For quite a while a rig was mainly composed of
joints skinned to the mesh,
and some blendshapes.
There wasn’t a lot else thrown in on top.
What the heck does this mean exactly?
Joints are merely
transforms describing a position/orientation/scale in 3dSpace.
Some applications treat these as special cases and make them strange
first class citizens.
Skinning is the art of taking xNum of
joints, assigning them to a
skinCluster, and then
painting each joint’s area of affect onto the
The act of this
painting literally establishes a
per joint' relationship
to the vertexes
on the mesh by assigning to it a per joint weight value`.
eg: vtx01: [joint01: .5, joint02:.5]
Which would mean that joint01 has a weight of .5 and joint02 has a weight of .5 so each have a %50 influence over the vertex they are assigned to.
That’s it really. Take a bunch of joints, and create their
to the 3d
mesh. How you do it can be done by hand or by painting using various
tools in your application of choice.
Doing it by hand on complex
meshes … shudder / run screaming!
These 2 fundamentals haven’t changed much in the last 20 years so I think it’s important to at least show you how to handle them, even if it doesn’t make too much sense at this time.
We have paintWeight tools to help make this a much easier job for us! So lets look at my general go to starting process for skinning.
Years and years ago I started treating the whole process of weight painting as the Bastard son of Satan! As a result, I ONLY WORK ON JOINT PAIRS and do not have any faith/trust/respect for any kind of `auto’ weight assignments while doing the work.
Essentially for the last 20 years (and to this day) my weight painting workflow is this;
If you do this, you’ll be much more in control of your weight painting and you’ll find it a whole lot less painful.
Here’s a look at the process in action.
Brave Rabbit brsmoothweights - Maya
This is a great tool for hitting an area of a mesh you want to smooth out and get great trusted results from the smooth. I’ve used this a bit recently and haven’t suffered significant side effects. Reccommend this tool. Will save you a lot of time.
ngSkinTools - Maya
The layering / masking / filtering in ngSkinTools just makes life a lot easier. It’s how the skinning tools should work really. The only down side here is for some pipelines you have to remove underlying nodes before submitting to farms etc and that can result in the stack no longer existing in the scene when you grab an asset from the server etc. But there are ways around that.. so…