Why there are no courses regarding creating advanced rig with custom controls?

It seems that there are very little courses explaining the rigging process, tips, tricks, explaining thought process behind doing things certain way, skinning, shape keys, custom rig controls, ik/fk blending and so on. Pretty much all tutorials/courses I’ve seen for Blender focus on using Rigify or similar scripts or otherwise creating very simple rigs that are alright-ish for quick posing for stills and an absolute nightmare to actually animate long term. There are literally zero sources on how to build rig from the ground up to be actually pleasure to animate.

Like, after so many years why there is not a single, comprehensive source available that would teach us to do that kind of rig? (this one is from script on Blender Market but it’s still lightyears ahead of Rigify and alike solutions out there - the problem starts if you need that quality and level of control for non-bipedal characters…)

Why is that the case? Surely we have enough introductions to Blender and courses showing modeling and sculpting to start touching on more advanced topics at this point (and there are new ones still showing up on the same subject, repeating pretty much the same thing over and over again). It’s not only the case with animation segment but also with for example lighting (very underapreciated topic that when mastered rewards with amazing render results).

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Look on youtube for Humane Rigging. I believe it is exactly what you’re looking for.

Yes Humane rigging is a must.
There is also the quite old but still informative Mancandy FAQ.

Also you can look for a book about facial rigging called stop staring. they use maya as example but you can easily apply it to blender.
It’s more about the theory of facial rigging.

There is also a youtube channel called cult of rig about rigging in maya , it’s a bit too technical for me but seems quite interesting.

There is also a workshop : https://sanet.cd/blogs/games-musics/cgworkshops_character_facial_rigging_with_judd_simantov.1393549.html

While a tutorial can be good to teach you a single technique , it’s hard to teach rigging without talking about a lot of technical, mechanical and anatomical stuff.
It’s better to look for books or workshop about general theory, there are quite a few good resources if you look a bit for it.

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You will find a certain amount of more advanced Blender Rigging stuff on Vimeo…

here’s one with some interesting Rigging Tutorials

also … back over on youtube




https://cgmasters.net/category/free-tutorials/

Take a look at Blenrig 5.0. Principles work just as well for any rig. Need a little scripting knowledge if you want all the goodies.

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One of the most thorough rigging instructors besides Nathan is on Youtube by the name DanPro.Several advanced toots on Rigify and Pitchipoy

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The rig in that video is actually very simple, far behind Rigify. What is has extra seems to be a script that transfers your selection from a panel of selection bones to the corresponding control bones. It is a useful feature to be sure, but… Anyway, an issue may be that tutorials like Humane Rigging covers nearly all the basic tools. More advanced rig features are built by putting those techniques together. And, the advanced features usually require scripting. Scripting seems to be something lacking in Blender tutorials in general.

@AustinC agreed…

but the poster doesn’t seem to be asking for scripting advise…
scripting and rigging really are two different subjects…

but you will get no argument from me that the blender community can use all the scripting tutorials it can get…
I personally have yet to dip my toe into the Blender scripting waters…
did enough to get along back when I was using XSI as my main 3D software some number of years ago…

I personally feel that most users won’t want to learn scripting in the first place…
and that a 3D software should be easy enough to use without having to rely on it…

Simply because when you stop to think about it… once you’ve written a script then that’s it it’s done… and no one really needs to write it again… unless of coarse it has bugs… or needs improvements…

and once your doing scripting your really software developing and not creating end content…
often… not always… but often… creating Art… or end content… and writing software are two different head spaces…
few are the people who master them both…

I have to say I have a hard time switching gears between the two…
but then… I’ll be 60yrs old in few months down the road so…

this old brain can only absorb so much info before it starts to shut down…

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Having to switch mental gears is common in 3D creation. Texturing, UV unwrapping, rigging, animating, modelling, sculpting, retopologizing, character design, lighting, and rendering are all very different skills. All of them need learned individually, even though rigging is the most technical. In a way, rigging is closer to scripting and engineering than to art. It is very technical, tedious, and repetitive. Tools like Substance Designer have reduced texturing and materials to more of an art, but I don’t think the same may be done for rigging.

In the least, IK-FK snapping and auto-rigging scripts are essential for production rigging. I can make rigs as advanced as the Rigify rigs, but it takes a significant amount of time. Even a modest, production-quality rig can take 60 hours to make. Control chains, IK-FK mechanism chains, deformation chains, switch-sockets, squash-and-stretch, bendy bones, foot roll, and far more take a ton of time. And, you cannot just build prototype parts to copy and paste together because tracking down every constraint and driver to change the values would be a nightmare (there would be many hundreds of drivers and constraints on hundreds bones, each one needing changed). Making rigs like Rigify for each character would be impractical. Rigs should only be made twice: once as a design prototype and again as a component in an auto-rigging script. That is why advanced-level rigging classes in animation schools focus on scripting.

