Character Rigging

Production Practices and Techniques

Chapter List


A quality character rig is a must for any successful animation production. The rig must be stable, and have the controls and flexibility needed for an animator to tell their story. In addition the rigger must be able to make changes quickly. In this set of lectures, Axel will effectively demystify the "art" of character rigging as well as provide a production-like set of scripted tools to work with. Using the provided scripted tools, Axel demonstrates the benefits of a multi-pose approach to skeleton setup. The separation of deformation and control hierarchies is also used and in conjunction with the pose system, provides the flexibility to easily go back to the bind pose and make changes. Through the process, he details the importance of keeping joint chains planar as well as keeping the joint rotations zeroed out, while showing you how to achieve this through a number of production tricks. Once the joints are all properly mapped, he then moves on to creating the control rig for the character. The next phase involves setting up controls like stretchy IK for the spine, IK and FK with blending for arms and legs, and foot/reverse foot controls. Once the controls are created, Axel wraps things up by generating curve controls for the animators to quickly grab and work with.

Duration: 455 minutes

Format: SD 1024x768

Chapter List

  • 00. Preview
  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Model Cleanup and Preparation
  • 03. Mapping the Joints - Part 1- The Basics
  • 04. Mapping the Joints - Part 2 - Joint Orient
  • 05. Mapping the Joints - Part 3 - The Spine
  • 06. Mapping the Joints - Part 4 - Arms and Neck
  • 07. The Control Rig - Part 1 - Rig Pose Setup
  • 08. The Control Rig - Part 2 - Fine Tuning
  • 09. The Control Rig - Part 3 - Leg FK/IK Controls
  • 10. The Control Rig - Part 4 - Adding Foot Controls
  • 11. The Control Rig - Part 5 - Arm FK/IK Controls
  • 12. The Control Rig - Part 6 - Arm Pole Vector
  • 13. The Spine - Part 1 - Spine and Chest Controls
  • 14. The Spine - Part 2 - IK Setup
  • 15. The Spine - Part 3 - Stretchy IK
  • 16. The Spine - Part 3 - FK Layering
  • 17. Hands - Part 1 - Mapping the Joints of the Hand
  • 18. Hands - Part 2 - Creating Controls
  • 19. Hands - Part 3 - Hand IK Setup
  • 20. Control Curves - Part 1 - Creation and Shape Parenting
  • 21. Control Curves - Part 2 - Animation Controls Setup 1
  • 22. Control Curves - Part 3 - Animation Controls Setup 2
  • 23. Rig Cleanup - Part 1 - Rotation Orders and Space
  • 24. Rig Cleanup - Part 2 - Final Cleanup and Lockdown


Software Used


  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
  • Character Rigging
Axel stanley grossman180x180

    Axel Stanley-Grossman

    Senior Technical Artist, Sony Santa Monica

    Axel Stanley-Grossman is currently a Senior Technical Artist at Sony Santa Monica, working on an unannounced title. In his role as a character tech artist, Axel writes tools to automate rigging processes, assists animators and prototypes new techniques. His latest work can be seen in God of War: Ascension, the latest title in one of gaming's most beloved franchises. Axel formerly served as Senior Character TD at Insomniac Games, where he contributed to the success of multiple PlayStation 3 titles, including Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time and both Resistance 2 and Resistance 3. He graduated from the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in 2006, and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. In addition to being an alumnus of Gnomon, Axel has also taught and contributed education related materials for the school.

    • Axel is one the best riggers I've had the pleasure to work with. The work he has done at Insomniac to automate technical art tasks is inspiring and demonstrates a mastery of his craft.

      - Reddy Sambavaram
      Senior Engine Programmer, Insomniac Games

    • Axel is a brilliant technical animator whose impressive rigging techniques, scripting skills, and problem solving abilities provide our team with the cutting edge tools necessary to continue to push the boundaries of animation in the gaming industry.

      - Kevin Grow
      Lead Cinematic Animator, Insomniac Games