Archive for Tutorials

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.

jh_proceduralRibbon (Procedural Ribbon)

# ************************************************************************************************************
# Title:
# Author: Jorn-Harald Paulsen
# Created: October 12, 2014
# Last Update: October 12, 2014
# Description: Utility to set up a ribbon with twist/sine/volume
# ************************************************************************************************************

import maya.cmds as cmds
import maya.OpenMaya as OpenMaya1
import math

def jh_proceduralRibbon():
#Create a variable for the window name
winName = ‘jh_proceduralRibbon’
winTitle = ‘Set up a ribbon with twist/sine/volume’
#Delete the window if it exists
if cmds.window(winName, exists=True):
cmds.deleteUI(winName, window=True)
#Build the main window
cmds.window(winName, title=winTitle, sizeable=True)
#Create the columnLayout

#Build tab
cmds.frameLayout(l=’Prefix’, mw=4, mh=4, bs=’out’, bgc=[0.18, 0.21, 0.25])
cmds.textField(‘prefixField’, text=’ribbon_’)
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
#Build tab
cmds.frameLayout(l=’Scale Group (optional)’, mw=4, mh=4, bs=’out’, bgc=[0.18, 0.21, 0.25])
cmds.button(label=’Load the scale group’, command=loadScaleGrp)
cmds.textField(‘scaleGrpField’, enable=False)
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
#Build tab
cmds.frameLayout(l=’Setup’, mw=4, mh=4, bs=’out’, bgc=[0.18, 0.21, 0.25])
cmds.text(label=’Define the width of the ribbon:’)
cmds.floatField(‘widthField’, minValue=1.0, value=10.0)
cmds.text(label=’Define the number of joints:’)
cmds.intField(‘jointsField’, minValue=3, value=10)
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
#Build tab
cmds.frameLayout(l=’Create’, mw=4, mh=4, bs=’out’, bgc=[0.18, 0.21, 0.25])
cmds.button(label=’Create the ribbon’, command=createRibbon)
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )
cmds.setParent( ‘..’ )

#Show the window
cmds.window(winName, edit=True, width=378, height=210)

def addAttribute(objects=[], longName=”, niceName=”, lock=False, **kwargs):
#For each object
for obj in objects:
#For each attribute
for x in range(0, len(longName)):
#See if a niceName was defined
attrNice = ” if not niceName else niceName[x]
#If the attribute does not exists
if not cmds.attributeQuery(longName[x], node=obj, exists=True):
#Add the attribute
cmds.addAttr(obj, longName=longName[x], niceName=attrNice, **kwargs)
#If lock was set to True
cmds.setAttr((obj + ‘.’ + longName[x]), lock=1) if lock else cmds.setAttr((obj + ‘.’ + longName[x]), lock=0)

def createCurveCtrl(pos=(0,0,0), name=’curveCtrl’, scale=1, color=6, freezeTransforms=0):
#Create the controller
crvCtrl = cmds.curve(p=[(0,1,0),(0,-1,0),(0,0,0),(0,0,1),(0,0,-1),(0,0,0),(1,0,0),(-1,0,0)], d=1)
crvCtrl = cmds.rename(crvCtrl, name)
#Set the scale
cmds.setAttr((crvCtrl + ‘.scale’), scale, scale, scale)
cmds.makeIdentity(crvCtrl, apply=True, translate=False, rotate=False, scale=True)
#Set the color for the curve
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(crvCtrl, shapes=True)[0] + ‘.overrideEnabled’), 1)
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(crvCtrl, shapes=True)[0] + ‘.overrideColor’), color)
#If a position was defined
if len(pos) == 3:
#Position the locator
cmds.setAttr((crvCtrl + ‘.translate’), pos[0], pos[1], pos[2])
#If freeze transforms was set to true
if freezeTransforms:
cmds.makeIdentity(crvCtrl, apply=True, translate=True)
#Return the locator
return crvCtrl

