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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February 26th, 2008 said:

Maestro Crumbly, Chupacabras here, I think I found the issue that I was having.  I checked out the Script Editor and saw that on the lines that it failed on while loading my Maya Ascii file, it showed a symbol at the end of the line that looked quite like the Euro symbol (money).  I saved in Maya Binary instead and all is well so far.  Hmmmm.  And I always trusted Maya Ascii...


February 26th, 2008 said:

Weird.  I thought .ma was solid.

March 5th, 2008 said:

Incredible! Simply the best auto rigger ever!  Im animating faster than ever with this!

March 6th, 2008 said:

Does anyone know if abAutoRig will work with Maya 7? Or if there's an older version that will work with Maya 7? Thanks!

March 7th, 2008 said:

Hey John,

I started writing it on Maya 8 and haven't tested it with anything earlier.  I can't think of a reason why it wouldn't work, though, and you won't hurt anything by trying, so I say give it a go and see what happens.

March 7th, 2008 said:

Hey Crumbly,

Thanks for the scoop! I'll probably give it a try on Maya 7 this weekend ... I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks! John

Fazil Ahmed
March 8th, 2008 said:

This Script is reallly Awesome  ......

March 9th, 2008 said:

Is there away to switch from IK to forward K? If so how?

March 10th, 2008 said:

You switch between IK and FK using the FK/IK blend attribute located on the foot control (the square under the foot) and hand control (circle at the wrist).

March 12th, 2008 said:

Hey, I love this rig, it's great. I have a question with scaling. I can scale up, but when I scale down the geometry and rig separate. Is there a way to scale the rig smaller?

March 12th, 2008 said:

Hey Danielle,

Hmmm, that shouldn't  be happening.  Make sure that you don't have your geometry in either the rig or skeleton group.  Also check that the skin is weighted to the proper spine joints.

If that doesn't work, I'd try removing the entire rig (with the rigRemover).  Sometimes if you rerig over an existing character group some of the space switching constraints can cause double transformations.  Once the rig is removed check that the rigGrp has been deleted -- tt should have been, but if not you can just delete it yourself.  Then rerig the skeleton and it should scale properly.

If none of that works, let me know and I'll investigate further.

March 14th, 2008 said:

Hey Crumbly,

I tried your autoRigging script in Maya 7 and it looks like it works well!

By the way, if I want 4 fingers instead of 5, do I just delete the pinky?

And what's the licensing restrictions for your autoRigger ... Can I use this on freelance work?  :-) We have our own autoRigging systems at work, but if I ever start my international animation and film production studio and theme park, can I use this autoRigger for that too?  ;-)

Thanks so much for a great autoRigger!!!

Thanks! John

March 17th, 2008 said:

Hey John,

The only fingers that the script requires are the thumb and index finger.  The rest can be deleted as you want.  So, if you have four fingers (including the thumb) and want the outer two to have cup joints, you can delete the middle finger.

As for licensing restrictions, there are none.  Go forth and use it to make cool stuff.

(free passes to international theme parks always appreciated...)

March 19th, 2008 said:


March 24th, 2008 said:

Hey Crumbly,

I'm a noob with Maya but doing well learning the software the last 6 months.  I would love to try out your incredible rigging utility, but I can't seem to get the mel script sourced.  I'm using Maya2008 on a mac with OS X 10.5.2.  I've copied the files to the appropriate directories.  Since I'm new to mel, could you pleas tell me how to properly source the scripts?

I'm doing something wrong because when I type: source abAutoRig.mel;abAutoRig;

I get the error:

// Error: Cannot find file "abAutoRig.mel" for source statement. //

Thank you for any help.


March 24th, 2008 said:

Never mind - got it to work - had to restart Maya!  Doh!

So far looks amazing!!

Thanks for a great looking tool!

March 28th, 2008 said:

I'm having some issues during walk cycle tests where the 'knee pv' continues to flip when the leg extends back. I've turned on Hip ctrl and Leg IK ctrl within the 'knee pv' and its still funky. Any suggestions?

March 28th, 2008 said:

Just found this on Highend3d and BLAMO... Great work! Being an animator, rigging has always been a nightmare. Thanks for making Maya simpler. The AutoRig presets are everything I could ask for (and MORE!). Before finding this AutoRig, I had given up on the idea of having a stretchy rig. Bravo on the foot cog ctrl and cog root ctrl.

I'm confused of how to use the spine shaper and 'use root space'. (Octongal spine controller: all values add up to one? confused.) Would you mind explaining these bits? I've RTFM and I need a little more explanation.

