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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October 14th, 2008 said:

Hey Tom,

Yeah, the spine curves stay in the XZ plane.  If you want to adjust one all you have to do is select all the vertices of a given curve and then move, rotate and scale it into the position you want.

I've uploaded a new version of the script that should take care of the finger issue you describe (I changed the default orientation for the finger joints).

October 15th, 2008 said:

Thanks for the quick reply. Regarding the spine, it seems that the axes orientation of the controllers, are in world XZ also (besides the curves) . It would be really nice, if the axes themself, could orient after the spine/body.

October 16th, 2008 said:

Hey Tom,

Ok, now I get it.

I've just updated the script (again) with a  new version (2.4) that has a checkbox on the Spine tab labeled "Align Control Curves to Spine".  Enable it to create the mid and high spine controls the way you describe them.

November 4th, 2008 said:

I cant go to bind pose!!! I select a control but error... select -r FKCurveBackA_M ; // Warning: Unable to determine character rigGrp. //

Now what do I do?

November 4th, 2008 said:

Try running the following bit of mel from your command line:

abRTQuickCharDefaultPose("charRig_grp", true);

Where charRig_grp is the name of your character rig folder (keep the quotes).

November 6th, 2008 said:

Crumbly you must be a saint. I've just read all the replies and most of them say Wow, but...Anyway, I can't wait to try it. Later.

November 12th, 2008 said:

I ran version 2.4 in Maya but the Create Skeleton Box box at the top says abAutoRig 2.11 and not 2.4.! The script editor says... abAutoRig.mel 2.4 brendan ross 04.14.2007

So why show version 2.11?


November 13th, 2008 said:

I'm having trouble trying to animate my model. Everything works the way it should. But when I set keys no animation happens. Any good suggestions?

November 16th, 2008 said:

Hello Crumbly Congratulation amazing script im currentli using for first time and get great results

But i have a problem with the hands, I get a wrong axis i tried remove the hand rig reoriented joints and little fix also with the option/hand options in every option of curl and spread but none of then get the right results and i check every finger key in the attr in channel box and when i do the rig the middle_ doesnt work or its not connected and the index_ takes the attributes of the thumb also thumb doesnt work

at the begining in the proxy skeleton a turned almost 270 degrees the thumb to match my model it was ok? or its the main reason of misfunction

Thank you and keep on excelent

November 17th, 2008 said:

stezza:  You've got the 2.4 version.  It just sounds like you copied the new version of the script over the old while Maya was running.  The next time you start up Maya the menu bar title should read correctly.

hohepa:  I don't know why that would be happening.  Selecting control curves and shift+W and shift+E isn't setting keys either?

Antonio:  I think I have to see it to know what's going on.  Did you happen to save your skeleton to a button?  If so, you can send me the contents of that shelf button and I'll take a look at it.

November 30th, 2008 said:

GREAT script crumbly. I've just downloaded your script and tried to run it. everything goes good until i get to the leg and arm controls. for some reason it ONLY makes the controls for the left side and it gives me this error:

// Error: Object not found: toolButton1.

I have tried many times but it won't mirror the controls. am i doing something wrong?


November 30th, 2008 said:

Hey jackson,

I don't know why that would be happening.  Does it fail when you create and use the script's default skeleton without changing anything?  And you're using a recent version of Maya?

If it still fails, feel free to send me the .ma of your skeleton and I'll be happy to take a look at it.

December 2nd, 2008 said:

Hello!   Why the lefthand is different from the righthand " rt_thumb_grpLoc" control three locator, but "lf_thumb_grpLoc" control four locator .When you move the "lf_thumb_grpLoc" it will be some problem. I don't know how why. Can you help me? this problem is appered in all version!   Thanks a lot!

December 2nd, 2008 said:

sorry! i forget this problem is appered in the proxy skeleton....

December 2nd, 2008 said:

Hey rain,

Thanks for pointing that out.  It shouldn't affect the finished skeleton (because the left side is mirrored to the right), but even so, I fixed it in the latest version (2.5).

