A Simple Example of How You Can Build a Clean and Control-less Rig

Clean rig controls for animatable assets might be where things are moving. Traditional control objects in an animatable rig, although effective, they can get in the way of interacting with the digital character. If you have seen how Pixar handles the problem, they provide control surfaces based on the actual rig geometry.

how to create a rig where the animation controls appear to be the skinned mesh

Having a control-less rig not only makes removes the visual clutter in animation, it also makes it more intuitive. Posing a character without the visually disruptive control rigging objects can be very much like posing a real-life puppet. Grabbing he parts you want to pose and just doing it has its advantages over showing, selecting and manipulating controls, then hiding the controls to visually declutter the scene to better read the pose or the action.

There are plenty of examples floating around, most notably is Matthew Ziegeler’s Control Free Rigging Project, which is an example of how clean and effective the end character can be.

Of course some of the same features that makes this control-less rig method a novel approach also make hinderance. In a control-less rig all the elements used to control the character get tucked away and become control surfaces. Quite obviously this would not make it immediately apparent which parts of the overall rig can be controlled. This is probably why having some sort of visually descriptive interface panel is still as important when creating a character that does not have rig controls as it would be for traditionally controlled characters.


Learning How to Build a Control-less Rig

Here, Harry Houghton shares some of the techniques he has learned from other sources in creating a character rig that has no controls. Harry doesn’t create a character here, he only impresses the basic concepts for an approach to control-less rigging.

Harry does cite some resources while demonstrating his approach, noting the Pixar presentation at the Nvidia Conference, and gives credit to Raveen Rajadorai who has described the technique and helped out on this forum thread.


Pixar’s Presto Demonstration

1 comment

  1. seriously

    Unfortunately, most animators hate this method. Many times, the pose of the character hides the selectable geometry in the camera view. So you always have to go to a different camera angle to select. Not very good workflow.

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