Rigging Bones? Please Read Carefully

  • I bought Poser 11 when it went on sale a short time ago. I asked in the Renderostiy forum for help on rigging bones. Exactly what I was asking for was a screen shot by screen shot tutorial. What I got from people were experts showing me links to very old YouTube videos covering the subject. The videos being so dated they don't match the current interface, plus people telling me to look at the documentation for Poser 11. So I beg of you here, please help by making a screen shot by screen shot tutorial and not point the newbie to dated information and information that doesn't say much. ( Forum glitch, I don't know where "so here" comes from.)

    So here

  • The sad truth is, there's not a lot different in the creation of bones from Poser4 with Pro Pack to Poser 11. Yes, after the creation of bones, there's weight mapping and that sort of thing but for basic character setup, those old tutorials are actually pretty valid still. That said, I can try and throw something together but it would be over the course of a few weeks, as I am a one man show at work and I'll be on vacation for most of next week.

    Now if you don't need every single tiny detail, and instead can infer the rest of the body parts from a examples of three or four, I may be able to do it faster for you.

  • @Teyon
    Thank You!!
    I'm used to older Anime Studio rigging only hence my trouble learning this for a 3D software title. From what I've seen on YouTube it doesn't match what I see on my screen. I don't know how relevant it is, but I'm using Poser on a Windows computer. I've noticed most people like to demo creative software in Mac for popular OS reasoning. Right now just a basic knowledge would be nice. How to setup structure through out the mesh ...I can only speak from my anime studio experience blushes I know this is more complex, but I so much would like to rig up characters for animation.:disappointed_relieved:

  • @systemcat It's not that far off from Anime Studio either on a technical level. Where in Anime Studio you name bones and then bind them, in Poser, you create groups on your mesh with the same names as your bones and then bind those.

    So to begin, first step would be, creating your mesh. I'm not going to go into that. How to model something is bit beyond the scope of simply rigging it and there are way better tutorials out there than what I could teach you probably.

    That said, you do need to create body part groups within your model. Groups are areas of the mesh that are selected and then assigned a group name that corresponds directly with the internal name of a bone in Poser. You can do this within your modeling application or within Poser itself using Poser's grouping tool.

    See image.

    The most common group names are hip, abdomen, chest, lCollar, rCollar, neck, head, lShldr,rShldr, lForearm, rForearm, etc. You'll note the fact that the names are lower case and where symmetrical body parts exists, these are prefixed with l or r to represent left and right. This is important for any symmetry functions in the application. Additionaly, any body part that is part of a chain, like a tail for example, should be named with a number at the end. For example: tail1,tail2,tail3,tail4,etc. The first bone in a chain should also always be attached to the parent of that bone for example, if you had a creature with a tail, tail1 would be a child of the hip instead of tail2 or tail7.

    It is important that you double check the names as you assign bones to them. If you create a group that does not have a corresponding bone, that group will be ignored and not made a part of your figure. HOWEVER, you can have bones in a figure not assigned to any group. So mesh group head MUST HAVE A BONE NAMED head but bone named eyelid does not need to have a mesh group assigned to it.

    Hopefully you followed, it's a critical point not to forget.

    I find doing my grouping in Poser's Pose tab (aka Pose room) works well if I forget to do it in my modeling application or UVMapper or something.


  • Once you have your model fully grouped to your liking, it's time to move to the Setup Tab/Setup Room to begin the bone creation process.

    You'll get a warning that this will make your prop into a figure - just hit ok and keep it moving.

    In the Setup Room, you will be tempted to begin adding bones using the bone tool right away while viewing the figure with the Main Camera. DO NOT DO THIS. You will come to regret it later if you do and it's often where many people get frustrated. Instead, switch to an orthographic view like the front or the Left/Right views. In fact, when positioning bones, try to use the ortho views as much as possible to avoid issues initially. Once you're sure the bones are fairly in their correct places, you can then move to the Main Camera to double check everything looks centered.

    OH, that's another thing, you'll probably want to center your bone placements within the mesh to allow the best freedom of motion. It's fine to experiment with other positions but this really is a no brainer in my book.

    Ok, so to the act of actually making bones. I don't know how critical it is that the first bone be the hip but know that any bone you make first becomes the parent of every bone after that. So you probably want to start with the hip since almost everything is connected to it. For easier viewing, switch your Document Display Style to Outline mode.

    Since we're working in the torso and we want things centered, let's switch to the Left or Right ortho views and then click and drag and then release to create our first bone, the "hip".

    You'll notice the bone's internal name in the Properties palate is "bone_1". With an external name (refered to only as "Name:") of "bone_1". Now, the internal name is what Poser uses to identify bones and must correspond EXACTLY to a group if being assigned to one. The external name can be anything you want. So you could have a bone for the mesh group: hip called internally, "hip" and externally called "pelvis". See image.


