June 6th, 2007

A simple to use skeleton builder and autorigger that builds a fast, animator friendly, bipedal rig.  Some of the features include:

  • Entirely node based.
  • Fully scaleable.
  • Stretchy IK/FK legs and arms.
  • Combo IK/FK spine with up to 18 joints (and true IK as of version 1.9).
  • Knee and elbow snap to pole vector control.
  • Standard foot controls including footRoll, footBreak, toeRoll, toeTwist, ballTwist.
  • Space switching on all major control curves (including a tool to copy control positions across space switches).
  • Support for upleg, upArm, and foreArm split joints (up to two each).
  • FK/IK head controls.
  • FK/IK fingers.
  • FK/IK and IK/FK matching on the legs and arms.
  • Auto align on relevant FK controls.
  • A tool to create a skeleton for your character.
  • A tool for quick and easy control curve mirroring and modification (includes lots of prebuilt control curves).
  • A tool for easy rig removal and update.
  • A tool for easy creation of a scaleable, stretchy IK spline joint chain (complete with FK controllers) from a curve.
  • The ability to change the rotation order of control curves across an animation and retain your poses.

I wrote this script with the intention of using it to rig my own characters for my Animation Mentor short.  Unfortunately, it took long enough to write that I didn't have time to build and use it with my own characters.  

What I'm trying to say is that it hasn't been properly put it through its paces.  It might break horribly, it might not.  Ok, it probably won't break horribly, but I can't imagine there isn't something that I've overlooked.  Please let me know if you do find any bugs or have any problems at all with it.  If it works great for you, I'd love to hear about that too.

And as always, suggestions are appreciated.

How to Use

The script needs to be sourced before it will run.  Once you've copied the files to the appropriate directories, you can start it like this:

source abAutoRig.mel;abAutoRig;

And the UI should appear.  Note that you'll want to move through the tabs from left to right to gain all the functionality of the rig.

Begin by entering your character name in the field and click the "Create a Skeleton" button.  The abSkeletonMaker window will pop up.  This and the abWireReplace can also be accessed under the Tools menu that appears at the top of the abAutoRig window.

Build the Skeleton

In the abSkeletonMaker window, click the "Make Proxy Skeleton" button.  You can modify the proxy by moving any of the curves or locators in the proxy.  The red curves indicate grouped hierarchies, and moving or scaling them will modify their child transforms.  The entire proxy can be scaled by scaling the red locator at the world origin.

If you plan on using the snap to pv controller for the knee and elbow joints, you'll want to make sure that the first three leg and arm joints share the same x and y values respectively.  Otherwise you'll have no luck getting it to work.

If your character has fewer than five fingers, don't worry.  You can leave them on the proxy and delete the joints once you've created your skeleton.  The same goes with the neck, head and eye joints.

Once you've got the proxy where you want it you can set the number of Upleg, Uparm, and foreArm split joints that you want using the sliders.  Click "Build Skeleton" and close the abSkeletonMaker UI when you're done.

Rig the Spine

Select the number of joints you want to use in your spine, the spine root joint (which will be just above the hip), and the hip joint.  Click "Create Spine Rig".

You'll want to bind your character to the newly created visible spine joints and not your low, mid, or high spine joints.  You'll know them by the way they turn magenta when you select the hip joint.  Note that in recent versions of the script, the weightSpine joints can be found in the weightSpine_grp, which is located in your yourCharName_Skeleton_grp.  If you rerig your character spine with the same number of joints, your existing weightSpine joints will be reused, so you won't have to worry about re-weighting your spine.

The octagonal control curve next to the spine (the Spine/Split control) can be used to change the influence of the hip, low, mid, and high spine control curves on each of the ik spine joints y rotation.  Just make sure that the four values under each spine joint add up to one, or else your rotations will be out of whack.  (Note that this control will also contain the rotation ratios for all of the split joints on the rig, as well.)  The visibility for this curve can be adjusted on the root control.  

The curve just below the top spine control is the spine shaper.  It's useful to shape the spine when you're translating spine control curves.  Its visibility attribute is located on the cog control.

As of version 1.9 you'll find the "useRootSpace" attribute on the high, mid, and hip control curves.  You can enable this for each curve individually to use it as a true IK control.  The low spine control curve will remain parented to the COG with only the rotation attributes available.

Note that I've changed the spine in version 2.7 to be much less flippy than before.  The spine setup will still create all of the same control curves at the same locations, so if you've referenced your character it will animate in the same way.  The only discernable difference (aside from less flipping) is that there are no longer spine rotation attributes on the Spine/Split control.  You still need this control though, because it's used by the leg, arm and hand setups to hold some important attributes, so don't delete it.  If you're unable to update to the new spine for some reason you can alleviate some of the flipping by following these instructions:

  • Locate the yourCharName_weightSpine_rig_grp in your spine_rig_grp.
  • Delete the existing parent constraint ("yourCharName_weightSpineTargetGrp_parCons")
  • ParentConstrain yourCharName_weightSpine_rig_grp to the COG ctrl curve, ensuring that maintain offset is checked in the parentConstraint option box.

Head and Neck

Specify the neck, head and optionally one of the eye joints to rig this part of the skeleton.

The head control has an optional control to translate the head that's hidden by default.  Enable the "ikCtrlVis" attribute to see it.  You can unparent the head from the rig and put it into rootSpace by enabling "useRootSpace" on the head translate curve.

