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Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 3

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What You'll Be Creating

Today we're bringing you the third chapter in Soni Kumari's exceptional Human Rigging tutorial series for 3D Studio Max. In this lesson, you'll continue building the rig and learn how to create the character's spine and upper body controls.


Also available in this series:

  1. Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 1
  2. Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 2
  3. Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 3
  4. Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 4 Hand & Finger Controls
  5. Complete Human Character Rig In 3D Studio Max, Part 5 Skinning

Project Overview:
Throughout this series author Soni Kumari will walk you through the entire process of constructing a fully realized character rig from scratch using Max’s proprietary toolset. Over the course of the project Soni will give you a series of in-depth lessons, working towards building a intuitive, animation friendly character rig from the ground up. If you’ve always wanted to learn how rig but didn’t know where to start, this series is for you.


Step 1

In the 3rd Part of the tutorial, we will learn how to create the Spine and upper body controls. Let’s start 3ds Max and open the Character Bones ik.max file which had been saved at the end of the last part of the tutorial.



Step 2

Now, we will create controls for the knees. So first we have to create a curve shape for the knee control. For this go to the Create panel and click on ‘Shapes’. Here select Circle and then draw a circle curve on the grid.



Step 3

With the Circle selected, Right-click and then go to Convert To: and then select Convert to Editable Spline.



Step 4

After converting the circle into an Editable Spline, click on the Modify panel button and turn on the ‘Enable in Viewport’ option.



Step 5

With the curve selected, click on the Angle Snap Toggle button for snapping rotation. Select the Rotation tool and then while pressing the Shift key, Rotate it in the Z axis. This opens the ‘Clone Options’. Click on the OK button and it makes another copy of the Circle curve.



Step 6

Just like this make one more copy of the curve and place them all together as shown in the image below. Now select anyone of the curves, go to the Modify panel and then click on Attach button and then select all the other copied circle curves. Now all 3 different curves are attached as one shape.



Step 7

Rename this shape as CtrlC_L_Knee 01. Now, by pressing Shift+A, Align this shape with the Bn_L_Knee 01 bone.



Step 8

Scale down the shape to be fit in between the knee joints. Now make another copy of this shape for the opposite side of the knee. By pressing Shift+A, Align this shape with the Bn_R_Knee 01 bone and also rename it as CtrlC_R_Knee 01.



Step 9

Drag both knee controls forward and also change their colors according to their respective bones.



Step 10

Now, we will make the knee Swivel controls for controlling the knees properly. So select IK_ L_Ankle01 and click on the Motion panel tab to open the motion controls for IK.



Step 11

With IK_ L_Ankle01 selected, click on the None button inside the IK Solver Properties and then click on CtrlC_L_Knee 01 in the viewport.



Step 12

Do the same process for the right side knee control too. Now you can check the knee controls. If you move the knee controls in the X-direction the corresponding bones will act according to them.



Step 13

Now select both knee controls and while pressing the Alt key, Right-click and choose the Freeze Transform option in the popup menu to freeze the transform of the knee controls.



Step 14

Now, we will create the upper body controls for the hip and spine. So first jump into the Front view, with the Line tool selected and the snap grid option enabled, draw a two sided arrow shape as shown in the image below.



Step 15

Scale down the two sided arrow shape and place it around the hip bone. Now while in Hierarchy panel, click on the Affect Pivot Only button underneath the Adjust Pivot roll out.



Step 16

An then while pressing Shift+A click on Bn_Hip01, you can see the curve pivot point is now aligned with the Bn_Hip01 bone pivot point as shown in the image below. After that turn off the Affect Pivot Only button.



Step 17

In the Front view and with the arrow shape selected, click on the Mirror button. It opens the Mirror options box, select the ‘Copy’ radio button and then finally click on OK. This makes one more copy of the arrow shape on the opposite side.



