Helper Manager

5 votes
Date Updated: 
Author Name: 
Lorne Brooks

A support panel containing many methods for adding point or dummy helpers to the scene, as well as options for linking, duplicating existing hierarchies using helpers, constraining them, or replacing them with a Bones System.

See online guide in links section. 

Features include...

  • Various methods of helper creation such as: origin, surface, object pivots, picked points, or selected sub-object components.
  • Ability to add helpers to a selection of objects including; linkage, constraints or baked keys.
  • Convert existing bindings (hierarchy links, Link Constraints, Pos/Rot constraints) to an alternative type.
  • Ability to add helpers to (Editable Poly or compatible) sub-object (SO) parts, average centers, or elements - based on either direct SO selection or pre-defined SO selection sets.
  • A shared size setting used throughout all creation methods, to quickly unify all helper sizes.
  • Point helper style toggles (axis, cross, box, x).
  • Toggle display links and trajectories for a selection.
  • Replace selected objects with Bone System bones (unlinked by default), with optional Preserver Hierarchy to transfer existing parent & child relationship to the new bones.
  • Convert helper types from point to dummy or visa-versa.
  • Reset scale on a selection.
  • Link points to dummies via naming.
  • Link a selection of objects to the last selected object.
  • Link a selection of objects into a hierarchy based on their sorted node names. Order can be reversed using CTRL.
  • Link a selection of objects into a hierarchy based on the order in which they are selected. Order can be reversed using CTRL.
  • Duplicate an existing hierarchy of objects with new helpers. You can bake keys on the new hierarchy (point or dummy helpers only) to match the animation of the original selected hierarchy. Or instead add constraints to follow the original hierarchy. Optionally add a prefix to the new helper names, or leave blank to match the original hierarchy names.
  • Constrain a hierarchy based on distance to nearest objects given a distance threshold.
  • Constrain an existing hierarchy to another similar hierarchy that shares the same pivot locations for each node. This is independent of how the hierarchies are linked or named.
  • Replace an existing hierarchy with a Bones System. The new bones will have the same pivots as the original hierarchy, even if not forward X-axis aligned. If aligned to another axis it can optionally use an alternative algorithm that aligns the bones to each joint, but creates display-only bones between them. The bones can optionally have animation keys baked onto them from the original animated hierarchy. It will also transfer any skinned meshes to the new bones skeleton, by re-skinning them to a hierarchy of point helpers that are constrained to the new bones. The point helpers will have the same names as the original hierarchy, and will be put into a scene layer and frozen. You can also optionally keep the existing hierarchy, which will be renamed with the prefix "ORIG_".



Latest Updates:

Version 2.4;

 - Hierarchies method "Constrain Nearest" now allows holding SHIFT to apply constraints with Keep Initial Offset toggled on. Also added a Distance spinner to set position tolerance value for constraining.

- Added new method Add To Polygons Orient to enable helpers to align to the surface normals of selected polygons.

- Renamed sub-object faces to polygons to better reflect that N-sided poly objects are used and not meshes with triangular faces.

- Fixed a crash when attempting to add helpers to sub-object parts.



Additional Info: 

The script can be found in category “LB Tools”.


Drag the MZP file into your Max viewport.

Files will be copied to...





Version Requirement: 
3dsmax 2019-2023
lbtools_helper_manager.mzp23.21 KB


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unrealprojects's picture


Thanks for this tool, it helped alot!

lbrooks's picture

Re: Copying weights


If you simply want to transfer skin weights from an old rig (helpers) to a new one (that's replacing it with Bones) you can use the built-in Skin Utilities tool in Max. Note that it helps if the new Bones share exactly the same names as the helpers they're replacing.

Lorne Brooks

Sandman19031980's picture

Copying weights

Is there a way to copy the weights from helper objects and paste them to the newly created bones if skinning was done using the helper objects. I'm refering mainly to Daz characters imported into 3ds Max.


My try with Max 2018

- Installing OK with prompt window
- adding to Custom toolbar also
- converting dummies to bones, get an error on line 1644 (check screenshot in attachment) but does complete the conversion !
- the created bones have wrong orientation(check screenshot in attachment#2)

lbtools01.png 184.44 KB
lbtools02.png 154.37 KB
oswaldoluna87's picture

Thank you very much!

I was stuck on a school project. Now I can finish it. You saved my day!

lbrooks's picture

Re: A bug?


I've improved how the duplication works. The duplicated hierarchies are now created with an identifier in the name... e.g. PT_Dup-1_Box001, PT_Dup-2_Box001 etc.

Also there was a problem with the linking of them, which should be fixed now.

Lorne Brooks

fferro's picture

A bug?


When duplicating a hierarchy, get different results depending on the order you select de original rigg.

Create bones: On
Click on 'Duplicate a Hierarchy'

If you select the original bones starting from the root, you get the right result: The new hierarchy replicates the original one by one.
If you select the same all original bones from the viewport, the hierarchy stops at certain point.
All bones are created, but some not linked to any bone.

fferro's picture


Thank you for the script, and make it .ms, and not .mse
that let me edit some code to change the name of the bones created.
Very useful!

lbrooks's picture

Re: installation

Thanks for the tip.

I've replaced it now with the MZP format.

Lorne Brooks

miauu's picture


Why you not make an installer for your scripts?
No need to install all files manually, when a simple .mzp installer can do it automatically.

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