The Legs

Select the number of upLeg split joints in your leg hierarchy and an Upleg joint.  Click the "Create Heel Locator" button and place it in the position where the foot should pivot about the heel (it might not need to be moved at all).  Once you're happy with its placement, click "Create Leg Rig".  Note that unlike the other rigging functions, the leg rig doesn't undo cleanly.  Use the rig removal tool to get rid of it.

The leg ik control curve is located behind the ankle.  Most of the attributes should be self explanatory.  FootBreak is the amount of positive footRoll after which the toe will roll instead of the ball.  MaxStretch is the maximum length in terms of initial length that the leg will stretch before it can't stretch no more.  Setting this to 1 will disable stretchy ik.  Fk stretch along with ik and fk leg visibility can be accessed by selecting the square control curve under the foot.

The pv control contains the standard translate and space switching attributes as well as snapKnee.  If you've kept your upLeg, knee and ankle joints in the same xy plane then adjusting this value to one should snap the knee joint to your pv control.

You can rig the other leg by selecting its upLeg joint and corresponding heel locator and again clicking "Create Leg Rig".  If you're using version 1.7 or greater, the other leg will be automatically rigged at the same time as the first.  Select Options > Auto Mirror to disable this feature.

Eight Arms to Hold You

How about two.  Because that's what this script will do, two.  By now it should be pretty clear how to use this thing.  Specify the number of split joints and an upArm (shoulder) joint.  The arms are basically the same as the legs with the addition of an fk shoulder.

Once you've finished rigging at least one arm or leg, you'll see new button appear in your current shelf.  You can click this button to access the FK/IK snapping UI for your character.  It should be pretty self explanatory.  Don't forget to change the namespace drop down if you're using your character as a reference.

The Hands

So here we are at the hands.  The only special thing about the hands is the way you can specify joints in the UI.  You can select them in the order they're listed in the Hands tab, click "Hand Quick Select", and they'll be selected in the UI.

Also, all but the "Hand Ctrl", "Thumb", and "Index" fields are optional.

Version 1.7 introduces a few new hand attributes.  MasterSpread spreads all of the fingers based on the individual finger values located on the Spine/Split control (under the Left and Right Spread attributes).  MidCurlAmt and tipCurlAmt determine how much the masterFist and fingerCurl values will rotate the mid and tip joints relative to the baseJoint.

Fix Those Ugly Wires

If you want to change any of the wire controls (which you probably do), you'll want to use abWireReplace, which can be found under the tools menu.  With it you can select a control curve and double click your desired curve type in the scroll list (or click "Replace Selected") to replace it.  The radio buttons below determine the axis that the newly created curve will face.

Use "Copy From To" to replace a curve with your own.  Position your curve exactly where you want it, select it, select the control curve you want to replace and then click the button.

"Mirror Selected" will mirror the selected curve to any curves that lie on the mirror side of the xy plane.  Select the curve you want to mirror and click the button.

The "Wire Scale" floatField has been added as of version 1.7.  This value determines the default size of replaced controls.  If a curve shape is highlighted in the UI, control-LMB, MMB, or RMB dragging over the field will interactively scale the selected curve.

Easy Space Switching

All of the controls that support space switching (including the spine and head curves with the "useRootSpace" attribute) can be used with Tools > Space Switch Matcher.

To use it, just select the curves with positions that you wish to copy and press "Copy Position" in the tool UI.  Now move to a frame before or after a space switch on those same curves and click the "Paste Position" button.  The curves will snap to the same position they occupied on the copied frame.

Remove and Update the Rig

As of version 1.6 I've included a tool to easily remove parts or all of the rig.  It will only work on rigs made with version 1.6 of the script or greater.  Rigs made with earlier versions won't be recognized.  Sorry, you'll have to strip them manually and re-rig.  Also, be aware that the script won't open unless it finds at least one rigged (by 1.6 or greater) character.

To begin click Tools > Rig Remover in the main UI.  You'll be greeted with the abRigRemover window.  Select the rig you wish to modify from the option menu.  Next, hilite in the textScrollList any and all parts of the rig that you wish to remove from the skeleton.  Click "Remove Selected" and it shall be done.

If you're updating the rig and you've modified your character's control curves, you'll probably want to save them before deleting the rig.  Select the character's rootCtrl and click Tools > Save Wires To Shelf.  A new button with your character's name should appear on the current shelf.  Once you've updated the rig, your curves can be restored by selecting the rootCtrl and clicking the shelfButton.

Make a Stretchy Spline

As of version 1.8 of the script you can use the nimbly named abMakeStretchySpline tool to quickly make a stretchy spline rig from a curve.

To use it you first need to create a curve with knots placed where you want the FK controls.  Note that the control curves will taper from the beginning to end, based on the direction of the curve.

Once you've got your curve, click Tools > Stretchy Spline from Curve to open the script UI.  Select the curve you just made and click "Select Curve".  Once you've specified the number of joints you want in your spine and a unique naming prefix, you can click "Create Stretchy Spline".  And there you go.

Note that the root control has a few extra attributes compared to the others.  "Stretchy" enables and disables the stretching of the joints with the curve.  "Rig Scale" will scale the rig up and down.  And the "Squash Driver" and "Stretch Driver" attributes are intended to drive squash and stretch blendShapes, the manner in which those blendShapes are driven can be adjusted with the falloff and scalar attributes.

