This course is closed for enrollments, submit the form to get notified early next time this course runs.

Thank you for your interest, you will be notified next time this course runs.

Oops, something went wrong:

Manage subscriptions
  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-i I
  • Keywords: 3D| ANIMATION


Class Format:
Length: 8 Weeks
Lectures: Pre-Recorded each week
Assignment: Deadlines each week
Feedback: Individually recorded
No Q&A
*For classes with less than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.


Learn how to rig character faces and bring them to life with Wade Ryer. Wade has over 10 years of experience in animated feature films such as; How To Train Your Dragon 2, Rise of The Guardians, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Tale of Desperaux and The Ant Bully. He has worked for such studios as DreamWorks Animation, Method Studios, Framestore, Electronic Arts, DNA Productions and ReelFX Creative Studios.  

Upon completion of this 8 week CGWorkshop, you will have a full understanding of how to create a functional, animator friendly, character face rig ready for their close up on the big screen!  Wade will give you guidance along the way, industry level tips and tricks, not to mention, personal feedback on your character's facial rig.

The above video is a completed piece from a student, D.Triglia, from one of Wade's earlier classes this year.

Note: The format of this class will be Forum replies for Assignments and Forum replies for student Q&As.

Classroom Access Policy

CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.

Certificate of Completion Policy

CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.


Week 1 - Introduction to Facial Rigging

  • Wade's background and experience.
  • Intro to Facial Rigging.
  • Realistic vs Stylized.
  • Games vs film facial rigs.
  • Facial sculptures.
  • Facial Anatomy.
  • Facial Expressions.
  • Appealing facial rigs.
  • FACS facial setup - Facial Action Coding Sytem.
  • Facial rig blueprint.
  • Comet Scripts.

Week 2 - Model Topology

  • What to look for in a model before rigging.
  • Topology tools: Topogun, Maya Modeling Toolkit.
  • How to topologize a Zbrush face sculpt.
  • Edge loop flow.
  • Function before form.

Week 3 - Initial Rig Setup

  • Control setup.
  • Rigging basics.
  • Set Driven Keys.
  • Rig hierarchy.
  • Connection Editor.
  • Utility Nodes.
  • Python scripting basics.

Week 4 - Joint Placement

  • Gross movements: jaw, head, neck, ears, teeth, tongue.
  • Head and neck setup.
  • Mouth, lips setup.

Week 5 - Setting up the Eye

  • Eyelid rig setup.
  • Joint vs. Blendshape setup.
  • Spherical blendshapes.
  • Building a joint setup for lids.

Week 6 - Blendershapes

  • Transfering models between Mudbox, Zbrush and Maya.
  • Mouth, Brows, Cheeks, Puff/Suck.
  • Connecting blend shapes up.
  • Splitting Blendshapes.
  • Mirroring Blendshapes.
  • Combination Blendshapes.

Week 7 - Connecting everything in the rig

  • Lip seal setup.
  • Squash stretch setups.
  • Adam's apple.
  • Pixar/DreamWorks touch based controls.
  • Final touches.

Week 8 - Final Rig testing and fine tuning

  • Facial expresion test animation.
  • Lip sync testing.
  • Rendering and presentation of facial rigs.


Software needed

Maya 2014 and up
Mudbox or Zbrush
Basic knowledge of rigging

Students may use the character model provided or you can use your own.




Rigging Techniques: Cartoon to Realistic
with Nico Sanghrajka

Learn advanced rigging techniques that can be applied in cartoony and creature rigs.
workshop-level-a A
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)

Rigging for Games
with Ehsan Kiani

Learn the basics of rigging for video games in Maya while also utilizing Unreal Engine's game template
workshop-level-i I
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)

Intro to Rigging
with Fabio Siino

This course is an introduction to rigging. We'll explore how digital characters are brought to life using simple controls.
workshop-level-f F
- Weeks - WEEKLY UNITS (starts: -) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)

Mechanical Rigging
with Tim Coleman

An exploration of solving various Mechanical Rigging challenges in Maya and putting it all together in a final project.
workshop-level-i I
- Weeks - WEEKLY UNITS (starts: -) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)

Scripting & Tool Dev. for Maya
with Nico Sanghrajka

Learn to script and write your own tools to extend Mayas capabilities and speed up your workflow!
workshop-level-i I
Weeks WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)