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Red, the Ball with a Tail

Matthew | March 17, 2010


After reading the request of a starving animator on, I present to you, free of charge:

Red, the Ball with a Tail! (XSI)


Red, the Ball with a Tail

When you load the scene you can see the default controls; translation and rotation controls for the ball and rotation controls for the tail.  From here, you should have everything you need to make a traditional bouncing ball with a tail.  No need to do anything else!  Start animating.   However, the tail is more than meets the eye!

Red's Tools

Red’s Tools

If you haven’t already, load the xsiaddon I included in the zip file.  In there you have a set of basic tools for hiding and showing the rig, as well as resetting the whole rig, rig selections, or your current selection.  The toggle_tail and toggle_sqsrt are to swap between different sets of controls.  Clicking on toggle_tail reveals a new set of free deformers for the tail.  The orange controllers are to change the shape of curve running through the tail.  The teal/blue controls are for completely warping the form of the tail as you see fit.  The red one is for twisting the tail (though without a texture or hair this is hard to see).  The yellow is special as it has sliders (using the keying panel to the right) for animating the tails compression along the curve, tapering, scaling (I love scaling options), and wave controls; frequency, amplitude, offset and noise.  These can be used by hitting Play at the time slider, and increase the frequency to see the waves.  Perhaps you can find interesting ways to use these controls to create unique emotion for Red, the Ball with a Tail.

A few more things about this rig and scene.

  1. Place both the scene and scntoc file into your scenes folder.  Install the addon by dragging and dropping the file into an empty viewport.
  2. Keyframes can be saved using “Key All Keyable” (default in the scene) or by “Key Character Key Set”.  I think Key All Keyable is a good way to work, but I included the Character Key Sets for your convenience.
  3. After closing red_theballwithatail toolbar you can find it under view > toolbars.
  4. A minor irritation, after using hide_rig, toggle_sqsrt has to be clicked twice to show the ball translation and rotation controls.
  5. A couple things are not completely implemented.  For example, the OPTIONS > Scale_of_Rig works fairly well, but the tail will need the scale compensated.  I’m still fleshing out the answer for that.  Another problem is when squashing and stretching the ball, well, the tail doesn’t “follow” the deformation.  I’m working on that, too.  I don’t think these are critical issues.  It’s a very usable and friendly rig.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or “bugs” to report, then please post it here.  I’ll answer as best as I can, and as fast as I am able.

Please send me a video (720×480) or a link of your final results animating with my rig.  I’d love to include your work in my demo reel and website!  Thank you!!

2 responses to “Red, the Ball with a Tail”

  1. JOEY GAMBINO says:

    1.) Is it hard to rig a human 3D model?

    2.) What does “UV mapped” and “Unwrapped UVs” mean?

    Thank you.

  2. Matthew says:


    To answer your first question, yes, I think it can be hard. It’s hard the first time, but there are really good tools in Softimage and Maya that will help you get started. Having a good teacher is priority number one, and I’d recommend Jason Schliefer for Maya (classic cartoon approach) or Adam Sale for Softimage (more realistic approach). Someday I’ll publish my own training on rigging, but don’t wait for me. The two guys I mentioned are excellent. Also, study Bernard Haux’s work. He has no training that I know of, but his demo reels are worth studying. There are many other great riggers, and I’ve found all of them through, or

    For your second question, UV refers to the coordinates of the surface of the object. Similar to the XYZ coordinates of a point in space. UVW refers to the space of a surface. Unwrapping is a way to describe the process of “unfolding” a polygon mesh in a UV space, or a 0 to 1 coordinate space, preparing the object for painting.


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