Maya Spine Rig, which setup do you prefer when animating?


I was just wondering which spine rig features you preferred?
Just FK? IK Spline? IK/FK active at the same time? Stretchy? etc.

Personally I’ve always liked a simple FK setup. Of course there is counter animating but I find FK easier to keep that connected feel. I also tend to avoid space switching (for the same reason).

However I was thinking for a quadruped rig that an IK Spine might be more worthwhile. I was just wondering what other people thought? And also if they have any links to any good tutorials.



I typically go with a ribbon spine with chest<spine<hip parent setup. However, if my rig is going into a game engine I go with a hybrid FK/IK spine with stretch. The animators seem happy with it it so it works. I tend to get more complaints whenever I try something new/different.

Thanks for the answer DSA. I should have said this was for a game engine.
Animators don’t like new things :slight_smile:

I was basically thinking the hybrid FK/IK spine with stretch would be what I would go for, but good to see others agree.

By the way DSA do you know of any particular rigs with a spine like that that you like? Or any tutorials you like? There are tons of tuts and examples online but sorting between them is the tricky bit.

The most impressive spine I’ve seen was made by Armin Halac with his tangent spine. —>
I never quite figured out what he was doing with his spine. I assumed he was attaching joints directly to a bezier or cv curve.

At my job we do a lot of orthopedics dealing with the spine and in most instances the hybrid spine or ribbon works perfectly fine. Just always make sure your deformations is coming from the lumbar region.

Fk…is suicide
Ribbon…only good for students rigging demoreels, or someyhing that is not a spine…since doesnt allow to beNon stretchy and also flips and twist wrongly 90% of times.
Fk ik, wayy to many controls to be useful, animators are smart, we create our own locators if say we want to bend an ik from a specific Fk point, we dont need convoluted extra fk controls, this would cause us headache trying to hide the extra controls.Chances are that they would send ur rig back to be changed.

Best setup(im an animator 12h a day) is a good joint placement on a stretchable blend attribute,on an ik spline spine, with a mid control and/or tangent attributes control for the top and bottom bend, this should be setup from the start ,properly.

The spine should work with less fiddling around with attributes as possible, should be easy to pose using only 2 controls and eventually have a mid control only for tweaks.

My 2c.

Thanks alfo. Funnily enough the rig I settled upon is basically as you describe. I started putting some hybrid controls in, but like you say, it seemed like too many controls.

What’s wrong with FK by the way?

Oh and do you like space switching on the chest control with an IK spline spine?

Hi Eduk,

fk is way to hard to use, say if you want to move around the pelvis while keeping your chest in place (kinda like a human spine works), also adding complexity to the animation (say impact tremors or foot contacts to your pelvis), with an fk system you would go litterally nuts, since you can’t isolate the chest or the pelvis, since everything is dependent to the previous control.
I would not use pure FK either for tails, nor necks/head, all ik spline.

You can definitely add a space switch, i do not mind those, alto, again , i tend to do my own locators if i want to lock a control in place, since we usually lock into the “space” that we need, sometimes we even lock it in multiple spaces in the same shot, say you have a character running forward at camera, then it rolls to the ground, i would do 2 different locators for that, and polish up my pelvis based on where it makes the most sense.

One thing that you could add , before the space switch, would be to have extra controls for each of the spine controls, say you have mainSpine ,Pelvis and Chest?, you would also have MainSpine2 Pelvis2 chest 2 , those extras are more important to me then the space switches, i can use these to add extra jiggle to the animation , or try something quick if needed without breaking the main performance. (i don’t like animation layers ,they are way too messy to deal with…:slight_smile:

hope it helps.