Even if you replace scripting with node or driver systems, the user will essentially be doing the same tasks with the same logic. But, graphical scripting systems like those have limitations. There are some things that you simply cannot do without scripting, like auto-rigging. Perhaps you have seen the post that I made asking about double joints. Once I figure out how to rig it, I intend to script a new Rigify limb type for it. After only making a few high-quality rigs, I have realized that I cannot continue without scripting.

@AustinC Agreed…

but again… once you you make a script your not just done for yourself… you also have a script that others can use…
just like programming in general… once the software is written then it’s done… all that remains is the bug fixing or the user interface adjustments to allow not programmers (or non-scripters) to use it more easily… that’s why user interface is such a big honking deal…

plus the first thing one learns about Rigging is that not all Riggs for every project need a ‘production ready’ rig…
even at the production level … not all Riggs are the same… a Rigg for a Daffy Duck Character That needs to be placed in Ridiculously Extreme posses to pull of the ‘Gag’ … is going to be a much different Than say a Rigg designed for the Incredible Hulk where the major part of the Rigg is to try and automatically Rigg every Rippling muscle that one possibility can and try and make it look as Realistic as can be expected for such a character…

Even in a production environment 9 times out of 10 your going to want to Rigg each Character with several Riggs each Rigg designed to fit the specialized task at hand…

So some times scripts can help in with those task sometimes they can not… some times it all has to be done by hand…

So it’s nice to be able to know how to script when you need it…

but first…
and foremost…
you have know how to build that Rigg by hand without the script…

@ AustinC I personally don’t really use Riggify much…
I understand most of what it does and why it does it…
but I find the Riggify Rigg way to complex and heavy for most of the stuff I do…
so it really is way easier for me to make a couple of simpler Riggs that do most fo the things I need them to do then modify them for what I need when I need extra stuff done…

for someone else’s work flow I am sure it would be different…

Rare has been the case I end up needing to use a script to pull a Rigg together…

but I can see needing one say if I was going to build a Basket Ball team or Football or soccer team etc…

@ AustinC Anyway I hope I don’t sound like I am disagreeing with you in what you have said here… I’m not…
I’m trying to ‘add to’ what your saying…

Having been a traditionally trained Artist… from far enough back that computers were not involved in the process…
Drawing Painting Sculpting Lighting Textures Composition… those back then were all taught to students across the board… separate and apart from any computer programming or even from Movie Script writing (not software scripts but story writing) were considered separate Things… (separate Head spaces) so when computer programming came along it was never hardly ever associated with the General Art teachings… and I think that there is still a tendancy today for most College level ‘Art’ programs to continue to think of it in the same vain…

So regardless of the truth of the matter… (and I agree with you that you can see Movie making as an all in one thing) when people are trained to think of things as separate things it sometimes will be hard for people to separate things out in any different ways…

what I’m getting at … is this… what is the User asking for… ?
if the User is asking to have a system set up so that they don’t have to use Scripts or even delve into the deeper parts of Rigging…

If the programmers and script writers decide not to do it…
sooner or later someone will come along who will…

@ AustinC Anywayz… very interesting discussion… thanks for bring up all the excellent points

Again, some great points. And, I also agree with everything you are saying. And, I’m thinking about how this applies to the topic at hand. As I mentioned, scripting tutorials are lacking. And, many of these advanced rigging features require scripting of some kind. IK-FK snapping is considered standard, even on non-production rigs. But, as you mentioned, a lot of this scripting only needs done once. BlenRig and Rigify are two examples of where it has already been done more than once for Blender. And, as the original poster mentioned, tutorials about how to use these auto-rigging scripts are abundant.

I guess that it comes down to this. People who need basic rigging should just use Rigify or BlenRig anyway. From them, you get a production-quality rig for less effort than making a very simple rig from scratch. Then, tutorials like the Humane Rigging series teach people enough for them to make their own, lightweight rigs. Those tutorials also teach enough for people to understand how the advanced rigs like Rigify function. So, reverse engineering features in Rigify would not be too difficult, for the few people who need or want to know how it does something.

That leaves out the scripting side, but someone with a basic grasp on Blender scripting and Python may be able to reverse engineer the scripts. In other words, the people who the tutorials would be for would not actually need the tutorials.