March 28th, 2008 said:

Hey Isosceles,

The spineSplitRot control is there to make certain user adjustable attributes more accessible.  It can contain any of the following attributes, depending on the rig that that you build:

  • Spine joint rotation:  You'll have a header attribute (like "Spine_B") and four values( e.g. Spine_b_Hip, Spine_b_Low, Spine_b_Mid, and Spine_b_High) for each weight spine joint.  The X rotation of the weight spine joint is calculated by multiplying those four attributes by the rotation of their respective spine controllers (the rotation of which is indicated by the first four attribute values on the spineSplitRot control).  These values need to add up to one.  If they don't, your weight spine joints will rotate either too much or too little with respect to the rotation of your spine control curves.

  • UpLeg, upArm, and foreArm split joint rotation: Here you can set the proportion of up or fore limb X rotation shared by each split joint.  Again, these have to add up to zero or the limb rotation will be a multiple of what it should be.

  • Finger Spread:  These attributes determine the direction (positive or negative value) and amount of the spread attribute (on the hand control) inherited by each finger.

As for the useRootSpace attribute on the spine controls (except the spine shaper), it unparents the control from the curve below and puts it into the root control's space.  With useRootSpace set to one, the control will act like a true IK control and not be affected by the translation and rotation of a parent spine curve.

March 31st, 2008 said:

Thanks for everything. I've learned alot here. My animations:



curve-ball side-note: The following comment was helpful, yet you might want to add that rotating the legs of the proxy skeleton ruins the foot roll and knee pv controller (legs flip in nasty strange ways). This was my only problem with the rig, and I thought I'd share!

"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."

April 1st, 2008 said:

Yeah, I'm not sure why the elbow and knee snap to pv is so finicky about the joints being in the same xy and yz planes, but it is.

If you really want the snap to pv feature (and you have  Maya 2008), you could create the rig in the default t-pose, rotate the limbs to accommodate your character (using the FK controls -- make sure that you also match the IK to the FK), and then skin your mesh to the skeleton.

April 11th, 2008 said:

hey, great rig, I'm going to use it on a small production althought I changed couple things that are annoying.You might want to think about it also, but it's no big deal and can easealy be changed.

First I changed the way the finger are control, I much rather have a controller with each finger that expose it's attribute, having all attr exposed in one controller is not very fast to use. I'm not a big fan of the way you spine works althought it's good enough I think I might change it to the way I'm used too, but I ddn't because I thought it might break the rest appart.

I have one question, I need a way to rotate the controller of the feet so it's orientation match the one of my feet , right now I din't find a way to have it's local axis match the orientation of the foot unless the foot are pointing  straight in the z axis. How can I rotate it without rotating the entire foot, and so aligning its rotation to the one of the foot.

thanks, it's ta great rig nontheless..

April 22nd, 2008 said:

Hey Matt,

Thanks, I'm glad you like the rig.  I thought about implementing individual control curves for each finger, but personally I prefer having all of those attributes on one curves, so that's what I put in the script.  Happy to hear it wasn't a big deal to change.

As for the foot orientation issue, that's a current limitation of the script.  The feet have to be rigged pointing straight in the z axis.

I'll take a look at it and see if I can make that bit of the script a little more flexible.

April 23rd, 2008 said:

I've updated the script (1.9.4) to support feet that have been rotated out of the YZ plane.  Let me know if it gives you any problems.

April 26th, 2008 said:

Hi Crumbly, I really appreciate your rig creator, however, I am recieving an error when I'm trying to create the leg and the arms for my model. "Error: The attribute 'MODELNAME_lf_upLeg_fk_jnt.overrideColor' is locked or connected and cannot be modified. //" The weird thing is that this only happens every now and then, it seems more frequent when I have scaled the Proxy skeleton down and tried to match it up with my model. I'm using Maya 7.0 btw.

April 28th, 2008 said:

Hey Andy,

Is your skeleton on a layer?  I can't think of another reason why overrideColor would be unsettable.  If so, I'd recommend waiting until you've finished creating the rig to put it on a layer.

I'll upload a new version of script (1.9.5) that plays nice with locked overrides (you'll lose some of the color coding on the rig, though).

April 28th, 2008 said:

Hi Crumbly,

Yes, it was because I had put the skeleton in a layer before I finished it. I emptied the layer and everything works fine now. Thanks alot!

