Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up finger FK controls, part of 3ds Max: Character Rigging.
Let's start rigging the fingers. Now, when you rig a character's hands or fingers, you need to decide how high a level of control you want. Do you want individual joint controls which means a lot of things to animate? Or do you want a higher level control. Such as one just to curl the entire finger which will make it easier to animate but give you less control overall? So let's go ahead and start by doing individual joint controls and then adding in higher level controls.
So let's go into our left hand here. going to zoom in. And we're going to create individual controls for each joint. Now these will be pretty much the same as we did for all the FK joints in this character. Which is basically just an orientation constraint that controls each one. Now we can use circles if we want or another type of object. I'm going to use a point helper because when I go into my higher level controls, I'll want to hide those.
And so, it will make the rig look cleaner. So I'm going to start by doing Create > Helpers. And I'm going to create a Point Helper. I'm just going to click and create it somewhere in the scene. This one is pretty small, I'm creating it at about a size of one. And I'm going to make sure I have cross and box turned on. Now in this case, I want this helper to be kind of the master hand control. So I'm going to align it to my index finger base or index 00. And I want to align it in position along the pivot point, but not orientation.
Hit OK. So, now I have this master hand control. And then, off of this, I'm going to put individual finger joints. So each finger will be connected to this. We're starting to create a hierarchy. So the first thing I'm going to do is just go ahead and clone this. So we can do Edit > Clone or Ctrl + v. And make sure this is a copy. And let's call this one index01. In fact this is going to be control object so let's put a prefix on this, CNindex01.
They're going to move that out and actually I want to make this one a little bit smaller. So, I'm going to go ahead and dial down the size to say 0.5. And then, I'm going to align to my index finger. And again, just in position, but not orientation. And then I'm going to create one more of these for each of the additional joints. So again Ctrl+v to clone index02, align, only to pivot and one more time and align.
Now each one of these is aligned. Now I haven't aligned orientation and that's because each of these bones is rotated differently. If we take a look at our mesh by turning on the layer. You'll see that in order for these bones to fit in the mesh they have to be rotated slightly differently. But in order to have consistent rotation for the animator. We want something that's set to 0, which is why I'm using these Point Helpers. So now that I have these Point Helpers in place, we can start doing our orientation constraints.
So I'm going to go ahead turn off my geometry here. And then I'm going to go ahead and select my outermost joint. And go Animation > Constrain > Orientation > Constrain. I'm going to constrain it to the corresponding point helper. Now notice how this pops up when I do that. And that's because it's constraining it to 0. Which is what this is. But we actually want this to maintain its bend so that it will deform the character properly. So I'm going to go into my Motion panel, make sure my orientation constraint is selected.
And then, just click keep initial offset. And that'll put it right back to where it was. Let's do this one more time. Constraints > Orientation Constraint. And again, to that corresponding point helper. And let's make sure we have Keep Initial Offset on. Same for the base. And keep the initial offset. Now I'm not going to do any constraints for the base here. That's just here for the hierarchy. So now that we have all of these in place, you can see how we can rotate them and the bones will follow. But the problem is these aren't in a hierarchy yet, so let's go ahead and set that up.
So, we're going to go ahead and select this point helper here. Select a link, link it to the next one. Select this one, link it to here. Select this one, link it to the main one. And then, this one will be connected to my controller. So now, when I move my controller, it all moves together. And then, this here will rotate as well, the way we want it to. So by selecting each point helper, we rotate it, and we maintain a 0 offset here.
So that I don't have to worry about the orientations of each of these skeletal joints that will deform the mesh. Now, if you want, you can just stay right here and just populate the rest of your hand with similar types of controls. And you don't have to use point helpers, you can certainly use circles or any other object. But if you want to go further, we can move on and create higher level controls for our hand.
- 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