Step 18

Now with any of the arrow shapes selected, click on the Modify panel tab and then click on the Attach button underneath the Geometry group, and then click on the other arrow shape to attach them together. Rename this newly created curve as CtrlC_Hip shake 01.



Step 19

Now jump into the Side view and create one more arrow shape using the Line tool as was done previously.



Step 20

Scale it down and keep it near the first spine bone as shown in the image below.



Step 21

Now make 2 more duplicate arrow shapes by pressing the Shift key and dragging it upward.



Step 22

After copying the shapes, arrange them as shown in the following image. After that select the arrow shapes one by one, click on the Hierarchy panel and then select the Affect Pivot Only button and quick align each arrow shape with its corresponding bone.



Step 23

Now rename the arrow shapes as CtrlC_Spine01, CtrlC_Spine02 and CtrlC_Chest01 as shown in the image below.



Step 24

Now, click on the Select and Link button, then first select CtrlC_Chest01 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Spine02. Again select CtrlC_Spine02 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Spine01.



Step 25

Now, we will apply link and constraints to create new controls for the upper body. So create a Point helper in the viewport with the 'Axis Tripod' and 'Box' options On. Rename this Point helper as PointCtrl_Hip01.



Step 26

With PointCtrl_Hip01 selected, press Alt+A for Align and then click on Bn_Hip01. It opens the Align Selection settings box. In the settings box, turn on all X, Y and Z positions and also check on all X, Y and Z Axes in Align Orientation, and then click on OK button.



Step 27

With Bn_Hip01 selected, go to the Animation menu and select Constraints, and then choose Orientation Constraint.



Step 28

With the Orientation constraint chosen, click on PointCtrl_Hip01 to apply the orientation constraint.



Step 29

Now for linking, first click on the Select and Link button, and then select PointCtrl_Hip01 and then drag and drop the mouse button onto CtrlC_Hip shake 01.



Step 30

Now create another Point Helper. This time the new point helper should be bigger in size than the PointCtrl_Hip01.



Step 31

Now, with the point helper selected, press Alt+A for align, and click on Bn_Spine02. It opens the Align Selection settings box. In the settings box, check on all X,Y and Z positions and also check on all X,Y and Z Axes under Align Orientation, and then click on the OK button.



Step 32

Rename the point helper as PointCtrl_spine0,1 and also change it's color.



Step 33

Now with Bn_Spine02 selected, click on Animation > Constraints > Orientation Constraint.



Step 34

Now with the Orientation Constraint chosen, click on PointCtrl_spine01 to apply the orientation constraint.



Step 35

Again click on the Select and Link button and then first select PointCtrl_spine01, and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Spine01 for linking.



Step 36

For duplicating the point helper for other linking, press Ctrl+V and then choose the Copy option.



Step 37

After cloning the point helper, press Alt+A and click on Bn_Spine03. In the Align Selection settings box, check on all X, Y and Z positions, and also check on all X,Y and Z Axes under Align Orientation and then click on the OK button. Also rename this point helper as PointCtrl_spine02.



Step 38

Again with the Select and Link tool selected, first select PointCtrl_spine02 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Spine02 for linking.



Step 39

Again make another duplicate point helper and align the orientation with Bn_Chest01, as was done previously. Rename this point helper as PointCtrl_Chest01.



Step 40

Again with Bn_Chest01 selected, click on Animation > Constraints > Orientation Constraint.



Step 41

Now with the Orientation Constraint selected, click on PointCtrl_Chest01 to apply the orientation constraint.



Step 42

Now, again with the Select and Link tool selected, first select PointCtrl_Chest01, and then drag and drop onto CtrlC_Chest01 for linking.



Step 43

Now, we will create the ‘Center Of Gravity’ control for the hip control. So jump into the Top view and create a Star shape spline.



Step 44

Being in Perspective view and with the Star shape selected, press Shift+A for quick align and click on BRoot_Spine01. Also Rename the Star shape as CtrlC_COG01.



