Rigging a Scorpion Mech: Part Four, Progress on Proxy Model

Reduced model to about 12k polys. The original model is about 330k.

Positing a minor update. With the rig completed for the spine and tail, today I mostly focused on creating a proxy mesh for the newly rigged areas. A handy tool I like to use when building proxy models is zooSurgeon. This neat script takes a skinned mesh, breaks it down to solid segments, and constrains the segments to influencing joints. I incorporate this script in my workflow by first skinning the reduced mesh using solid weights (one joint per vertex), and then running the script to get my true proxy. For me, this is efficient because I can preview the behavior of the proxy prior to breaking down the model.

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Vertex Weighting Tool for Maya


Download python script for Maya

The Weight Tool is a Python script designed to make your skinning life easier. It streamlines the process of manpulating skin weights on the vertex level with a neat UI. I came up with the idea of making this tool after skinning some rigs in 3dsMax. The result is a script that works very similar to 3dsMax’s built-in Weight Tool, but in Maya now!


Like any python script, this will only work in Maya 8.5 or later regardless of OS (tested only on Windows). To use the script in Maya, simply copy all the scripts from the archive into your PYTHONPATH. Once copied, restart Maya and type “import WeightToolInterface” in the python command line. To start using the tool after importing, type “WeightToolInterface.draw()” in the same commandline/scriptEditor.

*Note that you can find your PYTHONPATH by opening your Maya.env file with a text editor (usu. located in …/My Documents/maya/versionNo/Maya.env). If PYTHONPATH is defined, simply copy the scripts and continue from there.If PYTHONPATH is NOT defined, type in the Maya.env, “PYTHONPATH=C:/your/script/path/here”, replacing C:/your/script/path/here with a real system path you wish to install Python scripts to. When editing Maya.env, be sure to restart Maya to apply any changes.

Feel free to post any feedback!

Tips & Tricks: Animated Texture in 3ds Max

3ds Max is relatively new to me and I’m very much used to the way maya does a lot of things. To get an animated texture to work in Maya, you simply make a material and assign an image sequence or movie to it. Max also does this but there is a snag.

When importing an animated texture in either package, the default is to sync the texture’s animation with the scene’s time slider. For the particular project I’m working on, I need to to have the frames of the  texture controlled by a control in the rig so the animator can play with it (the texture in this case being the pupil of a cartoon eye). Max’s bitmap has no way of reconnecting the active frame of the texture. There was once a plug-in to achieve this feature, but it’s not compatible with 2008. Running out of time, I came up with a ghetto solution that still does the trick.

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