Release the Hounds

A few things on my to do list for this script are:

  • Add head scaling.
  • Include UI for attaching a proxy and controlling overall mesh visibility and resolution.

That's pretty much it, except for a few notes for the skimmers.

A Few Notes (for the skimmers)

Auto Rigging

The script will do strange things if your working units are in anything but centimeters.  You can switch back to your preferred working units once the rig has been created.

Be aware that autoFill (in version 1.6 and greater) fills mirrorable object fields (upArm, upLeg, the hand fields, etc.) with objects on the left side of the rig (+x) by default.

Currently the script doesn't create a standard reverse foot rig.  Instead of the toes pointing at the foot control when moved beyond the leg's maximum stretch, they'll stay in the position they are posed in.  I prefer it this way; others might not.

The leg rig doesn't undo correctly.  It can be undone, but you'll be left with some control curves and a toe rig joint (which ends up jumping into your skeleton hierarchy) that you'll have to delete manually.  Use the rig removal tool to delete it (unless you're dealing with a rig created with version 1.5 or below of the script, in which case you have to do it manually).

Heel locs should be properly aligned.  If not just rotate them until they are.

If you slide the IK/FK blend attribute on the legs and arms when the IK and FK limbs are in the same position, they'll rotate the long way around.  This shouldn't be a problem when animating.

If your skeleton has split joints and you want to change the x rotation of the hip or wrist, remember that you can adjust those values on the Spine/Split control (the octagonal wire next to the spine).  Keep in mind that the values for each category must add up to 1.

The "Char Name" attribute needs to match the character you're working on.  If it doesn't, some stuff will probably break (most notably, the rigRemover).

The shelf button created along with a rig (used to access the FK/IK snapping functions) won't work unless the script has been sourced first.  It also won't work if you rename your control curves.  In version 1.9 (only), it won't work if you move the rig_grp folder either.  It's easily fixed, though.  See the updates below.

Which reminds me, don't rename your control curves.  Actually, don't rename anything in the rig_grp.

Skeleton Maker

You can delete a proxy skeleton by deleting "skeleton_proxy_grpLoc".  All the associated nodes will be removed from the scene as well.

When building a skeleton, the first three joints of the leg (upLeg, knee, ankle) and arm (upArm, elbow, wrist) must lie in the same x and y planes respectively for the snap to pv function to work correctly.

The default skeleton is slightly misshapen and out of proportion.  If you come up with a more useful default skeleton, please send it to me.  I'd be more than happy to replace the current default.

Wire Replacer

Some of the curves created by the Wire Replacer are currently less than spectacular and maybe even slightly useless.  I'll fix them at some point.

The rig should be in the default position for the mirror curves function to work.

For Those New To This

Save your rigged character in its own file and reference it into your scene.  That way if you need to make changes to or update your rig your animation won't be lost (as long as your control curves names stay the same).

If you're using corrective blendShapes on your rig, make sure that they're not driven by your control curves.  It easier to update your rig that way.

More Learnin'

Thanks to Olivier Ladeuix for making these:

abAutorig Part I Pyro Tutorial
abAutorig Part II and III, Pyro Tutorial

On Vimeo:

