Character Rigging in Maya
Illustration by John Hersey

Pruning small weights


From:

Character Rigging in Maya

with George Maestri

Video: Pruning small weights

So now that we have a test animation in place, let's go ahead and start adjusting our character's weights and this is going to be a multi-step process. Now before I do this, let's just take a look at our test animation and I added in one little thing here. I actually added him leaning back at the spine right here, and forward, because that is also a problem area that I discovered. Smooth skinning in Maya works on the concept of weights. So each vertex in the geometry is weighted to the joints in the skeleton.
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
  2. 8m 21s
    1. Understanding the basic rig
      2m 53s
    2. Rigging theory
      2m 15s
    3. Organizing with layers
      1m 44s
    4. Naming conventions
      1m 29s
  3. 37m 13s
    1. Using the Joint tool
      7m 4s
    2. Modifying joint attributes
      6m 47s
    3. Creating the lower-body skeleton
      6m 45s
    4. Creating the spine skeleton
      5m 57s
    5. Creating the arms
      3m 38s
    6. Creating hand skeletons
      4m 42s
    7. Mirroring joint chains
      2m 20s
  4. 22m 1s
    1. Working with inverse kinematics (IK)
      5m 56s
    2. Understanding IK solvers
      6m 33s
    3. Blending between inverse and forward kinematics (FK)
      4m 52s
    4. Using spline IK
      4m 40s
  5. 21m 3s
    1. Point constraints
      7m 56s
    2. Aim constraints
      5m 10s
    3. Orient constraints
      4m 38s
    4. Pole vector constraints
      3m 19s
  6. 37m 7s
    1. Setting up IK
      4m 15s
    2. Setting up foot controls
      5m 59s
    3. Keeping rigs organized
      2m 51s
    4. Hiding unused attributes
      3m 37s
    5. Creating a hip control
      3m 55s
    6. Controlling knee direction
      3m 2s
    7. Creating spine controls
      4m 38s
    8. Controlling forward kinematics on the arms
      6m 20s
    9. Creating a master node
      2m 30s
  7. 28m 12s
    1. Working with set-driven keys
      4m 38s
    2. Creating custom attributes
      3m 54s
    3. Wiring joints to custom attributes
      8m 2s
    4. Creating an FK/IK switch
      4m 36s
    5. Setting up elbow controls
      2m 5s
    6. Hiding and showing controls
      4m 57s
  8. 24m 47s
    1. Creating simple eyes
      6m 59s
    2. Rigging non-spherical eyes
      7m 49s
    3. Attaching eyes to the skeleton
      3m 18s
    4. Applying blend shapes
      6m 41s
  9. 42m 33s
    1. Binding skin using Smooth Bind
      3m 28s
    2. Testing skin using animation
      4m 36s
    3. Pruning small weights
      3m 53s
    4. Painting skin weights
      5m 47s
    5. Editing skin weights in the Component Editor
      6m 2s
    6. Mirroring skin weights
      2m 3s
    7. Using Interactive Skin Bind
      3m 36s
    8. Refining skin on the upper body
      2m 3s
    9. Using skeletons to create a jaw
      3m 22s
    10. Refining jaw weighting
      7m 43s
  10. 47m 21s
    1. Setting up a control panel
      2m 27s
    2. Limiting controller motion
      6m 15s
    3. Rigging basic facial controls using set-driven keys
      2m 31s
    4. Rigging the jaw using set-driven keys
      4m 22s
    5. Rigging pupil controls
      3m 30s
    6. Controlling eye direction
      3m 21s
    7. Controlling eyelids with expressions
      5m 44s
    8. Using expressions to rig mouth controls
      8m 1s
    9. Creating a smile/frown control using expressions
      8m 56s
    10. Finishing up the facial rig
      2m 14s
  11. 6m 42s
    1. Cleaning up the rig
      2m 25s
    2. Testing the rig
      4m 17s
  12. 25s
    1. Goodbye
      25s

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Watch the Online Video Course Character Rigging in Maya
4h 37m Intermediate Feb 16, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Character Rigging in Maya provides a basic introduction to rigging theory, and delves into the details of how to create professional, realistic 3D characters. Instructor and animation veteran George Maestri shows how to combine Maya's skeleton, inverse kinematics (IK), and constraint tools to create a basic rig for a character, and how to attach the character mesh to the skeleton using Maya's skinning tools. The course also explores advanced rigging controls such as IK switches and facial animation and how to create a control panel to manipulate the character's expressions. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the basics of rigging
  • Creating skeletons
  • Modifying joint attributes
  • Working with inverse kinematics and constraints
  • Rigging characters
  • Using Maya's new HumanIK skeletons/rigs
  • Setting up an FK/IK switch
  • Creating custom facial rigs
  • Binding skin using Smooth Bind
  • Painting and editing skin weights
  • Using expressions to rig a character's mouth controls
  • Controlling eye direction
  • Finalizing a rig
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Maya
Author:
George Maestri

Pruning small weights

So now that we have a test animation in place, let's go ahead and start adjusting our character's weights and this is going to be a multi-step process. Now before I do this, let's just take a look at our test animation and I added in one little thing here. I actually added him leaning back at the spine right here, and forward, because that is also a problem area that I discovered. Smooth skinning in Maya works on the concept of weights. So each vertex in the geometry is weighted to the joints in the skeleton.

So the easiest way to do this is to take one vertex in the geometry and take a look at it, and we can look at it in an interface called the Component Editor. So I am going to go ahead and zoom in here and then select my geometry, right-click, and let's go into Vertex mode here. And I'm just going to select the vertex right here at the front corner of that right foot. And let's go into Window > General Editors > Component Editor. Now this will have a number of different tabs.

It has Springs, Particles, Rigid Skins, Blend Shapes. The one we're looking for here is Smooth Skins. Now I have selected this one vertex here, vertex number 352. In this interface you can see that it's assigned to three different joints. Now this is on the right foot. And so it has a weight of .449, which is assigned to Foot_Tip_R; .516 which is Toe_R, which is this one.

But also if you notice we have Foot_Tip_L, which is this joint and that's assigned at a small weight, .035. Basically, we have three separate joints that are affecting this one vertex and this one simple case actually flows through the entire model. So every single vertex in this model has up to three bones assigned. And the reason it only has up to three bones assigned is when we skinned it, we reduced the maximum number of joints to three.

We can start affecting these either in the Component Editor, but probably the better first step is to use a tool called Prune Small Weights. Now when we start editing skin weights, we can get to all of those tools under Edit Smooth Skin, and we can do all sorts of things. We can add in the additional joints, we can go into the interactive mode such as Interactive Skin Bind or Paint Skin. We can also do things to existing skin weights, such as mirror them, copy them, smooth them.

The one we are looking for here is called Prune Small Weights. Basically, what that does is it gets rid of those little tiny errors that we find such as this foot. So when this foot moves you can see how that vertex we selected moves with that foot, and that's really not what we want. So what we want to do is prune everything below a certain weight. In this case I remember that weight with .035, but let's go ahead and make this a little bit more broad, and we will prune anything below .1 will just be set to 0.

So let's go ahead and hit Prune. And once we do that, it should get rid of that small weight. So now that vertex does not move with that foot. So remember every vertex in your geometry has a weight and usually the first step you should do is to prune small weights so that way everything is a little bit more cohesive when you go to use the other Weight tools.

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