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How to create custom rig controls in 3ds max?

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to create your own rig controls in few easy steps.
We basically create controls to drive our rig but they also make the animation process much easier as we can manipulate and pose the rig easily with the help of these controls. In animation, we generally do not manipulate the bones directly so these controls also help us to avoid the direct manipulation of the bone objects. You might have seen the rigs having a complex UI with elements like sliders, spinners, buttons, Joystick controls etc., created with maxscript and .NET but you can also create them without getting into programming. Let’s go and learn how to create these controls.


Step 1

custom rig controls in 3ds max

I have a basic slider control that I made with the help of splines. We can’t use it right now as it doesn’t have any limit like a slider. Before proceeding further just select the slider point and link it to the slider bar with the help of Select and Link tool.

Step 2

custom rig controls in 3ds max

Let’s assume the two ends of the slider bar as point A and point B. I want the slider point to move from point A to point B but not beyond these points. In order to make it move in between point A and B, we have to limit its movement in x-axis.

Step 3

custom rig controls in 3ds max

Since the slider point will move only in one axis (x-axis) so we don’t need to worry about rest of the two axes. Note the x-coordinate (position) value of the slider point at starting and the end point. In my case, the slider point has coordinate value -22.275 at the starting point and coordinate value 7.27 at the end point. These values will help us later to add limits.

Step 4

custom rig controls in 3ds max

Now, with the circle selected, right click on the viewport and click on Curve Editor… to bring up the curve editor.

Step 5

custom rig controls in 3ds max

Right click on the X Position track and click on Assign Controller to bring up the Assign Float Controller dialog. Now, Select Float Limit from the Assign Float Controller dialog and click OK to close the dialog.

Step 6

custom rig controls in 3ds max

After closing the Assign Float Controller dialog, Float Limit Controller dialog will pop up. In Float Limit Controller dialog, you will find upper and lower limit sliders. By default, they are set to some big values and we have to replace them by the values we noted.
Set the upper limit to 7.27 and lower limit to -22.275 and close the dialog. Check the slider by moving it on x- axis. Now, limits are applied and we are almost done with the slider.

Step 7

custom rig controls in 3ds max

One last thing to do is to prevent our slider point to move in y and z axes, so, go to Hierarchy panel and click on Link Info button. Under Locks rollout, turn on Y and Z checkboxes to lock the y and z axes. You can also lock the rotation and the scale of the object.
Now, the slider is ready to use, you can easily connect the slider to any parameter through wire parameters.

Similarly, you can create more complex controls to control your rigs. The sliders and joystick controls shown in the given video are created using the same technique.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned something new from it. Feel free to share your suggestions with me regarding this tutorial. Thanks

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