RigBlock Guide Shapes

MRS : Landing | Members | Queue | Forum | DocsLibrary | How

 master | handlesegment | limb | handhead | eye | muzzle | brow

Last update: 02.28.2019

RigBlock Guide shapes are our word for  handles we using during our build process to make the magic happen. These are used for things like:

  • Defining points of articulation
  • Visualizing asset forms, bounding boxes and joint chains

Things to remember:

  • Handles are often colored by their side so they may not always look exactly like what you see here
  • Some only show up based on your rigBlock settings and state


The define state is the state of minimal information – points in space, vectors and volume.

RigBlock Root

The most common shape for the rigBlock root is the locator form. Currently they are almost always white in color to make them easily visible.

These are the core dag node of the rigBlock. Moving it will move your all the sub handles of a rigBlock (providing you haven’t constrained anything anywhere).


Define Handles

Some rigBlock types have main handles to define a few items.

  • Size – Scaling the end in some cases drives the bounding box size
  • Length – The distance from start to end defines the. Often the start is just defined by the rigBlock dag at the define state.
  • Sometimes there is extra information on the handles. See the marked image above.

Some of the common handles we use are:

  • End – The end point of the rigBlock
  • RP – the vector of the rotation plane for our block
  • Lever – Where we want our lever to be – think clavicle or the lever like hinge at the base of a finger in the hand

Visual Define Helpers

At times we use special handles with define handles to help show more information but not necessarily directly interact with.


Vector helpers are cylinders you rotate. They are to help see vectors in 3d when we start getting more complicated.

Bounding Box

The bounding box is simply to show a visual volume which is only there to be helpful with sizing assets when you don’t have a mesh to work from.

  • They are usually hidden or template locked at the template state
  • If they prove cumbersome to users in time we may revisit.


The template state is the state of shape – proportion, form.

Here is a segment with shapers and 2 sub shapers at the template state. We’ll use this to walk through the shapers of this state.

Template Handles

The dark rounded corner handles (color will vary by side). They are used for big movements and scaling. Sub shaper handles are controlled by these. What that means is that if we take one of the handles and move and scale it…

Note a few things:

  • Our other template handles are unaffected
  • The form of our loft mesh however does change and scale to blend between the shape and form of handle before and after.

Loft Handles

These are the actual curve handles that our template loft runs through. Here’s what happens when I take the last step and move and scale one of the loft handles.

Again, note the other loft handles are unaffected

The loft handles are what we use to really shape our proxy. For our purposes we spend a good bit of time here as it is a good way to play with character looks before committing to modeling time as well as testing proportions.


  • You can change the cvs on these however that data isn’t currently stored in our blockDat so rebuilding will wipe it

Orient Helper 

This arrow shape controls the ‘up’ of our segment root for rigBlock aiming and joint aiming.

You can see it all of the images above.


  • There is a function to snap the RP define handle if one exists to the plane defined by the orient helper.

Template Loft Mesh

This surface is really important.

  • It is the nurbs surface loft created driven by the other template handles
  • It is used for proxy mesh creation and control curve casting. At rig creation this surface is used to cast rays at to find curves to then offset and connect to other curves on the surface to create the controls of our character which is how they match our form so well.
  • You can affect its shape via the loft handles and the settings to some degree.


The prerig state is the state of dags- points of articulation, joint chains, important controls

This is our segment in prerig state and I visually toggled .template mode on to only look at the prerig stuff.

Prerig Handles

The default prerig handle is a two part control. There is a split so that we don’t have to have our rig dags match our joints unless we want to.

Dag Handle

The 3d axis looking control. This dag is to define our actual points of articulation structure.

Joint Handle

The sphere shape is the joint handle. The prerig joint loft runs through these.

  • When the joint count matches the handle count these are the exact positions that will be used
  • When the count is different, the splits will happen along a curve very similar to the joint loft

Prerig IK Orientation handle

Sometimes there are special prerig handles that are designated by a colored 3d axis and a black sphere around it.

This denotes that this is an orientation handle. For example, the ik wrist or ankle would use this controls orientation rather than the joint.

Joint Loft

The much thinner lofted surface running through our joint handles is for visualizing the joint chain.

Special Handles

These are optional handles that only create under certain conditions

Cog Helper

This is our Cog helper. There are two parts to it, the dag and the shape.

  • If you select the pyramids, that’s the shape and you can move it it irrespective of the dag.
  • The dag is represented by the curve text ‘cog’. You can pick walk up once from the shape to get it and move both
  • At rig time:
    • The dag is where the rig Cog dag is generated from
    • The cog shape uses our shape helper
  • It only builds if we have addCog True on your rigBlock
  • The joint loft represents what our joint chain will be at the skeleton state


Things we’re thinking on

Specific joint handles

We’ve toyed with the idea of having exact joint handles at the prerig state and we may end up doing that. Our main concern is that you’d have to rebuild the prerig state everytime you changed the count and the way we currently do the state load it will break your data.

You can manually move joints at the skeleton state if you just want to move a roll joint.

Road Map

Change Log

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.