Rig your Biped Character with Advanced Skeleton Tool
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Full body and facial rig
In my humble opinion, as a rigging artist, there are two rigging tools you must know, one is Animation & Rigging tool by UE4, another: Advanced Skeleton Tool by Animation Studio.
Link: Advanced Skeleton Tool.
Character rigging can be time-consuming, you get to place bones one by one, creating controllers, setting up constraints, skinning, Sculpting Blendshape...
The advanced skeleton tool makes every step so easy and significantly reduces rigging time.
And what is best, it is free for students and hobbyist. ($750 for freelancer and $3000 for commercial use)
Before we get start, we want to download and install the plugin
To Download the advanced skeleton tool:Link
Open maya and create a blank new scene, create a new empty shelf
To Install, just unzip the files you download to maya scipts folder then drag and drop the install. mel into your maya scene
There will be 4 icons appeared on your shelf, click on icon "5" will launch the plugin.
Check and Clean up the Geo for the game engine.
It is more likely, you are going to get your model from a character artist or purchase it online.
The things you are looking out for are
The topology/edge flow,
Pivot points on (0,0,0) ,
make sure your character sits exactly in the center of the origin(0,0,0),
Delete the invisible part if you can,
Clean the outliner. (I keep hair, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, teeth as separate geometries)
If you have your character texture ready it would be nice to have it on.
You can use [Model clean] button to help check for transformation values and symmetry, just make sure you group your model under group name "geo"
Finally, save this scene as a separate Geo file, for example, girl_Geo.ma
2. Reference in the model
Use the [New Scene] button to create a new scene, then use the [reference] button to reference your Geo file here.
That would reference the model in and automatically place the geo in a layer (called Hi) in template mode.
If this is rigging for the game engine check the game engine options that would disable certain deformers that were not supported by the engine.
3.Body Rigging-Joint placement
Hooray, we are ready to do the fun part, rigging our character
Under Body tab> fit> select bipedGame.ma then click on import
now, you get a half skeleton appear in your scene
The next step is to manipulate joints and place them in the right location of the body.
(For tips on joint placement for rigging, I had a separate post for the topic: Link)
In viewport, turn on the x-ray, x-ray joint, and wireframe mode
Place jointejoint Toggle between top view, front view, side view, and perspective view
Roughly scale the skeleton with the global control into place then adjust individual joints to fit with the character.
After done with the rough placement of the joint, within the display section, turn on the Geometry,
select the joints to adjust the fact factor to adjust the Greenblue Geometry to make it fit as close as the character.
Then adjust the joints for more accurate placement.
4.Advanced skeleton Control rig creation
After done with joint placement,
click on update now button then click on build advanced skeleton button
Watch magic happen ( a lot happens underhood here)
We can adjust the controllers size by manipulating the curve CVs.
Move the controllers to test it out the rig.
before we start, make sure to check the game engine option under the preparation tab>model tab>game engine. That would disable certain deformers that are not working in-game engines.
There are several deform options. They are all really very good.
For a cartoony characters like this, the skin loop and skincage works really good.
Here, we are going to use the SkinCage option here.
Its under body tab> Deform option 2> hit create
Adjust the box with the green curve, then adjust it with red curves, select all the Geo then click on the copy weight button
Then Delete the Cage
6. Hand painting weight
Some areas might need to manually adjust the weight.
(I'll write a separate blog for the topic, my general workflow on weight painting is overflow method )
I use an Animation tester to test out the weight, it automatically creates a simple test animation for the character.
7. Facial rigging
Select the head then flood the head with 1 to head joint
Find the corresponding selection for everything under Pre tab
We want to make a selection for the front face. We can use UV editor to help quickly select the faces.
Hit mask button which is under Face tab>Pre>Mask
Then select all the face object
Move on to the next section, Fit tab.
The face rigging is pretty straightforward, just follow the steps. Click on the question mark for information about the selection.