def createFollicle(inputSurface=[], scaleGrp=”, uVal=0.5, vVal=0.5, hide=1, name=’follicle’):
#Create a follicle
follicleShape = cmds.createNode(‘follicle’)
#Get the transform of the follicle
follicleTrans = cmds.listRelatives(follicleShape, parent=True)[0]
#Rename the follicle
follicleTrans = cmds.rename(follicleTrans, name)
follicleShape = cmds.rename(cmds.listRelatives(follicleTrans, c=True)[0], (name + ‘Shape’))
#If the inputSurface is of type ‘nurbsSurface’, connect the surface to the follicle
if cmds.objectType(inputSurface[0]) == ‘nurbsSurface’:
cmds.connectAttr((inputSurface[0] + ‘.local’), (follicleShape + ‘.inputSurface’))
#If the inputSurface is of type ‘mesh’, connect the surface to the follicle
if cmds.objectType(inputSurface[0]) == ‘mesh’:
cmds.connectAttr((inputSurface[0] + ‘.outMesh’), (follicleShape + ‘.inputMesh’))
#Connect the worldMatrix of the surface into the follicleShape
cmds.connectAttr((inputSurface[0] + ‘.worldMatrix[0]’), (follicleShape + ‘.inputWorldMatrix’))
#Connect the follicleShape to it’s transform
cmds.connectAttr((follicleShape + ‘.outRotate’), (follicleTrans + ‘.rotate’))
cmds.connectAttr((follicleShape + ‘.outTranslate’), (follicleTrans + ‘.translate’))
#Set the uValue and vValue for the current follicle
cmds.setAttr((follicleShape + ‘.parameterU’), uVal)
cmds.setAttr((follicleShape + ‘.parameterV’), vVal)
#Lock the translate/rotate of the follicle
cmds.setAttr((follicleTrans + ‘.translate’), lock=True)
cmds.setAttr((follicleTrans + ‘.rotate’), lock=True)
#If it was set to be hidden, hide the follicle
if hide:
cmds.setAttr((follicleShape + ‘.visibility’), 0)
#If a scale-group was defined and exists
if scaleGrp and cmds.objExists(scaleGrp):
#Connect the scale-group to the follicle
cmds.connectAttr((scaleGrp + ‘.scale’), (follicleTrans + ‘.scale’))
#Lock the scale of the follicle
cmds.setAttr((follicleTrans + ‘.scale’), lock=True)
#Return the follicle and it’s shape
return follicleTrans, follicleShape

def grpObject(objects=[], snapTrans=1, snapRot=1, keepHi=1, keepTransforms=1, empty=False, name=”, suffix=’_grp’):
#Create a variable to store the groups in
groups = []
#For each object passed in
for obj in objects:
#Create an empty group for the current object
newGrp =, name=(obj + suffix))
#If a name was specified, rename the group
if name:
cmds.rename(newGrp, name)
#Set the rotateOrder of the current group to the same order as the current object
cmds.setAttr((newGrp + ‘.rotateOrder’), cmds.getAttr(obj + ‘.rotateOrder’))
#If snapTrans was set to true, PointConstraint the group to the current object
if snapTrans:
cmds.delete(cmds.pointConstraint(obj, newGrp))
#If snapRot was set to true, OrientConstraint the group to the current object
if snapRot:
cmds.delete(cmds.orientConstraint(obj, newGrp))
#If keepHi was set to true
if keepHi:
#Get the first parent of the current object
currParent = cmds.listRelatives(obj, parent=True)
#If a parent was found, parent the group in the first parent of the current object
if currParent:
cmds.parent(newGrp, currParent[0])
#If keepTransforms was set to false, Freeze the transformations of the group
if not keepTransforms:
cmds.makeIdentity(newGrp, apply=True, translate=True, rotate=True)
#If empty was set to false, parent the current object into the group
if not empty:
cmds.parent(obj, newGrp)
#Append the current group into the result
#Return the groups
return groups

