What's New in Rigging

Smooth skinning workflow improvements

Several new tools and options in the Paint Skin Weights Tool enhance the smooth skin weighting workflow.

See Paint Skin Weights Tool for updated information including the following improvements.

Tools to copy, paste, move, and fix weights

New buttons let you do the following tasks with one click:

  • Copy and paste: Copy a weight value from one vertex, paste it to other vertices.
  • Weight hammer: Re-assign selected vertices with weight values from neighboring vertices, fixing weights that cause spiky or otherwise undesirable deformation.
  • Move weights: Re-assign the joint(s) that you want to influence selected vertices.
  • Show influences: Easily identify which influences affect selected vertices.

Influences list improvements

  • Updated Sort options let you display influences in a tree-view hierarchy that you can expand and collapse.
  • Quickly edit the influence color by clicking new Influence color buttons.
  • Reduce the number of influences displaying in the list using the new filter. This makes it easier to locate and select influences when working with a complex rig.

Selection options

  • An Invert Selection button lets you quickly invert your selection in the Influences list.
  • New selection modes let you quickly switch between painting skin weights and painting to select skin points. Toggle between Paint, Select, and Paint Select to accomplish tasks like Fix smooth weights, or Move weights to other influences.

Ramp color feedback

Use a color ramp to assign color values for weights, making it easier to see small values when painting, and to determine if a joint is influencing unwanted vertices. Color swatches next to the color ramp let you quickly set colors to represent values of 0 and 1.

Interactive skin binding

This smooth binding method lets you quickly set initial skin weights using interactive volume manipulators. By adjusting the shape, length, and position of the manipulators in the viewport, you define the area of the mesh affected by each influence.

Interactive skin binding can help you achieve a quicker initial bind and better smooth skin deformation. Once you establish the rough weighting with the manipulators, you can refine weights using the weight painting tools.

Watch: Interactive Skin Binding

See the following topics:

Dual quaternion skinning

Traditional smooth skinning in Maya uses linear skinning to make a mesh follow a character’s joints. In areas such as a wrist or elbow, this method can result in a ‘bow tie’ or ‘candy wrapper’ effect where the mesh loses volume as a bone twists on its axis. Dual quaternion is a new method of smooth skinning designed to eliminate these undesirable deformation effects.

A new menu in the Smooth Bind Options window (and in the skinCluster) lets you select whether to use classic smooth skinning, dual quaternion skinning, or blend between both methods at a vertex level on the same character.

See the following topics for more information:

Non-destructive animation retargeting

The Autodesk® HumanIK® character solver is now integrated in Maya to provide an improved character animation retargeting solution.

Using the HumanIK plug-in with animation layers lets you retarget character animation and modify it non-destructively. The new retargeting workflow is a live process, letting you adjust various parameters and see the results immediately.

Watch: Non-destructive Retargeting

Refer to the following topics for more information:

Joint drawing styles

New options in the joint node give you alternate ways of representing and visualizing a character’s skeleton. You can change how joints are drawn using the Draw Style drop-down list. This list now includes options to draw joints as circles, squares, or sticks. See Draw Style and Change joint display options.

Improved smooth skin weight normalization

A new Normalize Weights drop-down menu in the Paint Skin Weights Tool and in the skinCluster node has been added to improve the smooth skin weight normalization process. This menu lets you set how you want weights normalized, which can reduce the incidence of small weights unintentionally distributed across the mesh as you paint and smooth.

The Interactive normalization mode replicates the weight normalization from previous versions of Maya, while the new Post normalization mode gives you the improved normalization behavior.

See Smooth skin weight normalization and Set normalization mode and normalize weights for updated information.

New constraints

Point on Poly constraint

A new Point on Poly constraint lets you constrain an object to a mesh so that the constrained object sticks to the mesh as the mesh deforms. Using this constraint you can create effects such as a button on a jacket, where the button sticks in place as the jacket deforms.

See Point on Poly constraints.

Closest Point constraint

A new Closest Point constraint provides a quick way to calculate the closest point on a mesh, NURBS surface, or curve, relative to an input position. You can use the constraint for calculation purposes only, or create locators to mark the closest point.

See Closest Point constraint.

Deformer enhancements

Mirror deformer weights

A new item in the Edit Deformers menu lets you mirror weights for the blend shape, cluster, jiggle, and wire deformers.

See Mirror deformer weights and Edit Deformers > Mirror Deformer Weights.

Lattice deformer hotkeys

You can now use the pickwalk hotkeys to navigate along lattice deformer points. See Edit lattice deformers for updated information.

Wrap deformer enhancements

A new Falloff Mode for the wrap deformer lets you select from Volume and Surface options. The default Volume mode sets the wrap deformer to use direct distances to calculate weights for wrap influence objects, and the new Surface mode sets the deformer to use surface-based distances to calculate the weights.

See Falloff Mode.

Support for negative weights in the Blend Shape deformer

A new Support Negative Weights attribute in the blendShape node lets you set whether you want to allow negative weight values. See Support Negative Weights.