In Part 1, we will create an HDA and start working on the spine. We will be using the Path Tool, Bones Tool, Follow Curve IK; we will create controls, create proxy geo and create HDA parameters. 

*scripts updated for Houdini 17.5+

This is one of a collection of videos. You can visit the collection page to view all of the lessons on a single page.


  • harryabreu 4 years, 9 months ago  | 

    Mr Goldfarb you opening a beautiful new world to me.
    I tried to read Houdini's help many times in order to understand how to make character rigging and to be honest it never make much sense...
    Now I know why... you are a good teacher you have enough patient to explain without hurry and show why somethings goes right.
    You got a (old) new student in your class.
    Thank to you and SideFX I going to use Houdini's full power in my production.
    Now I know that I choosed the better 3d package :)
    (sorry my poor English)

  • 4toonStudio 4 years, 9 months ago  | 

    Great - this is exactly what I needed. Very professional, and logically step by step. Thank you very much. I am used to Maya's Rapid Rig Modular (it's modification creation speed - rebuild rig, selection speed, chosen ctrl for instance all ctrl, ctrl tail, spine, etc. reset transform return to bind pose) so could you show us how to organise it in Houdini?

  • 9krausec 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Great video Goldfarb! Learning a lot.

  • Mugi 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Awesome. Waiting for part 3 eagerly.

  • IceBar0n 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Оur prayers have been answered!
    Thank you !Thank you !Thank you !Thank you !

  • IvanNinichuck 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Wow, I am completely new to 3d animation....been working with it for about a year now....and for the first time everything made absolute sense!!! I am actually using this video to make it easier for me to make custom animations for my Unreal Engine 4 project. Just this year I made the switch over to Houdini for my DCC. It is tutorials like this and tools that are possible that make me happy I did. Cannot wait for the next videos...thank you so much for taking the time to make this.

  • eretick 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Hi Michael!
    Thank You for your tutorial!
    Where I can get soldier mesh to follow your lessons with same geo?
    Thank you again!

    • Mugi 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

      Use the Tommy test geo that ships with Houdini. It's the same "soldier". Just press tab and type "test"....Tommy will show up in the list.

  • Mugi 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Still waiting...

  • rav3nclaw 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    By far the best rigging tutorial i have watched by far. For a total noob like me, i could follow everything easily since it was greatly explained. Cant wait for the next series to come.

  • DominikPott 4 years, 7 months ago  | 

    Hey Michael,

    how would you go about adjusting bone positions after they are already been setup with iks etc. Right now my only solution is deleting the ik and redo but thats a pain if paramters have already been promoted to the hda. Any tips for that ?


    • Dorjee 4 years ago  | 

      my question exactly..

  • cathycath123 4 years, 1 month ago  | 

    Is it possible to download the solder geo?

  • Nicogui 4 years, 1 month ago  | 

    Thank you very much for show your skills, I'm learning a lot !

  • Dorjee 4 years ago  | 

    This is the best.
    I have one question while promoting translate and rotate, how did you change the numbers to defaults i.e 0 ?

    • Angel Fucaraccio 3 years, 6 months ago  | 

      In the Type Properties window select the parameter you promoted and in the right side under "Parameter Description" select the "Channels" tab. There you can set the default values.

  • haileve 4 years ago  | 

    I was following along just nicely until you started cutting out "the boring bits" and now I'm lost and cannot figure out how to add those proxy geometries. Spent hours googling, reading documentation, and trying it myself, all I've managed to do is crash Houdini a few times and waste hours of time. I've got all the groups made, but how do I attach the mesh to them?

  • Lokk1 4 years ago  | 

    Use Houdini for rigging about 5 years, but in this lessons find some useful information and new features to build my rigs. Thank you!