def nonlinearDeformer(objects=[], defType=None, lowBound=-1, highBound=1, translate=None, rotate=None, name=’nonLinear’):
#If something went wrong or the type is not valid, raise exception
if not objects or defType not in [‘bend’,’flare’,’sine’,’squash’,’twist’,’wave’]:
raise Exception, “function: ‘nonlinearDeformer’ – Make sure you specified a mesh and a valid deformer”
#Create and rename the deformer
nonLinDef = cmds.nonLinear(objects[0], type=defType, lowBound=lowBound, highBound=highBound)
nonLinDef[0] = cmds.rename(nonLinDef[0], (name + ‘_’ + defType + ‘_def’))
nonLinDef[1] = cmds.rename(nonLinDef[1], (name + ‘_’ + defType + ‘Handle’))
#If translate was specified, set the translate
if translate:
cmds.setAttr((nonLinDef[1] + ‘.translate’), translate[0], translate[1], translate[2])
#If rotate was specified, set the rotate
if rotate:
cmds.setAttr((nonLinDef[1] + ‘.rotate’), rotate[0], rotate[1], rotate[2])
#Return the deformer
return nonLinDef

def setPivot(objects=[], rotatePivot=1, scalePivot=1, pivot=(0,0,0)):
#Make sure the input is passed on as a list
objects = [objects] if isinstance(objects, (str, unicode)) else objects
#For each object
for obj in objects:
#If rotatePivot was set to True, set the rotatePivot
if rotatePivot:
cmds.xform(obj, worldSpace=True, rotatePivot=pivot)
#If scalePivot was set to True, set the scalePivot
if scalePivot:
cmds.xform(obj, worldSpace=True, scalePivot=pivot)

def loadScaleGrp(*args):
#Get the selected object
scaleGrp =, type=”transform”)
#Update the scaleGrpField
if scaleGrp:
cmds.textField(‘scaleGrpField’, edit=True, text=scaleGrp[0])

def createRibbon(*args):
#Gather information
width = cmds.floatField(‘widthField’, query=True, value=True)
numJoints = cmds.intField(‘jointsField’, query=True, value=True)
prefix = cmds.textField(‘prefixField’, query=True, text=True)
scaleGrp = cmds.textField(‘scaleGrpField’, query=True, text=True)
topPoint = (width/2)
endPoint = (width/2*-1)

#Create the main groups
grpNoTransform =, name=(prefix + ‘noTransform_grp’))
grpTransform =, name=(prefix + ‘transform_grp’))
grpCtrl =, name=(prefix + ‘ctrl_grp’), parent=grpTransform)
grpSurface =, name=(prefix + ‘surface_grp’), parent=grpTransform)
grpSurfaces =, name=(prefix + ‘surfaces_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)
grpDeformers =, name=(prefix + ‘deformer_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)
grpFollMain =, name=(prefix + ‘follicles_skin_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)
grpFollVolume =, name=(prefix + ‘follicles_volume_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)
grpCluster =, name=(prefix + ‘cluster_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)
grpMisc =, name=(prefix + ‘misc_grp’), parent=grpNoTransform)

#Create a NURBS-plane to use as a base
tmpPlane = cmds.nurbsPlane(axis=(0,1,0), width=width, lengthRatio=(1.0 / width), u=numJoints, v=1, degree=3, ch=0)[0]
#Create the NURBS-planes to use in the setup
geoPlane = cmds.duplicate(tmpPlane, name=(prefix + ‘geo’))
geoPlaneTwist = cmds.duplicate(tmpPlane, name=(prefix + ‘twist_blnd_geo’))
geoPlaneSine = cmds.duplicate(tmpPlane, name=(prefix + ‘sine_blnd_geo’))
geoPlaneWire = cmds.duplicate(tmpPlane, name=(prefix + ‘wire_blnd_geo’))
geoPlaneVolume = cmds.duplicate(tmpPlane, name=(prefix + ‘volume_geo’))
#Offset the volume-plane
cmds.setAttr((geoPlaneVolume[0] + ‘.translateZ’), -0.5)
#Delete the base surface

#Create the controllers
ctrlTop = createCurveCtrl(name=(prefix + ‘top_ctrl’), freezeTransforms=1, color=9, pos=(topPoint,0,0))
ctrlMid = createCurveCtrl(name=(prefix + ‘mid_ctrl’), freezeTransforms=1, color=9, pos=(0,0,0))
ctrlEnd = createCurveCtrl(name=(prefix + ‘end_ctrl’), freezeTransforms=1, color=9, pos=(endPoint,0,0))
#Group the controllers
grpTop = grpObject(objects=[ctrlTop], snapTrans=1, keepTransforms=0, keepHi=1, empty=0, suffix=’_grp’)[0]
grpMid = grpObject(objects=[ctrlMid], snapTrans=1, keepTransforms=0, keepHi=1, empty=0, suffix=’_grp’)[0]
grpEnd = grpObject(objects=[ctrlEnd], snapTrans=1, keepTransforms=0, keepHi=1, empty=0, suffix=’_grp’)[0]
#PointConstraint the midCtrl between the top/end
midConst = cmds.pointConstraint(ctrlTop, ctrlEnd, grpMid)

