Dota 2
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Dota 2 Workshop - The go-to Guide for Anything Animated in Dota 2
By Rigman
While I tackle the momumental task of give each character their own control rig, this guide will serve as a place where you can come to download the most up to date rigs available. You can use these rigs to rig or pose your items, create animations such as taunts and attacks, or other multimedia purposes. Note: These are Maya rigs only, and I have no intention to create control rigs for max, blender, or any other 3D Software platform.

The guide has also evolved into more of a place to handle anything animated in Dota. I will be posting any guides, or tools I use while creating Dota cosmetics. If you have a question in reguards to anything animation on the workshop feel free to drop a comment and I will try to make it happen.

Importing Animation

While I haven't created a formalized tutorial as of yet, I do have a video where I import some bloodseeker animatoins. This is for those who are impatient, like myself, and would like to tear apart the video and reverse engineer the process themselves. Please note, lots of rambling!

dota2smc.bat file that was used in the video above, you can download it at the following link.

Creating SFM Showcase Videos

How To; Rigging a Ward - Warlock Ward - Part One
In this section of the guide I'll be providing a breakdown of my workflow on rigging my most recent ward for Dota 2. This doesn't cover any of the steps in creating the ward itself but rather digging into the specifics on rigging a ward. So, lets get started.

First you want to import the mesh into the scene, now if you didn't model it properally to scale originally then some scaling is in order. In this instance, the ward was a few times larger then default.

In order to scale it right, I reference in several other words. I find this yields the best results in finding a scale that works best in game. You can download the ward rigs provided in this guide to do the same.

Once you find a scale that works best for your ward, you want to freeze the channels. To do this, you highlight the channels you want to freeze, in this case, all of them, right click, and in the drop down menu, highlight freeze, and select all. What this does is resort the mesh to a new default state, scaled properly for the game.

To be extra safe you also want to delete the history of the ward. In the menu at the top, select Edit, highlight Delete All by Type and select History in the list. This will remove all previous changes on the ward giving you a clean mesh to work with.

If you did this right, you should look at your channel box, see all the channels at zero (0), with no input listed. Now we move onto placing bones.

There are two buttons you can select to place bones, you can either select Joint Tool from the Skeleton drop down menu, or in the animation shelf that comes by default in Maya 2015, select the joint icon which I have highlighted in the image above. I also recommend placing bones using orthographic views as it tends to yeild more precise results.

You only budget of 52 bones and I highly recommend using as many of those as possible as the more bones you place in the ward, the more animation potential your ward can have. Although, most wards won't need all 52 to reach it's maximum potential.

Bone placement varies from ward to ward, so I wont get to much into the specifics here. Experiment and find what works best for your ward.

Also don't forget to name your bones, I feel this should be a given, but I'll make sure to mention it anyway. This will only help skinning the ward later on much easier.

Once the bones are laid out I move onto the controls, however these controls change from ward to ward, so I won't get into the specifics on how to go about this.

I use a set of animation tools and scripts that go by the name "Comet" . These tools are highly useful and I recommend downloading these regardless if you work on dota 2 content or not. On top of all the helpful scripts, they also provide pre-built controls which I tend to use on many of my rigs.

You can download them here[]
Or, you can go to their website directly, here[]

I won't go into the details on how to install them, they come with a read me which is more then needed to get them working.

You might also want to add some IK systems to your bones, to do this, from the Skeleton drop down menu select IK Handle Tool, you can alternative select the IK Handle Tool icon from the animation shelf as shown in the image above. You use the tool by selecting the bone you want to control as your main first, and follow it up by selecting the final bone in the chain that you want to be influenced by the IK.

Once you do this you will have a basic IK chain on your rig.

To get some more control on your IK, you might want to change it from a Single-Chain Solver to a Rotate-Plane Solver. This will allow you to attach a pole vector to the IK which allows you to control the direction the IK is in. You can make this change in the IK Solver Attributes in the Attribute Editor

Once you make the change you will notice the IK chain 'break', this is ok, this is simply the result of not having a pole vector to attach to. So, make some pole vector controls. What I normally do is select the middle joint in the chain, snap the control to that joint and pull outward from that joint to a position that works. Once you have them, select the control, then the IK control you want it to influence and from the Constrain drop down, select Pole Vector. You might have to make some subtle adjustments.

