character rigging

What is this module about?

In this module, we are building a medium complexity rig and a set of controls for a human character model. We delve into the territory of sophisticated hierarchies, and terms which may sound somewhat weird (but make sense in the end), such as forward and inverse kinematics, facial and corrective blendshapes, skinning, and muscle simulation.

What are the requirements for this module?

A decent Windows 10 Pro-based PC with a strong video card, or a Mac with a strong AMD card, at least 16 Mb RAM, and a HD or UHD monitor. You will also need a Maya  license.

Whom is it recommended for?

Character rigging is a specialisation, and although not all character riggers do character animation, all character animators need to understand how a character rig works in order to be able to use it efficiently.

Software we use



Creating and editing joints. Joint chains. The local rotation axis. Gimbal lock. Mirroring joints. Proxy hierarchy. Rig hierarchy.

The Feet

Understanding forward and inverse kinematics. Creating a reverse foot rig. Setting up the knees.

The Spine

Spline IK. Utilising clusters. Making the spine flexible. Setting up the spine twist and the hip controls.

The Arms

Three separate arm chains. The IK/FK switch. Creating the wrist, the shoulder, and the arm twist controls.

The Hands

Setting up the individual finger curls, and the hand presets.

The Head

Creating the neck and the head controls. Adding a jaw and the eye controls.


Bind skin setup. The classic linear and the dual quaternian methods. Weight normalisation. The Paint Skin Weights tool. The Weight Hammer. Mirror weights.

Facial Blendshapes

The Shape Editor. The Wrap deformer. Creating facial blendshapes for basic expressions. In-between target shapes. Connecting the blendshapes to the rig.

Corrective Blendshapes

Creating corrective blendshapes for problematic deformations. Automating these blendshapes with driven keys.

Muscle Simulation

The Maya Muscle deformer. The Muscle Builder. The parameters. Connecting the muscle system to the rig. Paint Muscle Weights.


project “warrior”

Create the rig hierarchy and the joint structure for the character. Attach proxy geometry to the joints. Create and test the rig and control rig.

Key poses for every joint motion so you can check the model’s deformations. Create and optimise the skin bind. Create facial and corrective blendshapes.

Create and attach all blendshapes to the rig, and set up muscle simulation where it is needed.


The module ideally takes 12 lessons to finish.

A lesson is 90 minutes long.

It is recommended to take 1 lesson a week.




(paid in 3 installments)

£ 276 ×3 (£ 828)

FOR duos:

(paid in 3 installments)

£ 138 ×3 (£ 414) /student