#Add attributes: Twist/Roll attributes
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlTop,ctrlEnd],longName=[‘affectToMid’],at=”float”,min=0, max=10,dv=10,k=True)
#Add attributes: Volume attributes
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid],longName=[‘startDropoff’],at=”float”,min=0, max=1, dv=1,k=True)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid],longName=[‘endDropoff’],at=”float”,min=0, max=1, dv=1, k=True)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid],longName=[‘volumeScale’],at=”float”,min=endPoint*0.9, max=topPoint*2,k=True)
#Add attributes: Sine attributes
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid], longName=[‘sineSep’], niceName=[‘—————‘], attributeType=’enum’, en=”Sine:”, keyable=True, lock=1)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid], longName=[‘amplitude’], attributeType=”float”, keyable=True)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid], longName=[‘offset’], attributeType=”float”, keyable=True)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid], longName=[‘twist’], attributeType=”float”, keyable=True)
addAttribute(objects=[ctrlMid], longName=[‘sineLength’], min=0.1, dv=2, attributeType=”float”, keyable=True)
#Add attributes: Extra attributes
cmds.setAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.showExtraCtrl’), 1)

#Create deformers: Twist deformer, Sine deformer, Squash deformer
twistDef = nonlinearDeformer(objects=[geoPlaneTwist[0]], defType=’twist’, name=geoPlaneTwist[0], lowBound=-1, highBound=1, rotate=(0,0,90))
sineDef = nonlinearDeformer(objects=[geoPlaneSine[0]], defType=’sine’, name=geoPlaneSine[0], lowBound=-1, highBound=1, rotate=(0,0,90))
squashDef = nonlinearDeformer(objects=[geoPlaneVolume[0]], defType=’squash’, name=geoPlaneVolume[0], lowBound=-1, highBound=1, rotate=(0,0,90))
cmds.setAttr((sineDef[0] + ‘.dropoff’), 1)
#Create deformers: Wire deformer
deformCrv = cmds.curve(p=[(topPoint,0,0),(0,0,0),(endPoint,0,0)], degree=2)
deformCrv = cmds.rename(deformCrv, (prefix + ‘ribbon_wire_crv’))
wireDef = cmds.wire(geoPlaneWire, dds=(0,15), wire=deformCrv)
wireDef[0] = cmds.rename(wireDef[0], (geoPlaneWire[0] + ‘_wire’))
#Create deformers: Clusters
clsTop = cmds.cluster((deformCrv + ‘.cv[0:1]’), relative=1)
clsMid = cmds.cluster((deformCrv + ‘.cv[1]’), relative=1)
clsEnd = cmds.cluster((deformCrv + ‘.cv[1:2]’), relative=1)
clsTop[0] = cmds.rename(clsTop[0], (ctrlTop + ‘_top_cluster’))
clsTop[1] = cmds.rename(clsTop[1], (ctrlTop + ‘_top_clusterHandle’))
clsMid[0] = cmds.rename(clsMid[0], (ctrlMid + ‘_mid_cluster’))
clsMid[1] = cmds.rename(clsMid[1], (ctrlMid + ‘_mid_clusterHandle’))
clsEnd[0] = cmds.rename(clsEnd[0], (ctrlEnd + ‘_end_cluster’))
clsEnd[1] = cmds.rename(clsEnd[1], (ctrlEnd + ‘_end_clusterHandle’))
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(clsTop[1], type=”shape”)[0] + ‘.originX’), topPoint)
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(clsEnd[1], type=”shape”)[0] + ‘.originX’), endPoint)
setPivot(objects=[clsTop[1]], rotatePivot=1, scalePivot=1, pivot=(topPoint,0,0))
setPivot(objects=[clsEnd[1]], rotatePivot=1, scalePivot=1, pivot=(endPoint,0,0))
cmds.percent(clsTop[0], (deformCrv + ‘.cv[1]’), v=0.5)
cmds.percent(clsEnd[0], (deformCrv + ‘.cv[1]’), v=0.5)
posTopPma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘top_ctrl_pos_pma’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlTop + ‘.translate’), (posTopPma + ‘.input3D[0]’))
cmds.connectAttr((grpTop + ‘.translate’), (posTopPma + ‘.input3D[1]’))
posEndPma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘end_ctrl_pos_pma’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlEnd + ‘.translate’), (posEndPma + ‘.input3D[0]’))
cmds.connectAttr((grpEnd + ‘.translate’), (posEndPma + ‘.input3D[1]’))
cmds.connectAttr((posTopPma + ‘.output3D’), (clsTop[1] + ‘.translate’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.translate’), (clsMid[1] + ‘.translate’))
cmds.connectAttr((posEndPma + ‘.output3D’), (clsEnd[1] + ‘.translate’))
#Create deformers: Blendshape
blndDef = cmds.blendShape(geoPlaneWire[0], geoPlaneTwist[0], geoPlaneSine[0], geoPlane[0], name=(prefix + ‘blendShape’),weight=[(0,1),(1,1),(2,1)])

