Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 13 - Head

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  • Games
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Advanced
6 min

Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 13 - Head

In this tutorial, you skin the character's head. The process is exactly the same for the head as it was for the body. This is the last step in phase 2, the skinning of the character. Once you're done, you'll be able to move to Phase 3, which covers the actual rigging of the skeleton.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.


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The character's body is now skinned but you mustn't forget the head.

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Actually, there are multiple components that make the head.

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Press H to display the Select from Scene dialog.

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There's the head mesh itself, but there's also the tongue, upper and lower teeth, and the two eyes.

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Select those five extra components as we consider them.

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All five components need to be animated to react to the head bone and only the head bone.

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In this particular project, we are not going for any facial expressions.

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Because of that, the character won't be opening his mouth.

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Therefore, we don't need to worry about the teeth or tongue moving since the mouth will remain closed.

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As a matter of fact, you could even hide or delete the teeth and tongue as they are inside the head and won't be showing.

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Otherwise, they simply, along with the eyes,

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need to be parented to the head bone,

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so they can react to its motion.

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Check the animation between frames 2280 and 2600.

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In fact, you may want to change the timing to focus on that area.

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At this point, you could hide the body of the character. You will recall it later.

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Select the head and apply a skin modifier to it.

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Click on Add Bones.

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In the Select Bones dialog, choose Display > Expand All.

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Look for and select the top spine bone (Spine 3), the neck bone and the head bone.

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These are the three you need.

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You can scrub the animation. You will find the current solution to be quite poor.

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Press L to go to the left view. It will help with the selection of vertices.

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Enable Edit Envelopes mode.

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In the Display rollout, enable Show No Envelopes and under Advanced Parameters, set the bone limit to 3.

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Make sure Vertices mode is also enabled.

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As you have learned and tried many times by now, start by blocking off vertices to their closest bones.

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Collect all the head vertices including the jaws and chin areas, and assign them to the head bone.

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Assign vertices around the neck to follow that bone,

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but make sure the bottom two rows are assigned to the spine bone. These need to be grounded with the rest of the torso.

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From that point on, you go back and edit the joints.

00:02:54 --> 00:03:01
This means selecting loops of vertices or individual vertices, and blend their weights between two or more bones.

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During that process, remember that you can work on one side at a time.

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You can then use the Skin Mirror tools to transfer vertex data to the other side.

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Keep on fine-tuning the solution until you are satisfied with the results.

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When you are done, exit Edit Envelopes mode.

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Unhide the body mesh object.

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Actually, you still have the proxy object hidden as well.

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At this time, you probably won't need it anymore, so you can unhide it and delete it.

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Reset the animation length to go from frame 0 to frame 2600.

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Scrub the animation to test the skinning globally.

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If everything is working to your satisfaction, you can now delete the temporary animation you have been using to test the skinning.

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Go to frame 0 and select all scene objects by pressing Ctrl+A.

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Select all the keyframes on the timeline and delete them.

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If you want, shorten the animation length.The animator will take care of defining that length later on.

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Save your file. You are now done with phase two, the skinning process.

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There's a provided "completed" file in case you need it.

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Starting with the next movie, you will give the skeleton "intelligence" by establishing a rig.

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This is where the fun really starts!
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  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
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