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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November 6th, 2009 said:

Hi! I'm having a problem. After the skin, if I close and open the file again, the mesh disappears, and only the skeleton stay in the viewport. Whats happening()

November 6th, 2009 said:

Hey Iuri,

Does the mesh that you've skinned to the skeleton still exist in the scene?  If so, make sure that "Polygons" is checked in your viewport "Show" menu (not the main menu, but the one at the top of every viewport).

November 9th, 2009 said:

i put the script in my :Documents and Settings/Dany/My Documents/Maya/2009-x64/scripts the rest into the icons folder. whenever i click  make proxy skeleton and then build skeleton maya always respons with" // Error: Object not found: ." what am i doing wrong?

November 10th, 2009 said:

Hey sadpanda,

That issue has come up before and I think it has to do with the Snap IK/FK shelf button creation.  Try unchecking the Options > Auto Build IK/FK Snap UI Button menu item in the main script UI.  If there's an existing Snap IK/FK shelf button (blue icon with the skull) you can delete that too.  (It can be rebuilt using the Make IK/FK Snap UI Shelf Button in the Tools menu.)

If none of that works, create a new shelf and try running the script again.

Let me know which of that (if any) works for you.  I haven't had any luck recreating the issue on my own machine and I'd really like to get it ironed out.

November 19th, 2009 said:

I had the same problem but i found a solution: go to maya panel: Windows\Setting\preferences\ Preferences. then, edit \restore default settings and works for me !!  :D

December 5th, 2009 said:

Hey, Crumbly! Just stumbled across your site and was super excited to give this a try on this mermaid I'm working on right now. Now, I'm a MEL noob through and through and I have to say that your section on how to use this script is pretty fuzzy. Luckily, my Mastering Maya text suggests simply typing in the file name on the command line to invoke the script... needless to say the whole "source abAutoRig.mel;abAutoRig;" was giving me all kinds of red lines and I may or may not have pulled a hair or two out in confusion. Hehe! But I think I may have it now because just typing "abAutoRig" pulled up the UI. I'll be back if I have any other real pressing concerns or questions. ;-)

December 9th, 2009 said:

After i build my skeleton and open the file in another computer the Snap IK/FK shelf  is gone. How do i recreate the shelf button again?  I tried clicking Make IK/FK Snap UI Shelf Button in the Tools menu but it didn't work. It asked me to select at least one control of my character and try again. Whcih control should i cleck?

December 9th, 2009 said:

Hey RockerKing,

You can select any control curve on your character.  Usually I just select the rootCon.

December 9th, 2009 said:

It doesn't work no matter which control cruve i click.  It'll state "Error: Cannot find procedure "abMakeFKIKSnapBnDataString" on the script editor.  

I only way i'm able to recreate the shelf again is to recreate a new skeleton with the same name so that it'll auto create the shelf. Then i open my character file to continue. But doing this step everytime is very tiring, any way to slove it?

December 9th, 2009 said:

Hey RockerKing,

I checked it out and, yeah...  it was a mess.  There were two functions with the same name and calls to another that didn't exist.  I must have been more than slightly sleep deprived that day.  

Anyway, it should be fixed now.  Try it out and let me know.

December 9th, 2009 said:

Ya, it's fixed. Thanks for the quick update.

December 27th, 2009 said:

Hey, Crumbly. What's going on with the Pole Vectors in the elbows? They are being placed in front of the rig rather than behind and causing a reverse elbow bend.

December 30th, 2009 said:

Hey D,

If you imagine the arm hierarchy (upArm, elbow, wrist joints) as the head of an arrow, the elbow should point to where the PV control is placed.  Is this the case in your setup?  If not, send me a copy of your skeleton and I'll see if I can figure out why it's not working.

January 12th, 2010 said:

Hey Crumbly!!

Nice work again, everithing is perfect, and thanks again for the 3.0.5 foot implement. Btw.: Are you sucseeded to see the dog leg setup i have sent you?

Cheers from hungary

January 14th, 2010 said:

Hey Scabyx,

Sorry, I meant to respond to your email sooner.

I checked out the dog leg, and I like it.  I  could see it opening up a whole new world of quadruped rigging.  Unfortunately I just don't have time to add it at the moment, and when I do get back to working on the script (whenever that is), there are a bunch of features set to go in before it.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, it will be a while (maybe more).

