Morpheus Rig Docs
"Morpheus Rig " © Josh Burton 2010

Last updated - 1/14/2011

Installation Instructions

  • Download the latest rig from Morpheus Project page
  • Other scripts you'll need to download and install if you want all the buttons to work.
  • Shelf installation
    • Make sure Maya is closed
    • Browse to your local maya directory. Typically found somewhere like this on windows "C:\Users\[your name]\Documents\maya\[maya version]\"
    • Copy the morpheus release pack prefs and scripts folders here
    • If all goes well, you should see the Morphy shelf load up next time you open Maya
    • Be aware, I don't have error checking on the Morpheus scripts yet so "clicker beware" till I can get around to that:)
  • Be organized - I keep all of my rigs in a central location so that paths can be consistent. Also, if you don't use projects folder set ups for your workflow, I highly recommend doing so

Introduction - How Does it work?

There's nothing especially remarkable about how the rig works. I consider myself an intermediate rigger at best, there was much trial and error in Morphy's creation. It uses basic maya functions and pretty much is just a standard rig which I've then added "shapeability" to via blendshapes and joints. This is not feature level work by any stretch - there will be rough edges:)

  • The Facial Rig
    • The Facial rig itself is driven by blendshapes connected to the controls through a pose buffer. I used a pose buffer so that I could take this facial rig to another character and not have to set up all the node trees again. I'm lazy like that.
      The morphing in the face is accomplished via two avenues: joints for making major shifts in the shape of the whole head and a series of facial morphs to change specific features
    • The eye rig was honestly the most challenging portion in terms of "shapeability" in trying to keep things in place when moving the eyes and scaling them. See my post here for details. The meat of the structure is using my good friend Scott Englert's eye rig setup and John Doublestein's lid setup. Both of which I've modified but each of which provided a huge step up in getting things going.
    • I used The Face Machine for two purposes:
      • To test the face during creation. The last few characters I've created I've used it for this. It's a great way to quickly check if you need more or better topology in an area before getting into the meat of of final blendshape creation.
      • To create the initial blendshapes. For those that I could make with it, I definitely exported out blendshape to see how it worked with the others. After I got everything generally working I hand sculpted on them usually using Maya's geometry sculpt tool as well as copious uses of AbSymMesh to reset sections and mirror them.
  • The Body Rig
    • The meat of the body rig is John Doublestein's rig which I then modified for my uses. I had wanted to and still plan on creating a version from scratch to get the body shapability how I wanted it but wanted to get a v1.0 out sometime this decade.
    • The main targets of the body morphing are a muscular, heavy, skinny and feminine morphs which I've then split up using Jason Osipa's tutorial in chapter 6 of Stop Staring (second edition). He's talking about doing a full face scrunch and then painting out the various regions. I just took that and applied it to painting out regions of the body. A bit tedious but it seems to work okay. After that, I just connected their blendshape channels to joysticks cause I like em.
      The body/limb stretching and what not is my least happy portion of the rig. It's a hack of just stretching the limb segments manually, manually shortening the torso and/or head and then "staying on model" when you animate. I'd like to create a more elegant method and have ideas on how to do so. Again, just wanted to get a v1.0 done sooner than later. If it bothers you just go ahead and ignore Morpheus's v1.0 release andkeep checking back for v2.0 :)
      • Custom Geo Facial stuff is attached via skinning coupled with blendshapes which were generated via script and wrap deformers.


  • Why did you make this?
    First off, I wanted my own human like character to play around with that was flexible and rigged they way I like to work. It continued as a rigging exercise to expand my skills and turned into a big "I wonder if that might work" kinda game. I decided to play. How well I did I'll leave up to the user to decide but he's good enough for my purposes.
  • Why is Morpheus free to download?
    A few reasons...
    • What I wish was my sole motivation - Jesus told me to. Well, not specifically. He said "do for others what you'd like them to do for you." Plenty of folks have given free rigs, tutorials, and scripts to the community which I have enjoyed. Others did it for me, so...
    • What is definitely a part of my motivation - I want more work. Life has found me living in Houston and planning to stay where there isn't a lot of cg work and with few folks liking to use remote artists it can be challenging. This is probably going to get me some exposure which will lead to work. Squirrely did, this is upping the ante.
    • The "it's more trouble than it's worth" reason- Cause monetization of ideas is something I suck at:) I thought long and hard about charging for him and it really boiled down to a lack of desire in tracking people's purchases and a recognition that without a lot more technical knowhow once the rig was out, it was out. I'd much prefer to be creating something than tracking if Joe Bob in Ontario is "authorized" to use Morphy or not. You go right ahead Joe Bob! .
  • If I really want to pay you something....?
    I've set up a paypal donation link for those that would like to see me continue to develop this project and keep making characters for folks to use. I'd love to be able to make a living doing this kind of thing but I have to take paying work as it comes.
  • How can I contribute?
    I'd encourage folks who make neat custom assets be they geo customization, textures, or morphs to share them with others. The best I receive (should I get any) I will periodically roll out with Morphy updates for as long as it makes sense for me to continue the project
  • What's next for Morphy?
    For v2.0 I'd like a much more engaging full body customization setup (kinda like the facial deformation). I have ideas on how to do it but I'd like to animate with him for a while first. Also, doing what I want to do is gonna take a lot of time and I have other projects that have been brewing as well.
  • Morphy, Squirrely, Lobstery. Why do you name so many things with a "y"?
    "Y" only sometimes gets to be vowel. I like giving him more opportunities to shine.
  • Why didn't you use joints for the facial rig instead of blendshapes?
    Chance? There's nothing to stop someone doing this with joints. As I was looking at it, it just seemed to make more sense on it being easier with blendshapes. With what I know now, I don't think it would have made it any harder to use joints - only different. Give it a shot!
  • Why do you use joysticks?
    Cause I like em. You're more than welcome to set them some other way if you like.


