Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Mirroring the leg chains with bone tools, part of 3ds Max: Character Rigging.
Most characters are symmetrical, so this makes it easy to mirror things from one side of the character to the other. Now we have this leg bone for example, or this leg skeleton, and that's on the left leg. Let's go ahead and mirror it over to the right leg to save some time and effort. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in so we can see this a little bit better. In fact I'm going to go ahead and hop out to a four view, or a quad view, so we can see it. I'm going to zoom in on the foot and you'll see why in just a bit.
And let's go ahead and mirror this. So the first thing I need to do is select the chain. So all I have to do is select the top node of the chain and double-click on it. It selects the entire chain. Let's go into Animation > Bone Tools. And if we have the chain selected you'll see that we have a mirror option that comes up, so let's go ahead and select this. And you'll see that by default it mirrors along the x-axis. And if we look at our character here we'll see that yes, the x-axis is what I want to mirror along.
That's our left right axis. And then we have an offset here, and if we dial that up or down you can see how that moves the new set of bones left or right. So actually I want to make that negative three which should get it pretty close. We'll probably have to adjust it a little bit later. And then the last one is the bone access. Now, you can see here that this bone here, this new bone, is actually coming up above the foot here. And that's because we're flipping along the y-axis which is not the correct axis for this particular situation.
So for this situation, I'm going to click on z and notice how the bones now align properly, and everything looks very symmetrical. So once I get all of this in place, just go ahead and select OK. So now my bones are mirrored. Now because I just did the rough offset in the dialogue box, I want to make sure that my placement is correct, so I'm going to jump into my front view port. And let's zoom in here on this hip area. And you can see that this particular bone, the first bone that we have, is aligned right there to, just to right around that vertex here, which basically is right there.
So actually I want to just go ahead and move this over about one spline width, so just a little bit back, and now I've got this aligned. Now when you mirror a bone it automatically will rename that bone. So if I select this thigh bone here and we go into our modify panel, you'll see that we have, it's called BN for bone which is correct. Left thigh mirrored. Well, that's not correct. Let's go ahead and rename this. So I'm going to go ahead delete mirrored and change left to right.
So now that's right thigh. And let's go through the rest of these. BN left shin, no that's going to be right shin. Right ankle. And let's see, right toe. And this last one is toe N, and again that's going to be right. So now we have everything named properly, but another thing we can do to keep things organized and keep things visually right, is we can also start to recolor our bones. So bones can actually have their own color, and if we want we can just select these bones and give them a color here.
So I'm just going to go ahead and select this, and then we need to decide how we are going to color. Now typically, the convention is that the left side of the character is blue, the right side is green. So let's go ahead and stick to that convention. I'm going to go ahead and color these left bones blue, and we're going to color the right bones green. So now this a little bit more visual in terms of how we can see the bones, so now we know that we have a right and a left side to our character.
Now we have one more little thing to do here and that's to select our layers here and make sure that everything's in the right layer. Now again, I drew this in the non-deform layer. So let's go ahead and select all the bones, and just left-click and drag them into the deform layer. So now we've got everything organized properly by layer. Now when you mirror bones you need to make sure that you rename them properly. And also position them properly as well. And then also try and keep your bones colored so that you have a better sense of left and right in your skeleton.
- Setting up layers
- Drawing and positioning bones in the skeleton
- Rigging foot controls
- Creating hip and spine controls
- Setting up IK and FK skeleton controls
- Wiring the IK/FK switch
- Rigging hands
- Skinning characters
- Setting up single- and multiple-axis face controls