Comparison: Rigging in Blender and Maya?

Can anyone fill in some gaps for me relating to the difference between rigging in Maya and Blender?

So far, my conclusions are:

  • Rigify and HumanIK are more or less the same in that they will both yield a body rig, although Rigify seems like it’s the more flexible of the two,
  • face rigs are a big pain and there aren’t really any addons/scripts/whatever to speed the process up a whole lot in either Blender or Maya,
  • BlendShapes in Maya are more or less the equivalent of ShapeKeys in Blender with the exception that Maya wants me to cut off my character’s head to save RAM whereas Blender doesn’t need to make extra copies for each shape,
  • weight painting is a big pain in both with the following exceptions:
  • Maya will show me a list of vertices attached to a particular bone and the weight it has from that bone,
  • Maya allows me to edit this list, changing weights, etc. (yeah Blender does allow me to edit, but only by braille)


Anyone care to add to this list or correct anything?

  1. Yes Rigify and HumanIK are similar, but humanIK is a little more flexible because (I haven’t actually done this mind, and I’m not sure if I’m describing it correctly), you can retarget joints from one rig to another. So Build one control rig, then retarget to different characters (eg tall and short), by specifiying which joint is which.

2 probably not, no because, it’ll depend on how you rig the face, using bones for jaw, or all shape keys. Eitherway you’ll have to deal with weights.

  1. Yes they are equivalent, but blender can also use the Maya method of creating multiple heads. You just use join as shapes or something like that, can’t check at the moment, sorry.

  2. Blender allows you to edit numerically as well, only instead of giving you a huge table of values all at the same time (which boxes my head), you edit one set of vertex weights a time, by selecting the bone from a list.

The thing that bugs me about rigging in maya, and it may only be the way I was shown, but it seems to get really accurate placement of bones theres at lot of use of the point constraint, which needs deleting after use, score 1 for the 3d cursor.

:slight_smile: Boxes your head. :slight_smile: Great expression.

I’m assuming you’re talking about Vertex Groups when you say “selecting the bone from a list,” but is there a way to select a vertex (or even a group) and see the amount of weight that’s given to a particular bone? That why it feels like flying blind to me. Once the weights are set, the only indicator of how much weight any vertex has seems to be the colouring in Weight Paint mode. And frankly, most of those shades of blue all run together for me and I really can’t tell the difference between a vertex that has no weight and one that has almost the green-level of weight. Since I can’t see the difference, I end up having to paint everything over to make sure I’ve got it all and that just takes way too much time.

I agree with you on the 3D cursor. I’ve tried placing bones accurately in Maya and it’s almost impossible without some type of addon or script. I do a fair amount of mechanical rigging (in fact, I’m thinking about abandoning non-mechanical rigging altogether because of the weight painting problem I mentioned above) and without a way to place a bone exactly, it’s way too easy to end up with misregistration of meshes during armature manipulation.

Thanks for jumping in, kettlefish.


Why can’t I attach files today?

Oh well.

but is there a way to select a vertex (or even a group) and see the amount of weight that’s given to a particular bone?

Yes. You have to be in edit mode of the mesh:

Here, that ring of vertices have the full weight of 1 (100%) to the top bone, bone.001. And everything else is zero. Don’t forget to hit the Assign button :stuck_out_tongue:

And frankly, most of those shades of blue all run together for me and I really can’t tell the difference between a vertex that has no weight and one that has almost the green-level of weight.

HA! Me too. Is green hotter than orange, :spin:

Theres a fix for that two here, you’ll notice the one ring of verts with a weight of 1 here as well.

Why can’t I upload images today, is there a global limit or something?

Edit, that’s odd it only seems to be this thread I can’t upload attachments from my computer, :spin:

you can see and edit all the bone weights assigned to a single vertex under vertex groups on the “n”/right hand panel in edit mode

Moved from “General Forums > Blender and CG Discussions” to “Support > Animation and Rigging”

Also… yes, I really need to get around to updating that add-on. I’m going to need it soon. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ah-ha! THAT’S where it is! Geez, I’ve been studying rigging for almost a year and a half and NEVER heard or seen any mention of the N-window Vertex Groups panel before. I’ll bet it’s mentioned in the wiki, but considering its current state and my habit of avoiding it, no wonder I didn’t see it.

@kettlefish: This is what I was looking for; assigning weights isn’t the problem; it’s finding out the assigned weights after the fact. I mean, who can remember all that, right? :slight_smile:

Thanks to you both for helping me track this down! I knew it had to be there; logic dictates it, after all. What would be the point of being able to assign weights to a vertex if you couldn’t go back afterwards and find out what the heck you’d done?

Since we’re talking about both Blender and Maya, I assumed some forum frequenters would be upset if this was in Animation & Rigging; that’s why I started it in Blender and CG. Just saying. :slight_smile:

Also, which addon are you referring to? You’ve piqued my curiosity now.

xrg linked to it in his post.

IMHO HumanIK in maya is something blender needs badly, yeah we can probably obtain a similar result by building a rig from scratch, but its the fbIK which is the real clincher, to be able to quickly pin a bone (a hand, for example) and then drag a foot, and have the full armature move correctly, responding to the foot properly, so you can drag a full character by their foot LOL, and the IK works out the full body pose… also the ability to use IK and FK at the same time, without having to change any options…

I have to agree with kettlefish though, the ability to swap out any humanoid rig into any other humanoid rig, using retargeting, is a REALLY powerful tool , it means you can interchange animations, or use mocap productively, without having to doctor it for a decent end result.
One example would be assigning a dogs running cycle to a human , and see them run like a dog without having to spend hours retouching the mocap or the initial rig

if you use the same naming conventions for your vertex groups, can’t you just un-parent the skelaton go into edit mode tweak the joints and re-parent to another mesh(with the said naming of vertex groups)?..seems to me that would work just fine.

That would work fine if all of the bones for each mesh were named coherently. Such as using a predefined rig, like a makehuman setup , or a rigify rig. Mayas humanIK lets yo transplant the locations of the bones from one armature to another by simply clicking the bone on your rig, and then selecting the corresponding bone in the humanIK setup screen, when you do this you can save out the mapping of the bones for that character… It makes it easier to … for example,
import a BVH file,
assign mapping to it (which is instant if you saved out the mapping for that bvh type),
select or create a characters rig (with no naming conventions needed)
assign a mapping to that (which is once again instant if you have previously saved the map)
tell it which is the control rig,
watch the mocap on your character,
modify it in real time, to get things like hip height , arm stretchiness, foot height ect, just the way you want it.
done. makes it much faster to switch and swap animation data.

its an old video but it shows most of the features

Thanks. I missed that. From the screenshot, it looks like just the thing. I’ll keep an eye out for the update.

I think you’d have to have the same vertex count/order for this work so the weighting would come out right. Perhaps if you started with the same base mesh for two or more characters, making sure the vertices for each body part stayed within the body part in each character (ie. neck vertices were always neck, head were always head, etc.) it would be possible. You’d still likely end up tweaking weights, though.

Of course, this is all theory. The one time I used a single rig for multiple characters, it was a mechanical-type rig where each moving part of the body was a separate mesh that was weighted 100% to its bone. It took me several months of planning, redesigning meshes and rigs, trial and error to get it work, but I ended up with 22 characters all using the same rig.

Apparently, this is even easier with Maya 2013.

I just tried this out and it’s definitely handy. Now we just need the core devs to implement the selection/editing of multiple fields with one action (like Maya does). That would speed things up an amazing amount for editing those vertex weight spreadsheets.