First Blocks

Last Updated 04.26.2019

We’re going to start very simply. I’m going to ignore a lot of concepts and settings until we get further in the material. Let’s build.


  • First steps with MRS Builder. 
  • Experiment with the HANDLE block


What should you be trying to learn from this module?

  • Introduction to mrsBuilder
  • Add, connect and build basic HANDLE blocks

Concepts to Grasp

  • Basic Builder UI
  • Adding Blocks
  • Parenting Blocks
  • Basic state change workflow
  • Changing Context


Let’s Begin


Most riggers have a UI to interact with. Until they get direct mind control of computers sorted we’re going to have one too.

Let’s open it up.

  • Open up mrsBuilder | 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. The exact ui you see may not exactly match the image above. We’re pretty regularly tweaking layout and polishing to help make things more intuitive. Once you get a handle on things we hope you’ll be  a part of that conversation as well.

For more information see the mrsBuilder section of the docs.

There’s a lot going on here and we’ll get through most of it in the course. We’ll start slow.

Make Our Stand

Boxes are simple, they’re one of the first things we make when starting 3d. Might as well start here.

  • Add a rigBlock to our scene | Add > handle > box

Alrighty so what are we looking at?

Take a look at the UI and note a few things:

  • We have a new item listed [4] which is our box. This is our blockList and hierarchically represents the blocks in our scene. As we add more blocks this will make more sense.
  • The text and/or selected row is red depending on selection. This denotes state- the define state to be specific. You see a list of buttons on the right that are colored. These are our state pushing buttons. States are how we talk about our what step of the setup process a given block is in. We’ll talk a lot more about this later


We have a number of control handles on our rig blocks we can use to position and our rigBlocks.

At the define state we’re concerned about position, rough size and general orientation.

  • rigBlock root [1]
  • define handles [2]
  • up handle[3]

Rig Block Roots

These generally look like white 3d locators – this is the most typically the form our rigBlock dags take.

You can:

  • Select it a couple of ways:
    • Click it in the viewport
    • In mrsBuilder
      • Select it in the scroll list
      • Press button | Utilities – Contextual > Select
  • Move, rotate, scale it.

Define Handles


  • Use the sphere handles to shape the block into a rough stand shape.
  • Press the bakeScale if you’ve scaled the rigBlock root.


With this simple block there’s not a lot to do here. But let’s do it.

  • Change States | Press the <Form> button with the block selected to take it to the form state
    • You should see the block change in the blockList to orange to denote our new state
  • Play with Shading settings | This is something we go back and forth on when we’re working through assets numerous times
    • Wireframe on Shaded
    • Use default material


Prerig is points of articulation and where our joints will be created at.

  • Change States | Press the <Prerig> button with the block selected to take it to the prerig state [4]
    • You should see the block change in the blockList to yellow to denote our new state
  • Open the state picker if you’re having trouble selecting things | Right click the block in the blockList and go to State Picker. You can tear it off or use it there [3]. Note. It builds on selection so if you’ve changed states you’ll need to re-select the block.
  • Move the joint helper | Position the joint helper where you want your joint created at
  • Look at the pivot helper | Note where the pivot helper [1] shapes are. You can move them if you like

Before we skeleton, need a master

The way our system works we need a master block. So…

  • Select the box block in the list and press Utilities > Select | This  will let our master block auto size when it creates
  • Add the master | Add > Master | A master block will be created and sized to our handle
  • Double click the master to make it the active block
  • Parent the box block to the master | Right click the box block and Parent > To Active.
  • Change the name for the master | Right click the master and Set Name Tag to ‘prop’ or whatever you like.
  • Change the name for the box | Right click the box and Set Name Tag to ‘stand’ or whatever you like.
  • Play with baseSize on the master | Try changing baseSize and then pressing form again on the master to rebuild it
  • Play with the controlOffset on the master | This is an important settings. The maya space distance from the inner to the outer circle will be the distance all the blocks under that masterBlock will use.

  • Change states on master | Select the master and then press the <Prerig> button This will give us another control shape to move around.
  • Change states on master again | Select the master and then press the <Skeleton> button. This will create our rootMotion joint. Note that you can move the rootMotion shape, then reskeletonize to have it go to the new position/orienation. Also note that the bind skeleton can be found under master | skeleton.
  • Change states on box | Select the box block and then press the <Skeleton> button. A joint will be created at the joint helper of the box block and parented to the root motion joint.

Rig it! Rig it!

Let’s rig some stuff and get a feel for how this process works to completion.

  • Rig the master | Select the master in the blockList and press <Rig. It’ll take a minute and then you’ll have a rigged master you can look at.
  • Rig the box | Select the box and press <Rig. Wait a moment again and you’ll have a rigged stand.
  • Generate proxy mesh | With the box selected, in the menu Block > Rig > Verify Proxy Mesh to get some visible geo to see a representation of our rigged asset.

Play around

Watch the rest of the video and play around with blocks to build what you like. I added some more blocks to our stand.

Just getting started

Next week we’ll be working from an existing biped template to build a full character. Have fun experimenting this week!


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.