December 2nd, 2008 said:

thinks for your reply ! You can get into the outliner and check the "rt_thumb_a_loc"! Waitting for your reply!   :)

December 3rd, 2008 said:

Perfect£¡ Think you  crumbly.

December 3rd, 2008 said:

Hello crumbly, first off GREAT RIG!!!, on the other hand, I have just downloaded version 2.5 and there seems to be a problem when setting up the arms, it states the following whenever I try to rig the ARM (everything else works fine although I haven´t got to the fingers yet) ......// Error: Number of direction flags do not match number of selected vertices. ... obviously, because of this error, the controls do not function properly...needless to say, the proper upArm joint is being selected before creating the rig ... Thanks in advance!!!

December 3rd, 2008 said:

Hey apf,

The script should have made a button on your current shelf called "Skel" when you created the skeleton.  If you send the contents of that button to me (you can middle mouse drag it into your script window) I'll take a look at it and see if I can't recreate it on this machine.

December 4th, 2008 said:


I checked your skeleton and I had no problem rigging the arms, or any other part of the rig, on this machine.  Which OS and version of Maya are you using?  That might have something to do with the issues that you're running into.

I'm still completely confounded by the error message that you describe.

December 5th, 2008 said:

Heyas crumbly, I am using VISTA 32BIT, Maya 2009.  And I just can´t really get past that error message :(

Kind Regards, APF

December 5th, 2008 said:

hey crumbly, don't know what the hell happened, but I reinstalled the script, re-downloaded it, and voila!  Maaaan, your script is @$%@ awesome!!!, thanks for your kind help!!!! Kind Regards, AP! : )

December 6th, 2008 said:

Cool!  I'm glad it works.

January 1st, 2009 said:

Hey man awesome stuff. I ran into a small problem. I'm running the MAC version of Maya 2008. when I run the scrpt I instantly get this error message:

// Error: The attribute 'skeleton_proxy_grpLocShape.overrideEnabled' is locked or connected and cannot be modified. //

any idea what that is?

January 2nd, 2009 said:

Hey jboogie,

I don't know why that would be happening when you run the script ("source abAutoRig.mel;abAutoRig;").  The skeleton proxy and overrides aren't dealt with at all in that path of execution.  If you have a node in the scene named "skeleton_proxy_grpLoc" try deleting it (and all of its children) and then run the script again.

January 8th, 2009 said:

Hey crumbly!  First of all, thanks for a great script!

I'm facing a problem on the arms.  When I switch from IK to FK, the arm rotates 360 and the binded skin obviously looks horrible.  In IK mode, the arm looks good, as it should be but in FK, rotate X goes bezerk.  Actually, the values don't change, the way it looks does.  Any idea why this would happen?  Thanks in advance

David Parle
January 11th, 2009 said:

Im a total novice to MAYA and i just want to play with a skeleton as in animate one, try some jumps and walks, as im considering doing a course in CGI. I have a 2D animation background. Im trying to build skeletons and its taking many attempts and ive been through a few tutorials already. Part of the process many will say but i dont think i want to be a rigger. id love to be able to just have a go playing with the different controls so i can see whats possible so imnot driving blind. Ive searched a lot online for a skeleton to work with with no success. Can anyone donate a file or point me in the direction of some resources.

January 13th, 2009 said:

Hey Aziz,

I've seen this happen when the IKFK blend is between 0 and 1 and the arms are in their default position.  But if it's happening when the arm is in full FK, that's something different.  If you want to send me your rig I can take a look at it (I won't share it).

January 13th, 2009 said:

Hey David,

Here are a couple of compilations of free rigs for Maya:



I haven't really used any of them, but I think a lot of people like Moom.

January 23rd, 2009 said:

Hey crumbly. I lost the file named "abrtikfksnapshelfbn" for .Can i get it back?

January 23rd, 2009 said:

Hey Rain,

Try this:

Download this file and open it in your text editor.  Replace all the occurrences of "charName" with your character's name.  Copy the modified text and paste it into the Maya script editor.  Make a button by selecting the text in the script editor and dragging it to your shelf.

Let me know if that doesn't work.