Part I
Part II
Part IIIa
Part IIIb


Update/Bug Fix
June 7th, 2007 Heel locs axes, and therefore foot Ik control curves, are now properly aligned.
Update/Bug Fix
June 8th, 2007 Went back to my previous way of doing stretch on arms and legs that I think is more flexible.  FK stretch is no longer limited by the IK maxStretch attribute.  Exposed stretch amount on arms and legs.
Update/Bug Fix
August 1st, 2007 Split joints now work properly.  Master control can be rotated without any problems.  Added split joint rotation ratios to spineSplit ctrl (the visibility of which is now located on the root ctrl).
Update/Bug Fix
June 9th, 2007 Exposed stretch value for spine on cog ctrl.
Update/Bug Fix
June 15th, 2007 Fixed a problem with the arm and leg creation failing on 8.5 in osx.
Update/Bug Fix
June 14th, 2011 Shelf will be now enabled if off.  Adjusted UI sizes for 2011 and up.  Added "Mirror From To" to Wire Replace UI (select a source curve then a destination curve and click).
Update/Bug Fix
June 19th, 2007 FK to IK snap now fully implemented on legs.  Stretch value now displays the correct value when used on an arm or leg with split joints.
Update/Bug Fix
June 21st, 2007 Added optional ik fingers to hand rig.  Space switching on mirrored controls now works properly (leg and arm IK, hand).  PV controls will now follow their ik curves when their space is set as such.  Updated Fk to Ik snap to work when a character's rig group has been regrouped or moved in the scene hierarchy.  Fk/ik snap also now supports references via the namespace optionMenu and works with previously built characters.
Update/Bug Fix
August 1st, 2007 Split joints now work properly.  Master control can be rotated without any problems.  Added split joint rotation ratios to spineSplit ctrl (the visibility of which is now located on the root ctrl).  Fixed the way scale is determined so pv control wires will now mirror properly.  Added popup to select target object when wire mirroring encounters multiple mirror objects.
Update/Bug Fix
August 3rd, 2007 Made a small change to the way finger IK ctrls are scaled.
Update/Bug Fix
August 10th, 2007 Weight spine joints now rotate correctly with rootCon rotations.  Thanks to Josh Yoder for finding this.
Update/Bug Fix
September 27th, 2007 Under "Tools" menu added "Save Wires to Shelf" (with its own icon) and "Rig Remover", both of which should make for easier updates.  IK and PV controls are now aligned along the world axes.  Improved default rotation order on control curves.  Script will now attempt to repopulate UI fields (hidden and non) automatically, which, among other things, means that parts of the rig can be added after the UI has been closed and opened again without a problem.  Added scale slider and four new shapes (tweaked others) to abWireReplace UI.  Improved error handling (the script now checks for an existing rig upon creation).  Slight improvements to the default skeleton.  Killed a few bugs.
Update/Bug Fix
October 3rd, 2007 Fixed the hand IK rotation problem by adding "Align Hand IK to World Axes" checkbox to the Arm tab.  Leaving the checkbox blank will align the IK control to the wrist joint and allow it to rotate the hand.  Enabling it will freeze the control's transforms and lock and hide the rotation channels.  Modified default LRA alignment on arm, wrist and hand joints to make the IK control a bit more intuitive.  IK finger rig now blends properly between FK and IK.  Added curl attributes for each finger as well as midCurlAmt and tipCurlAmt, which determine how much the respective joints will rotate relative to the base joint when using masterFist and fingerCurl attributes.  Added masterSpread to hands and individual finger spreadAmount attributes to spineCtrlCrv to specify the amount each finger is affected by masterSpread.  Wire replacer should now work more reliably overall.  Adjusted the object centers of curves which should eliminate drifting when replacing wires.  Replaced wire scale slider with a float field, which can be control-LMB MMB or RMB dragged on to interactively scale the selected wire.  Creating wires along the -z axis now works as expected.  UI field auto fill is now more comprehensive (be aware that it fills mirrorable object fields (upArm, upLeg, the hand fields etc) with the left objects by default).  Added the ability to rig mirror limbs at the same time (The options menu finally has a child).  Lot's of other small stuff.
Update/Bug Fix
December 21st, 2007 Added ability to select hand joint rotation axes under Options > Hand Options.  Added "Stretchy Spline From Curve" to tools menu to make quick and dirty IK spline joint chains.  The knees once again stretch as they should (oops).  UI field auto fill now includes the number of split joints.
Update/Bug Fix
January 4th, 2008 Added individual up and low limb stretch attributes to legs and arms (works with limbStretch on foot and wrist controls).
Update/Bug Fix
January 10th, 2008 Added the ability to scale the stretchy spine.
Update/Bug Fix
February 8th, 2008 Less flipping when sliding IK/FK blend on leg and arm joints.  They'll still flip occassionally when the root ctrl has lots of rotations, but only when the IK and FK limbs are in matching positions and the ikFkBlend is between 0 and 1.
Update/Bug Fix
February 21st, 2008 Rig is now scaleable.  Added true IK to spine controls (enable "useRootSpace" attribute on the control curve).  Added translate control to the head, which can also be used in IK mode (enable "ikCtrlVis" on head ctrl to see the control).  Added utility to match ctrl positions across space switches ("Space Switch Matcher" in tools menu).  Added snapIKtoFK and hugely improved SnapFKtoIk (both can be found in the character shelf button).  Unfortunately, older snapFKtoIK buttons won't work anymore, which is not a huge problem because it wasn't really working that well anyway.  FK controls with align attribute now auto align with the root ctrl (<- this is awesome for those of us who love the align att).  Rig Remover will now work with multiple characters in a scene.  Improved stretchy splines (made with "makeStretchySpline") scaling.  Removed World space from space switch options as it was pointless.  Disabling all of the spaces does the same thing.  Fixed spine stretch value.
Update/Bug Fix
February 25th, 2008 Very small fix.  IK/FK snap button now works when rig_grp position has changed in the rig hierarchy (placed in a new group).

To fix a button made with 1.9, just copy the button command into a text editor and replace all instances of ">|" with ">" and all "&|" with "&".  Replace your current command (of the IK/FK snapping shelf button) with the modified version and you should be good to go.

