Archive for Rigging Tutorials

Tutorial: Creating the 360 degree Twist Extractor

Tutorial: Creating the 360 degree Twist Extractor

It’s roughly a year between each post on this blog, a bit less frequent than what I had in mind when I started this blog, eh 😛

Anyway, here’s a quick tutorial on how you can create a TwistExtractor that goes past the standard 180 degree’ flip. There’s different techniques on how to do this, the one I show is probably the simplest one.

I forgot to mention in the video as it’s pretty logical, but if you’re using translate-based stretch in your rig, you must have offset-groups on the twistextractors, which you connect the translate of your driver-joints to.

Shout out if there’s questions or anything 🙂

The tutorial:



I just got a great tip from Harry Houghton on Vimeo. In addition to the rpIkHandle and the ikSplineHandle, you can also use an aimConstraint (with World Up Type set to None) to remove the primary axis from a joint. Just did a quick benchmark, and it seems to evaluate roughly 15% faster than the rpIkHandle. So if you’re a pedant like me, you should probably go for that one instead 😉

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Tutorial: Create a Procedural Ribbon in Maya

Tutorial: Create a Procedural Ribbon in Maya

Since I put up my rigging reel I’ve received a lot of questions and requests for a tutorial on the procedural ribbons, so I’ve finally put together a tutorial on them. When I finished the tutorial I realized that it was really slow-paced, so I’ve written a script for it also (attached at the bottom of this post). So for those of you that find it easier to figure out what’s going on by skimming through a script, you know what to do 🙂


I’m sure this technique is old news to some people, but it’s too awesome not to be shared. These ribbons actually evaluate slightly faster than the traditional ribbon-setup, which is crazy considering they’re so much more flexible. What makes this setup powerful though, is that they utilize the nonLinear deformers in Maya, which means you inherit the same flexibility as you have with deformers, so you won’t take a performance-hit as you’re just adding functionality to the already existing deformer(s). This technique could of course easily be altered to ride ontop of FK-rigs, which could be used to rig tails/tentacles/fishes etc.

The tutorial:

The script:
The script is almost identical to the one I create in the tutorial, I’ve just added an option to offset where on the surface the twist occurs, and cleaned up the setup a bit.

Download Script

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Tutorial: Create a Sine with Nodes in Maya

Tutorial: Create a Sine with Nodes in Maya

Wow! It’s been more than a year since my last post here… Time flies, huh? 😕 Anyway, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the procedural ribbon from my rigging reel, and I promised I’d do a tutorial on that, I’ll try to get that done next week or so 🙂

This however, is actually the thing that got me started on the procedural ribbon in the first place. My first thought was to start with getting the sine-function to work with nodes, and then work my way from there. The ribbon turned out totally different from this tutorial though, but I thought this still could be a useful technique to share.

First off, there’s several tutorials out there on how to create a sine-function in Maya, but I’ve never seen anyone do them with nodes. The main reason you would want to do things with nodes instead of using expressions is that expressions doesn’t always evaluate when you want them to, some times you have to scrub the timeline or playback the scene to force an evaluation of the expression. That can be really cumbersome if you need to adjust attributes that affects the result of the expression without seeing the changes instantly. Also, nodes evaluate way faster than expressions 🙂

The concept:

This is very basic, and the concept is very well demonstrated here, the tutorial just shows you how you can use this concept on several objects, so that you can control the entire chain of objects affected by the sine with one controller.

Even if you know how a sine works, there’s still something to take out of doing it this way in Maya. Instead of dealing with just the math to get this to work (which you do with expressions), you’re dealing with a more practical setup, which can be easily modified to behave however you want it to. So as long as you know the “pattern” of the mathematical function, let your rigging brain take over and do a practical setup in Maya that lets you extract the behaviour of the function.

Here’s an interesting example Disney Research Lab released a little more than a year ago:
Computational Design of Mechanical Characters

The tutorial:

I’m using the translateY to output the sine in the tutorial, but remember that if you for example use this on a joint-chain, you could just connect the output to the rotate of the joints instead.

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