Rig it Right – ahead of schedule in September


How did that happen? I was behind in August so that my monthly quota spilled over into September and this month I caught up with a few days to spare. Yipee!!!  Starting to enjoy the book more now. I suppose that helps. The bird rig is still very solid even in the new versions of Maya – that helps too.


Using references in Maya for a parallel workflow.

In chapter seven I cover skeletons and rotational axis as well as referencing in models and rigs for a good animation workflow that allows parallel process to happen. We cover good joint placement that allows for proper movement for the animator.  All in all not a whole lot changed in chapter seven. Joints still behave the same in these later versions of Maya.


Proper joint placement for movement – not necessarily anatomically correct!

Chapter eight covers skinning and here is where things got interesting. I was able to write “Well, that worked.” and delete three pages of working around skinning methods that left a lot of finagling to be done.  Let me tell you how much I am adoring geodesic voxel skinning. Even with a low resolution and a higher (.77) fall off range I was able to get pretty good skinning on the bird with the first pass. That’s with lots of feather joints in the skeleton system as well.  Well now. I had to then rewrite the chapter and go straight into skinning, skipping the interactive skinning method I had adopted to help get the students close to a good pass.  LOVIN’ the voxels.  If you haven’t checked out that binding method which came out in 16 – I highly recommend it.


Geodesic Voxel binding method for skinning – nice! (Eyeballs not included)

The last bit of chapter eight I cover an autorig tool which I only use to create proxy geometry. I’m so happy to say even after all of these years zooToolBox still works. (Available here: http://www.macaronikazoo.com/)  So lovely when a code base is so solid that it is maintainable.  He has many tools. Including some you might notice have become part of Maya.  I’ve only utilized zooSurgeon (sounds gross, huh?) to create the low res proxy geometry for the animator’s rig. That was easy.


zooToolBox’s zooSurgeon to create proxy geometry

Home from work today and taking naps trying to get over the crudz. Perhaps I’ll get a moment to begin next month’s chapters ahead of October. Keeps me focused on something other than the crudz. Be well out there in rigging land. – tina


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Rig it Right – August update…in September.


Chapter five and six completed–including images. Rewriting the chapters slowed a bit as I explored the newer blendshape methods and tested skinning.
Chapter five covers joints and utilizes a puppet character to cover interactive skinning. The rule covered:  #6. Happy math—controls and joints should be zeroed out.

Fig5-9.jpgChapter six covers blendshapes and set driven keys.  We utilize an octopus character and a medusa type character to discover multiple methods of hooking up controllers to blendshapes depending on animator preference. Fig6-1.jpgThat completes the intro portion of the book. The rest of the book covers a biped creation from beginning to end then we get into some advanced notions. I’m feeling like I need to step up and do more than two chapters a month just in case a month somewhere does a noes dive and I lose time.  I prefer to have a month or so for “the unknown factor” that will tank my timeline.  Best get to that then.

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Rig it Right – July update

Fig3-8On vacation this week and finishing up this month’s quota from the front porch today. The writing went much better this month. Two chapters (and images) complete. I finally conquered a workflow issue I had in Maya that was frustrating me. Trying to explain the outliner vs node editor gets me (and the reader) down into the weeds a little too quickly. So, I pulled in the hypergraph hierarchy window and kept use of the connection editor and that helped out a bit.  In chapter three we go over connecting user created controls; up until now we’ve been rigging 1990’s style where the animator has to dig about in the outliner.

Rules covered in chapters three and four:
Rule #4: Keep geometry (GEO), controls (CNTRL), and skeletons (SKEL) in separate groups in the outliner
Rule #5: Make controls that make sense to the animator
Rule #6: Happy math—controls and joints should be zeroed out


In chapter 4 we go over adding custom attributes and my favorite: the utility node. In this chapter we go straight to and stay in the node editor.  Here is where the wobbly riggers will need to re-read a little bit and work to become comfortable in the node editor until it looks more familiar and less like a bunch of spaghetti connections.