Meysam Abotaleb
May 4th, 2008 said:

Hi again Crumbly

This rig similar to Animationmentor Rig ?

May 4th, 2008 said:

Hi Crumply, Nice script. There is one little thing. When I reorient the feet of the proxy skeleton the rotation axis of the joints got messed up. So when I use foot roll the feet rotates around the wrong axis.  I have to reorient the rot axis of the joints (+X aim, +Y up).

Keep on scripting, kind Regards, Paul

May 5th, 2008 said:

Meysam:  It's similar to the AM rig in some ways (attributes on the foot and hand controls, snap to PV, etc) but in others it's very different (the spine, stretchiness, etc).  It's a mix of features I've seen on other rigs and my own ideas.

Paul:  The latest version of the script (1.9.5) should remedy this issue (rotating the feet wasn't supported in previous versions).  Make sure that you're adding the Y rotations using the lf_foot_grpLoc (the red sphere control at the ankle) and not by moving the ball and toe locs in X.  Enabling "Lock Proxy Control Axes" (which is enabled by default) should keep this problem from occurring.

BTW, I have yet to update the docs regarding this and a couple of other new features.

If you're already using 1.9.5 and you're still running into this problem you can click "Save Proxy to Shelf" once you've finished building your troublesome proxy skeleton and send me the contents of the shelf button (MMB drag it into your script editor).

May 6th, 2008 said:

Hi. Great tool. I have one thing though. Maybe I just havent found it yet. But if you select BOTH eg. clavicles controls, then the up down rotation is fine (rotate Z) but the Rotate Y is not behaving the way I want. They should both rotate forward. The same goes for the rest of the arm controls (fk and ik)... Have I overlooked something or could you add an orient function ? I could just delete the left arm on the skeleton and then use the standard Maya mirror joint function (Behavior) with search replace ("rt_" / "lf_" ), and run the rig setup. Then it seems to work. But would be great if your tool could handle it.

Thanks again.

May 6th, 2008 said:

Hey Tom,

You're right, the skeleton wasn't being mirrored properly.  The new version of the script (2.0) should work as expected.  I've updated the hand rigging to deal with the new joint orientations (enable Options > Hand Options > Reverse Right Curl to rig pre-2.0 skeletons).

Thanks for the suggestion.

Mr. Man
May 6th, 2008 said:

I love the new mirroring, thanks! Two thoughts: Your stretchy limbs rely on arm joint .tx values, so they have been broken by the new orientations (negative .tx values). Maybe you could read some locators that have positive local orientations instead? I think the way your elbow and knee snap works may need some tweaking for the right side. Also, it would be nice to offer an option on leg orientation during the skeleton build process, behavioral vs. orientation. I think all animators like arms the new way you've done them, but the legs can vary.

May 6th, 2008 said:

Oops, I totally forgot to test the right side stretch.  Thanks for pointing that out.  Fortunately, it shouldn't be too difficult to fix (and it goes hand in hand with PV snap).  As for the leg mirroring, I'm happy to make it an option if I can make the stretch more robust (which I'm pretty sure I can).

I've taken down v2.0 for now.

May 7th, 2008 said:

Hi Again.

I found another thing also regarding the orientation of the controls. It seems that the neck and the head ctrls are differently oriented than eg the spine. Would be nice to have them the same? Looking forward to v2.0


May 7th, 2008 said:

Ok, 2.0 is back.

Stretch and PV snap should now work regardless of whether the rig has been mirrored with behavior or orientation.  I've also added the option (in the skeletonMaker Options menu) to choose the way the legs are mirrored (default is behavior).

The default head and neck orientation haven't changed in this version.  I'll try to get to it in the next update.

Mr. Man
May 7th, 2008 said:

Awesome! I'll check it out.

May 7th, 2008 said:

Hey Crumbly,

Im really new with rigging, so if this might be a way basic question.  Im trying to st up the leg and arm rigs, and when i hit create rig, maya says someting about mutiplte mirror object, and then the knees move forward and when i set up the arms the elbows go backwards, what am i doing wrong and how can i fix this?

Mr. Man
May 7th, 2008 said:

Looks to work very nicely, thanks for the quick turnaround. I have one request for the arm behavior -- it would be nice if the arm IK could be aligned with the world, yet still control the rotation of the FK hand control. Even better, would be aligned with the arm, yet still maintain positive Y for "up" on the right hand, and positive Z for "forward on the right hand.

