Tag Archives: Monkey

The final set of controls left for me to build were the face controllers. Unlike the rest of the controllers these needed to be placed very close to the mesh. I felt that the thin lines of the curves I had used for everything else would not be very obvious or easy to select for the animator. Instead, I used the top of a NURBS cylinder as this provided a small filled in circle which was much easier to select.

I wanted the mouth shape to be really flexible for the animator, so I placed a controller for each corner of the mouth as well as three along the top lip and three along the bottom lip.


I also wanted the animator to be able to easily move the position of the entire mouth, so I created a simple curve shape that I placed a small distance away from the mesh.


The nose was slightly simpler. I created two controllers that would allow the animator to flare the nostrils. I then created another simple curve that would allow the animator to move the nose about the face.


Finally I created three controllers for each eyebrow and a simple position controller for each eyebrow. I also decided to change the circles from the yellow as I felt it was too bright and distracting when looking at the face. I changed them to a dark blue instead.

Face04 Face05

Once I had built all the controllers I needed to start parenting them to the correct things. The nose and eyebrows were extremely simple, as the heirarchy was fairly obvious. However I had a lot of trouble finding something that would work for the mouth. I obviously wanted the controls on the bottom lip to move when the jaw was rotated. However I also wanted them to move dependent on where the mouth position controller was. Eventually I came up with the idea of creating two locators that were aligned with the jaw bone pivot point. I parent constrained one to the head and one to the jaw. I then point constrained the locators to the mouth controller. I could then parent constrain my individual mouth controllers to the relevant locators.


Unfortunately, the parent constraint on the locators clashed with the point constraint, so that when the jaw rotated the locators moved slightly and the mouth controllers disappeared into the mesh. It took me a little while to track down the problem, but once I had found it I decided to just replace the parent constraint to the jaw with an orient constraint and this fixed it.


Now that the first hand in has been and gone, I’ve been finishing off the rigging of the monkey. There were a few bones in the face that I had animated for the deform test that weren’t actually rigged. Firstly, I created some curves to control the ears and the two tufts of hair on the monkey’s head.

One of the most important things I still needed to create was some eye controllers. I wanted each eye to be controllable individually, but I also wanted the animator to be able to easily control them together. As such I decided to create two text curves (R and L) and aligned them with the eyes. I then used an aim constraint so that the eyes point at the controllers at all times. I created a third controller that would move both R and L together.


I also wanted the animator to be able to control the size of the pupil, as I have always found this to be a particularly effective tool to portray emotion when animating a “toony” character. Unsure of whether the animator would want to be able to control the pupil size from the individual eye controllers or from the dual controller. I decided to give them the ability to do it from either. I added an attribute to R and L for pupil size, and two attributes to the dual controller. I then wired these attributes to two plus/minus nodes. I have set the nodes to addition and as soon as I have the eye textures, I will wire the nodes to the scale of the texture.


Rigging the tongue was slightly frustrating as I really struggled to create controllers that could be selected whatever position the tongue was in. Initially I created simple curves that sat above the tongue. However, when the tongue was rotated upwards, the top curve disappeared into the back of the mouth.

tongue01 tongue02

As such, I decided to create some loops that went around the tongue and combine these with the curves above the tongue.


Having finally created working strethcy IK legs, I could get to work on making a set of FK legs. Like the IK, I duplicated the deform skeleton, but replaced the _jnt with FK_jnt. Unlike creating the IK leg, I didn’t need to create anything except controllers. I used the curve tool with snap to vertex turned on and drew the shapes around the mesh of the monkey. I used the MEL script “parent -r -s” to attach all the curve shapes to a single curve node so that the animator can click on any of the curves to select the entire controller.

The thigh and ankle controllers I drew with curves, but I just used circles (which I editted slightly) for the knee and tibia joints. To try and keep the rig clear to use I colour coded my controllers. The most important controllers I changed to a brighter colour and the less important ones (like the tibia joints) were darker.

Foot05 Foot06

Like before, I nested all of these controllers in a double set of groups (_SDK and _0). I then parent constrained each FK joint to its relative controller.

As the toe controls were parented directly to the deform skeleton (there was no seperate FK and IK version) I needed to get the main toe controller to follow both the IK and the FK skeletons. I created an FK/IK switch control for the leg and then proceeded to parent constrain the main toe controller to both the end of the IK and FK controller heirarchies. At the same time, I also parent constrained the deform joints to both the IK and FK joint chains.

I then had to wire up the switch to control the parent constraints between FK and IK. I used the hypershade to do this. I brought the switch and the parent constraints in and also created a reverse node.


I then also wired up the visibility of the IK and FK controllers so that the animator can only see FK controls when the switch is at FK, and IK controls when it is at IK.

I decided to colour code the IK and FK so that it is clear at a glance whether the leg is set to FK or IK. For the IK I chose red (left) and blue (right), and for FK I chose pink (left) and green (right). However, since the toes are the same controllers whether the leg is in IK or FK, the controllers were just a single colour. I spent a bit of time trying to work out how to use the switch to drive the colour override for the control shapes. Eventually I found that I could use a condition node that was true when the switch was above 0.5 and false when below 0.5. Then I wired the condition node to the drawing override of the controller. As the drawing override is not in the short list of things in the hypershade I had to open the connection editor and wire them up in there.

Foot08 Foot09

Finally, I had to work out what number represented each colour. With some trial and error I eventually found the values and wired up all of the toe controllers so that they change colour. Success!