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LinkedIn Learning

Rigging a Face in Maya

via LinkedIn Learning


Use blend shapes and a joint-based approach to build facial controls that are versatile and easy to use.

Robust facial rigs are vital to character expression and a natural and necessary addition to any stable body rig. There are two primary approaches to facial rigging: shapes and joint-based setups. Blend shapes are typically not supported by gaming engines, so it's important to learn both approaches. This course shows how to use each method to build facial controls that are versatile and easy to use. Jason Baskin shows how to use blend shapes to control expressions, and create a library of morph targets with the Cluster and Lattice tools and the Wrap and Wire deformers. Then learn how to connect eyes, eyelids, and other features to GUI controls that animators can use to manipulate the character's expressions however they like. Last, Jason explores a joint-based approach that allows you to sculpt the underlying facial structure before attaching it to the final mesh.


  • Welcome
  • Using the exercise files
  • What you should know before watching this course
1. The Blend Shape Approach
  • Facial topology guidelines and problem spots
  • Understanding morph targets
  • Using Soft Select, Artisan sculpt tools, and symmetry options
  • Using wire deformers and clusters, and painting falloff values
  • Using lattices and wrap deformers
  • Using joints to build morph targets
  • Splitting symmetrical shapes into asymmetrical pairs
  • Mirroring asymmetrical shapes across the midline with wrap deformers
2. Rigging Eyes and Eyelids
  • Connecting eye rotation to the graphical user interface (GUI)
  • Creating a "look-at" control for eyes
  • Blending between a GUI- and target-based eye setup
  • Working with eyelids, using in-between blend shapes
  • Working with eyelids, using fan joints
  • Creating eye tugging and auto-lid behaviors
3. Building and Connecting Controls
  • Creating a basic user interface (UI) control
  • Using the clamp expression to create a more advanced GUI
  • Positioning the GUI to simulate on-face controls
  • Creating true on-face controls using clusters
4. Joint-Based Approach
  • Understanding the joint-based setup
  • Orienting the joints
  • Rigging the jaw
  • Creating a support structure
  • Attaching joints to the support structure
  • Binding joints to the final mesh
  • Adding final constraints to keep the entire rig intact
  • Finessing joint placement and rotation using driven keys
  • Balancing shape fidelity with rig density and usability
  • Next steps

Taught by

Jason Baskin


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