Update/Bug Fix
April 22nd, 2008 Weight Spine joints are now created in the skeleton grp.  They aren't deleted when you remove the rig, so you don't have to reattach and weight them when you update the rig.  Added "Reset Character to Default Pose" (which can be also be called with "abRTResetCharPose(1)") and "Reset Selected Control Curves to Default" (call with "abRTResetCharPose(0)") to Tools menu.  Added ability to lock proxy controls to prevent troublesome translations and rotations.  Added a warning when building the skeleton about snap to PV not working under certain conditions.
Update/Bug Fix
April 23rd, 2008 The script now supports feet that have been rotated out of the YZ plane.  When building your skeleton, match the foot locators (ankle, ball, and toe) to your mesh by moving them in their local YZ planes (no X) and rotating the "lf_foot_grpLoc" in Y.  If you want to use an existing skeleton you'll have to orient the ankle and ball joints first.  To do so, select left and right ankle and ball joints and run "joint -e -orientJoint xyz -sao ydown;" in the command line.
Update/Bug Fix
April 28th, 2008 Skeletons on layers can now be rigged.  IK and FK joints won't be colored, though, so you're better off keeping it off of a layer until the rig has been created.  Added a spine_end group control to the proxy skeleton.
Update/Bug Fix
May 7th, 2008 The skeleton created by skeleton builder is now mirrored in behavior instead of orientation (except for the eyes and, optionally, the legs).  I had to update hand rigging (among other things) to accomodate the change, so I've added a new a menu item (Options > Hand Options > Reverse Right Curl) which should be enabled when rigging skeletons created with earlier (pre 2.0) versions of the script.  Added "Mirror Leg Behavior" menu item to the skeletonMaker UI (enabled by default).  Disable it to mirror the leg joints by orientation.  Changed the way "Align Hand IK to World Axes" works -- rotations are now allowed.
Update/Bug Fix
May 8th, 2008 The UI autofill feature was missing some important hidden fields which kept certain spaces (like handCtrl for finger IK controls) from being created.  Now that it's fixed, the finger IK curves travel with the hand as they should (they're constrained to handCtrl space by default).  I also added the option to skeletonMaker to specify the number of fingers on the proxy.  Note that if you recall a saved skeleton from a shelf button, it will respect the current finger num value if the skeletonMaker UI is open.  Neck and head joints are now aligned so their control curves rotate the same way as the spine curves.
Update/Bug Fix
May 9th, 2008 Proxies saved to the shelf now have local transforms preserved (including scale on the rootLoc).  Feet rotated out of Z should now rig correctly when there are Y rotations on the leg_grpLoc.
Update/Bug Fix
May 12th, 2008 Fixed a bug with weightSpineGrp that prevented multiple character spines from being created in the same scene.
Update/Bug Fix
May 13th, 2008 Added Joint Orient Rotation Tool to Tools menu.
Update/Bug Fix
May 16th, 2008 Improved skeletonBuilder's orientation of joints in legs and feet when the limb has been rotated in Z.
Update/Bug Fix
May 29th, 2008 Added tool to add weight joints to a skeleton (useful for the lower leg), Tools > Add Weight Joint Tool.  Removed snap to PV warning for legs (they work when rotated -- the arms still don't).
Update/Bug Fix
June 7th, 2008 Leg split joints now rotate properly when the knee is brought above the waist.
Update/Bug Fix
July 13th, 2008 Fixed rt_thumb_grpLoc default skeleton proxy positioning.
Update/Bug Fix
August 5th, 2008 Added djx's fix to GroupFreeze procs.  Character names must now be unique before a proxy can be skeletonized.
Update/Bug Fix
October 14th, 2008 Changed min value on armStretch and legStretch attributes to -9.9 (arms and legs can now stretch negatively).  Improved default finger joint LRA orientation.
Update/Bug Fix
October 16th, 2008 Added "Align Control Curves to Spine" button on the Spine tab.  If enabled the mid and high spine controls will align to their respective joints; otherwise they'll lie on the XZ plane (the previous default).
Update/Bug Fix
December 2nd, 2008 rt_thumb_a_loc is now properly parented in proxy (to rt_thumb_grpLoc).  Added "Quick Create Character Set" to tools menu.  Select a control curve on your rig and then run it.
Update/Bug Fix
December 22nd, 2008 Added "Change Rotation Order Tool" to tools menu.  With it you can change the rotation order of any selected control curves and maintain their orientation across one or many keyframes.
Update/Bug Fix
January 16th, 2009 Simplified the spine and made it much more robust.  Note that although the spineRot control curve no longer holds spine twist attributes, it's still used as an attribute holder for the arm, leg and hand setups.  So don't delete it.
Update/Bug Fix
January 23rd, 2009 Fixed an issue with IK/FK arm snapping.
Update/Bug Fix
February 9th, 2009 Soft selection is now disabled before creating a rig.  It can cause an issue on 2009 and up (thanks bm jo).
Update/Bug Fix
February 11th, 2009 Fixed issue with limbs flipping when sliding IK/FK Blend attribute values (finally!!).
Update/Bug Fix
February 20th, 2009 Big enhancements to the twist joint setup in this version.  There are now two types of split joints: inline, the previous type which are parented one to another, and branched, which are all parented to the up joint.  Use inline for upArm and upLeg joints (where twist is read from the upJnt) and branched for foreArm and knee split joints (where twist is read from downJnt).  The forearm and knee twist is read from an aim constraint, which avoids a lot of gimbal lock problems with the wrist.  The idea is Adam Mechtley's, not mine, so a huge thanks to him for sharing his knowledge.  You can find his videos regarding the aim constraint setup at his site, www.6ixsetstudios.com.

Other new stuff: the "Add Split Joint" tool to the Tools menu, "Refresh UI" to the Options menu, knee split joints, and the addition of COG space to the hand IK controls.  Also, the leg and arm hierarchies are now checked before rigging to make sure that the joints are zeroed out.

Note: If you have issues with a knee or elbow shifting slightly after it's rigged, check to make sure that the preferred angle on your joints is set to 0 0 0.

