Automated Rigging Module – Project Overview

Purpose of this project:

The purpose of this project is to write a module that will automatically build a rig for any quadruped or biped. The module will also be usable as a rigging toolkit for testing any advanced rigging techniques not directly supported by the module.
Rigs created with this module should be useful in production settings with little to no additional work, although initially at least additional skin weights painting will be required.

Eventually this module should include solutions for wings and other additional character attributes.

Problems to resolve:

Quadruped vs biped – As I haven’t rigged any quadrupeds in the past, I’ll have to do a lot of research and tests to get a good solution for building quadruped rigs with this module, and for deciding how to best write the difference into the module.

Digitigrade legs on bipeds – Related to the quadruped issue – I’ll probably solve it at the same time.

UI – I’ve only had a very limited experience with writing UIs for Maya, so I’m going to have to do a lot of studying to get a full but friendly UI for this module. Thankfully I’m writing this module in a way that makes it very easy to use without the UI in the meantime.

IK/FK Matching – I want to get a good IK/FK matching script built into the module, both to be used by animators manually and to be built into the rig directly with script nodes and scriptjob nodes. Still trying to wrap my head around vector math though…. so that may take a bit more study to get right. I could just use someone else’s script but the idea is that I’m learning how to build this thing myself.

Blendshapes, skin weights, and good deformation – I’d like for muscular, fat, and facial deformations to be at least mostly automatically generated (with an easy way to tweak it if necessary). I have some ideas how to do this in theory, but because no two models have the same topology, it may be difficult to tell the script which parts of the geo it’s meant to be deforming. I have seen other people resolve this though, so I’ll have to do some research into their solutions.

Breathing, torso-following-legs, and other automated secondary animation – I’ll have to decide which method I’ll include for automated secondary animation such as breathing. It’s possible that it’ll change depending on options used (e.g. a ribbon spine might use a different auto-breathing solution than a simpler IK spine). For quadrupeds (or anyone with a tail) I’ll have to find a reliable method for automated tail wagging. I prefer to avoid expressions, so we’ll see what I can figure out for that.

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