January 17th, 2010 said:

Master Crumbly,

Thank you for your kind words about the dogleg. No problem with the implementing. It will be done, when it's done :-D. Just a little help for organization:

Tyler Thornock dog hind leg tutorial

this is the step by step tutorial by Tyler where you could have a look when you reach it. In the meantime good luck to you all.


January 18th, 2010 said:

I'm sorry for asking you a stupid question. I don't know how can I use Spine IK control for the backbone? I can use just only FK spine. Could you please tell me step by step? (with picture will be more than appreciate!)

Thank you very much in advance,

January 18th, 2010 said:

Hey Tii,

To switch the spine into IK mode you just set the "useRootSpace" attribute on the charName_spineHigh_ctrl, *charName*_spineMid_ctrl, and *charName*_hip_ctrl control curves to 1 (or "on").  Once you've done that they'll be parented to your *charName*_root_ctrl space.

January 20th, 2010 said:

Hello Crumbly

Just a little question: If I blend between a posed fk arm, and ik, there is a snap in the wrist. Am i doing something wrong? I assume there will be a smooth blend between the two states in the wrist. Align is off.


January 26th, 2010 said:

Hey Scabyx,

No you're not doing anything wrong, that's how it works.  If you enable Align it should blend smoothly, but otherwise it snaps.  I know, it's annoying.  I tried to fix it a while ago, but got lost in a tangle of flaky constraints.

January 28th, 2010 said:

hello Crumbly

no problem, i made another solution for the hand, i will send it to you. It is worth to look at, i have modified som blends, and two controls. You will see how it is working. My animators like it very much.

January 28th, 2010 said:

Awesome!  I look forward to checking it out.

January 28th, 2010 said:

Mail sent Master

February 3rd, 2010 said:

After checking your tools out all day long I have to say, I think I'm in love! Thank you so much!!! Where do I send the presents to? ;)

February 8th, 2010 said:

Thanks man. Its the best autorig ive ever used!!!

Ill send you some results if you want.


February 9th, 2010 said:

Hey CosmicBear and body,

Thanks guys (and/or girls), I'm glad you like my stuff.  And yeah body, I'd love to see what you've done with it.

April 19th, 2010 said:

Fantastic autoRig you have created there. One minor thing, every time I click Build Skeleton in the abSkeletonMaker, it creates a shelf button as well. I didn't notice it the first time, so I tried to create a few time to understand everything that the autoRig offers. Then, I realized I created many shelf buttons.

April 19th, 2010 said:

Hey Giap,

There's an option in the SkeletonMaker UI named "Autosave Skeleton on Build" which is enabled by default.  Uncheck it and the shelfButtons will no longer be created when you skeletonize a proxy.

If you want that menu item to be disabled by default you can do a search in script for the following string:

$abRTGlobalPrefNames[68] = "autoSaveSkeleton";$abRTGlobalPrefs[68] =

Once you've found it, replace the 1 in quotes at the end of the line with a 0 (keep the quotes).  The next time you start Maya that option will be disabled.

May 19th, 2010 said:

Hey Crumbly, this autorig of yours is a blessing for newbies in this field like me, im a student n everyday i play with ur rig i find new features that jsut help make wrk so fast. Thanks alot for this great autorig, it is definitely the best ive found and u sharing it for free is even the greatest part. But hey like i said im a newbie and ive tried hard to research wat all people here are talking about the rig n figure out hw to use waht, im still confused bout some options n functions, wat are they meat for and wat are their practical uses while animating, U see ill b starting to learn animtion soon so i thot if i knew the irg propelry i wouldnt miss out on any use of the rig just cuz i dint knw wat it was for. I knw this question doesnt add anything fr the rig bt i wud b grateful if u can teach me. Here are the functions i wanted to knw bout -

use root space on the cog cntrl. align options, rotation order, thumb fist damp, the ik fk snap button the space switch maker hand options - reverse right curl.