Once you do this, the bones will snap back into place.

While I haven't covered the skinning yet, this will demostrate how the IKs are effecting the ward once it's completed.

Once all of that is situated, I test all the controls to make sure they are influencing the bones the way I intend, if everything looks good, it's time for skinning.

To skin the ward you will want to select both the mesh and the root bone. Then from the Skin drop down menu, select Smooth Bind. This will automatically skin the mesh to the bones. It's also NEVER good to just leave it at that, you will have to make adjustments.

As you can see, this is the results of simply smooth binding the mesh to the bones. Close, but no cigar.

To edit the weights you will want to open the Paint Skin Weights Tool. To do this, from the Skin drop down, select Paint Skin Weights Tool from the menu.

This will open up a menu like the one on the left side of the image above. I also recommend turning on the Color Ramp in the red box in the same image above. This works a lot better than the default black and white since it helps find areas of very low influence by making them blue.

Here is a little tip when it comes to flooding in large areas of the mesh. In this case the eyeball was attached to the base mesh. And as you can see I started painting the eyeball, however this is not very efficient.

Right click the mesh and select face.

Once you do this select the faces you want to isolate, double clicking selects the entire individual mesh. In this instance I double clicked the eye to select all the entire eye mesh.

Then click the isolate button that I've highlighted in the image above. Once you do this you would have successfully isolated the selected mesh.
How To; Rigging a Ward - Warlock Ward - Part Two
Now that you have the mesh by itself you flood the entire area with 100% influence. To accomplish this all you need to do is set the Paint Operation to Replace, set the Value to 1, and click the Flood button.

Here is the breakdown of weights for the Warlock ward. This ward was farily simply as it was made out of several hard objects only needing 100% influence for each part.

At this point, the skinning is complete the the control rig is laid out, we're almost ready for animation. But before we start we want to organize the rig a bit more by adding some color to it to differentiate the controls a bit better.

To do this you will want to go into the Attribute editor and open the Object Display tab. There is another tab inside that called Drawing Overrides. Check the box to enable them, then select a color. A general rule I use is making all of the controls on the right side red, the controls on the left side blue, and the controls down the center yellow.

This makes working with the rig a lot easier.

We also want to break the rig into layers to be able to shut off individual layers off to focus on specific parts when needed. This the image above I plan on creating a layer specifically for the joints and IKs, so I select both the bones and IKs from the outliner then click the most right button in the red highlighted area on the right. This will create a new layer with the selected objects.

You can then double click that layer to assign it a new name, for better organization.

And there we have it, the finished Rig, ready for animation. But we jump into that, lets make sure the rig can import properally to Dota 2. This also helps if you have someone else texturing the ward since you can provide them files to work on the masks while you work on animations.

First we select the root bone, and the mesh. Open the File drop down and select Export Selection. Export this out as your Geometry file. In this instance I only have one LOD, we'll call this one warlockWard_lod.fbx for future reference.

For the animation file we only have to select the root bone which will select the entire hierarchy. And export it the same as the previous file. We'll call this warlockWard_animTest.fbx for future reference.

Here are my settings for exporting .fbx files.

Now it's time to open up Dota 2.

Select Ward from the list.

Under models select the Ward tab.

In-Game Geometry is also known as LOD1, or the lower poly mesh, it is also the only required mesh. You don't need to create an LOD0, although it's always best to have one. In this instance I currently only have one LOD, so I only have to load in the in-game geometry. In this case, warlockWard_lod.fbx

For the textures, I just load in temp textures seeing how the final textures aren't quite finished yet.

Time to import the animations, click the animation tab, and load in the warlockWard_animTest.fbx file you exported previously for all the required animation slots. While the ward won't be moving just yet, this will help make sure the ward even loads in to begin with.

For the hit location, I just used the root bone from the rig. You can input any bone name from the rig that you want to act as the hit point. For ward I normally use the eye.