  • DerikJohnson 3 years, 10 months ago  | 

    I have a quick comment. While I appreciate you not wanting to take the time to walk us through how to set up the group proxies for all of the different mesh groups in the torso geometry, it would have been nice to take us through at least one—so that we would know how to subdivide geometry into groups. Instead of completely skipping the instructions when you have a repetitious task, please take us through at least one step by step example so we can see what you did... repetitiously... LOL


  • ale7ine 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

    huhu i have followed every single step but I was not able to get through the object merge step, around 43-minute , tried to rotate or translate the ik fk but the body doesn't move a cm :((

    • goldfarb 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

      do you mean that the proxy geometry doesn't move?
      check that the nulls are locked and that the blue Display Flag is set.

  • dddmod___ 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Hi Michael!
    My controllers bend all together not relative to each other like you have

    • goldfarb 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

      can you post the file to the forums and I can take a look?

  • dddmod___ 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Of course, you can download here

    • goldfarb 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

      if I select spine_A_FK, spine_B_FK and spine_C_FK in your file they rotate correctly

      • dddmod___ 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

        What can it depend on? It sometimes work correctly but more often is not correct. Am I doing the right thing?

        • goldfarb 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

          I see what's wrong - you are not using rotation in the viewport - you're editing the the null - you can see this in the top left hand corner of the viewport when you select the nulls - it says "Null", it should be saying "Rotate"
          hit Esc in the viewport to ensure you don't have anything active, select the nulls then hit "r" for rotate

          • dddmod___ 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

            Thank you, Michael!
            Can I ask you something else? In this scene, the bones are not editable. Usually on the joints of bones appear such blue points for editing after drawing but there are none. Does this feature turn on and off or is it a bug? Https://

            • goldfarb 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

              in order to edit the bones you must be in the Bones tool state
              if you leave the bones tool state and want to re-enter it, just click the shelf tool again or use TAB>Bones in the viewport

              • dddmod___ 3 years, 8 months ago  | 

                Thank you, Michael! I'll check it out.
                Would you be able to answer this post? Nobody answers me :-) maybe I'm not clear enough write in English but I'm confused and do not understand anything why I have so broken skeleton

  • azeroc 3 years, 6 months ago  | 

    Great tutorials so far, managed to follow it till the end with almost no issues.. From what I see, Houdini way of rigging is comparable to 3ds max rigging, it's bone based, not joints based like in Maya for example. In 3ds mas, if you make a rig, you'll have to basically use the same nulls (dummy in 3ds max) to be able to make the proper IK and FK and if you look in the schematic view (3ds max) you'll see kind of the same links that are in Houdini, but not so detailed and you don't really have acces to everything. Just a heads up that there is an issue with Houdini 17.5 regarding extracting the pre-transform of nodes from their parent, it resets when you unlink them, even if they were set to 0. Use Houdini 17.0 till this is fixed.
    Need to mention that I'm new to Houdini, been playing a bit with it when it was at version 9 but Indie license seems very appealing. I'm using Apprentice and it would be really nice to see how the rigs are exported (to Unreal 4 mostly) and also the blendshapes that may be needed for face rigging before I subscribe to it.

    • goldfarb 3 years, 6 months ago  | 

      thanks for your feedback...
      regarding pre-transforms:
      In versions of Houdini prior to 17.5 the offset would be sent to the pre-transform of the child node - leaving the local transform alone, however in 17.5 the offset is applied to the local transform - unless there are keys/channels on those transforms.
      This is actually a fix of a very old bug, but many users (including me :| ) have become so used to it that we're now relying on it....
      This may be address in the future with a preference.

  • videlam 3 years, 5 months ago  | 

    Hello Michael,
    I'm following your lessons, very very great, you are a great teacher!
    I was just annoyed about the script who doesn't take the selected node name in H17.5, after few days (I'm a beginner.. :) ) I found the error.
    In the script Fk Control 3:
    selectname = kwargs ['toolname']

    should be replace by

    selectname = str(object[0])

    • goldfarb 3 years, 5 months ago  | 

      thanks for that, I'll see about getting a note posted about that change.

