Quadruped Rigger – automated rigging for four legged characters

For a recent production it was necessary to create a running horse and even with having done quite some character animations this was the first time we were dealing with four legs. That itself was not the problem but of course a rig was needed. And so I thought that if I already spend some time evaluating what a good way would be to rig a horse I also can automate the process so that I wouldn’t have to think about it the next time (lazy me). And as you know me, I love to automate things on top of scripting everything and so the Quadruped Rigger came to life.

Download: icQuadrupedRigger

At this point I have to add that this is only the first version of the script and the features contained are just the very basis of what’s needed in a four legged character. But this was also all that we needed here in getting the job done at the time and like with everything else you just put in what’s needed. Because of this there are no toes, no advanced ear controls, facials or other fancy stuff. It’s just a basic rig but as far as my opinion is concerned it’s at least stable and does what it should.
As with everything else it’s always the question what a rig should be capable of, what are the needed features and what kind of controls are really necessary. I doubt that there is an all-way-all-purpose rig as it really depends on the animation but it’s always good to have a strong foundation to build on and add new features. I am sure that over the time some more stuff will make it into the Quadruped Rigger but only when I need it or when I have the time. If it’s not really what you are looking for feel free to find a rig that works for you. I found that there are so many concepts and ways to rig a character that you just have to find one that suits you.

Quadruped Features:

  • IK/FK back (with volume control)
  • FK Tail
  • IK/FK neck (with volume control)
  • IK legs (stretchable)
  • attribute controlled ears
  • separate visibility of all body parts
  • character sets
  • skin joint sets for all body parts
  • should blade control

When building the rigger I tried include many strategies and workflows that are already present in my Character Rigger that evolved quite well over the years and there are some scripts in the Quadruped Rigger that are directly taken from the Character Rigger script.

Watch the video about the features on Vimeo.

Here are some things that I always like to focus on when rigging:

  • clean and organized structure
  • everything is correctly named – even down to the tweak nodes!
  • use as few constraints as possible as these tend to slow down the rig
  • only what’s needed can be selected, – everyhing else is hidden and/or locked
  • custom pickwalking
  • additional tools to help the rigging and animation process

As far as the installation process is concerned, there is a pdf document in the downloaded zip file which explains the basic steps. There is also a video tutorial available about demonstrating the installation of the package.

Watch the installation tutorial on Vimeo

Please note that when installing the scripts and running it for the first time, there will be a new hotkey setup for you to make the QuadRig marking menu available. The hotkey will be “Y” (shift + Y) and will replace any existing hotkey for this combination. You might want to change this through editing the “icQRsetup.mel”. Close to the bottom of the script I added an explanation of how to change the predefined setting (of course edit the file at your own risk!). If you don’t care about setting the new shortcut just install as described

Also, feel free to take the scripts apart and learn from them. I know that I am not the world-best scripter and programmer but I find my way around things and maybe you can learn something from this too.

Aside from everyhting else I hope that you have fun with the script and that it works fine for you. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a mail. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Download: icQuadrupedRigger


1.0.1 – July 14, 2011
- fixed a cross-platform bug that wouldn’t source the scripts correctly on windows