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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March 31st, 2009 said:

Hi I really like your rig and i am just testing out for a personal project.. However, i still dont get why there is a "weightSpine jnts" and what they are for? Also what does spineSplitRot_ctrl do?  i ve read all threads here but still dont get it.

March 31st, 2009 said:

Alfo_O:  I got your email and I apologize for not getting back to you until now.  I plan to implement the master control for the IK spine (which can be parented as you like) -- I just haven't had any time to work on it in a while.

As for the leg position when rigging, that's a limitation of the script.  The feet and legs can be rotated in Y, but the legs do have to remain parallel (the upLeg joints can't be rotated in world Z).  Still, I'd appreciate it if you could send me a copy of the problem skeleton so I can make sure that it's not breaking in new and exciting ways ;).

draw:  The weightSpine_jnts are the spine joints to which you bind your mesh.  They're created as part of the rig and not the skeleton; in older versions of the script they would be deleted when the rig was removed.  It added an extra layer of complexity to have to rebind and weight those joints every time you removed the spine rig.  So now, the first time you create a spine rig for your character, the weight spine joints are created in your skeleton group.  As long as you specify the same number of spine joints the next time you remove and rerig the spine, those joints will be reused by the script.  It avoids you having to rebind new spine joints to your mesh.

The spineSplitRot_ctrl holds a bunch of (sort of meta) attributes for various parts of the rig.  It used to hold rotation scalars for weight spine X rotations, but the new spine no longer requires that, so it now holds various limb and hand attributes.  Stuff like rotation scalars for split joints, various hand related values like finger spread direction, and some others that I can't remember at the moment.

March 31st, 2009 said:

Hi again, just another question.. my character is not in full T-pose.. which means the character's arm joint needs to rotate down.  I get this confirm message saying "The arm joints must like on thesame YZ plane for the elbow snap to PV function to work properly." Is this because i just rotated shoulder down to match  my character?   Is there a way to work around without fixing my character pose?


March 31st, 2009 said:

Hey draw,

Yeah, the elbow snap function doesn't work when the arm joints (upArm, elbow, wrist) don't lie on the same XZ plane.  The same goes for the legs in the YZ plane.

There's no way to get around it that I know of.  Keep in mind that it's only the elbow snap function that breaks (the elbow joint snaps to and can be controlled by the PV control).  The rest of the arm rig should work fine.

April 1st, 2009 said:

ah..icic.. I guess i just have to test it out..But still i think this is the most amazing autoRig i ve ever used.. especially with all the control sets.


April 2nd, 2009 said:

hey crumbly,

i just want to thank you for writing this script; im in the position where i pretty much need an emergency rig (i was using a rig i found online that i modified and found a huge problem i couldnt fix) and so far its helping me a lot.  i'm not very experienced when it comes to rigging (bear with me haha), and i did encounter one problem: when i create the controls for the legs, the knees bend in the opposite direction.  i've heard of this happening before but dont know how to fix or prevent it.  i moved the knee pv's to the front of the model and they bent the right way, but i dont know if that'll come back to haunt me later, so i figured id ask before i really get far into the process.  thanks for your time.


April 2nd, 2009 said:

Hey James,

If you send me the contents of your character's skeleton button (added to your shelf when you created the skeleton from the proxy) that would be a huge help in understanding what's going on with your rig.  It could be a couple different things, and it's probably OK to do what you've done, but I need to see it to be sure..

BTW, you can get at the contents of a shelf button by dragging it with the middle mouse button into the script editor.

April 6th, 2009 said:

hey crumbly, your rig works fine since i am not trying to use the pv snap on any of my work.   I still dont get what the spineSplitRot_ctrl does.  I just rigged a new character using autorig and i see some attributes of fingers on that control?   For the spineShaper, it seems it working but why GEO doesnt move with it. Where do i turn on this attribute so my geo follows the weightspine? and what is "Root ctrl" and Cog Ctrl attribute for in each ctrl? i dont really see difference when i turn on and off.. last, in order to bind my geo to your rig, i just have to select the hip joint with my geo and bind, right? i just got confused on some of the instructions...

man i feel bad about asking many question...but i just want to use this rig for my personal project really bad..