#Twist deformer: Sum the twist and the roll
sumTopPma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘twist_top_sum_pma’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlTop + ‘.twist’), (sumTopPma + ‘.input1D[0]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlTop + ‘.twistOffset’), (sumTopPma + ‘.input1D[1]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.roll’), (sumTopPma + ‘.input1D[2]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.rollOffset’), (sumTopPma + ‘.input1D[3]’))
cmds.connectAttr((sumTopPma + ‘.output1D’), (twistDef[0] + ‘.startAngle’))
sumEndPma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘twist_low_sum_pma’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlEnd + ‘.twist’), (sumEndPma + ‘.input1D[0]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlEnd + ‘.twistOffset’), (sumEndPma + ‘.input1D[1]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.roll’), (sumEndPma + ‘.input1D[2]’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.rollOffset’), (sumEndPma + ‘.input1D[3]’))
cmds.connectAttr((sumEndPma + ‘.output1D’), (twistDef[0] + ‘.endAngle’))
#Twist deformer: Set up the affect of the deformer
topAffMdl = cmds.shadingNode(‘multDoubleLinear’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘twist_top_affect_mdl’))
cmds.setAttr((topAffMdl + ‘.input1’), -0.1)
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlTop + ‘.affectToMid’), (topAffMdl + ‘.input2’))
cmds.connectAttr((topAffMdl + ‘.output’), (twistDef[0] + ‘.lowBound’))
endAffMdl = cmds.shadingNode(‘multDoubleLinear’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘twist_end_affect_mdl’))
cmds.setAttr((endAffMdl + ‘.input1’), 0.1)
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlEnd + ‘.affectToMid’), (endAffMdl + ‘.input2’))
cmds.connectAttr((endAffMdl + ‘.output’), (twistDef[0] + ‘.highBound’))

#Squash deformer: Set up the connections for the volume control
volumeRevfMdl = cmds.shadingNode(‘multDoubleLinear’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘volume_reverse_mdl’))
cmds.setAttr((volumeRevfMdl + ‘.input1’), -1)
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.volume’), (volumeRevfMdl + ‘.input2’))
cmds.connectAttr((volumeRevfMdl + ‘.output’), (squashDef[0] + ‘.factor’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.startDropoff’), (squashDef[0] + ‘.startSmoothness’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.endDropoff’), (squashDef[0] + ‘.endSmoothness’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.volumePosition’), (squashDef[1] + ‘.translateX’))
#Squash deformer: Set up the volume scaling
sumScalePma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + ‘volume_scale_sum_pma’))
cmds.setAttr((sumScalePma + ‘.input1D[0]’), topPoint)
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.volumeScale’), (sumScalePma + ‘.input1D[1]’))
cmds.connectAttr((sumScalePma + ‘.output1D’), (squashDef[1] + ‘.scaleY’))