Moving along now.  A weekend and then to the August page quota.



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Rig it Right – June update.


Introduction: basics and the node editor

Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 complete: text and updated pictures.  I’m loving the node editor (which came out just after the first edition was published.)  Looking forward to putting that in all the upcoming chapters.   The chapters are coming along nicely as there isn’t very much drastically changed in Maya so far. New node editor. Some menu names changed. Other then that—the functionality is the same. With the newer versions of Maya you can get away with using the first edition of the book and most things will work.


Chapter one: freezing transformations. Brrrrr.

Thanks for the facebook messages, emails, and linked in messages from everyone giving feedback and telling me how things are behaving in the newer versions of Maya. I appreciate it very much.


To be brutally honest though, I am procrastinating more than ever with this rewrite. Still hitting my quotas, cause I am driven by time and finishing things, but it is hilarious to watch the amount of angst I go through. I know it is because there is nothing new here for me—I’ve made this map before and now I’m just double checking it is ok, improving it. Once I complete a subject I kinda don’t like to revisit it, I’d rather find something new to conquer. Yet, quotas will drive me and I’ll push through.  I’ll bet when I get into the more complicated chapters it will be a bit more entertaining.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it—but find I have to talk myself into sitting still more than not.

I traveled to Dallas last week for the school and wrote. I do like to make use of the travel time and that makes me happy: writing in planes. No email, no internet, no phone. Just me and the keyboard.  Love it. And the perks of having coffee brought to me. I’m pretty darn simple to please. That’s decadence to me. 🙂

I’ll take the weekend off then begin again next week on chapters three and four for July.  Have a happy fourth of July, y’all.   – tina


Chapter Two: Super Toothbrush with deformers

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writing prompt …@ grocery store

In a high pitched valley girl accent, touched with a southern drawl (if such a thing were possible):

“Anyone with a picture like thaaaaat, neeeeds—this.”

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Writing prompt

“Did he say squares or squirrels?”

“At that volume, hard to say.”


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AR enhancement for Rig it Right – YIPEE

The problem with text books are all of those interface pictures. They don’t print the fine detail one would wish.  Either they are too small and readers can not see all the details or they are too big and your editor (and you) start worrying about page count.

What if you could use your mobile device to look at the printed picture and see a better image or even a movie of that step in the tutorial?  Ah yes.  That would be nice.

I downloaded the app Aurasma Studio. (studio.aurasma.com) Many of the students have been using this to enhance their portfolios and motion media professors use it in their SCAD day (open house) demonstrations.


Why not use it for a textbook? 


aurasmaScreenShot_1496885162492.jpgHere’s a small, black and white image for the new chapter 20 in Rig it Right 2. (It will be color in the book.)

Download the Aurasma app  (iphone or android) and focus on this image.

It will load in a close up color image. At anytime I can update that to be a video or a more elaborate image.

The great thing – is you can move the mobile device closer and get a better view of the image as seen in the picture below. That’s excellent if the print in the book is small or you happen to require reading glasses, like myself.  All sorts of possibilities with this.

I’m going to keep moving in this direction to test.  It takes very little time to upload the image to Aurasma and extends the learning opportunity.  (And it’s fun, can’t overlook that.) We’ll see what Focal thinks. Maybe we can put something like this in the second edition?

Here are some other images of tests.  Mostly I’m just using this for menus and selections, not for the images themselves unless it helps the tutorial.


Here is a test of it over the book. This is just a mock-up.


Testing complete. Back to re-writing.  Thanks for following along!


ps – got a second rejection for “Absolute Darkness” last week with actual comments! Real comments—mostly about the cover and encouragement to stay the self published route. I’m so busy on this I don’t have time to shout and cheer. Luckily vampire stories have legs and stick around, especially unique ones like “Absolute Darkness”—I’ll get back to it later.


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