April 6th, 2009 said:

maybe i am missing something here...but how can i make a character spine to rotate in X after bind it with only high, mid, and low spines?  I just selected all the joints including weight spines except for the high, mid, low spine joints, and bind to the mesh.  when i rotate spineLow_ctrl in X the weight spine does not follow up.(which make sense cuz i didnt bind skin to the low spine joint.)

Is there a attribute or an option that i missed??

p.s i went to AM too..about 2 years ago. when did you finish?

April 6th, 2009 said:

Hey rick,

The spineSplitRot_ctrl currently holds attributes for split joints and hands.  The split attributes determine how much a given split joint rotates in relation to it's target joint's rotation.  So, for example, if you set the value for a forearm split joint to .75, its rotation will be 75% of the wrist joint's (the target joint) rotation.  There are also attributes for hand spread which determine the amount (and direction) each finger will spread based on the hand spread attribute on the hand control.

The spine shaper's only function is to allow you to tweak the curve of the spine between the mid and high spine controls.  You can turn it off on the COG.

The "Root_ctrl" and "Cog_ctrl" (and others) allow you to switch the parent space of a given control.  If you take the arm IK control and set all of the attributes under "____SPACES____" to 0, then set the "Cog_ctrl" to 1, the arm IK control will move with the COG.

I've been meaning to clarify the way to bind the geometry to the rig in the instructions;  I just haven't gotten to it yet.  You don't want to bind to all the joints in the hierarchy.  What I would do is make sure that in the smooth skin options "Bind to:" is set to "Selected Joints".  Then select all but the lo, mid, and hi joints (like you've done) and also the wrist joints (to clarify: you don't want to bind to the wrist joints).  Then you can bind your geo to the selected joints.

Something's not right if the spine isn't rotating in X.  If you want to send me a copy of the file I'll take a look at it (don't worry, I won't share it).

I finished AM about a year and a half ago.

April 7th, 2009 said:

hey crumbly, thanks for the tip.  what i meant was the spines rotates fine in X (spineLow_ctrl,spineMid_ctrl, spineHigh_ctrl).  One thing that i dont really get is, since i am binding my character to the weight spine, and not the low, mid, high joints which i can rotate by just grabbing the controls, i would not be able to paint skin on those three joints.(i have to paint weight on the weight spines obviously)  In my scene, if i just rotate the spine controls, the weight spines does not follow with the spine rotation. so the weight spine does not move at all.   Is there a attribute that i have to turn on so the weight spines get constrain to the low mid high joints? i am sending you the rig by email. thanks for the great support

April 13th, 2009 said:

hey i just tested out your file. thanks for fixing the rig. I have a one suggestion tho. it will be great if you can add a button for binding the geo to theskeleton.  Its kind of tidious to go to outliner and then grab all the joints except for the hi, mid, low spine andthe wrist, every time i want to re-bind or rereig the skeleton with different number of spine joints.

thanks again

April 15th, 2009 said:

That's a good idea, sean.  I'll add it one of these days.

April 19th, 2009 said:

Amazing script! Question,.. I have 2.6 running with Maya 8.5 and I scale the rig up as needed and its fine, but at work, I'm using version 2.9 I believe in Maya 8.5, and I scale up the rig, make joints, create rig for the arms and it only rigs the left side.   Happens every time.   (I'll try 2.6 at work obviously, but I was wondering if there was some problem or if I need a later version of Maya.


April 22nd, 2009 said:

Hey there.  Your script is awsome.  No problems except when trying to get the IK/FK snap UI to work with a referenced file.  When I choose the namespace, the FK->IK snap works but the IK->FK snap comes up with an error: "// Error: No object matches name: namespace:".  Am I doing something wrong?  Thanks for your help.

