I get yesterday an idea to do together with Delano Athias tutorial horse rig and once I finish it apply it in to my creature model. I start learning about it and take notes from almost each step, as I know that I will forget some important steps what could lead to frustration in future.

Below I will show whole progress + my own notes, to help me out with future custom rig creation.


  • Is good to use reference for better understanding how creature will move
  • To create spine line: Create line – in display properties turn on Vertex Ticks
  • Have snapping tool set up on snaps to Grid Points
  • Modifiers -> Patch/ Spline Editing -> Normalize Spline
  • Parameters reduce number of bones from 20 to 16 then collapse collapse

Setting up our vertebrae helpers

  • Create helper -> point (select as a box) reduce it size if necessary
  • To set up custom user interface -> Customize -> Customize User Interface ->Quads
  • Alt + RMB -> path constraint –to assign helper to spine (by default is there set up animation)
  • Alt + RMB -> Delete Selected Animation
  • Hold SHIFT and drag helper to create copy (check distance in motion panel under Path Options, % Along Path) with math calculation set each helper correctly


Creating bones for vertebrae

  • Alt+ RMB -> Bone tools -> Create Bone (or menu create -> system -> bones)
  • Have snapping tool set up on snaps to Grid Points
  • To allow bones to stretch select bone Alt+ RMB -> Bone tools -> deselect in Object Properties Freeze Length
  • Copy bone hold shift and type number of copies that you need
  • Select bone and use Alt+ RMB -> Position Constraint option to align it with helper
  • Same do with nub objects and connect to second helper (repeat for each object)
  • Also always remember about correct naming of everything that you put in to the scene


Orienting our vertebrae bones along the spline

  • Create helper align it to spine helper. Group new helper and ungroup then move slightly above spine
    Copy and paste helper with group
  • Shift+A to align each helper to spine helpers (repeat for each object)
  • Next link each other
  • Freeze transform !
  • Select bone Alt+ RMB -> LookAt Constraint and select helper front of it. Then in Motion panel turn of Viewline Length Absolute. In Upnode Control select Look At. At Select Upnode uncheck World  and click None to select new helper above spine. (repeat for each object)



Building vertebrae controls

  • Create panel -> circle -> convert to editable spline (copy it twice rotate to create sphere)
  • Attach to each other. Modify panel -> Geometry -> Attach
  • In Modify panel and object Rendering Options select Enable In Viewport.
  • Align it to end of the spine and beginning also adjust size.
  • Create another circle and change it’s pivot position.



Creating the center of gravity and global controls

  • By using line tool create arrow. (snap to grid will help to make it straight : P)
  • Link to arrow 3 circles
  • Create another circle(biggest) under horse and link arrow to it.
  • Select all circles and arrow and reset Xform then Collapse all using modifier Stack Result click collapse all.
  • Select all controls and Freeze The Transform



Connecting our vertebrae rig to the animation controls

  • Create helper – cross + box -> place at end of spine (align)
  • Ctrl + V to copy and align to controls at beginning of spine
  • Connect them to circles, and then freeze their transform
  • Add skin modifier on spine and edit envelopes. Select points closest to helpers in spine and then open Skin Weight Table and set up right weights (math again no! )



IMPORTANT: this blog post will be updated along with my learning progress


Delano Athias. (n.d.). 3ds Max Tutorials > Rigging Quadrupeds in 3ds Max 2012 Tutorial > Digital-Tutors [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/698-Rigging-Quadrupeds-in-3ds-Max#overview