Also, I updated the script to 2.71 to fix a few issues with IK/FK arm snapping.  If you're having errors when trying to snap the arms with the UI try downloading this new version and see if it helps.

Dawid L.
February 3rd, 2009 said:

Hello Crumbly. I have read through but I haven't seen any answer for that. First - the rig is great and saved me a lot of time with my animation but... I have a problem with it now: When I use cog control to rotate the character in X rotation (to have him lean for example) the weightSpine Joints after certain point (about 80 percent of cog X rotation) joints are getting weird rotations resulting in the character's spinal part getting twisted....if it makes any sense. I can't get it to work ...help please

February 3rd, 2009 said:

Hey Dawid,

The latest version of the script (v. 2.71) has a new spine that addresses exactly that issue.  You'll have to rerig your skeleton, though.  If that's a problem let me know and I'll see if I can come up with some instructions to help you convert your existing spine to the new version.

Dawid L.
February 4th, 2009 said:

Thanks Crumbly for very quick reply :).  I don't fancy reriging because I have done some animation already. Nevertheless I came up with solution that doesn't require reriging. I have removed parenting (i think it was parented to the root) for the weightSpinejoints group and the weightSpineTargets GRP  and parented them to the cog. Seems to work well. Again thanks for the support!

February 5th, 2009 said:

Thanks Dawid!  I'll try your solution on a 2.7 rig and if it doesn't break anything I'll incorporate it into the script.

By the way, for others reading this, the 2.71 rig will create all the same controllers in the same positions with the same attributes (except for the spineSplitRot_ctrl which will have all the same atts except for the spine related stuff).  It should animate exactly the same as an earlier version of the rig would.

February 12th, 2009 said:

Wow, 2.8! Last one I uploaded was 2.2.5

Can't wait to see what new magic has been added.

Did I mention that I have trouble parenting the stretchy IKs created by the "stretchy IK from curve" script? The issue was that once parented they twist when the rig is rotated in any axis. It isn't really noticeable until you hit 90 degrees. I tried several parent options but none fixed the twist, although the skeleton and curves translated just fine.

When working it provides great tails, capes, or hair modifiers. I also put a long Santa cap on one of my characters over Christmas. Lots of fun.

February 13th, 2009 said:

Hey Josh,

Yeah, you did mention the stretchy IK issue.  You mentioned it and I forgot it.  Sorry about that.

When I put the feature in I never considered that people would want to attach it to their character rigs.   Not sure why it never crossed my mind, considering this is a rigging tool.  Oh well.  It's now next on my to do list, barring any unforeseen bugs.  I'll improve the twist and add the ability to switch between IK and FK on the controls.

February 14th, 2009 said:

Yeah, I think you mention that before. Out of curiosity why did you creat it? I can't really think of anything besides character extras except for wires or maybe a snake.

Speaking of character extras, it might be a great way to add an extra arm or two. Then again I could just build another rigged pair and attach it to the original rig. I'll have to try it!

February 16th, 2009 said:

Hi. Regarding the IK Ctrls on the feet. What determines the axes orientation? I have a very bow-legged character, (Unlocked the proxy control axes) but the left ik leg controller seems to be orientated in the same direction as the right. Should be mirrored? Dont know if Im doing something wrong? Maybe a new function, to get the IK Leg controllers axes, orientated in world space. (The same function as the arms)?

February 16th, 2009 said:

Josh:  I've got a bunch of ideas on how to improve and better implement the stretchy IK into the rig.  Hopefully I'll get some time soon to work it into the script.

And as for why I built it, it was to rig a bunch of non animated cartoony trees (of all things).

Tom:  The leg rig setup reads an offset value that's tucked into the skeleton's ankle joint on creation.  If you send me your skeleton (as an .ma if you're on 2009) or the contents of your skeleton shelf button I'll take a look at it and see if I can figure out what's going on.