Once everything is loaded, the red text should turn green and say Ready, once you see that you're ready to import. Click the import button.

If everything is successful and you have no problems, you should see the following message pop up. In this case, it was a smooth import.

...and now we have a working ward in Dota 2, without animations of course.

If you want to download this rig to play with, reverse engineer, or use for your own animation practice you can use the following link.

Download Link[]
To be continued...

Workshop Bug Fixes
Portrait Editor


Currently there is a bug in the portrait editor that fails to load the lights into the scene resulting in a full black model. There is a workaround to this bug however by loading in a lights from a previous portrait save. While you can simply do this yourself, I've taken the liberty to have these files for you in a downloadable form.

Preset: Cross Light

Preset: Night Time

Preset: Stage Light

Preset: Top Down
I will be contantly updating this guide with new links and rigs as I make my way through the entire Dota 2 Roster. So come back, relax, enjoy your stay, we're here to have fun and make some animations!

Platform and Version
These rigs have all be created in "Maya 2014", I have not personally tested the backward compablity of these rigs, but you should be able to use these rigs in Maya 2013 as well, anything before that I am unsure of. If you are testing these in versions other then 2014, please let me know how they work so I can update the following list to be correct.

  • 2015 - Tested and Working
  • 2014 - Tested and Working
  • 2013 - Tested and Working
  • 2012 - Needs Testing
  • 2011 - Needs Testing
  • 2010 - Needs Testing
  • 2009 - Needs Testing
  • Maya 8.5 - Needs Testing

Most of these rigs will be IK, right now the sniper rig is the only with an FK arm system, this is temporary and I plan on adding an IK/FK switch for him. But since there are so many rigs, my main goal right now is to just get out something usable for animators. If another animator can not wait, and you would like to add these systems you are more then welcome to and I will make sure credit goes where it's due. My final goal is every character will have IK and FK system available, it's just not a priority right now.

These rigs can be used for a variety things. You can use these rigs to rig your items for in game testing and to poses your character for marketing renders. The creation of custom animations taunts, attacks, idles, as well as testing them in game (follow-up guide coming soon). Or you can use these rigs outside of Dota for other multimedia uses.

Final Notes
If you would like to contribute a percent of any workshop creation that uses these rigs, this will help support me for the duration of the Dota 2 rigging project. Steam ID is : Andrew Helenek

Also, if you would like a specific character done, leave it in the comments, if there are multiple people asking then I will make move it up in my priority list. :)
Dota 2 Couriers Tools
I just wanted to make some tools I use when animating couriers available to others who are new to courier making that could help them with some of their animations.

Projected 'Death ground layer'

When animating the death animation for the flying you have the option to make the courier crash to the ground, but since the engine positions the origin of the courier in the air, you need to compenstate for that by adjusting the death to crash beneath the origin. With this .fbx you'll be able to not have to calculate the distance the courier has to travel. Just simply import it in and you'll have a new ground layer that projects where the ground would be in game.


Treadmill 'Ground run anim'

This .fbx includes an animated treadmill that is moving at the speed of the ground courier in game, so you can match up the animations to the speed the courier is moving.

Since these are .fbx you should be able to load them into whatever platform that supports the format. Cheers!

Master Download File
Master Zip - Contains every rig within a single download
Ability Summons
You should be able to use these rigs as a replacement for the ones given on the workshop website. If you want to use the default animations rather then create your own you can download the rig package, each one also includes the animation as well as a rig you can use to skin your mesh too.

