Most of the perceived difficulty of painting weights comes from frustration over one or more of the following:
• The mesh wasn't created to deform
• The joint placement was off
• Trying to weigh multiple, dense, or overlapping meshes
• Unclear process for painting weights
• Unaware of additional tools to save time
• Unrealistic expectations of skinned deformations
When some or all of these difficulties comes into play, painting weights can be miserable. However, with a clear mindset and exposure to certain tools and processes, you can overcome each of them fairly straightforwardly. This tutorial covers the following topics:
• The importance of joint placement
• Creating a low res mesh to weight and transferring those weights back to the highres
• Additional time saving tools for weighting and mirroring weights
• Other useful tips and information
Mesh Construction for Deformation
Even Spans Mean Even Weighting
This may sound like a no-brainer, but having enough spans to spread the weights and deformation over will help with the final result. You can see a great breakdown here:
You'll notice the high deformation areas of the torso, shoulders and hips have more spans that are evenly spaced. Whereas areas of less deformation, such as the shins, are spaced further apart.
Built for Anatomy or Simulation
If a character is going to have simulated elements, such as a t-shirt, then having the underlying body mesh with evenly spaced quads will be less troublesome for the solver. Again, the hippydrome mesh is a solid example (Fig.01).
This even span construction also works well for more cartoony characters that may have more stylized deformation or an exaggerated range of motion. However, if a character is more muscular, such as a creature, then modeling to fit the muscles will produce more accurate deformation results.
Here you can see the model's construction fitting that of the underlying muscles (Fig.02).
And a more extreme example, from ZBrush Central (Fig.03).