to animate something using IK.

So, for example, let's say I'm walking a character. But there are also times when you want to revert back to forward kinematics or rotational control. So, for example, if I position this here and then I-- let's say a character wants to walk and then swim and when it's swimming you want to go back to rotations. So what you can do is you can actually turn it down by IK Blend and now the IK handle is basically turned off and I can rotate my joints now. So if I rotate my joints, I can basically turn this off. And this can be animated.

And as soon as it comes back on it snaps back. Now there are other types of parameters for this is as well. Such as how a joint will twist. That's if you have multiple joints. You can certainly use more than two joints in an IK chain and also another one called Spring Solver and that's for dynamics, which we won't be getting into. So let's go ahead and take our character and set him up with an the IK chain. So let's go ahead and open the scene. We have got Dog_17, which is our current dog.

And so now we have got these arms here and I can rotate the joints, but I can't move them with my IK chain. So all I have to do is go into my IK Handle tool, select my first joint and my last joint, and now I've got my arm set. Now I want my hand. So let's go into our Outliner here and see how this is all set up. I've got my handle here, but I want my hand or my glove of my character to control the handle.

Well the easiest thing to do is just to take that handle, drag it and create a hierarchy. So I am middle-clicking, dragging it above the left glove. So now when I select the left glove, the handle itself is underneath. So now by selecting that glove, moving the glove moves the arm. So those are some tips and tricks for using IK handles and as you can see, it's a great way to make sure your character's hands and feet stay where you want them to be placed.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Maya 2011 Essential Training .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: The Chapter 2 exercise file dog_reference.mb appears blank when opened in Maya. I can't see the dog image. What do I do?
A: Make sure you are working with the most current version of the exercise files for this course from the site. Try downloading the files again. If the image still doesn't appear, make sure the project folder is set to the matching (Chap02) folder in the exercise files.
Also check to make sure you have "hardware texturing" enabled under the viewport's Shading menu.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Maya 2011 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.