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To start animating with motion data quickly, see our pre-rigged Characters.
This page introduces more complex topics how to do rigging for FK, IK and MC Rigs.


Character Rigs represent a unique, stylized character which can be animated. Different from a 3D sculpt, a rig is a model prepared and ready for animation. There are three main types of rigs with differing capabilities:

  • FK Rigs – Forward-Kinematic rig. Bones & skin that move together. Forms the basis for other rig types.
  • IK Rigs – Inverse-Kinematic rig. Joints move based on controllers. Commonly used for keyframe animation
  • MC Rigs – Motion-Capture rig. Joints move based on motion data. Commonly used for capture-based animation

We provide several completed MC Rigs ready for animation with data on this website.
Below are details on how to build your own FK, IK and MC rigs.


After modeling a character in 3D, the FK Rig is the first step in making a useful rig which contains bones & skin. The following FK tutorials are provided to help you quickly create new characters. Historically it was necessary to do joint and bone placement manually, a tedious process (Fig 1b above). Now those steps can be automated with Auto Rig tools. This lets the character creator focus on sculpting (Fig 1a), painting (Fig 1c) and parts (Fig 1d).

DMD Motion Lab – FK Rigging Video
This video shows a more detailed guide to creating an FK rig from scratch in Maya, how to paint skin weights with the Geodesic Voxel method, and how to manually adjust weight paints.

A Quick Tutorial On FK Rigging
by Angela Humphrey
Download here: A Quick Tutorial on Rigging.pdf
How to Animate A Rigged Model Using Motion Capture Data Download here: How to Animate a Rigged Model Using Motion Capture data.pdf
How To Set Up A Kinect Sensor For Motion Capture Download here: How To Set Up A Kinect Sensor For Motion Capture.pdf
How to Resize .BVH Animations Download here: How to Resize .BVH Animations.pdf

These additional references are helpful in the early stages of rigging a new characters:

How to add hands to a Quick Rig
How to rig without weight paints
How to quickly orient joints
Joint Orientation Cheat Sheet
How to fix wonky IK handles (knees)


Figure. Overview of motion capture based character animation using a Maya workflow. A few of these steps, e.g. sculpting, painting and animation, are suitable for classroom projects while many others can be automated.

We are interested in complete data-driven animations using motion capture, rather than the more classical workflow of keyframe animation. These tutorials are more advanced, and are only needed if you wish to animation your own custom character with motion-capture data. The following Motion Capture Rig (MC Rig) tutorials were developed by the DMD Motion Lab to provide a clear, consistent pathway to rig character models for motion-based animation.

DMD Motion Lab – MC Rigging Video
This video shows how to rig a character for motion capture in Maya. Several fail points are clearly explained to move toward a stable, usable MC Rig for working with motion capture data. This video focuses on the steps in Fig 2a, 2b and 2c.