Also i wanted to know if there is a way to use ur rig without the stretch functions, like for a realistic human charcter. SORRY i knw the questions are very basic. THANKS alot in advance

May 21st, 2010 said:

Hey prajain,

Thanks, I'm glad you like the rig.  Here are the short answers to your questions regarding the rig (I hope to get some video demonstrations up shortly for this and a few of my other scripts):

Use Root Space on the COG control: If enabled, your COG won't move with the root control (rootCon).

Align Options: If enabled, the chosen control (head or wrists) will maintain the same orientation regardless of movement of the joints above it.

Rotation Order: This is mostly just a convenience.  Occasionally you might need to switch the rotation order on a control if you're moving in ways that aren't typical.  Rotation Order determines which axes move independently and which move with others.  The last axis is the one that moves the other two, so if your Rotation Order is XYZ, Y and X will rotate when you rotate Z, and X will rotate when you rotate Y.

Note that there's also a Change Rotation Order Tool, which will change the Rotation Order on animations without having to go back and tweak every keyframe.

Thumb Fist Damp: Reduces the amount of curl on the thumb when you adjust the Master Fist attribute.

IK/FK Snap Button: Snaps your character's IK leg or arm to the position of the FK leg or arm (or vice versa).  Useful when switching between the two in an animation.

Space Switch Matcher: If you have a frame where you switch a control into a different space (hand IK into HeadSpace from RootSpace, say) this script allows you to copy the position in one space, and match it in another (so you could copy the position of the hand when it's in HeadSpace, move to the frame where it switches to HeadSpace, hit paste, and it will be in the same position it was before).

Reverse Right Curl: This is used in setting up the hands.  If you find that the right hand is curling in the opposite way when you adjust attributes than the left, you can remove the rig, enable this and set it up again.  Shouldn't be too much of an issue now.  I think the joint orientations are more predictable in newer versions.

And yes, you can disable the stretch functions if you want, just set the Stretchy Leg and Stretchy Arm attributes to 0.

May 21st, 2010 said:

thanks alot. That was rily helpful.

May 25th, 2010 said:

Hey Crumbly,

I'm trying to use your Rig in Maya 2011 on 32bit XP.  After placing my proxy skel the way I want it, I hit the Build Skeleton button and get this message from Maya:

// Error: Controls must have a layout.  No layout found in window : //

Please let me know if you're aware of how to fix this!  Thanks.

May 28th, 2010 said:

Hey Carmine,

Sometimes this happens when your shelf is hidden.  Try toggling it on if it's currently off.  If that doesn't work, try disabling the "Autosave Skeleton on Build" menu item in the skeletonMaker window.

Otherwise I haven't really done more than a cursory check of the script in 2011.  I hope to switch over (and update my scripts that need it) soon.

June 13th, 2010 said:


Very nice script. Well done!

I would like to propose one option. When you have Stretchy IK/FK legs and arms, you can add squash option in Z and X axis and add window to choose % of squash the bones.

Streching is ok, but it works perfect when something is also squashing.

Like animators says "Squash & Streach - principles of aniation"

June 24th, 2010 said:

Hey Mayamak,

Thanks, and I agree, a simplified squash setup would be a nice feature.  It's next on my list (along with a bunch of other features) but requires some other changes to the base rig first.  And honestly I haven't worked on the script for a while (except for bug fixes).

I hope to get some time to do so soon.

July 8th, 2010 said:


Many thanks for this script. But I've encountered a problem when skinning the forearm. I have a split forearm joint, but Maya's (2011) Interactive Bind tool doesn't allow me to set the weights of the lower joint. I suspect it's because it's not inline... In any case, I've tried many different ways and the second forearm joint just doesn't get any weight. Do you have any ideas? Thanks!

August 24th, 2010 said:

I'm new using the free auto rig you have. I just can't get the script to work for my maya. Do I need to first create half skeleton rig then type in the mel script to get option menus to appear on my screen? I don't know whats going but I need some help please. When you have some free time can you email me?

Oh yeah I'm running Maya 2010 just to let you know


August 24th, 2010 said:

hi, i have been using your rig for a while now.  I love it! i was wondering if there is anyway to create spines with no constraints and just a default FK with motionbuilder namings.  I am just trying to test this rig with some motioncapture data.  If not, are you planning to make some options for it?


