Working from a Base

Last Updated 05.02.2019

Building from a base will allow us to start from something to get somewhere new rather than calling forth something from the abyss of the void.

Much better, yes?


  • Decide on a biped design you’d like to do
  • Taking the base template provided:
    • Customize that template to match your design
    • Build it
    • Experiment with different options:
      • Different points of articulation
      • Different joint counts
      • Different loft shapes
      • Add some custom head geo to learn that process


What should you be trying to learn from this module?

  • Continue learning Builder for pushing our assets through the various states
  • Experiment with shaping with an existing template
  • Work through the basics of of post processing

Concepts to Grasp

  • Vis Menu
  • Using puppet mesh for reference
  • Using loft curves for form
  • Mirroring blocks
  • Changing loft shapes
  • Changing subShaper counts
  • RotatePlane – visulalizing, snapping to
  • Adding Custom Geo
  • Post processing

What shall you make?

I’m going to provide you with a prebuilt humanoid template file. We want to make that into something else. You need a target to aim at.

If you have something in mind or your own character, that’s perfectly fine. If you’d like some suggestions, here are some body types a buddy drew up for us a long time ago on a project far away.

Art by Kory Heinzen

Feel free to take one of these or start from scratch. If you have a mesh you want to proxy up for this class, all the better.

I’m going to make a proxy for our Nomad design as I need to do one and this class is a good enough reason as any to do so now. This is my current refinement of that design.

Doing this will allow me to show you a few other concepts I wanted to show.

Our First Build

Bout time we built something, no? Let’s hop to it.

Open our base file

I’m providing you the mDrake template without the facial rigBlocks or the holster/pistol blocks. It should look something like this…

First question you’re gonna have is what are we looking at. This is a template file – the visual framework which MRS uses to build a rig.

Now what?

In order to setup your templates we need to talk a little about what handles and tools we have to work with to accomplish this. We’re going to start as simply as we can can and then add to your knowledge through the rest of the course.

Seeing things better

As we dig in there’s a couple of ways that would be helpful to know how to change how you’re looking at things.

  • Xray – So our shader is somewhat transparent to allow us to see our rigging guides but you can also manually do that when you have in a base mesh.
    • Viewport>Shading>X-Ray
  • Default Material – Sometimes this is helpful when just looking at form/shape
    • Viewport>Shading>Use default material
  • Wireframe On Shaded – There are times I have this on when I’m trying match an existing mesh
    • Viewport>Shading>Wireframe on Shaded

I like to work with some lighting when I’m shaping so I’m going to go ahead and import my default light set which is constrained to my perspective camera.

To do that I’m going to use our lighting setup tool to throw my modeling lighting set in.

With that I see something like this…


We’re going to need to open mrsBuilder though we’re not going to go over the whole thing right now. To open the menu: cgm Top Menu>MRS>mrsBuilder

You should see something like this…

We’re not going to go into detail here but will just hit what we need to as we work through the material.

 For much more information see the mrsBuilder section of the MRS Docs



The focus tool allows us to visually filter the blocks we’re working with.

Focus on specific blocks. Works by building a filtered list of selected blocks then processing all the blocks in a root context against that list to aid in working only on what you want.

  • Clear | Clear the current focus
  • Vis | Hide all blocks but the selected ones under the current root
  • Template | Toggle on the .template attribute of the non filtered blocks so they’re visible but not selectable

Reference Mesh

When I’m reshaping things often it’s helpful to have a framework to work. When I’m making a template from an existing mesh that’s definitely preferable. In this case we’re going to use a MRS generated mesh (Puppet Mesh) as that reference.

  • Select a block in the blockList
  • Block > Geo > Puppet Mesh | Unified | This will create the mesh
  • Create a new layer with that mesh and set it to reference or template


Let’s get to shaping our character. As we move through this we’ll learn some tools and parts of the UI along the way.

First of all, what are we trying to do during shaping?

  • Create an impression of the character/asset we’re wanting to rig.
  • Setup proportions we think will work well
  • Test new designs

Watch the rest of the video.

Here’s my built asset with proxy mesh.


Now that we have have a rig we can move around and play with we want to do some posing and test animation if we have time and make notes.

  • Are there problematic proportions anywhere?
  • Any points of articulation that could be better?
  • What improvements could be made to my rig?

I did some posing on my asset and noticed a few items:

  • The fingers I’d like to fatten up the proxy on for my final look
  • I’d like to play with stretching out the character for another body type.
  • Also, I’m thinking the ears on my helm are too big for how I want the hood to fall off.


There are concepts we’re going to work through during our quadruped setup which will give you a much better understanding of what’s going on.

After you complete that step loop back to your template file and see how you can make it better.

Josh Burton

[MRS Project Lead | CG Monks] Josh is an animator turned TD who hails from Oklahoma, pre-undergrad in the Marine Corps, animation basics at Savannah College of Art and Design, cut his teeth in gaming and commercials before co-founding CG Monks and more recently the CG Monastery. The Morpheus Rigging System is a culmination of years of R&D and he is now thrilled to see what users can create, collaborate and expand on with this open source MRS platform.