April 23rd, 2009 said:

Hey John,

So, the legs get rigged correctly; it's just the arms that are rigged on only the left side?  Hmmm, that's weird.  I don't have a copy below 2008 on my system, so I can't really test it that way, but if you send me the file with the skeleton rigged as far as you can get it (including the left arm), I'll take a look.

You could also try to disable "Auto Mirror" under the "Options" menu and rig the arms individually.  That might work if the issue is with the procedure that determines mirror joints.

April 23rd, 2009 said:


I just uploaded version 2.9.2, which should fix the issue.

April 23rd, 2009 said:

Thank you so much crumbly!  The FK/IK snapping on reference files works fine now.  Keep up the great work.

April 24th, 2009 said:

Awesome autorig, I've had success in using previous versions before.  Now however, I have an issue, and it is with one of the first steps.  After I create a proxy skeleton I try to build a skeleton, but I keep getting an "object not found" error and nothing happens.  I am using Maya 2009 64bit and I've tried versions 2.9.2, 2.9, and 2.8 with no success.  Any ideas?

April 27th, 2009 said:

Nevermind, I got it to work somehow.  Maybe I wasn't saving the proxy to the shelf before?  Does that make a difference?

April 28th, 2009 said:

Hey John,

It sounds like you might have using the soft mod tool.  Could that be it?  The script fails hard when soft mod is active.

I'll make sure that the next version switches to the move tool before rigging to minimize this issue.

May 5th, 2009 said:

Hi Crumbly, this autoRig is very good, I like it! I've just started to test your tools and the rig, so I don't have many questions at the moment. But I got a very simple suggestion, about the "root control", it's useful in production to have this main control: twice or triple to get the chance to constraint it to something and in the same time to move and/or animate the char in the best position... I guess it's very easy for you to put in, just create two or three curve controls in different sizes one inside each other and it will be done! Thanks for your work!

May 6th, 2009 said:


Yes, I most likely had the soft mod tool on since I was working on blendshapes right before I started rigging.  Thanks for the reply!

May 14th, 2009 said:

its good

May 21st, 2009 said:

I know this will sound like and odd request, but if you decide to work on this script agian could you consider adding the ability to generate a basic skeleton, with no constraints with the MotionBuilder joint naming conventions?

Josh Yoder
May 25th, 2009 said:

Found a leg IK problem in 2.9.3. I noticed it in 2.9.0 as well, but I have a character rigged with 2.8 that is fine.

Anyway, the problem is when the foot control translates in Y above the knee (about mid thigh) the leg joints flip. The pv control is weighted to the leg IK, so that is not the issue.

rotation values at translation of 20 units Y (leg deforms fine) X -3.54, Y 0.172, Z -87.18 rotation values at translation of 21 units Y (flipped IK) X -86, Y 0.153, Z -92.921

I think you ran into this problem before with a much older version so it should be an easy fix. It makes it kind of hard to roll the character into a ball when his thighs invert on him (ouch?)

Any any progress on how to parent the stretchy IK to the rig anywhere? Its weird, I can attach a regular IK or spline IK to the rig no problem but I can't attach the stretchy one made with your script (which has a lot more flexibility).

May 25th, 2009 said:

Butch:  I'll take a look at the MB skeleton and naming conventions.  If they're close enough it wouldn't be a problem to implement.

Josh:  I think the previous fixes were undone when I adjusted the upLeg rotation order to get rid of the leg flipping when IkFkBlend between zero and one.  It shouldn't be too difficult to fix (hopefully).

I'll get on that stretchy IK thing, too.  I've been meaning to do that for a while...

May 26th, 2009 said:

Hi ,  i tried to replicate the pole vector problem and i noticed that it may occur only if you create the joints of the legs in a Not planar way, for example if you rotate the leg guide in Z, that is locked. Josh did you checked that your character guides are correct?