August 25th, 2010 said:

GG:  I apologize for not responding early to your post, but I haven't switched over to 2011 yet.  It seems strange that you wouldn't be able to set weights on a joint that's part of a skinCluster just because it's not inline.  Maybe there's an option in the Interactive Bind tool that enables/disables that ability.  Or you could add the joint as an influence and see if that works.

Of course, you probably solved your problem months ago.

Gregory:  I don't have 2010 installed at the moment, and I haven't tested it, but the script works in 2009 and 2011, so I assume it works in 2010 as well.  You don't have to make a skeleton, the script will do that for you.  Make sure that abAutoRig.mel is in your scriptPath (best to put it in mayaVer/scripts), that you restart Maya (or enter "rehash" in the mel command line), and that you source and run the script as described at the top of this page.

sean:  Thanks!  The options on the spine are limited, so at the moment, no, you can't build it with a purely FK setup.  Motion capture is not something I've ever used so I've never really even thought about adding it.

Honestly, It's been a while since I've added any new features to the script.  I'll still fix any bugs that people find, and at some point I might add some or all of those features I've been playing around with, but for now it's pretty much on my back-burner.

February 1st, 2011 said:

Hi ! I'm giving this rig another go now, and the only problem I'm having is related to the wrists. The forearm split joint isn't doing it's share of the rotation, so, the classic issue with the wrist collapsing on itself. Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Many thanks! GG

February 1st, 2011 said:

Hey CG,

I just checked it out and it's working for me, so I'm not sure what's going on.  There's no x rotation on the split joints when you rotate the wrist?  Hmmmm...

Two things you might want to take a look at:

  1. Use the "Select Weight Joints" tool in the "Tools" menu to make sure that your mesh is bound to the correct joints (it probably is), and...

  2. Check the rotate scalar values on the spineSplitRot control (the octagonal wire next to the mid spine control curve) and make sure that they're not set to 0.  These values determine how much of the target joint rotation (elbow for uparm, wrist for forearm) is carried by the split joints.

Feel free to send me your rigged skeleton and I can take a look at it.

March 16th, 2011 said:

Hey Crumbly,

You mentioned before to another fellow user of this AutoRig regarding "// Error: Controls must have a layout.  No layout found in window :"

I can't get it to work either... and I'm using Maya 2011. I don't understand what it means. Please let me know! I tried your suggestions except the "toggling shelf on/off" i don't know what that means!


March 16th, 2011 said:

Sorry for not specifying in my earlier post, but i was trying to figure out the Wire Replacer tool, and I got that same error, user Carmine had, too.

Thanks Shandy

March 16th, 2011 said:

Hey Shandy,

I just uploaded version 3.11, which has the fixes that address the Wire Replace UI issue.

That should work for you, let me know if it doesn't.

March 17th, 2011 said:

Hey Crumbly,

It works now!, do I have to redo my whole Rig Set up again for it to work?

Or would there be problems in the future??

Appreciate your super fast and reliable service!

March 17th, 2011 said:

Hey Shandy,

No, you shouldn't have to redo your rig setup.  It should be fine.

March 29th, 2011 said:

Hey Crumbly,   thanks for your great script, I just add ribbon system to the forearm to simulate the real arm rotate,and it works pretty well .

April 2nd, 2011 said:

Hi Crumbly, very nice script..just the ik arm controls and pole vectors don't follow the main control.. how can I fix it?

April 5th, 2011 said:

Hey Giovanni,

You should have a "root" (or maybe "rootCon" -- can't remember which atm) space attribute on the IK controls which should, by default, be the only space attribute that is set to one.  If your PV and IK controls don't have this attribute (or if they do and it doesn't seem to have any effect) then what might have happened is one of three things:

  • You created the rig for the affected limbs out of order, or
  • You removed the rig for the spine and rebuilt it without rebuilding the rig for affected limbs, or
  • Something completely different.

Try removing the entire rig with the rigRemover in the "Tools" menu and then rebuilding it making sure that you move through the tabs ("spine", "head", "legs" etc) from left to right.

Let me know if that doesn't work for you.

Josh Yoder
June 6th, 2011 said:

Was just stopping by to see if you had posted any updates. Thanks for fixing the wire replacer! Most of the default wires work fine, but I like to customize the root control for each of my characters. It was getting annoying not being able to fix them ;)

just say it


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