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Welcome to the Introduction to Rigging tutorial series for Maya. Throughout these lessons for beginners, you will discover some basic technical concepts that will get you started in the fun and crazy world of rigging! And at the end, we will rig a complete biped character and leave with a short introduction on scripting, to automate simple tasks.
In this first chapter we almost won't be using the software itself – first things first! Anyone can follow a tutorial and get things working, but you can't rely on tutorials forever, right? You've got to understand what you are doing! So we're going to explain a little about how character riggers think, and how to optimize your work from the very start of the process in just about any kind of job.
Are you ready? – Let's do this!
Before taking any action, here is something you should always remember: Do not try to create everything that's in your mind, like some crazy, hungry monkey, before planning your rig!
Like with almost everything in life, if you don't plan before taking action you will most likely have a hard time trying to get things working! The process of building a character rig can be really complex, so it's a good idea to write a task list to avoid skipping important steps (Fig.01).
First, let's play a little with our character and try to imagine how we can get good deformations. Good practice is to take screenshots from your model and draw over them. Try to figure out the ideal location of the skeleton, controls and pivots based in your character's proportions. Don't worry about this now; we will help you throughout this chapter (Fig.02).
In the rigging world, being organized is essential! Organization helps you to create easy-to-understand and up-to-date setups. Please, try to rename all objects, geometries, curve controls, nodes, etc. To sum up: everything you create and may have to use later.
Good practice in Maya is to use Groups (Any Mode > Edit > Group). Your rig must be as simple as possible. It doesn't matter whether you're working on a simple cartoon character or on a badass realistic creature: keep thinking in terms of solutions! They will come to you more easily when your rig and workflow are organized (Fig.03).