Monday, December 14, 2015

What is Skinning and can You Avoid it?

Right off the bat, no you cannot avoid it...


So what does skinning even mean to a tech artist? Either the most dreadful part or the easiest part of rigging your character. Skinning is when you take your joint skeleton and bind it to the geometry (the skin) and paint on your model. By painting you literally control joint influence throughout the geometry. Joint influence will spread throughout your model and it will make no sense, fortunately its super easy to correct your stupid joint influence.... PAINT AWAY... *cough cough comment editor (CE)* 

As you can see above the joints have influence ALL over the place We want the joints only to influence a certain area, for example the joint for the hips should only influence the area around the waist; we do not want those joints to influence anything else, yet this one joint is affecting the arms and legs! 

Here is another, yet clear example of this crap! Wrist joint affecting the lower half of the torso. There are two tools to correct this, one of them as you read is my favorite, PAINT THIS MAN. However this will not do the job of completely fixing the skin. You will need to use the component editor, the CE at first looks like nonsense and what do you even do in that window O_o 

The component editor is an easy to use and this will execute your rig to perfection! CE in graph sheet form shows all the individuals values of each joint you select and what it is influence by; hundreds of decimals values. Using this to make the joints rooted/destroy any joint influence, component editor is a powerful tool that is tedious but necessity... like all of rigging.

Last of Us is grounded in realism, nothing is more fake than people moving with fake muscles! Everyday everyone sees another human moving the face, hands, body movement, even the weight of any person is identifiable. Seeing two grown males fight it out the death is an intense action scene and this event in Last of Us feels real. The body moves clearly and cleanly, the power in the arms to the subtle changes in the face; a rigger gave an animator this ability!

Last of Us also push hard to have subtle animation, something new to build a real life threatening story. The slight eye twitch that moves her eye brows and eye lids. Flaring of the nostrils and tightening of her lips really emphasize on the emotions of this scene. Too the strong and big animations to tiny and meaningful animations; all executed by skinning. 


  1. the last of us is a rigging dream. i would love to be able to work on a game of that quality and have my name in the credits for rigging. the level of detail they can do and the controls they have on the rig is just really impressive.

  2. Wow that was a really great explanation of skinning. Skinning has always been my least favorite but your description did definitely help me get it a bit more!

  3. Think I might understand skinning a bit better now...might

  4. Brian you are beautiful and your blog is also beautiful. Again, the use of in game pictures is helping me visualize what the industry is like with ease.