Beastmaster Beast
Beastmaster Beast - Maya 2014

Warlock Golem
Warlock Golem - Maya 2014

Invoker Forge Spirit
Invoker Forge Spirit - Maya 2014

Spiderling - Perceptive Spiderling
Spiderling - Perceptive Spiderling - Maya 2015

Axe Rig - Maya 2014

Bloodseeker Rig - Maya 2014

Bristleback Rig - Maya 2014

Broodmother Rig - Maya 2015
Centaur Warrunner

Centaur Warrunner - Maya 2014

Clinkz Rig - Maya 2014
Crystal Maiden

Crystal Maiden Rig - Maya 2014
Dark Seer

Dark Seer - Maya 2014
Dazzle - Maya 2014
Death Prophet

Death Prophet Rig - Maya 2015

Doom Rig - Maya 2014
Earthshaker - Maya 2014
Ember Spirit

Ember Spirit Rig - Maya 2014

*this rig is equiped with the Flames of Prosperity Set from the Three Virtues Bundle
Faceless Void

Faceless Void Rig - Maya 2015

Kunkka Rig - Maya 2015
*Includes two rigs
Lich - Maya 2014

Lina Rig - Maya 2014

Nyxnyxnyxnyx Rig - Maya 2015

Omniknight Rig - Maya 2014

Pudge Rig - Maya 2015
*Included two files, one in default bind pose, another in the idle pose.
Sand King

Sand King Rig - Maya 2014
Skeleton King
Skeleton King - Maya 2014

*Skeleton King has been replaced by Wrath King in Dota 2, I plan on leaving this up for those who want to animation the original Skeleton King. This rig does not work with Wrath King, if you want to do Wrath King animations, use the appropriate rig.
Sniper - Maya 2014
Storm Spirit

Storm Spirit Rig - Maya 2014

Sven Rig - Maya 2015
Tusk - Maya 2014

Weaver Rig - Maya 2015
Wrath King

Wrath King Rig - Maya 2014
I'm also including all of the wards I have worked on that have been accepted into the game, these are mainly for education purposes for those who want to experiement with these type of NPCs.

Frozen Formation
Frozen Formation - Maya 2014

Ocula the Observer
Ocula the Observer - Maya 2014

Sotdae Ward
Sotdae Ward - Maya 2014

Augury's Guardian
Augury's Guardian - Maya 2014

ESL One Jagged Vision
ESL One Jagged Vision - Maya 2015

Tutorial Ward - Warlock
Tutorial Ward - Warlock - Maya 2015
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shantamma Oct 22, 2019 @ 4:34am 
Can anyone please re upload the master files link? I cant download these rigs. It's showing an error!
Butchima Jun 7, 2019 @ 10:37am 
Download links don't seem to work anymore? Keep getting errors loading the page.
Red Aug 16, 2018 @ 6:40am 
I don't know how to set up the textures for Sven. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong. Can anyone helping me?
Katsu May 6, 2018 @ 8:51am 
Does anyone know how to set up the Textures for the Sven Rig. I tried to set it but it wont work.
Forcestaff_Enjoyers Jul 6, 2017 @ 8:24pm 
nice maya rig dota 2
trilobite0613 Jun 29, 2017 @ 7:54pm 
These rigged models are awesome!
I'm a Taiwanese student learning 3DCG in Japan.
May I use these models in my animation works?
They will not be used in any business or other profitable purpose.
And I'll show these rigged models' creator's name in my animation works to let everyone know who made these models. :)
BeardCandy Feb 15, 2017 @ 3:11pm 
This is a long shot and google isn't helping me here. But I don't have any .dx80 files located in my folder structure like you do in your animation import video. I just have a bunch of .vmesh, .vmdl and folders with .vanim_c (I assume these are the animations) files in them.

I am very new to this pipeline and wondering if I did the GFCscape process or something else incorrectly. Or did Valve change their pipeline which conflicts with your tutorial? It is very hard to find any documentation on getting animations into DOTA2. I just want to replace animations and have them run in the game for Demo Reel purposes.
!idiot Aug 18, 2016 @ 1:27am 
OH do you have script for maya 2015 or maya 2008?
Dojo Jul 1, 2016 @ 4:16pm 
wow thats great news, thanks allot! I will remember your kindness and will give back to the community once I learn to rig my models.
Rigman  [author] Jul 1, 2016 @ 3:37pm 
Someone came through and had the master file containing all of the rigs, all of the links have been updated and everything should work, if anyone runs into any that don't work, leave a message here and Ill get it fixed.

Updating dozens of links, one of them is bound to be screwed up, haha.