  • Can I use him for my commercial project?
    Not without my written permission. Sorry. One caveat to that would be previs stuff. On that front, sure, why not?
  • Can I use Morpheus for non-wholesome* purposes? (by non-wholesome I mean things you'd be ashamed of your mother to see. If there's nothing your mother would be ashamed of, ask "Would Pixar make a short with a character doing this?" and that should get you about to the right place)
    • I'd prefer you not but recognize I can't stop you once Morpheus is in the wild. I'll just leave it a "please don't". With a cherry on top.
  • Can I use him for shorts and exercises even if I might submit it to festivals?
    Sure thing. That's what he's for. I know making money on the festival circuit or competitions is a possibility. No worries on that front. Good luck!
  • I'd like to use Morphy's head on another body rig.
    Sweet, that's one of the things I made him to be able to do. You'll find the head rig as a separate file in the Morphy package. To attach it to your rig, follow this tutorial take a look at my add head script and you should be able to piece it together from there.

Customization WIP

  • How do I select the mesh?
    I'm just using drawing overrides to make the mesh unselectable. You can override it through the attribute editor on the various meshes/groups, OR....
    //turn on selectability
    setAttr "hand_left_grp.overrideEnabled" 0;
    setAttr "hand_right_grp.overrideEnabled" 0;
    setAttr "all_anim|Geo_grp.overrideEnabled" 0;
    setAttr "FacialRig_grp|Geo_grp.overrideEnabled" 0;

    //turn off selectability
    setAttr "hand_left_grp.overrideEnabled" 1;
    setAttr "hand_right_grp.overrideEnabled" 1;
    setAttr "all_anim|Geo_grp.overrideEnabled" 1;
    setAttr "FacialRig_grp|Geo_grp.overrideEnabled" 1;

  • The textures aren't showing up, why is that?!
    You need to 1) make sure your renderer is set to mental ray and 2) that you fixed the texture pathing since you more than likely don't name your folders the same way I do
  • There's not nearly enough hair styles and customization stuff, I want more!
    I wholeheartedly agree. Start making some and I'll be happy to roll good ones into Morphy updates
  • I want to modify the existing blend shapes...
    Awesome. Watch this
  • Why not have clothes options?
    Fantastic question. Other folks felt the same and the good folks at Ex'pression College decided to do something about it and are heading a Morphy Wardrobe Project. Check it out here!
  • How do I add my own hair or custom facial geo or even body?
    Couple of methods. Easiest one is to use the tools I made for it, you can learn about that here.
  • I pushed the face/body past it's limits. It shouldn't be breakable!
    Mr. Wizard lives down the street but he's busy with a green energy breakthrough. I'd prefer not to bother him. Apologies.


  • What's the easiest way to select stuff to key?
    Couple of ways, there are quick select sets setup for most of the body parts and you can also use the an-o-matic mode on the ui to easily select all or just parts of the rig.
  • Should I reference or import copies of the rig?
    Reference. Come on, all the cool kids do it:)

Scripts and Tools

These are some tools I used in Morphy's creation. Take a look at em if you're interested.

  • The Face Machine - Tool I use to check face topology and get first pass targets before really getting into workin on my blendshapes
  • abSymMesh - Collection of tools for mirroring, flipping and restoring symmetry when you're working on your blendshapes
  • blendTaper - Fantastic tool for creating left and right versions of blendshapes. Can't find a good download link.
  • extractBlendShapes - Cool script for yanking blendhshapes off an object that's had it's blendshape targets deleted
  • boTriggers - (included in release pack) the trigger script I decided to go with. Nice guy wrote it too:)


My many many thanks to those who contributed meshes, textures, rigging assistance throughout Morphy's creation. There are many other beta testers listed in the "Friends of Morphy" list on the side who provided great feedback as well.

  • Mary Barreiro - She's responsible for serviceable make up options on Morpheus and lots of feedback and on the texture front. Thanks Mary!
  • Danny Garnett - You can thank him for Morphy having a solid teeth option as well as the first pass on teeth blendshapes
  • Aziz Kocanaogullair - Aziz provided hair options, the second ear option and some great feedback throughout
  • Scott Englert - Rigging ideas, help solving a wrist twisting issue

Folks who have contributed to Morpheus' development with feedback, bugs, or custom Geo (Still working on links)

All the stuff on this site is © 2000 - by Josh Burton...unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.