Getting the rig
Since we want humanoid avatars, the best way to get a fast rig is using Mixamo.
Mixamo is an automatic rigging website tool that allows you to create quick humanoid for free.
I won't cover how to use Mixamo, since we already have that cover in this post here:
But I will explain how to use all the tools that I used when rigging almost every of the +200 different avatars we have made for the 100 Avatars project.
So tag along, because the world of rigging is one where patience is KEY.
You have the avatar on your Maya proyect ready now.
There are a few places where you have to take a closer look since these are the most problematic areas. These areas are shoulders, armpit and hands. Depending on the character you might have to take a look at other places, specially if it is a complex character.
Ask yourself; are all the bones where they are supposed to be?
In this case... no. Using the X-Ray Bones options you can easly see where each bone is inside the body.
In this case, the shoulders aren't where they should be, so, how can we move them?
With a really useful tool called Moved Skinned Joints.
Go to the Rigging tab, and then to Skin. Almost at the bottom, you should find the tool. Click on the square on the right and then on any joint. Now you can move them freely without any problem!
Use it to move the shoulders where they should be.
Now it's time to skin!
Value is the value you set the influence of the brush. More means more influence. The maximum is 1 and the least is 0.
The Flood button makes every selected region get the value you selected.
With this explanation of the tools, you should have a good idea of how to skin a character inside Maya.
Now, skinning is not an easy thing, at least to make it right. It requires a lot of patience. A couple of advices I can give are, try to use the 1 value as little as you can. You should also use the smooth option since it really is unvaluable. Dont be scared of rotating bones. Aim to get the cleanest breaking point in your mesh.
Remember to check those zones I wrote about earlier and have fun! Skinning is an important process and takes time. The more you practice the better you will become!
If you want to see what's the next step, read my post about how to make visemes for your avatar and configure it inside Unity!