Josh Yoder
May 26th, 2009 said:


That's a a good suggestion, but no, that is not the issue. When I make the legs I only translate the locators on the proxy skeleton and once the joints are in place I don't touch them. I've also been modeling my characters to fit the general orientation of the rig so I don't have to rotate any of the guide controls in a locked direction.

May 26th, 2009 said:

Hey Josh,

I just fixed the leg issue, and I'm uploading the new version now.  I've made a lot of fixes to stretchy splines too.  They're actually usable with the rig now.

May 26th, 2009 said:

Just thought I'd mention to everyone commenting here (btw, thanks!), if you've ever posted with your email before, note that you can enter just it when you post again and your other info will be recalled.  I guess I never made that clear.

Oh, and comments also support markDown (links are still disabled, unfortunately).

Josh Yoder
May 30th, 2009 said:

You, sir, are awesome!

I did a quick test bind and everything works beautifully! No twisting and the stretchy splines parent perfectly! Thanks a bunch!

June 4th, 2009 said:

Right on!

July 14th, 2009 said:

Maybe I'm just dumb or didn't fully read the instructions, but I can't seem to figure out the spine. For some reason, I can't find a local master control like the hips that moves everything but the legs. I'm trying to find a good solution for an auto rigger to use on a student film that is better than The Setup Machine which I've used before but wasn't entirely happy with.

July 16th, 2009 said:

Hey John,

The COG (charName_cog_ctrl) should do what you want.  It's the round white curve that sits outside of the hip control curve.  Does that do what you're looking for?

Also, make sure that when you set up a character, you go through the tabs (spine, head, etc) in order from left to right.  It will still work if you don't, but you'll have some  controls that won't be properly parented to the rest of the rig (if those parts of the rig don't exist yet).  You'll also lose space switching and some advanced control attributes.

July 20th, 2009 said:

Thanks for the pointer. The problem with the COG is that for some reason it starts off locked, so I unlock the attributes, but when I move it it is getting double interpolation somehow.

July 27th, 2009 said:

Hey John,

First of all, sorry for the super late reply.

As for the rig, I think we might be looking at different things.  Try creating a default skeleton (click "Make Proxy Skeleton" then "Build Skeleton" in the skeleton maker), and then apply a default rig (don't change any of the default values in the UI).  The COG will be named "charName_cog_ctrl".  When you select it, you should find that the translate and rotation attributes are unlocked.  If they're not, something weird is afoot -- send me your file and I'll take a look at it.

satya kumar
August 4th, 2009 said:

its nise but some bots in the rig can i scale @ move the rigging or controls. according to the charter position

August 7th, 2009 said:

Hi Crumbly, Love the autorig. I wonder about the 'align' opiton on the FK shoulder. If I animate the shoulder and clavicle with align set to off, then key align to on I get a pop in the shoulder. I could be doing something wrong, if so, Im sorry to bother you.

August 11th, 2009 said:

Hey Joel,

Not a bother at all.  Toggling the align attribute will generally rotate the specified joint unless the rig is at its initial position.  Personally, I like it (and always enable it) because it means that I don't have to deal with as much counter animation (especially when animating the head).  I think it's one of those things that you either like or don't, so I'd recommend you leave it on or off and avoid the mess of switching back and forth.

August 21st, 2009 said:

Hi Crumbly!

Amazing rig Setup, what would take me 5 days to rig now turns into a couple hours of tweaking. I'm currently doing a History Channel Competition, so I made a biped. Now I adjusted all the proxies to the human hands, when I rig with IK fingers and all that, the right side works, but the left side when I create the hand rig says:

// Error: 'SoldierRig_lf_pinkyCup_jnt.rotateY' already has an incoming connection from 'SoldierRig_lf_hand_ctrl.masterCup'. //

I'm a noob at Rigging, and have no clue how to fix this problem. Any help and I'll bring you to a future film festival!