#Sine deformer: Set up the connections for the sine
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.amplitude’), (sineDef[0] + ‘.amplitude’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.offset’), (sineDef[0] + ‘.offset’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.twist’), (sineDef[1] + ‘.rotateY’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.sineLength’), (sineDef[0] + ‘.wavelength’))

#Cleanup: Hierarchy
cmds.parent(geoPlaneWire[0], geoPlaneTwist[0], geoPlaneSine[0], geoPlaneVolume[0], grpSurfaces)
cmds.parent(twistDef[1], sineDef[1], squashDef[1], grpDeformers)
cmds.parent(clsTop[1], clsMid[1], clsEnd[1], grpCluster)
cmds.parent(grpTop, grpMid, grpEnd, grpCtrl)
cmds.parent(geoPlane[0], grpSurface)
cmds.parent(deformCrv, (cmds.listConnections(wireDef[0] + ‘.baseWire[0]’)[0]), grpMisc)
#Cleanup: Visibility
cmds.hide(grpSurfaces, grpDeformers, grpCluster, grpMisc)
for x in cmds.listConnections(ctrlMid):
cmds.setAttr((x + ‘.isHistoricallyInteresting’), 0)
for y in cmds.listConnections(x):
cmds.setAttr((y + ‘.isHistoricallyInteresting’), 0)

#Update the scale-group
scaleGrp = scaleGrp if scaleGrp else grpTransform
#Create follicles: The main-surface and the volume-surface
for x in range(0, numJoints):
#Declare a variable for the current index
num = str(x + 1)
#Get the normalized position of where to place the current follicle
uVal = ((0.5 / numJoints) * (x + 1) * 2) – ((0.5 / (numJoints * 2)) * 2)
#Create a follicle for the bind-plane and the volume-plane
follicleS = createFollicle(scaleGrp=scaleGrp, inputSurface=cmds.listRelatives(geoPlane[0], type=”shape”), uVal=uVal, name=(prefix + num + ‘_follicle’))
follicleV = createFollicle(scaleGrp=None, inputSurface=cmds.listRelatives(geoPlaneVolume[0], type=”shape”), uVal=uVal, vVal=0, name=(prefix + num + ‘_volume_follicle’))
cmds.parent(follicleS[0], grpFollMain)
cmds.parent(follicleV[0], grpFollVolume)
#Create a joint, controller and a group for the current skin-follicle
follicleJoint = cmds.joint(name=(prefix + num + ‘_jnt’), radius=0.1)
follicleCtrl = + num + ‘_ctrl’), c=(0,0,0), nr=(1,0,0), sw=360, r=0.5, d=3, s=8, ch=0)[0]
follicleXform = + num + ‘_xform_grp’), empty=True)
cmds.parent(follicleXform, follicleS[0])
cmds.parent(follicleCtrl, follicleXform)
cmds.parent(follicleJoint, follicleCtrl)
cmds.delete(cmds.parentConstraint(follicleS[0], follicleXform))
#Set the color and connect the visibility-switch for the controller
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(follicleCtrl, shapes=True)[0] + ‘.overrideEnabled’), 1)
cmds.setAttr((cmds.listRelatives(follicleCtrl, shapes=True)[0] + ‘.overrideColor’), 12)
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.showExtraCtrl’), (cmds.listRelatives(follicleCtrl, shapes=True)[0] + ‘.visibility’))
#Make the connections for the volume
multMpd = cmds.shadingNode(‘multiplyDivide’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + num + ‘_multiplier_mpd’))
cmds.connectAttr((ctrlMid + ‘.volumeMultiplier’), (multMpd + ‘.input1Z’))
cmds.connectAttr((follicleV[0] + ‘.translate’), (multMpd + ‘.input2’))
sumPma = cmds.shadingNode(‘plusMinusAverage’, asUtility=1, name = (prefix + num + ‘_volume_sum_pma’))
cmds.connectAttr((multMpd + ‘.outputZ’), (sumPma + ‘.input1D[0]’))
cmds.setAttr((sumPma + ‘.input1D[1]’), 1)
cmds.connectAttr((sumPma + ‘.output1D’), (follicleXform + ‘.scaleY’))
cmds.connectAttr((sumPma + ‘.output1D’), (follicleXform + ‘.scaleZ’))


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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 still haven’t 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 object 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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