Online Rigging Course

Character Setup and Rigging

Before any 3D character can dive off a cliff or repel across a ravine, a technical artist must set up, rig, skin, and test a character skeleton to prepare it for animation. The focus of this online rigging course with Autodesk Maya is to take you inside a character model and teach you to build skeletons, rig your characters, "skin" them, and pose the characters, testing them for animation. Working with your instructor, you'll walk through the process of creating joints to assemble a skeleton, fine-tuning joints for realistic motion, rigging bodies and faces, and binding your character's skin to its skeleton.

Character rigging course image
Setting up a character in Maya

Prepare your 3D character models for animation

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available
Course Outline
Preview course topics and assignments.

1 - Character Skeletons and Joints

It's time to get to the bare bones of character setup with a study of skeletons and joints. In the first lesson, you'll get an overview of the setup process, and start creating joints for a character, hands on. You'll use Maya to create a complete body skeleton and learn important techniques for fine-tuning it. Giving your characters a natural range of motion is essential. You'll learn how to make this happen with simple Maya tools.

Project - Setup your character

2 - Rigging a Character

With a skeleton in place, the next step is to rig your model by setting up the controls for your skeleton. This lesson examines how to set up both types of controls (inverse kinematics and forward kinematics) for different parts of your character, creating hierarchies that will allow the character to animate convincingly. You'll then explore two methods for rigging a character's face: blend shapes and skeletons.

Project - Create a complete rig

3 - Skinning and Posing a Character

To make a game character animate properly, you'll need to ensure the character's skin (its polygon mesh) will flex realistically each time a joint moves. Lesson Three focuses on a process delightfully known to game artists as "skinning" a character—binding the character's skeleton to the mesh. You'll learn how the character's mesh is bound through smooth and rigid binding, how to paint body and face weights to obtain appropriate mesh deformation, and how to lock joint rotation to natural limits. You'll wrap up the course with a look how to pose your character and test out your model.

Project - Binding, Weighting, and Posing

Course Objectives
Building skills? Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn in this course:
  • Set up a complete skeleton for a 3D model.
  • Place joints in appropriate locations for realistic movement.
  • Configure the axes of rotation of joints for a natural range of motion.
  • Rig a character using inverse kinematics and forward kinematics.
  • Set up groups and hierarchies to control inverse kinematics.
  • Rig a face using the blend shapes method and the skeleton method.
  • Bind a character's skeleton to its mesh with smooth binding and rigid binding.
  • Paint weights on vertices so the mesh will deform properly with all joint movements.
  • Limit the motion of joints by locking transforms and setting joint rotation restrictions.
  • Create natural character poses to test the motion of the skeleton and mesh.
Course Registration

Interested in this course? Self-paced enrollment options are available.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTechnology FeeTuition
Vocational course
30 hour course, 3 months access
Enroll today, start tomorrow$50$25/course$334
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection (broadband recommended).
  • Autodesk Maya.
  • Computer that meets Autodesk Maya system requirements and three button mouse.
  • Basic experience in Maya.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Todd Gantzler

Student Feedback

The instructors have top credentials and experience and are always there to offer a new perspective, as well as valuable coaching and mentoring. - Myriam Keaton, Associate Degree in Graphic Design.

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Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.