Update/Bug Fix
April 7th, 2009 Adjusted proxy skeleton finger joints so that they're now aligned with their parent grpLocs.
Update/Bug Fix
April 23rd, 2009 Arm IK/FK snap should now work with referenced characters.
Update/Bug Fix
April 29th, 2009 Added more softmod warnings.
Update/Bug Fix
May 26th, 2009 UpLeg and upLeg split joints now rotate as they should when the knee is brought above the waist (forgot to remove an old fix -- that's why this one reappeared).  Improved stretchy spline maker; control curves can now be parented to a root transform or to the curve below them in the hierarchy; spline IK now rotates properly in a rig setting; added the ability to select the spline's parent object in the UI (leave it empty and a new control curve will be created at the base of the curve).
Update/Bug Fix
July 30th, 2009 Added "Weight Joint Selector" to "Tools" Menu.  Use it to quickly select joints for weighting.  Hold the shift and control keys when clicking to add or subtract from the current selection.  Also added "Make abxPicker Character Sheet" which will create a character UI node for use with abxPicker.mel (http://www.highend3d.com/maya/downloads/mel_scripts/animation/4216.html).  Please, someone, make a better UI and send it to me -- I'll incorporate it into the script.
Update/Bug Fix
July 31st, 2009 Improved abxPicker UI.
Update/Bug Fix
September 1st, 2009 Fixed issues with non-mirroring pinky and ring cup joints.  Added "Make IK/FK Snap UI Shelf Button" to the "Tools" menu (create a snap IK/FK shelf button for existing characters) and "Auto Build IK/FK Snap UI Button" to "Options" (uncheck it if you get the error "Object Not Found: Toolbutton 1" on rigging arms or legs).
Update/Bug Fix
September 24th, 2009 Improved "Make IK/FK Snap UI Shelf Button".
Update/Bug Fix
December 9th, 2009 Fixed issue with "Make IK/FK Snap UI Shelf Button".
Update/Bug Fix
March 4th, 2010 Check Character names for and remove "lf" and "rt" strings (can cause issues).  Added popup menu to charName field to quickly select existing characters.  Fixed issue with mirrorObj function and objects with shared names.  Improved heelLoc positioning method (esp. when ball and toe don't share the same Y translation) and foot IK control positioning when there are rotations on the proxy skeleton's foot_grpLoc.
Version 3.11
March 16th, 2011 Added abRTWireReplaceUI fix for Maya 2011 from Highend user cutjules1 (thanks Julien!).
Version 3.2
June 14th, 2011 Shelf will be now enabled if off.  Adjusted UI sizes for 2011 and up.  Added "Mirror From To" to Wire Replace UI (select a source curve then a destination curve and click).
Version 3.3
June 23rd, 2011 Removed redundant function "abRTGetCtrlCrvs" (replaced instances with "abRTGetRigGrpCtrlCurves").  "Save Wires To Shelf" now works on rigs other than the just the original they were saved from.  Hold the Control key when clicking a wire restore shelf button to replace only the selected curves.

"abAutoRig" was posted on June 6th, 2007 under Mel Scripts.  It was created using Maya.  It is tagged with Autorig, Character and Rig.

This entry was last updated on June 23rd, 2011.

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Josh Yoder
July 19th, 2007 said:

Really like this auto rigger, but found something either wrong or I just haven't found how to fix:

You can't turn the rig around. In other words your character must always face in  +Z axis. When I try to rotate the root control in Y only about half the controls follow. This makes it just a little hard to animate interacting characters in the same scene :-)

July 19th, 2007 said:

Hey Josh,

The script assumes that when setting up a complete rig you move through the UI tabs left to right.  It sounds like you might have created the spine after rigging the legs and arms.   Which will work, but the resulting arm and leg rigs have no root control to which they can parent themselves.  Try running through the setup again starting with the spine tab, and see if that fixes the problem.

July 20th, 2007 said:

So the rig doesn't work unless it's facing Z+.  Kind of a big problem!  Until I can fix it, I'd advise not using the script.  I'll get to it as soon as possible (which might not be that soon).

August 1st, 2007 said:

A new and much improved version is now up.

Mr Chan
September 7th, 2007 said:

I am using this ... trying to use this on Maya 8.5 on OSX, creating everything seems to go smooth up until I try to rig the arms and legs, when I select the required joints and then proceed to click create arm or leg rig, the bones go all stretched and break.  This is an amazing script and I am really hoping to add this to my pipeline as it would save me HOURS. I hope you release a fixed version soon.

Thanks for all the hard work. Keep it up :)

September 7th, 2007 said:

Hey Mr. Chan,

You're the second person to report issues on 8.5 in OSX.  It seems to be working for PC users on 8.5, but not Mac users, and I'm not sure why.  Unforunately I don't have a Mac (or Maya 8.5) so it's difficult for me to track down the problem.  Is the script throwing any errors or warnings in the script editor?

Mr Chan
September 8th, 2007 said:

Hey Crumbly;

I got it working :) As far as I can tell.. I will continue to test to make sure, but here is the fix for all you MAC OSX Maya 8.5 users...

If you model in meters and then try to use Crumbly's script the arm and leg rigs will break... To fix this, model in meters like you normally would, then set you're units to centimeters, rig using Crumbly's awesome script and then set the units back to meters. Hide the nodes and you are good to go :)

I hope that helps everyone.


Mr Chan

September 8th, 2007 said:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Chan, for figuring that out.

October 9th, 2007 said:

wonderful!! Thanks a lot crumbly

October 17th, 2007 said:

Have you figured out how to implement global scaling yet? If you can tell us maybe how to set it up in the outliner that would be fantastic. Besides that this script is great, thank you very much for your efforts!

October 17th, 2007 said:

Hey Stephen,

Making the rig scalable and adding true IK on the spine are next on my to do list.  I think I've figured out how to scale the stretchy IK.  It's the weight spine joints that I've got to take a look at.  It might be a little while before I can get around to this, though.

October 18th, 2007 said:

thanks for this great scripts, I am on my way to shoot my first animation using this rig, hopes it maintane it`s performance.