  • Continue on, naming your bones as you go or after you're done creating them, either way, do not leave the setup room until all your bones are named. For the purposes of this example and due to time constraints on my part, I will only make bones for the upper part of the body including a "ghost" bone for the jaw and ears.

    Ghost bones, as hinted at earlier, are bones that do not have corresponding mesh groups assigned. These bones are often used when it's not practical to group parts of a mesh either because of issues it can cause for morphing or because you're trying to achieve a certain look or level of interaction with the user. They can be very useful as helpers for certain motions and now that we have control chips in Poser 11, they can be manipulated directly instead of just with sliders as was the case in the past.

    Special note: if making a ghost bone parented to a bone like the head, where it ends the chain, you will want to add more than one ghost to it. This is because if you don't your ghost bone will become the end of the chain and screw with your mind something awful. That's why I didn't just add a ghost bone for the jaw alone but instead, did one for each ear also. There's probably a way around this, like the CHAIN BRAKE option but I don't often use that and can't speak to how well it works.

    See image for my final bone setup. One thing I forgot to mention, the internal names of bones can not have spaces.


  • Once you've used the select tool to select a bone and double check the names you've given them, you can exit the Setup Room by hitting the Pose tab. Assuming you did everything right you will be taken to the Pose room. If any polygons are not assigned to a bone you will get a warning message and you can then hit NO and double check what you've missed.


  • Now here I purposefully ignored parts of my model so you can see what happens if you do that. These parts that were not given bones were still props and treated as separate from the figure. So I selected the parts that were treated as a prop and deleted them from the scene, leaving me only with the figure.

    Now, technically, the character is rigged but of course, it's not rigged well. We'll move on to joints and weights in a moment.

  • Ok, so now that you're back in the Pose room, it's time to start testing your model and determining what needs tweaking, what needs adjusting and what's just plain broke.

    Grab the Select tool and methodically go through each body part, turning the sliders for X Rotate, Y Rotate and Z Rotate to see how they affect your body part. Depending on your figure's body part positions, these rotations will represent the Twist, the Side to Side (front-back), and Bend (up - down) of your body part. Usually whatever rotation is first is the Twist. You can reorder these rotations using the Joint Editor but for now, just run the check to see how each rotation works with the body part.

    As you can see, my forearm's Twist is on the X axis but is twisting the arm in a really distorted way. Why is this? The reason is simple, the body part's Joint centers aren't aligned to the axis of rotation. So how do you fix this? You open up the Joint Editor (found under the Window menu) and you hit the Align button. This should resolve your problem but if it doesn't you can also manually adjust the center and end points to try to tweak things.

    Now hit the Zero Rotations button on the Joint Editor or the Figure>Zero Figure menu option to restore your figure to a zero position. With the select tool, go through each body part and hit the Align button so that you minimize the amount of work you'll be needing to do to get your figure working.

  • So now that you have your joints relatively aligned, it's time to look at the exclusion/inclusion deformers for each rotation (x,y,z). Select a body part (for my example I'm choosing the left collar), turn on the Joint Editor if it's not turned on and Click where it says "Center" and in the pull down menu that shows, select one of the rotation dials (I chose the z rotation). My ex co-worker thinks you should always do the twist first but honestly I don't think it matters.

    Now rotate the body part to a somewhat extreme level but don't get crazy. If the part in real life does about 15 degrees rotation, start off at 30 degrees not 100 for your tweaking. :) As you can see, I rotated the lCollar by 45 degrees. However, because the inclusion angle (the distance between the red and green lines, is so wide on the lower part , it is grabbing a bit more than it should, making the rotation apparently tear the figure.

    In order to fix this, I'll need to adjust the angle the lines are separated at. To do this, I'll need to click on the end of the red line and move it toward the green. I may also want to move the green line (in fact, I actually did) but you may not need to - this really depends on the figure in question.

    Now this looks much better but I think I can make it a little better by dragging the center point of the angle lines and moving that closer to the middle of the chest area where the clavicles meet and maybe adjust the lines a little more. So I'm going to give it a try because if I don't like it, I can undo it. Let's see:

    Yup, I like this a little more. Now, I'll need to go through all the body parts three rotation options and do the same. NOTE: the twist appears as a single line that moves in and out only.

  • 0_1461634892755_setup012.png So clearly the twist is a little to strong in the collar area. How to fix it?! Well, in older versions of Poser you'd use Spherical Fall Off Zones or Capsule Fall Off Zones. Those can still do the job but there's a less tedious method you can use in Poser: Weight Mapping. Now I forget if Poser 11 allows you to paint weight maps or if that's only a Poser Pro feature but I'm going to proceed as though you can because the other methods take longer and it's late here in NYC.

    Now when you select a body part's rotation with the Joint Editor Active, you'll be able to click the ADD button to add a weight map. There's a few different options when you do this, "Add sphere zone" (we don't want it), "Add capsule" (nope), "Add weight" (debatable) and "Merge Zones to Weight Map (my personal fave).

