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In this article, we're going to walk through The Autorigger, Mixamo’s online rigging software. We’ll start by going through some basic requirements for auto-rigging then cover some 3D best practices for preparing your model.
The auto-rigger is designed for humanoid bipedal characters. Your character should have a head, torso, two arms, and two legs. The auto-rigger does not support animals, tails, wings, tentacles, multiple arms, or other non-humanish things.
The auto-rigger will detect a lot of information about your character based on the ‘shape’. We recommend uploading in a T-Pose with the arms, hands, and fingers straight along the horizontal axis plane. We do support A-Pose as well, but them arms, hands and fingers should remain in a straight line.
The auto-rigger automatically detects the fingers based on the space between them and by default will give you one joint chain for each digit. The fingers should be straight and lightly spread with space between. If there isn't enough space or your character doesn't have fingers the auto-rigger will give you a 'mitten' bone that affects the entire hand.
The auto-rigger doesn’t have a hard polycount requirement but we recommend staying between 2,000 to 200,000 triangles and 10 individual mesh objects. Try merging small parts to a single object.
Your character needs to be contiguous with meshes that overlap. Floating heads/hands/elements will not work with the auto-rigger so be sure you don’t have any gaps between meshes!
Best Practices for 3D Models
Great! So now that we know how the auto-rigger works, let’s go over a few 3D modeling best practices. Following these general guidelines are not only useful for the auto-rigger but for having a clean, consistent and positive 3D experience in many different software solutions!
Since the auto-rigger cannot process non-character entities, your model should be alone in the scene, without environments, props, cameras, lights, or other elements.
Your character should be centered in the scene, standing on the horizontal ground plane axis, with the origin (0,0,0) between its feet. This prevents issues with the character being offset in the world and accidentally going beneath the ground!
For the best rigging and animation you should have good topology based on quads with clean edge loops. For the animation to be able to deform your mesh you should be sure to have enough geometry around your joints.
The character should be correctly oriented in the scene - upright and facing forward. If your character is not correctly oriented within the scene it may auto-rig sideways or backwards! Be sure that every mesh local pivot is also oriented correctly with the world space, otherwise it may upload with parts of the geometry flipped in different directions.
The character should be modeled to scale. It is generally not recommended to scale rigs and animation data, so be sure that your character is at the right size for your end project before auto-rigging. To prevent your model from changing scale be sure to always check your units/scale at export and import.
You can access the auto-rigger at the Mixamo Store by pressing the “Upload” button in the top navigation. Select the file of the character you want to auto-rig. Mixamo accepts three file types; fbx, obj and zip.
- For FBX files, you can export them with the “Embed Media” option on to show textures. If the Embed Media option is off your model will appear with a default gray material.
- OBJ files cannot hold textures directly so uploading just an .obj will always appear with a default gray material.
- To view textures with an OBJ file combine the .OBJ mesh, .MTL material, and texture image files into a .zip file and upload the entire .zip.
Mixamo uses Y-Up, -Z forward orientation. On the first screen you’ll have an option to orient your scene. It’s important to note that the orientation tool flips the entire ‘scene’. It does not rotate the character model. To prevent auto-rigging errors your character should be upright and facing forward in their base scene before you export the model.