February 18th, 2009 said:

Thanks for the reply. But I think I found a way. It all started when I noticed that the axes on the fk leg crls, not where aligned correctly (probably because of the unlocked proxy control axes?), so I manually rotated them on one leg. Then mirrored the legs joints (with behavior, and remembered the naming convention off course). Then the fk controls were fine, but the heel ik ctrls axes were weird. Then at a point, I found out to use the old heel_locators ("abRTDeleteMeWhenDone") with the new joints. And so far it works. Correct me if I'm wrong, the heel locators determines the axes orientation on the ik heel ctrls ? Don't know if I missed some things, because I did a lot of things. But bottom line, it works for now (hope it continues ;). Thanks again for the reply

February 18th, 2009 said:

Yeah, the heel locs in concert with the hidden createRot attribute on the upLeg and ankle joints determine the orientation of the IK controls.  I guess I hadn't thought about it, but you do need to make sure that heel locs are aligned with the ankle joint.

I'll lock off the rotation on the locs just to make that more obvious.

February 24th, 2009 said:

Dumb question, but how do you install it? I'm using it for an animation class that requires us to rig our models in any method we want, including auto riggers to save time. Sorry for the remedial question, I couldn't seem to get it working.  Kept getting #Error [invalid syntax. [ 2, 16, source abAutoRig.mel;abAutoRig;\n]

I'd really love to try it since I've heard great things and been compared to Setup Machine. Thanks.

February 24th, 2009 said:


Sounds like you're trying to enter the command into a python script tab or command line.  Make sure you're entering it into the mel tab of the Script Editor or a mel command line.

March 2nd, 2009 said:

Ooo, new version! Good thing I checked before rigging the character I just made. ;-)

Actually I stopped by to let you know that as of version 2.8 the UI window still says it is version 2.25. I'm pretty sure I installed in correctly (even deleted the old one to be sure). You probably just forgot to change the title line in the window creation script.

March 3rd, 2009 said:

It's working in 2.9 for me.. Let me know if it's still showing 2.25 in the latest version.

I haven't updated the instructions on this page for 2.9, yet (just the changelog), but make sure that with the new version of the rig you don't weight your mesh to the wrist joint.  It won't break anything if you do, but the wrist doesn't twist at all -- the hand does the twisting.

March 9th, 2009 said:

Hi, i think this autorig is quite nice, the only thing i would say , need some tweaks here and there, and need a small fix for the spine... I really like the fact that i could hold the ctrl in place like a "real IK ", the problem is that on top of it, you still need a Master Spine ctrl that moves all the spine ctrls around, because , now you dont have a control to move the character forward. im rigging a quadruped with your autorig, but i have to modify it by hand to fit my requests, (ehh im struggling a little with all those constraint!!), but still, i defenetly prefear it to TSM ,you did a really nice job. If you accept critiques about it, or comments on what i would like to add/modify, it, please contact me, i would love to help on improveing it .

nice work again.


ps. When did u do AM ?I kind remember your spider animation..m...mm..

March 16th, 2009 said:

Hey Alfo_O,

Sorry for the late reply, but I've been away from my computer for a bit.

I see what you're saying about having a Master Spine control, and it would be easy enough to add.  What if the IK spine controls were parented to the COG instead of the masterCtrl?  Would that work?

As for critiques and comments, yeah, I'm always happy to hear them.  At this point, that's where most of the additions to the rig are coming from.  As long as the suggestions keep with the ethos of the rig (streamlined, animator oriented, easily removable, customizable, etc) and I have the time to add them, I'll consider it.

I finished AM about a year and a half ago.  Did you attend?

March 18th, 2009 said:

Hi Crumbly :), i sent you an email.

I was in AM nearly the same time you where there :).ehh

March 22nd, 2009 said:

Hi, i just have discovered another issue . when the legs have some kind of orientation that is not a standard almost parallel position, i find out that the Foot IK ctrl , is oriented wrong,most of the time has rotation issue, and even the translation axis are going crazy, the same is for the FKHandCtrl curve, is rotated in a random axis, there is any way to fix this? any chance to have the aling ik foot to the world axis ,as for the arms ik? For now im fixing this by creating a new ctrl oriented where i need it to be, and transfer the attributes from the old one to the new one.. Any ideas?


ps:i just noticed that i the LT reverse foot isnot rotating properly, append with just one the other works fine..thats a mistery..:S

just say it


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