Step 45

Now first select CtrlC_Hip shake 01, then BRoot_Spine01. Then also select CtrlC_Spine01. With the Select and Link tool chosen, drag and drop on CtrlC_COG01.



Step 46

After creating a new control, always perform a Freeze Transform. So with the CtrlC_COG01 selected, press Alt+Right click and in popup menu select the Freeze Transform option.



Step 47

After completing the Upper body controls, you can check the controllers’ movement as shown in the image. Then reset the controllers again to a ‘T’ pose.



Step 48

Now, we’ll create the neck and head control. So jump into the Top view and click on the Create tab. Select the Circle shape tool and then draw a circle curve as shown in the image below.



Step 49

Being in Perspective view and with the circle curve selected, press Shift+A and click on Bn_Neck 01. Also rename this shape as CtrlC_Neck01.



Step 50

With the PointCtrl_Chest01 selected, press Ctrl+V for making a clone of this point helper. Select the Copy radio button and then click on the OK button.



Step 51

After cloning the point helper, press Alt+A and click on Bn_Spine03. It opens the Align Selection settings box. In the settings box, check on all X,Y and Z positions and also check on all X,Y and Z Axes under Align Orientation, and then click on the OK button. Also rename the point helper as PointCtrl_Neck01.



Step 52

With Bn_Neck 01 selected, click on Animation > Constraints > Orientation Constraint.



Step 53

With the Orientation Constraint chosen, click on PointCtrl_Neck01 to apply the orientation constraint.



Step 54

Now, with the Select and Link tool selected, first select PointCtrl_Neck01 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Neck01 for linking.



Step 55

Now, again click on the Select and Link tool, then select CtrlC_Neck01 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Chest01 for linking.



Step 56

Now we will create the Head control. So jump into the Front view and then create an arc shape spline.



Step 57

Being in Perspective view, first Rename the Arc shape as CtrlC_Head01. Now select CtrlC_Neck01 and CtrlC_Head01, and by pressing Alt+Right-click, apply the Freeze Transformation command.



Step 58

With CtrlC_Head01 selected, click on the Hierarchy panel and select the Affect Pivot Only option. And then while pressing Shift+A for quick align, click on the Bn_Head 01 bone.



Step 59

Now select PointCtrl_Neck01 and then press Ctrl+V. It opens the Clone Options box. Select the Copy option and then click on the OK button.



Step 60

With the cloned point helper selected, press Alt+A and click on Bn_Head 01. It opens Align Selection settings box. In the settings box, check on all X,Y and Z positions and also check on all X,Y and Z Axes in Align Orientation, then click on the OK button. Also Rename the cloned point helper as PointCtrl_Head01.



Step 61

Now with Bn_Head 01 selected, click on Animation > Constraints > Orientation Constraint.



Step 62

Win Orientation Constraint chosen, click on PointCtrl_Head01 to apply the orientation constraint.



Step 63

Now with the Select and Link tool selected, first select PointCtrl_Head01 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Head01 for linking.



Step 64

Again with the Select and Link tool selected, first select CtrlC_Head01 and then drag and drop on CtrlC_Neck01 for linking.



Step 65

Now after doing this, you can check all the new created controls for proper linking and connections.



Step 66

Now, we have to add all controls and helpers into a layer. So click on the Layer Manager to open the Layer Options Box.



Step 67

In the Layer Options Box, first hide the Bones layer, then select all the Curve Controls in the viewport. And with the Curve Controls layer selected, click on the (+) button tab to add them to the layer.



Step 68

You will see that all the curves are added inside the Curve Controls layer now. After that, click on the Hide button of the Curve Controls layer.



Step 69

Again select all the point helpers and IKs in the viewport, then with the Other Hidden Objects layer selected, click on the (+) button to add them all.



Step 70

After layering and grouping, now unhide all the elements except for the character mesh. Then close the Layer Manager window.


Finally save the file as "Character upper Body Controls.max". In the next part of the series, we will learn how to create hands and fingers controls.