  • Angel Fucaraccio 3 years, 4 months ago  | 

    Hi, I have a question regarding the bone length script to stretch the bones to the length of the curve. In this case, all the bones have the same length, so dividing the arclen by 6 works fine, but how can you do this if the bones don´t have the same length? I´m rigging a character that has a pronounced curvature in the spine and the chest shouldn´t deform, so I need to stretch the bones maintaining their individual lenght ratio.

    • goldfarb 3 years, 4 months ago  | 

      try the 'IK From Objects' shelf tool on the rigging tab
      put down a few nulls and then run the tool
      the result will give you a quick IK/FK rig
      now have a look at the expressions on the bone lengths
      these are a little more complicated than you might need but it will show you how to change the bone lengths based on a ratio

  • ttpetra 3 years, 1 month ago  | 


    Great tutorial, can you help with the link to the tool for bone split and twist

  • Monto 3 years, 1 month ago  | 

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

    Just have one minor issue... For some reason the FK Control 3 -script doesn't move my control objects to the applied bone, hence I need to align them manually. Also had the naming-problem in the beginning, but Videlams post for the solution worked fine!

    • goldfarb 3 years, 1 month ago  | 

      there has been an update to the scripts for Houdini 17.5+
      give them a try

  • dothanhphongla 2 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Hi Tutor !
    Thanks for sharing these series of rigging. Please share the file soldier_body.bgeo that we can follow to do.
    Thanks so much again

    • tkloco 2 years, 9 months ago  | 

      Won't you be able to work without that exact geo/pose? Don't you think you could learn something trying to use your own or read the docs and use the Tommy test geo? Problem solving is part of the art creation, if you can't overcome even the small issues you'll be in hell with the big ones. Recommended read ("You don't need a tutor" topic):

  • peter_c 2 years, 1 month ago  | 

    Is there a place where we can download the model for this? Or is the model not particularly important and we can use any general humanoid?

    • goldfarb 2 years, 1 month ago  | 

      you can use anything.
      this model is the source for our Tommy test geo.

      • peter_c 2 years, 1 month ago  | 

        Thank you

  • Nilus_sandman 1 year, 8 months ago  | 

    Working on this in Houdini 18.5 and getting a cook error when I utilize the arclen formula. cant figure out why it is reacting like this. Is there a problem with how Houdini is processing it or is a coding and set up issue? If you want to look at the issued it would be really helpful!

  • spidi360 11 months ago  | 

    Does this work in 18,x and now in H 19 ? i think i had the same problems in H18.x and now with 19

    When i parent the spine_hip_CV under the spine_root ... Translation and rotation change immediately. "Keep Position ... " is ON

    extract pre transformation does nothing...

    Now i set it to 0 (translate) or 90 (rotate)

    After cutting the "parenting line", the 0 are gone......I have the same values as before the procedure

  • Andi Farhall 8 months, 1 week ago  | 

    Hi Michael,
    thanks for these tutorials, just what I needed to get started with rigging. I noticed at 18.36 when you cut hip_IK from spine_root nothing changes in the translate field for hip_IK, whereas here when I do it I get the values change (as I would expect). I'm on H19. Does this ring any bells?

    • goldfarb 8 months, 1 week ago  | 

      it's due to a change in the way that Keep Position when Parenting works.
      you can do a 'Clean Transform' to properly match the tutorial

  • Andi Farhall 8 months, 1 week ago  | 

    Thanks Michael, I was just about to look at clean transform to see what effect it had.



  • aRomanFidler254 3 weeks, 6 days ago  | 

    Still having trouble with parenting even after trying to clean transforms.
    When I plug in the geometry proxys to the bones they inherit rotation on the X axis and they 90 degrees incorrect.
    When am I supposed to clean the transforms? I am going to start the project from scratch and try extracting the pre transform and then cleaning transforms to see if that has a different affect.

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