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New Video: Posing With My SketchUp Rigging “Hack”

I just uploaded a new video that shows how I use my rigging hack to pose a model.

If you haven’t seen my posts before, reading these might bring you up to speed. Here is one of my first blog posts about the subject:

And here are a few on the character in the video:

In case all this is a clear as mud (which I suspect it might be) I explain it a little after the jump.

For this character I rigged him in both Maya and in SketchUp. I made the Maya version because I thought I’d better align interacting characters (i.e., this quadruped fighting with a biped) that I already needed to pose in Maya (soft body geometry). In the end I found that the export process was way too taxing on my SketchUp and my aging machine. I found that I could do the posing in SU almost just as fast as Maya. But when you add the export process, and the hardening and softening the appropriate poly-lines I found that just doing it SU was the way to go.

This is the best link to read to understand how I set up a rig:

This rig was much more complicated than any of the vehicles I worked on.


The blue and beige “intersections” indicate where it’s safe to rotate (and will not break the model).

My posing process really breaks down to this:

  • All my objects are organized with layers. I use this to hide and show the model, the rig and the scene that I’m creating.
  • I create a scene that just as the rig, one for the model, and one for the actual scene. You can see that i create a scene in the video.
  • I click through these scenes to edit the rig, and see how it looks in the view I’m trying to create.
  • All the parts you see above are specially grouped in a hierarchy that relates to how they should rotate.
  • All the parts above (the raw geometry) are on the “rigging layer” and can be hidden and shown when I switch the layer on or off.
  • The hierarchy of those rigging groups above are on “layer0″ and that’s why they do not “grey out” when layers are hidden.
  • Those groups also use the naming convention, “CN_nameOfgroup” (CN stands for “control node”)
  • The CN allows me to use the filter in the outliner to show only the items I want to rotate, no matter what layer is being shown.

(UPDATE) I forgot to add this image to the post. This better shows the CN_ filter in the outliner. The full hierarchy can be seen in this post.


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  1. MediaJolt

    Sweet! I’ve been waiting for a new entry here, and the depth of content does not disappoint! As a SketchUp user, these techniques are amazingly creative and useful!

  2. ExternalDingus

    Hi there! Just wanted to say I love your site, it’s incredible what you have done with this software. I also love the design elements you have incorperated such as the flying wing and hotrods.. even the bowling alley look of the “AMMO” sign.. I have a request if you can fit it in. I would love to see your take on a P-51 Mustang. I’m imagining a few dozen of these flying around in your Sketchup world.

    Also.. something I am curious about. How does the pro version differ? Does it render moother images? Or do you export to Maya for rendering?

    It would be cool if you could make somekind of tutorial where you walk us through some of the stuff you do in more detail. The google videos are so fast it’s hard to understand some stuff. The things I need clarification on are:

    - modeling curved shapes and working with the “vertices?”
    - using layers and how you connect the rigging layer to the detailed layer

    The fast videos are pretty good for seeing the artistry.. but what I am confused about is how to use sketchup and dealing with all the controls and groups and just the sketchup user interface.

    Keep up the great work. Can’t wait to see this completed.

  3. monsterzero

    Thanks, ED!

    Someday I’d love to do a P-51 since I already started the shapes and engine block for it. But it’s not immediately in the plan.

    As for the Pro version of SketchUp the additions I can think of are the ability to export higher res 2d images as well as export models to other 3D formats (both of which I use). The higher resolution export (render) does make your images smoother.

    I’ll consider doing some tutorial videos. Right now they take some extra time and effort that I don’t feel I have. It’s hard enough to do the work I need to :)

    As for the rigging layer and the detailed layer you should read through my first post on the subject.

    I believe it explains the process well enough. From there you can extrapolate how to rig something more complex like the model in the video.

  4. ExternalDingus

    Thank you, Justin. I am just starting to explore your blog more and seeing there is a lot more info about the videos. I first found the videos on google, so I didn’t realize how much more info is on here. For example, I just caught the “explode curve” bit.. that should help a lot!

    Cool, you are working on a P-51! How neat. If that is on the site somewhere post a link, I’d love to see it.

    As for the time issue.. I can see how you are strapped for time.. you seem to have your hands full! Your bio makes me feel like a real slacker. Maye we could work some deal out though? If you need any help with your project maybe I could lend a hand? Work for food kind of deal. work for training.. I’ll be your Padawan.. haha

    I have some sculpting experience and am interested in animation.. maybe if we got some people together we could fully animate your project? I want to hear those engines too. :D

    Here are some sculpts I am working on..

One Trackback

  1. By More Skeleton on Skeleton Action! at the giantMONSTER blog! 22 May ’08 at 11:44 pm

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