However, I think there is a gap. It seems like the tutorials on advanced drivers are difficult to find.

@AustinC

again… very much in agreement with your thinking…

some points I will add…

IK-FK snapping is considered standard, even on non-production rigs.

very much in agreement…
and this kind of gets to the heart of what I am saying… since we do have a script already writen to do this… what we need is a basically a add-on , button… if you will… or a tool shelf box that will add IK-FK snap to your IK-FK setup that you have created for your rigg… for all I know this might just very well be something that the Blender Coders may have already placed in the 2.8 update… or might be something that gets added with some of the Rigging Nodes that are planned later down the pike…

@ AustinC
by the way we might need move our discussion to a separate thread instead of hijacking this guys thread the way we are…
I might start a new thread or you can if you want if our discussion continues much farther…

@ AustinC

People who need basic rigging should just use Rigify or BlenRig anyway. From them, you get a production-quality rig for less effort than making a very simple rig from scratch.

I will throw in a bit of disagreement here…
some of us like my self or even people are striving to just learn Rigg like the original poster above will avoid Rigify because they know that what they need is the practice of building their own Riggs… right along with practicing Scripting too…
I will use my own experience as an example… and perhaps I’m a bit of an odd man out on this… but I find I can throw together a Rigg pretty quickly that does what I need it to do in less time than I can setup a Rigidify Rigg… Perhaps I’m missing something in that but I don’t really think so…
Again my Riggs are much lighter than the Riggify Riggs… and most of what I do does not need all the things the Rigify rigg can do… even no IK/FK snapping in a Rigg can be gotten around in a small production setting… if you don’t need it very often…
A Rigg that is too heavy that is forcing the computer to work too much on every single frame… that has a very long term effect on time schedules… during the Animation process… I personally have found Heavy Riggs to not have much of an effect on Render times… (which is good)

but again… this just me speaking from my own experience… I first put together my first Rigg in Lightwave back in the Video Toaster days… then in Maya… which was a harrowing experience … at least back then… and then I really learned alot in by moving over to XSI… so that progression is most likely not everyones learning path… so I’m probably speaking out of turn here…

@ AustinC

I think there is a gap. It seems like the tutorials on advanced drivers are difficult to find.

Yes… Absolutely… and I agree that most advanced users can reverse engineer stuff from a file…
but tutorials do more than teach … I find by watching what someone else has come up with some new way to use a Rigging or Modifier tool that I haven’t seen before …

That’s true, especially with Blender, which has a lot of little features hidden inside. And, you may get a lot of good comments in general regarding theory. I guess that I don’t have enough experience for that to have come to my mind.

Hm… those are interesting ideas. The only issue I see is that it would depend greatly upon the structure of a rig, making such a script difficult to implement. Does the rig use IK influence as an IK switch, without using different control chains for FK and IK? How does the rig position the IK pole target? These variables are difficult to account for without at least some scripting.

This is off topic, but there is a flexible roundabout way to do IK-FK snapping in Blender without long scripts. Blender already has an “Apply Visual Transform” function. If you add a “Copy Transformation” constraint to a bone, it will take the same position, scale, and rotation of another bone. When you “Apply Visual Transform” to the constrained bone, the bone will stay in place when the constraint is removed. The only thing that you need is a dummy IK pole target attached to the FK rig so that you can snap the real IK pole target to it. This would allow you to match IK and FK control chains. And, for simple setups where the IK influence turns the IK on-off, simply applying the visual transformation is enough, without messing with constraints. I thought this was off topic, but I guess it bring up the same question. Why are there no tutorials for something like this? It makes me think that I should make some tutorials on this topic.

As long as we stay somewhat on topic, we are probably fine. This topic is fairly vague anyway. But, we can if the original poster requests that we do.

I’m not really attempting to make a case for anything. I’ve never actually used a rig. I began with Humane Rigging and a few other tutorials. Then, I looked over the Mancandy rig. Since then, I have been making simple rigs for other people to use. And, until recently, my computer was too slow to run even a light rig. I have been developing an advanced prototype rig that is only a little lighter than Rigify. Then, I realized that Rigify includes everything that I was putting into my rig. I still don’t know if it will work for me; I’m still figuring that out.

Here is what I am thinking. Most artists seem to just want to get rigging out of the way; they do not want to learn rigging and scripting. And, during training, they animate using “basic” rigs that are actually quite advanced. Perhaps not all training programs are as spoiling as the ones that I have looked at. Squash and stretch, IK-FK switching and snapping, foot roll, and more seem to be considered standard. I have been told that even realistically animated characters benefit a lot from squash and stretch. For those artists, Rigify and BlenRig seem good.

