620 Bones later, Lion fish, Blend file included

I want to become a ‘Rigger’ So i set myself the task of rigging a ‘Lion Fish’.
After 40 minutes modelling and 1 week rigging I have added 620 bones and halve a dozen drivers plus about 40 custom bone shapes.

Thank you to Kent Trammel, I should have watched the Piero Course before starting my rig not after.

Here are a few screen shots done quickly.


These are the bones.

What I have added is…

  • There is a switch (driver) to control the tips of the fins freely
  • There is another driver to focus the eyes by scaling the eye locator on the x axis
  • There is a cloth simulator and a Wind force to simulate water passing over the Fins

What I have not done is…

  • Textures and UV Map
  • Splines (which I probably should have used instead of IK’s)
  • Detailed Model (This was rigging practice)
  • An FK / IK switch Driver (I thought there is enough control at the moment considering the animator)

I Just thought this might be good fun to animate
Though some bones should be parented better

I just finished as it is before I start my next project.
Let me know if you would like me to update it for you, I can add more individual bone controls, fix the mesh or add better driver.

PLEASE give back constructive criticism, I would like to become a good rigger.

hi, the image of bones not load me :(, you can make another render with another pose that show us the rigging functional? :slight_smile:



now load, OMG!!

Just some more screenies I done quickly

My blend file had to be loaded to blend swap here is the link

*** It would help if you turn on Bone Layer Manager, download and install Bone layer manager here ***

Just have fun and let me know :slight_smile:

There is a cloth you can remove or bake, I have not edited the cloth values

tbh i dont think you need to have that large amount of bones in any situation.

I can be wrong, but I think i could use a fraction of your bones-number and make a satisfactory rig for a fish like this one. Like for example, for the fins, you dont really need to have independent bones for every fin. I would have used probably a set of 3 bones subdivided and they would have control over an area, like your controls do. Honestly your controls work like I would have put my set of bones mostly. For the body, I wouldnt have used more than 5-6 bones either, and you have a ton there.

I dont know, the features about the cloth simulator and wind are nice, but the bones count is excesive to me, and probably is the reason why it slows down my computer a bit (not like i have a super machine anyway, just a quadcore ): ).

I dont know, for me, rigging is about optimizing the skeleton so the animation and overall performance doesnt get affected by technical issues. Also, a week is hell of a time for a rigging I think. Even if u added nice simulation stuff and etc wich I havent done (i have done plenty of game-model rigs wich dont require fancy stuff :p)

This looks awesome!

I admit there are a lot of bones, perhaps unnecessarily. Though the reason there are so many bones is that there are layers of bones, I have a layer for deformation bones, a Layer for IK bones and a layer for FK bones and drivers to switch between the rigs. I tried to use a similar rig to 1 that was used for Piero’s wings, except this fish has 5 wings, so a lot more bones.

The bone quantity in the body is unfortunately neccessary to get the smooth movement of the fins, otherwise the fins would deform weirdly because of parenting issues to the body. There was no other way to get the level of control without all the bones unfortunately. The IK bones in the body probably should have been a spline, but I preferred the 1 control bone for the whole body.

I Have updated the file, It should run fine now

I think, this is a good excercise of learning, now if you practice more, you can found more optimal solutions for this type of rigg, you can prove this rigg for a little animation test, and see what is the really you need for controll this character.


Honestly, I cannot see how there are too many bones for a main character in an animation. If you were to compare the level of control to that of Piero or other production characters it seems quiet similar. I cannot see how to reduce the bones in the back because of parenting to the backbone and I cannot reduce the bones in the fins If I want to give the animator the option to bend the bones in the fins/spines. The IK joints are perhaps irrelevant and the use of the bone for a tracking constraint instead off a direct control bone, but other than that we are still looking at a similar number of bones.
Can someone direct me to another way to give the animator the same level of control of fins without so many bones? I cannot see how it is possible to achieve this level of control without this number of deformation bones.
I could make the bone count about 200, but that would mean no switch between IK and FK controls and that is just standard practice for production pieces.
Rigify has 411 bones
Piero 450, I used the same wing set up as was used in Piero but twice as many times, hence the number of bones

I have updated blend file with an animation loop and better skinning and parenting. I found the level of control fine, just don’t use the tweak bones unless you want to tweak. The level of control is up to the animator
It runs fine on my laptop, just don’t have the fish subdivided twice in your window or be baking the cloth

Just bake the cloth first if you want the water effect

I mean, if i went through rigify and added muscle control bones would that be wrong? there will be a lot more bones… I don’t like the argument there are too many bones, unless you can show a way to achieve the same level of control without them

test render of an amateur animation cycle

I said that I could be wrong btw. You have nice arguments and you can be right about them. I just havent seen riggs with this amount of bones.

I also dont know what “piero” is so if u can link something that would be great :).

Piero :

Thank you Kent Trammell