A couple tips for beginning enveloping a character in Maya that i've been finding helpful in my workflow.
1. using the paint weights solid brush to begin the weighting process.
The paint weight brush allows flexible controlling of larger region of weights which is helpful to use as an early tool.
2. using component editor
this is helpful to double check where a vertex gets its influences from. Later using smooth operations a vertex might have a .001 weight from another influence and the component editor is great for fixing these (like if another influence had majority of weight flood weight there)
3. Using Brendan Ross's weight lifter (supercrumbly dot com)
This tool is incredible for adding new influences or just fixing weighting by moving weights between influences.
4. Using Michael Comet's skin weighting tools (comet-cartoons dot com)
This is spectacular for intuitively controlling individual vertex weights quickly.
5. Using Michael Comet's pose deformer
This is sensational at refining deformations. It allows to sculpt fixes for problem poses that normal weight painting is complicated to solve. Because of twisting among other reasons it is very helpful to have regular weight painting as good as possible before using this tool.
6. Some nice auto smoothing tools to make minute fixes of weighting are using the flood smooth brush with two influences unheld, or with 3 or more maybe trying the automatic smooth button. The later method will even put weights on unheld vertices so maybe be careful when to use the auto smooth.
I've also attached a quick mel script i wrote today to help with setting visiblity of joints that may be connected up.