Is it possible to use one rig for several characters that are different sizes?



I’ve been asked to make character have a variety of sizes such as short, average, tall, skinny and fat. It there a good way to make all these characters use the same skeleton/rig so I can reuse most of the animations?

I’ve had a friend suggest Morph Targeting (using Maya) as the easiest way to do so. Are there other programs that would do this better? Other workflow suggestions?


Morph Targets are blendshapes afaik. Animation retargeting is probably what you’re looking for. In Unity (mecanim) for example you can transfer animations between humanoid characters without too much hassle. Motion builder should have tools to solve this as well, and I’ve seen scripts that does this in Maya utilizing the Human IK.


Ah, ok. I’ll look into retargeting. Thanks.

Just curious, is Motion Builder still used frequently? When I search for info about it most the websites have post dating back to 2011 or something 4 years old.


Motionbuilder is still very much a thing. Probably best (most used at least) tool for cleaning motion capture data. And check the topics on MOBU which is the shorthand most use.

I have barely used motion builder myself, so can only speak from discussions I’ve had with users.


This is my experience as well. Though like @robberyman I have almost zero experience using mobu myself.

I can say at my last job we made heavy use of retargetting for animating characters of various sizes and proportions. Though we were primarily doing the work in Maya with some custom tools that our Technical Animator wrote.


did something like this a couple of months ago to help a small indy studio to save time on animation.
the male and female character where very similar but had some small differences (hip width, leg length, shoulder width etc,)
the rig for the male was seperate from the skinned skeleton and attached based on parentConstraints, so adjusting some basics like the start and end of ikchains, and adjusting the scale of the joints in the rig with something like a setdriven key allowed the animator to have the same animations for the male and female

this made it easy to get animations in unity for both characters and later on only minimal tweaking is necessary for the female animations


I may need to learn this method. Had a meeting today and because this will be massive crowd animations I’ll need to use as few skeletons as possible. So retartgetting animations from one size of skeletons to another is pretty much out.

If you have any links for how to set this up I’d appreciate it. Will be googling this today.


I’ve been told I need to keep it down to one skeleton if possible. Will be used for large crowds. So I’m guessing retargetting is out. But I still want to learn more about it so will be looking into it just in case. Thanks again for the helpful info.


nope sorry, no links or anythings was mostly just R&D on my part that worked,
some tips i can give is to leave the spine the same length as that might be the most difficult to change, for the the other parts, using 2 locators with a point contraint to a joint allows for easy blending and gives a location to snap back to when things go wrong. and for the joints inside an ik-chain you can use the scale to resize the length. just make sure that the rig skeleton is seperate from the actual skinned skeleton for easy connection to different rigs.


Have you consider the use of a crowd system like golaem? it is very easy to retarget animations and if there are cowds you can do a rig with something like the maya Human IK for animators to define the animations that you need, and you can also use with it a full range of animations like the ones on Mixamo, it is the cheapest, fastest and most robust option that I can think of, specially if you are doing everithing by yourself.


Okay, thanks. R&D is fun for me anyways. :slight_smile:


I haven’t heard of that before, thanks. I’ll check this out and see how it works.