Tech Artist Gwen Frey shows off some of her character interesting rigging tools in Maya. Gwen’s cornerstone of her rigging workflow use control surfaces rather than curves, and a rather novel approach to picking and metaData.

Gwen uses Maya shaders as another layer of abstraction between the controls in the rigs and the character picker. Shaders drive the selections from the character picker. All of Gwen’s tools look for shaders to determine what controls belong to a rig, rather than an object name.

This is an interesting approach as the scripts don’t need to know the names of controls, or how many controls are in a rig. They just look for the shader and then keys it. Grabbing the designated shader works regardless of the rig being a bipedal human, or a quadruped animal, or a multi-limbed creature.

Shaders also hold all the metaData instead of the objects in the rig. Attributes in the shader declare things like IK FK Switches, Pole Vector, and others. It is this method that Gwen is able to contextually fill in parts of the UI based on selections. Really interesting!

About Gwen Frey

Gwen Frey has been a tech artist for over a decade. She has worked on a variety of games which includes working on Bioshock Infinite. Gwen has also worked on a list of indie games including The Flame in The Flood.

Different versions of Gwen’s tools pipeline are still being used at production houses to this day. Gwen has started a YouTube series that showcases her rigging and animation tools, inspire other tech artists or animators out there.