For people who want lighter rigs, like you, Humane Rigging and other available tutorials seem to teach most things. And, where they don’t, they probably teach enough to reverse engineer those features from advanced rigs, like Rigify. If someone wants to completely reverse engineer an advanced rig and make all their own rigs from it for experience, they can. That is partly what I have been doing. But, I can say that the step from Humane Rigging to reverse engineering is steep. And, some decent tutorials would have saved me a lot of time and headaches. There is a pricey course that applies everything from Humane Rigging to fully rig a character. And, it also includes UI buttons for the armature layers. But, this rig is still a long ways from Mancandy or Rigify. CG Cookie also has a course on setting up UI buttons as well.


I am trying to think of rigging topics that tutorials would have helped me with. The depsgraph limitation has been a thorn in my side since my first rig, so that would have been nice to have been taught about before hearing that the animator was having issues. But, that will change in Blender 2.8. There was a Blender 2.5 tutorial on foot controls that used action constraints. That was very interesting, and I am surprised that I never see action constraints used. I learned mechanism-based foot rolls eventually, but I don’t remember if it was from a tutorial, reverse engineering, or my own design. There seems to be plenty of tutorials on foot rolls available now, though. There are tutorials on squash and stretch like on Rigify.

I still have not found any IK-FK snapping tutorials. I have been intrigued by eyelids that move when the eyes move, but I have not found any tutorial on it. I have looked over such rigs for a few minutes without the implementation being obvious. I can imagine how it could be done with parents on the controllers, but that would be a nightmare to setup. I have not seen many good driver tutorials, but this is likely due to the depsgraph limitations making their usefulness sparse for rigging bones.

What are some rigging tutorials that you think are lacking?

@ AustinC

This is off topic, but there is a flexible roundabout way to do IK-FK snapping in Blender without long scripts. Blender already has an “Apply Visual Transform” function. If you add a “Copy Transformation” constraint to a bone, it will take the same position, scale, and rotation of another bone. When you “Apply Visual Transform” to the constrained bone, the bone will stay in place when the constraint is removed. The only thing that you need is a dummy IK pole target attached to the FK rig so that you can snap the real IK pole target to it. This would allow you to match IK and FK control chains. And, for simple setups where the IK influence turns the IK on-off, simply applying the visual transformation is enough, without messing with constraints. I thought this was off topic, but I guess it bring up the same question. Why are there no tutorials for something like this? It makes me think that I should make some tutorials on this topic.

Well see there you go… I have been using the Apply “Visual Transform” while animating but not using any ‘fake’ or ‘dummy’ elbow or knee poles in my FK chain …

So yah there is a need for more videos on this… I suppose most of us are too busy working to get to that kind of stuff… and with YouTube jerking eveyone around on their advertising $ there’s no monetary incentive to do them… I moved my youtube channels to vimeo a while back…but now vimeo is pulling lots of screw over things there…

so making a video tutorial is not a quick an easy as it use to be… IMHO… maybe that’s part of why you see alot…

I know Nathan for one (who is an excellent instructor IMHO… is busy working his tail off right not for several of the Blender movie projects…
so he’s not going to do any Rigg tutorials for awhile…

Even Bassam Kurdali (the man candy tutorials) doesn’t seem to do many Rigging tutorials even though his DVD he did on the subject is a getting a bit dated… (not that I’m complaining about the great man candy tutorials… they are fantastic!)
But he is working on projects too… and therefore is too busy to be able to take the time to do a more updated set of character Rigging tutorials right now… so it really is left to the rest of us to do those things… as we have time…

Personally everytime I stop to think about doing another video tutorial I am always slowed… if not stopped dead in my tracks by weighing out the effort to trying to deal with online companies that like google (who own youtube) and vimeo and their seemingly non-sensical mis-treatment of the very creators of their lively hood…

it’s not so much that I’m gripping and rantting about youtube goof ups… but what it comes down to is simply getting things done and how much time in the day does one have to spend…
and if a thing becomes too much of a hassle then you really have to start pushing to the back burner… and stuff on that back burner may never get done…

and I think thats why there are not more good Advanced Rigging Tutorials on the Internet…
(kind of taking our off topic discussion and turning it back to the onramp to the original topic… LOL!)

Here’s an AutoSnap Demonstration of a what I’m talking about… still in development apparently…