May 7th, 2008 said:

Mr. Man:  Awesome, thanks for pointing that out.  I (once again) completely missed the fact that the IK control axes got bjorked when I changed the mirror type.  As of 2.0.1 the arm IK ctrls should be aligned properly regardless of the way the the skeleton is mirrored.  I've also updated the way "Align Hand IK to World Axes" works (it now allows rotations).

And thanks for all the feedback, I really appreciate it.  Things are so much easier to fix when you actually know that they are broken.

Jose:  Did you rename any of the joints on the skeleton (or change their left/right prefixes) before you tried to rig it?  The script currently only supports the default naming system (and "lf" /"rt" prefixes) when creating the rig.  If it can't find a mirror object for a given transform or joint, it asks the user to specify one.  It sounds like that's what happened to you.

Meysam Abotaleb
May 8th, 2008 said:

Hi Crumbly I think IK finger have a problem When switch to ik in fingers  , IK finger Controller go back to 'T' pose ( Default pose ) IK fingers must translate or rotate with hand ;)

May 8th, 2008 said:

Hey Meysam,

Thanks, you're right.  I've fixed it in 2.0.2.  There were a few hidden fields that weren't being updated properly and so the default space for the finger IK controls wasn't being created.

I've also changed the default orientation of the neck and head joints so their control curves will now rotate as the spine curves do (as suggested by Tom), and added the ability to specify the number of fingers on the proxy (in the skeletonMaker UI).

May 8th, 2008 said:

Hi crumbly,

First, I want to thank you for that awesome work!

I've got a question about the thumb orientation. In what axis the thumb parts are suppose to turn? In my case, after several searching, I always have inverse orientation joint; thumb_a has Z up and inverse rotation; Thumb_b and Thumb_c have Z bottom and seem to rotate in right way. So where is the truth?...

Mr. Man
May 8th, 2008 said:

Bravo! It looks great. I have a question about how you store the proxy skeleton placement to the shelf button. It seems that after getting the stored proxy position by clicking the shelf button, all object transforms are zeroed. This makes it difficult to tweak things on their object axis later. For example, if I rotate the lf_foot_grpLoc to turn the feet out, I can slide the lf_ball_loc along the "foot axis" very easily using translateZ. After restoring a proxy pose from the shelf, the lf_ball_loc is world oriented. Could you alter the script to store the exact values without freezing transforms?

May 9th, 2008 said:

gzavye: Thumb_a should have the same orientation as Thumb_b and c -- they should all rotate the same way.  The left thumb joints should all curl inward as you increase their Z rotation and spread outward as you increase ry.

Mr. Man:  That's a good point regarding the stored proxy, and something I hadn't even thought about.  Another issue with the way proxies are saved is that the feet won't be set up correctly on recalled proxies if the ankles have been rotated in Y.    I'll fix this in the next update.

May 9th, 2008 said:

The inversion may happen when I rotate the proxies in many - and perhaps strange - directions and it causes local axis up side down...

Observation about proxy skeleton in shelf; In my scene I had to scale down the proxy to 0.2. And when I draw a new proxy from the shelf, scale for global skeleton is good but each proxy has his original scale (1) . Finally I see a messy proxy pack (I hope that's clear because I'm afraid that i'm writting with a bad frenchy english :| Do you think it will be possible to fix this little issue?

May 9th, 2008 said:

Hey Guys,

I've just posted version 2.1 which should address all of your saved proxy issues.  Saves made with earlier versions of the script will still work, but they'll be restored the way they always have.  New saves will restore with object transforms preserved (including the rootLoc scale).

Mr. Man
May 9th, 2008 said:

Crumbly for president.

May 9th, 2008 said:

i havent changed anything, is there anything that i have to do before setting up the rig, because i try setting up jsut a basic skeleton (no geomtry) to see if i can fix this probelm but still no luck the exact message from maya  is:

Mutltiple Miror Objects Select the mirror object of Alex_rt_knee_jnt

(my options) Alex_lf_knee_fk_jnt     Alex_lf_knee_ref_jnt Cancel

i hope that this clarifies my problem a bit better

May 10th, 2008 said:

Hi crumbly,

I've just tested version 2.1 and I always have my scale issue on proxies; but I think it's just a minor one

But I have an other problem; and this one is a big one for me; Each time I rig the leg on my character, the foot roll doesn't work. I tested on other characters and on my current with a bigger size, and I didn't reproduce that issue...I lost 2 days on that and I have no more solution. OK my character is a little bit special (very little legs), but I was thinking that it was possible to rig that guy.

If you're agree I can send you my model to check what happen.

just say it


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