October 25th, 2007 said:

Great Script!  Works wonderfully, except for one problem:  The knee targets get screwed up if there is a slight bend to the knee other than along the x.  To fit it to my model, I needed just a slight bend in the z also, and that completely threw off the targets.  Click on my name to be taken to the image on my website.  Thanks again.

October 27th, 2007 said:

Cant use component editor nor character sets though

October 29th, 2007 said:


You've encountered one of the script's limitations.  The leg and foot joints need to lie on the same YZ plane for the rig to work correctly.


I'm not sure what you mean.  I haven't had any issues using character sets or the component editor with the rigs.  There's no reason it shouldn't act like any other rig (which it is).

Can you expand on the problems you've encountered?

October 29th, 2007 said:

Does this work for maya 2008?

October 30th, 2007 said:

I've only tested it very briefly on 2008 and it worked fine.  I can't think of a reason why it shouldn't.

November 9th, 2007 said:

Have you used Advance Skeleton plugin for maya? Its on highend3d too. The one thing I like about that setup is that it has this feature for arms and legs that prevent IK poping called anti pop. Also it has another feature that enables you to keep the characters hips always centered between the legs which is super helpful for ofset walks.

Now I like this stuff, but the problem with this plugin is that keying in it seems harder like it gives you too many results and for some reason lags my maya program when using character sets but your plugin is great, plus your a great animator so you know what we need! If you could impliment just some of the small features tthat this Advance Rig has your auto rig would be perfect!

Wish Features a.) Anti Pop on IK b.) Hips center between legs c.) Squash and stretch for head.

and if you really want to get fancy maybe some kind of mouth control and brow control for face.

Thanks alot keep up good work.

Mr Chan
November 23rd, 2007 said:

Hey me again;

I must say I am really digging 1.7, a job well done man, thanks ever so much for this awesome script.  I just thought I would let everyone know, that it works PERFECT in Maya 2008 for OSX Leopard (10.5) Keep up the great work man..... thanks again.

December 8th, 2007 said:

Is there a way to scale the figures made with this rig tool?

December 11th, 2007 said:

Jonald:  Sorry I'm so late to reply, but thanks for the suggestions.  When I get some time I'll look at implementing at least a few of them.

Anti pop on IK sounds very useful.  I'll have to think about how that would be implemented.  Auto hip centering is often requested, but I've always resisted because it seems sort of gimmicky to me.  People seem to like it though, so what do I know.  It would be super simple to implement, so maybe I'll just add it as an option.  And a squash and stretch head is on my list.

Mr. Chan:  Thanks!  I'm glad to hear it's working on 2008.

George:  No, you can't currently scale the rigged characters.

Steven Zaharakis
December 12th, 2007 said:

There seems to be an issue with your SkeletonMaker portion of the autorig.  Ive noticed on every character I rig with it, the right side HAND of the proxy skeleton I position is way off.  Is this known?

December 13th, 2007 said:

No, that's not something that I've come across.  Does it do this with the standard (unmodified) skeleton?

December 19th, 2007 said:

That never happened to me...Hmm perhaps its the version of maya your using

January 14th, 2008 said:

What a great time saver!  Thanks so much for writing this script!  I'm using it right now for a school project and it appears to be working great thus far.  I took apart some of the stuff that was built for the spine and put in my own stuff.  I'm also going to modify the head.

I'm having two issues thus far.  First, there's no IK further down the foot to lock it from passing through the floor.  I was going to implement the way of preventing this with an ik handle at the toe but came into a bit of a problem there.

There seems to be a separate joint chain called AnkleBallReader, which it where i think your getting the driven keys for the foot rotations.  Will IK chains mess up those controls and is there an easier way to prevent the foot going through the floor?

January 14th, 2008 said:

Sorry...one more thing...what does the AnkleBallReader chain do down in the leg and why does it stick out to the side like that?  It frightens me....:(

January 14th, 2008 said:

Which directories should the downloaded files be placed into?  Anyone can answer this please...thanks.

January 14th, 2008 said:

Graham:  I sent you an email.  The ankleBallReader joints are used for FK/IK matching.  If you don't care about that you can delete them without further consequence.

NewGuy:  You can unzip the downloaded file into your Maya/versionNum/ directory, where versionNum is the actual version number of Maya that you're using.  The script will go into your scripts/ folder and the icons into prefs/icons/.

Mr. Man
January 17th, 2008 said:

Great rig script! I was wondering if you've encountered this: I built a proxy skeleton and then rotated lf_arm_grpLoc a few degrees on negative .rz, since my model has a relaxed t-pose. I built the skeleton, built the rig. I then slide the IKFK blend attribute for the right arm and there is a 360 flip on the arm. It doesn't happen to the left arm, so I'm guessing it is caused by the shortest interpolation method on the orient constraint and the mismatch between joint orientations on the fk and ik arms.

Mr. Man
January 17th, 2008 said:

Oh, sorry I just read your release notes, and see that his is a known issue for the legs. The left arm is the only one immune to the problem, and it's the only case where your IK and FK arms have matching joint orientations.

January 18th, 2008 said:

Thanks, Mr. Man, for pointing out the joint orientation issue.   I never thought to check that.  The new version (1.8.3) should fix the flipping.

