Course Review: Rig anything with Rigify in Blender

Rigging is one of the more complex activities of a 3D artist. It is the art of fitting an armature to a mesh, usually a character, assigning areas of influence to match the armature’s bones, and deform the mesh for animation. This almost sounds easy, but in practice successful rigging can prove to be quite a pain in the buttocks.

Fortunately, the experienced Blender artist Todor Nikolov from CGDive has released a comprehensive course titled Rig anything with Rigify, covering the ins and outs of rigging with the powerful Rigify rigging add-on that comes with Blender. CG Boost took the course and in this article I share my thoughts on it.

The Rig anything with Rigify course package is divided into three modules

Rigify Basics ( free )

  1. Blender armatures
  2. The Rigify workflow
  3. Pre-built meta-rigs
  4. ‘Frankenstein’ meta-rigs
  5. The rig types explained + Reconstructing a human meta-rig
  6. Custom alien rig
  7. Bone layers and groups

Video Manual ( $ 15 value )

  1. Rigify Facial Rig
  2. Rig type: Leg
  3. Rig type: Arm
  4. Rig type: Paw
  5. Rig type: Super Spine
  6. Rig type: Super Head
  7. Rig type: Tail
  8. And more…

Advanced Sessions ( $ 25 value )

  1. Session 1: Rigging a two-headed ogre
  2. Session 2: Rigging a dragon
  3. Session 3: Rigging a bird / wing

The first two modules — Rigify Basics and the Video Manual — are available at the time of writing. You can currently buy the complete course at a lower price, and you will receive the upcoming chapters of module 3 — the Advanced Sessions — at no extra cost.

Module 1: Rigify Basics

The first module of the Rig anything with Rigify course is available for free, existing of several instructive videos.

After a nice introduction video, the first course video shows how to rig a humanoid character using Blender’s native armature system. Todor Nikolov, the course creator, wanted to show rigging using the standard Blender armature system as well, because it is useful knowledge, and it will make you appreciate the Rigify add-on even more.

Todor explains the standard rigging procedure in Blender in a very understandable way: adding bones, renaming the mirrored bones, parenting bones, adding inverse kinematics (IK) and assigning the armature to the mesh for deformation.

Rig anything with Rigify course review image 01 - Rigging with the default Blender armature
As a first step you learn how to rig using the default Blender armature system

The second video of the free chapter presents a clarifying, informative Rigify workflow diagram, introducing the many facets of Rigify, the different approaches you can choose from, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 02 - Rigify workflow diagram
A step-by-step guide to the different possible Rigify workflows

Next up is the first practice session with Rigify, an introductory trip to the world of easier and more powerful rigging with Rigify, starting with activation of the add-on and the necessary auto-run option of Python scripts, and ending with a complete first humanoid Rigify rig.

An interesting approach of Todor is showing deliberate mistakes, to warn about possible issues that might arise from making those mistakes, and how to avoid or solve those issues.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 03 - Pre-built meta-rigs
All the basics you need to know to get going with Rigify

Following the humanoid rig, Todor shows how to rig a quadrupedal model in the shape of a cute dog, including tips how to add a Rigify rig to an already existing rig.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 04 - Quadruped rig

Then Todor shows the hybrid multi-pedal and bipedal lifeforms you can rig using Rigify’s different armature types, such as a six-legged horse and a humanoid figure with cat-like ears and a tail. This video also emphasizes possible pitfalls when you customize pre-built Rigify rigs, so you’re introduced to what could go wrong rather than how to do it right. How to do it correctly follows in a different video. 

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 05 - Frankenstein meta-rigs

In the video that follows, the many sub-elements of Rigify armatures and some of their idiosyncrasies are clearly explained, to get you acquainted with those elements if you want to build a custom Rigify rig from scratch.

To clarify the different element types, Todor has created a Blend file containing all the elements, accompanied with text labels. This Blend file is available as part of the course.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 06 - Rigify elements

In the subsequent video, you’re introduced to creating your own custom Rigify rig, returning to the humanoid figure with the cat-like ears and tail, this time rigging it correctly.

Then it’s time for a little more advanced rigging: fitting an armature with custom bone structures to an asymmetrical alien. To achieve this, the previously introduced Rigify preset limbs and other parts are added in Edit Mode.

Continuing the advanced techniques, Todor explains a number of settings, functions and other features to accurately control Rigify rigs in the remaining videos of the free first module, effectively mixing theory with practice.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 09 - Rigify controls and settings

The various Blender scenes that are discussed in the Rig anything with Rigify course videos come with the course package when you download it. You can choose between downloading the free part of the course — Module 1 — or buying the complete three-module course.

Module 2: Video Manual

The second module / chapter of the Rig anything with Rigify course — the Video Manual — consists of a range of instructive videos you can use as reference when building your Rigify rigs. The videos show in a very clearly narrated way how each Rigify armature element works, ranging from hands and feet to limbs and tentacles. The videos feel like no-nonsense IKEA product construction manuals shaped as videos.

Rig anything with Rigify course review img 10 - Video manual

The Video Manual module of the course package is not free, but very affordable, and the instructive videos can be used again and again each time you need to start a new rigging project, or return to a previous rigging project, without the need to follow the complete Rigify course again. The Video Manual collection can keep serving as a very convenient visual manual.

Module 3: Advanced Sessions

Just when you think Todor has explained everything about Rigify, an even more advanced module / chapter turns out to follow: the Advanced Sessions. This is the definitive part that will turn you into a professional-grade rigger, able to tackle even more advanced rigging challenges: rigging a two-headed ogre, rigging a dragon, and rigging a bird and its wing.

At the time of writing, the Advanced Sessions module has not been released yet, but it’s on its way, and you can turn this to your advantage by buying the complete course at a discount now, and receive the third module as soon as it’s available.

Recommended rigging reference

The Rig anything with Rigify course is a very comprehensive and informative course for anyone looking to learn the ins and outs of rigging in Blender. Todor Nikolov has obviously spent quite some time creating the course videos, and it shows. His voice is pleasantly delicate, narrating in a calm manner. The narration speed and duration of the videos are also nicely balanced. This is a recommended course for rigging enthusiasts and aspiring rigging professionals.

Until all sessions of the third module are finished you can buy the first two modules for a lower price.

Update, July 29th 2020: The Dragon session of the Advanced Sessions has been released.

Happy Blending! 🐵

Metin Seven
metinseven.nl

Rig anything with Rigify Course

Take your Blender rigging skills to the next level

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.

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