Animation 101: The Blender Pipeline (part two)

Hey guys! Today I will be talking about the second step in the Blender Pipeline, Rigging. This is my least favorite step. Why? IT IS SO FRIDGING FRUSTRATING.

I am not kidding. Sometimes, rigging makes me want to rip my tonsils out…

…that’s rather morbid…

But seriously, rigging can be extremely hard and frustrating. The only good part of this step is that sigh of relief you have when you are finally finished.

Many things in this step can go wrong. The model won’t follow it correctly, the IK isn’t working, the bone roll is wonky, there are so many possibilities.

But before we talk about this frustration station, let’s go over some vocabulary words.

1. Bone – This word is completely self explanatory. This is the bone for the character. Just like humans have bones to help move their bodies, models need them, too.

2. Armature – A full group of bones built to fit the model.

3. Forward Kinematics – Think of a group of bones connected to each other to create the arm. If you wanted to move the arm so that the the character was waving, you would have to start with the shoulder bone and keep moving forward in the chain. This is forward kinematics.

4. Inverse Kinematics – This is the opposite of forward kinematics. Instead of working forwards in the chain, instead you work the inverse. To lift a character’s arm, you would start at the end of the chain, and the computer decides how the other bones in the chain would be placed. I use this method a lot.

Now let’s get into some basics of rigging. With a good model, a good rig will most likely be the outcome. Deformation of the mesh will be realistic if the model has proper topology.

The bones of a basic bi-ped character are as followed:

– Head
– Neck
– Chest
– Pelvis
– Shoulders
– Upper Arms
– Lower Arms
– Hands
– Thighs
– Shins
– Heels (optional)
– Feet
– Toes (optional)

Obviously, a rig shouldn’t be limited to those bones and many other bones and controls can be added, especially if using a IK rig.

Name these bones specifically, marking the left side with a .L and the right side with a .R. This will make things easier in the animation process.

For those who don’t know how to make a rig, here’s a step by step instruction on how to make a simple FK rig.

Step 1: Get your character ready in Blender. Press Shift A and hover you mouse over the Armature menu and click on Single bone. A bone will be added to your scene.

Step 2: Press Tab to go into Edit Mode and start building your armature. You can either right click the bone tip, or the whole bone itself. To click on the whole bone, right click the center of the bone. Press the A key to deselect anything you have selected or to select everything if you have nothing selected. Press the G key to grab whatever you have selected and left click to place down the bone. Press the E key to extrude out another bone. Using these tool, build your Armature. Remember the basic bones up above!

Step 3: When finished building your Armature, press Tab to get out of edit mode. Then, right click your model and shift-right click the Armature. Press Ctrl P. Then click on “With Automatic Weights”. This will have the computer determine which bone moves what part of the mesh. Most of the time it is accurate.

Step 4: Now press Ctrl Tab to go into Pose Mode, and move the bones around to see if the bones move the mesh. If it works, congrats! You now have a finished FK rig!

And that’s the second step in the Blender Pipeline. If you liked this, be sure to click the like button and follow me if you want more! Discuss anything about this tutorial in the replies below!

See you later, Animators!

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