    Choose Merge Zones to Weight Map. You'll see that you're now working on WeightMap_0. Click the Paint Brush icon to begin painting your weight maps.

    With weight map painting, the darker the color the less the influence it has. 100% green means full influence, dark purple or black means no influence. So if you want to remove or decrease the influence of a rotation on a part of the mesh, you'll want to use the Subtract option on the brush. If the transition is causing creases or distortions, use the Smooth option to smooth out the transition in colors. Obliviously the Add option allows you to paint more influence into an area. The Weight option allows you to paint a specific and uniform amount of influence.

    ok, so that's the basics of what options you have, there's more but that's more advanced than I have time to get into. So I'm going to paint out some of the influence of the twist using a combination of Subtract and Smooth based on how I think the joint influences the body in the real world.


  • Ok, so now we have the Twist basically setup, let's take a look at that Zrotation again. It's a bit too strong in places and isn't affecting neighboring body parts like the neck enough. There's a bit of a reason for that second part: we haven't turned on Affected Actors for the body part. I'll cover all that in tomorrow's post. For now, I'm putting this on pause.

  • @Teyon said in Before you can paint a weight map on your new figure you'll have to first make it a Poser Unimesh. Go to Figure>Skinning Method>Poser Unimesh.

    Teyon, just a note, but I never use Unimesh to paint weight maps. Is this a new development in P11?

  • @Glitterati3D

    No, I actually mixed that up with subdivision. I'll edit it when I get a moment. I was pretty tired last night.

  • Hey,
    Been under the weather, sorry I haven't gotten back to this yet. As soon as I'm feeling better I will.

  • So if we look at the Z rotation on the collar, we'll see that it's neighboring body parts include the chest, the shoulder and (on my figure) neck1. We're going to want to add some of these as affected actors for the collar. In particular the neck 1 actor the chest should already be an affected actor for the collar because it's the parent of the collar bone.


    Now, when deciding what to make an affected actor, you should consider what each rotation of a body part may affect in motion. So for example, the Left Collar bone directly impacts the chest, shoulder and to a lesser extent, the neck. HOWEVER, we may need to also add in the abdomen if considering how the latissimus dorsi moves when raising and lowering the arm/shoulder. So for the lCollar, we'll make neck 1 and the abdomen affected actors of the Collar.


    A quick note about affected actors and weight mapping:

    You should try to decide what your affected actors will be before turning on weight mapping for a body part. This will help avoid the need to repaint maps if they originally didn't take into account the relationships of the affected actors.

  • Once we've got the affected actors assigned, we can choose from the Add menu in the joint editor: Merge Zones to Weight Map.

    Normally this is used for collapsing the influence of a spherical or capsule fall off zone into a paintable weight map but you can (and I prefer it) do this to just make a weight map without using either of those.

    So now you can begin painting your weight map. Just like before, green is full influence, black is none and everything in between is, well, in between. What I'm going to try and do is to use the weight influence to thin down some of the latissimus dorsi when the collar is raised to help make it look more natural. I may need to also use bulge maps but we'll get into that later.

    Here's a shot of the lCollar after weight painting. It's definitely better than it was but it can use some finesse. To do our finesse work, we'll make bulge maps.


  • @Teyon

    Now bulges in Poser are interesting things. They can work with and without weight maps and are used to push in or bulge out areas of a mesh during bone rotation. You could use them to simulate the bicep bulge for example. In this case, we're going to use a bulge to reduce the mass of the latissimus dorsi as the collar is raised.

    To start, in the Joint Editor, you'll need to click on Apply Bulges for the rotation you're working on (in this case, zrotation), otherwise, any bulge adjustments you make won't be visible on the mesh. Now that you have them turned on, let's make some bulge adjustments. Fiddle with the sliders (right neg, right pos, left neg, left pos) to get a feel for which ones you should be adjusting and which you can leave alone for now. In my case, I need to adjust the right pos slider. I've given it a value of -.1 for now but that may change. The reason I went negative with the value is because I want it to bulge in, not out.

  • Now, this isn't really what we wanted to see, so let's turn on weight mapping for that bulge and try smoothing it out a bit by using a combination of the Add and Smooth vertex weight paint options. One cool thing about painting bulge map weights is that you don't have to stay in the initial area you start from. For example, I started with the intent of just fixing the appearance of the lats but I felt the chest could use some love too, so I painted on that area also so that the bulge had a subtle influence there. I think it turned out well.


    Periodically, it's a good idea to test the motion of your part while painting weights and bulges. Do so now and see if you like the result. If for some reason you don't, you now should have some idea as to how to go about tweaking the look.


    I'll return next week with how to deal with ghost bones. Hint: it's basically the same as regular bones but with the affected actor step first.

  • @Teyon I'm planning on reading & applying what you've said so far as soon as I have a real moment for it. ... Would you believe I run a web comic that has me using Manga Studio regularly?
    When I start to use this, I'm going to show my actions in screen shots too, just so if I foul up it's apparent why.