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WarLord’s Workshop: Beginners Guide – AccuRIG Versus Characterization


New Character Creator users may have a question or two about the difference in using AccuRIG versus Characterization. While they do achieve close to the same result, they are not the same tool and can serve different purposes.  


Characterization preserves an existing bone structure where AccuRIG replaces any existing bones with a new bone structure. If the model you are working with has an extended or more extensively rigged bone structure (extra bones) then Characterization is an option that will preserve those extra bones for animation.  

If you have no idea what I am talking about then use AccuRIG to get the job done until you do understand the concept of extra bones. It’s nothing to be concerned or embarrassed about, most of us have been there. Until you have the need for extra bones, the concept can be a bit fuzzy or downright confusing. When you come across a character with something like a tail, that you want to animate, and realize there aren’t any selectable bones there, it becomes easier to understand.  


A prime example of using Characterization over AccuRig is an Ironman pre-rigged character over at Pre-rigged is important here. There must be an existing bone structure. Characterization does not create bones.  

This character was made and rigged in 3DS Max but has an FBX option available for download. If you have Max, then download the source if nothing else to look at it. You will see an example of suit surfaces that are rigged to old-fashioned spline controllers.  

Ironman Model by deadcode3 at

These controllers allow the animator to move the surface plates in multiple directions. The good news is if we characterize, we get to keep those controllers as bones that can be manipulated via the Edit Pose or Bone Menus. This character has some extended rigging as the model has various stabilizers that move up and down. If you characterize instead of AccuRIG you have these stabilizers available to you.  


  1. I dropped the FBX file into the workspace as a Character, Humanoid. 
  1. I used the Characterization button in the Modify menu. 
  1. Matched the obvious bones until the Active button became available. 
  1. Mapped the hand bones using the “Auto Assign Symmetrical Bones” and “Auto Assign Child Fingers” (so you only have to click one bone on each finger and the other hand is mapped too). 
  1. Press the green Active Button (if it’s not green you haven’t mapped enough bones on the main body). 
  1. Close the Characterization menu to complete the process. 

The first time you start matching bones might take a while if you have no experience with it. It is not complicated and moves along quickly once you get started. It is just as it seems, you match bone to bone until the ACTIVE button becomes available, then you have mapped enough bones to continue. There are not that many bones to match up concerning the body.


TIP: When matching bones, if a symmetry option is available then use it, when possible, to not have to rig a pair of items like legs or arms when one can be mirrored to the other instead.

Below you find a tutorial covering the characterization process:

On the other hand, if you want a quick and easy way to use the character without the extra bones then AccuRIG is your best choice. Even better if the character is in a TPOSE.  

If the character mesh is not in a TPOSE and the character mesh has a skeleton, you can use the EDIT ANIMATION LAYER tool (since it’s a prop at this point) to set the prop Character mesh to a TPOSE. Now go to AccuRIG and start the rigging process. If you somehow end up in Characterization, then just close that part and go to AccuRIG. 

You must go to the FK Mode tab within the Edit Motion Layer popup window to use the extra bones as they won’t be available in IK Mode. 


It can be either but if you want a quick path to characterization then drag and drop as a Character, Humanoid to start the process. Character Creator 4 takes you straight into the Characterization tool. If you wish to go to AccuRIG instead then close the Characterization menu and go directly to AccuRIG. 

Your first choice after dragging and dropping the character mesh into the workspace.

The next popup after choosing Character:

Once you are into the Characterization tool you start matching bone to bone as mentioned earlier until the Active button becomes available.  

TIP: You must go to the FK Mode tab within the Edit Motion popup window as the extra bones will not be available in IK Mode.

The FK Mode button and selection popup.

There are not really pros and cons to each tool so much as it is a different tool filling a different need. The fingers are easily set up in Characterization using the child finger hierarchy option where we only have to select one bone in an obvious chain of bones to automatically include the rest of the bones on that finger. AccuRIG can do an excellent job of preliminary bone placement on the fingers but sometimes refinement is needed which is an easy enough task to accomplish. 

As I wrote earlier, AccuRIG is much simpler as moving the initial markers seems to be more intuitive to a lot of the new users instead of matching bones. It just boils down to what your personal preferences are. I do not have a problem using either as both are about the same as far as time spent and necessary steps. 

Extra bones move the stabilizers and other flaps.

The above GIF demonstrates some of the extra bones with the stabilizers opening and then taking off. The scene is set up with the default iClone 8 Toon Renderer and worked well with this character. 

NOTE: If you want to rig this particular mesh for yourself then you will need another tool like Blender or 3DS Max to prep it by removing the spline controls (just select and delete is all it took in 3DS Max) otherwise they will be visible outside the character mesh. 

In recap the deciding factor to which tool to use is the presence of extra bones. If you have these extra bones and want to use them then you will need to use Characterization and match bone to bone. Long-time iCloners have been doing this since 3DXchange was released years ago. And even though I am belaboring this point, you must use the FKMODE TAB in the dialog to find and use these bones. 


MD McCallum - WarLord

MD McCallum – WarLord

Digital Artist MD “Mike” McCallum, aka WarLord, is a longtime iClone user. Having authored free tutorials for iClone in its early years and selected to write the iClone Beginners Guide from Packt Publishing in 2011, he was fortunate enough to meet and exchange tricks and tips with users from all over the world and loves to share this information with other users. He has authored hundreds of articles on iClone and digital art in general while reviewing some of the most popular software and hardware in the world. He has been published in many of the leading 3D online and print magazines while staying true to his biggest passion, 3D animation. For more information click here

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