January 21st, 2008 said:

This is an awesome script. It gives you a lot of control over your joint placement. Some auto set ups its hard to know exactly where the joints will be. The only issue I am having is when select items such as curves maya seems to slow down, the curve is not selected instantly. My character is pretty low res and the mesh(ref) + rig is the only thing in the scene. The only reason I ask is because this can really slow down the animation process. Is it my computer or do other people have the same issues. Is there a way to fix this.

Thanks for the scripts Crumbly, saves me a lot of time and frustration : )

January 21st, 2008 said:

Hey Seon,

Someone else mentioned the same problem but I can't think of any reason why the rig would interfere with selections.  It's all node based and it doesn't run any scriptJobs.

If you want to send me your file I'd be happy to test it on my computer.

January 21st, 2008 said:

Crumbly, thanks for the offer but I might have found the issue. Whenever I built the skeleton and rig I left the abAutoRig UI open. Not even realizing that the UI was still open I began to test animate and maya was really lagging . But once I restarted maya and open the rigged file everything seemed to be fine. Does that make sense? Anyway again this is a amazing piece of work you created...

PS: I should be starting Animation Mentor in the spring, this should define come in handy in the short film section.

January 22nd, 2008 said:

dear sir ~

is it supported quaddruped ?

January 23rd, 2008 said:

Sorry, but no, it can't create quadrupedal rigs.

Meysam Abotaleb
February 14th, 2008 said:

Hi Thanx Man I Have a Question Form You Can You Make Use Both ik and fk together this mean : move with fk and switch to ik and fk dont change to Zero or inactive

February 14th, 2008 said:

For the arms and legs, yes, the IK/FK blend can be between 0 and 1.

Meysam Abotaleb
February 15th, 2008 said:

this control is in abAutorig 1.8.3 or not if  yes please say me how? if not can you tell me when can you put this control in your script because i love your rig can you put control similar to maya FBIK ? please put control to enable or disable spine stretch Please replay all my question

Meysam Abotaleb
February 15th, 2008 said:

you and your script is #1 Crumbly please put FBIK in your Script i work with your script in our studio if upgrade to upper post your script we dont need anything thanx man

February 21st, 2008 said:

Hey Meysam,

Thanks, I'm glad you like the script.

As for the FBIK, I have to say I'm not a huge fan.  Odds are that you probably won't see it in the rig anytime soon, but who knows.

February 23rd, 2008 said:

First off with the compliments on a great rigging tool. I love the control.  I built a rig with 1.8.2 and am animating away.  Now for the query: This happens elsewhere, but I'll use this as an example - When animating the elbow_pv_crtl, I set a key (+w) and keep going.  Then I realize that I want to delete the key, so down to the timeline, shift-click the key and RMB-delete.  All is good and away we go.  I save the scene and reopen it and lo-and-behold, geometry is gone, the skeleton is destroyed and I need to step back a version to where everything was okay.  This seems to also happen if I accidentally key the translation on the hand_ctrl or the rotation on the arm_ik_ctrl.

When the scene is opened, the Script Editor outputs a slew of errors regarding the setAttr, createNode plusMinusAverage, and connectAttr.

Any thoughts, besides paying more attention when animating ;-) ? Oh, and I am running Maya 2008...

Thanks, Chupacabras

February 23rd, 2008 said:

Hey Chupacabras,

That's weird,  I don't know why that would be happening.  If you want to send me the output of the Script Editor, I'll take a look at it.

Is the character that you're animating a reference?

February 24th, 2008 said:

Awesome script, thx thx thx a thousand thx.

Here goes my problem, when the shelf button for ik/fk switching appears, if i click it it shows me the menu for switchinig, but when i use the buttons for example for the left arm, nothing happens. Is it the same if I use the hand control atribute "fk/ik blend"? The script is sourced

Another doubt that i have is that you said that when binding the skin we have to use the newly created spine joints. I guess that i have to use the "selected joints" option when binding and skip the old spine joints?

February 25th, 2008 said:

Hey Wikanimator,

Matching is different than adjusting the FK/IK blend.  Try this:

  • Pick a limb and move and rotate the IK control away from its default position.
  • Enable the FK and IK vis attributes on the limb control, and set the FK/IK blend to .5.
  • Open up the character UI (shelf button) and click one of the snap buttons for the limb.

It should snap the IK or FK limb to the other.  If that doesn't work, let me know.

As for the skin binding, yes, you want to use selected joints and skip the spine_low, spine_mid, and spine_hi joints.  You do want to include the spine_end and hip joints, though.

John B
February 25th, 2008 said:

What's up Crumbly, awesome tool you've made here.  I am having a little difficulty in the setup and maybe you can help.  When I rig the skeleton the knees and elbows pop way out of place.  If I turn off the IK in the IKBlend attributes they go back to the right position, but of course only allowing FK animation.  Here's a screenshot, any ideas?

-To see the image go to photobucket and search for my album, bungalicious.  It should be the first image you see.  Damn spammers ruining comment sections...

February 25th, 2008 said:

Hey John,

I've never seen that happen.  Could you save your proxy skeleton to a shelf button and send it to me (the button command)?  I'll see if I can recreate it.

February 25th, 2008 said:


One more question for you.  Are your working units set to centimeters?  The script currently doesn't work with other units.

John B
February 25th, 2008 said:

I actually have my units set to inches.  I'll switch it over and try it, and if that doesn't work I'll send the button command.  Thanks for the help.

John B
February 25th, 2008 said:

Switching my working units from inches to cm did the trick.  Thanks again!

just say it


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