Character skin weighting
The other half of the character setup equation is skin weighting. We have to tell Maya how to attach our character to the skeleton! When it comes to weighting, I like to work in a easy-to-hard progression. The video at the top shows how to use each of these tools, so I’ll skip past that and just provide new info.
Bind skin with Geodesic Voxel
Geodesic Voxel make skin weighting almost work right out of the gate. This is much quicker and easier than the other Maya skin weighting options, especially when combined with:
Hammer Skin Weights
Geodesic voxel won’t get everything right, but some vert weighting issues are easy to fix – so easy, in fact, that Maya can do it automatically. This is stuff like the left leg verts being influenced by the right leg, or the side of the body being pulled up by the arm.
In cases like these, just select the verts and activate the hammer skin weights tool. It won’t fix everything, but it is an easy first pass!
Once the easy stuff is out of the way, it is time for the:
Paint Skin Weights tool
Paint Skin Weights is an intuitive painting-based tool, that lets the user specify exactly how verts are weighted to the skeleton.
Every vert has more than one influence, and using the color ramp we can see how strongly each bone influences an individual vert.
One thing to note – all vert weights must add up to 100%. This is why there is no subtract mode for the paint skin weights tool: Maya wouldn’t know how to fill in the missing percentage!
The Paint Skin Weights tool should get us 90% there, and it works great for large areas of the body, like the torso, shoulder, hips, etc.
But certain parts of the body – like the knee and elbow joints, and especially the fingers, are handled more easily with the
The most precise method, but also the most tedious (IMO). The component editor allows the user to literally type in every vert weight manually. Best for tackling large groups of verts at once – to add or remove a bone influence all at once.
The delta mush modifier is a skin weighting tool that makes the process even easier – if you know what you’re doing!
Then I’ll talk about joint orients – a technical task that is necessary if you want to get a rig that functions properly.
And last would be how to link the skeleton you’ve created here to Maya’s Human IK Rig – a fully featured animation rig, without any of the headache of setting it up! Stay tuned!