The animation tool bhGhost for Maya provides a different approach to ghosting in 3D, by letting you see key poses and breakdowns live on the screen. Ghosting, or onion skinning, is a 2D technique that was used in traditional cartoon animation to see several frames at once. The frames were initially drawn on a very thin, translucent paper (called onion skin paper, hence the name of the process) over a light source to create smooth motion between two key poses by adding inbetweens and breakdowns.
Maya has a native ghost tool that shows semi-transparent animated objects, but bhGhost takes this one step further and creates actual 3D outlines by using the Maya Toon Lines.
The nifty tool, which is created by Brian Horgan, came about after he tried other 3D ghosting solutions which were difficult to see in the viewport as they showed the faded mesh or a wireframe. He realised that 2D animators see the lines they've drawn, rather than the fully shaded character, and went about creating the visualization tool to support this workflow in Maya. This mimics the Lightbox feature in 2D animation, and makes it easier to see the spacing when animating in 3D.
With the latest update there's a new color option that lets you alternate the color of the ghost images in the viewport. This makes it easier to see tight spacing, as well as lets you color key and breakdown poses separately when animating.
There's also a new smoothing option, which better matches the form of your animated objects and characters by taking viewport smoothing into account.
Another clever thing about bhGhost is that it lets you ghost specific frames, rather than constantly update in the scene, which keeps it light and speedy.
Check out the tutorial below. It explains how to get started working with bhGhost on your animations in Maya, and some typical workflows and tips for how to use it best.
The bhGhost tool for Maya is available to download for free on Brian's site: