Tutorial 7: Skinning with Physique

Lesson 1: Aligning a Biped to the Mesh Model

The character you'll work with is a patch character. Patch modeling is a popular alternative to mesh and NURBS modeling. Before aligning the biped to the mesh (patch) you must setup the structure of the biped.


Files for this tutorial are in the cstudio\tutorials\tutorial_7 directory under your 3DS MAX directory.

Loading a character

  1. Load the file Tut_DrX_01.max.

  2. Select the mesh in the viewports.

  3. On the Display panel, on the Freeze rollout, click Freeze Selected.

    This freezes the mesh so you can see it but you can't alter it by accident.

Creating the Biped

  1. On the Create > Systems panel, click Biped.

  2. In the Front Viewport, center the cursor between the feet of the mesh and drag up until the biped's bounding box is roughly the same height as the mesh.

    When you release the cursor, the program creates a default biped.

  3. On the Motion panel, on the General rollout, turn on Figure mode.

    In Figure mode you can change the biped structure and align it to the mesh.

  4. On the Structure rollout, set fingers to 2 and finger links to 2.

    All you need is a thumb and one large finger to bend the glove.

  5. Set toes to 1 and toe links to 1.

    The character is wearing shoes and needs only one toe to bend the shoe when he walks.

  6. Set Ponytail 1 links to 3.

    The character has a large hat that you can animate using the ponytail links.

  7. Set spine links to 2 and neck links to 2.

Aligning the biped to the mesh

Center of mass lined up to the mesh pelvis.

  1. With Figure mode on, select the biped's center of mass and use Select and Move on the 3D Studio MAX toolbar to align it to the pelvis on the character.

  2. Scale the biped's pelvis so the biped's leg links are centered in each leg of the mesh.

Fitting the biped legs to the mesh

  1. Select one of the thigh objects on the biped.

  2. On the Motion panel, Track Selection rollout, click Symmetrical Tracks.

    This selects the opposite thigh link as well, ensuring that transforms done to one thigh will simultaneously apply to the other.

  3. Turn on Select and Non-Uniform Scale on the 3D Studio MAX toolbar and scale the thigh links about the X axis so they end at the knees of the mesh.

  4. Press PAGE DOWN to select Bip01 L Calf and Bip01 R Calf.

    Using PAGE UP or PAGE DOWN highlights symmetrical objects in a biped when two symmetrical objects are selected. PAGE DOWN also highlights all child objects when you move down from a branching node. For example the pelvis is parent to both thighs and the lower spine.

  5. With the two lower legs selected, use Non-Uniform Scale to scale the lower legs about the X axis until the lower ends of the links stop at the ankles.

  6. In the Left Viewport, rotate the thighs and lower legs to better center their links in the legs of the mesh.

    Use Symetrical Tracks to select both thighs. Press PAGE DOWN to select the calves.

  7. In the Front Viewport, rotate the thigh objects about the Y axis to spread the legs to fit the mesh.

  8. Select both of the biped's feet in the viewports.

  9. In the Left Viewport, non-uniformly scale the biped's feet so their profile roughly matches the profile of the mesh feet.

  10. Select the toe of either foot and click Symmetrical Tracks.

  11. Non-uniformly scale the toes so they are a bit longer and the same width as the mesh toes.

    Physique can use biped limb scale to size the envelopes. Scaling the length and width of the toe will size the toe envelopes to approximate the biped toe objects.

  12. In the Front Viewport, rotate both feet about the Y axis to line them up with the mesh feet.

Fitting the spine links to the mesh

Fitting the neck and head to the mesh

  1. In the Left Viewport, select the neck links and scale the neck: place the chin of the biped head just above the chin of the mesh.

  2. Scale the biped head (Bip01 Head) to fit the mesh.

  3. Move, rotate, and scale the pony tail links to fit inside the hat.

Fitting biped arms and hands to the mesh

  1. Select Bip01 L UpperArm.

    You can either select Symmetrical Tracks before you edit the arm positions, or pose one arm and then use Copy Posture and Paste Posture Opposite to make the other arm match the first one.

  2. On the Track Selection rollout, click Symmetrical Tracks.

  3. In the Front Viewport, rotate the upper arms about the Y axis so that they match the mesh.

  4. In the Top Viewport, rotate the arms about the Z axis to fit the arms to the mesh.

  5. Use Non-Uniform Scale to scale the arm objects to fit at the elbow and wrist on the mesh.

  6. Scale and move the palm and fingers of the right hand to match the mesh. You can move the fingers without affecting the palm. If you move the palm however, the biped forearm moves also.

    Use a shaded view is to position the palm and fingers. When fingers are positioned properly, they may not line up with the biped palm object. This is normal. Turn on Bones on the Display rollout to display the links in the hand. These links show you where Physique will create envelopes. It is more important to position each finger accurately than to worry about their alignment with the biped palm.

Copying the right hand posture to the left hand

At this point, the biped right hand should be fitted to the mesh.

  1. In the Top Viewport, region-select the biped palm and fingers of the right hand.

  2. On the Keyframing rollout, click Copy Posture.

  3. On the Keyframing rollout, click Paste Posture Opposite.

    All the work you did on the right hand is pasted to the left hand. The biped left hand now fits inside the mesh.

    Note: Character models are often symmetrical. For unsymmetrical characters, use the Copy and Paste procedure described above to get a general fit for the hand; you may need to fine tune finger and palm position and scale.

  4. Save your work as a .max file.

  5. With Figure mode active, use Save on the General rollout to save a figure (.fig) file as well. Name it MyDrX.fig

    Use a figure file if you move the biped in Figure mode by accident, or if you need to fit another character with similar proportions.

    Note: On the General rollout, the Save option saves .fig files only if Figure mode is active.

In the next lesson, Physique is applied to the mesh object. You'll use Attach to Node to attach the mesh objects to the biped.