August 23rd, 2009 said:

ohhh got it to work! No further questions!

Thanks alot!

August 24th, 2009 said:

Hey Ben,

Sorry I wasn't able to get back to you sooner -- glad you were able to get it to work, though.

Josh Yoder
September 12th, 2009 said:

Wow, 3.0.2! Moving up in the world. Fortunately I won't have to change any old rigs this time around, so every new model from here on gets 3.0, hehe.

Still love it! And I keep finding more and more cool thing to do with the stretchy splines! Try experimenting with Paolo Dominici's ZV Dynamics and ZV Parent Master, lots of fun!

September 28th, 2009 said:

Hey Crumbly,

So I just tried using the AutoRig and I am running into a problem when Rigging the Spine. These are my steps:

Created a Name

Pressed Create a Skeleton

Pressed Make Proxy Skeleton

Pressed Build Skeleton

When I press Build Skeleton I recieve an error:

Error: No object matches name: |skaterboy_Skeleton_grp|skaterboy_hip_jnt|skaterboy_spine_low_jnt |skaterboy_spine_mid_jnt|skaterboy_spine_hi_jnt|skaterboy_spine_end_jnt |skaterboy_lf_clavicle_jnt|skaterboy_lf_upArm_jnt|skaterboy_lf_elbow_jnt |skaterboy_lf_wrist_jnt|skaterboy_lf_hand_jnt |skaterboy_lf_ringCup_jnt|skaterboy_lf_ring_a_jnt //

When I press Build Skeleton the Rig creates joints from the root to the top of the head along with the left arm and 4 fingers even though 5 fingers was set in Funger Num.

Then I select the Spine tab Spine Root: |skaterboy_Skeleton_grp|skaterboy_hip_jnt|skaterboy_spine_low_jnt Hip: |skaterboy_Skeleton_grp|skaterboy_hip_jnt|skaterboy_spine_low_jnt

Then I press Create Spine Rig and I receive the following error: // Warning: Root joint needs to be parent to both the hip joint and the mid spine joint

Also, when I try to manually select the Spine Root in the Spine section I receive this error: // Warning: Root joint must have a x translate of 0 I got around it by selecting Refresh UI in the Options menu.

Any ideas? Thanks

September 28th, 2009 said:

sorry it looks all crazy, I didnt know the text would continue in a line. I originally wrote it all on separate lines.

September 28th, 2009 said:

Hey lunacocoa,

The "Finger Num:" intField specifies the number of fingers that will be built on the proxy skeleton.  Once the proxy has been built, you're done with that field; it will have no effect on the conversion from proxy to skeleton.  

Otherwise, it sounds like you're doing everything correctly.  What's strange is that the script is choking as it looks for the first ring finger joint.  When a proxy has only four fingers the ring finger is omitted.  The proxy version of that joint shouldn't even exist, so I don't know why it would be trying to build it.

I've tried and can't recreate the error.  My only suggestion is to make sure that you're building the skeleton in an empty scene.

What version of Maya (and what platform) are you using?

September 28th, 2009 said:

Thanks Crumbly, I am currently running Maya 2010 32-bit on a 64-bit system. I actually was trying the Rig with a character in the scene. I tried it in an empty scene, but then I was getting an error when just trying to create the skeleton. I'm going to mess with it and see if I can figure it out. Ill get back to you.

Jess Herman
October 6th, 2009 said:

Hi there!

Great tool! I love it!

My only trouble is with scaling the rigs after I've skinned the characters. The IK hand controls and knee and elbow up vectors seem to stay in the same place when I use the master scale on the root control.  The eye controller also stays in the same place and the feet lift off the ground.  What am I doing wrong?  Also, as I scale down some of the control curves scale up and vice versa... specifically the neck, head and wrists. Is there any way I can fix this?

November 4th, 2009 said:

you saved my life today with this script, big thanks!!!

just say it


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