Simple Rig – Monkey Man

A very simple rig but it does introduce the concept of control bones. Although a very basic rig it is surprising how realistic movements can be.

Simple rigs are useful for story boarding and other applications where complex models would slow things down.

It is recommended that you do the first two tutorials in order to understand the rigging of the model, after that do the ones that look interesting.

Introduction to Rigging – Adding a Rig to a Simple Model and Constraining Knee and Elbow Joints

This tutorial shows how to create a rig of a simple 3D character (monkey man), it is ideal for showing the principles of rigging to beginners.

Below are the Blender files for the original model and the model with a rig added, use first file to copy the tutorial, you should end up with something like the second one –

The key points are –

  • How to add bones to form a skeleton
  • How to add constraints so that bones move in a similar way to a human skeleton
  • How to bind mesh objects to the skeleton (skinning)

In detail –

  1. In object mode adding an armature bone
  2. In properties for the armature turning X-ray on
  3. In edit mode adding next bone use E to extrude
  4. In pose mode turning x-axis mirror on
  5. In edit mode use shift E to extrude arm bones
  6. Use alt P to break connection and move bones into arms
  7. Repeat for leg bones
  8. Use Ctrl P to create parent relationship between arms, legs and the back bone
  9. In pose mode, select a lower arm bone, select bone constraints in properties window and add IK constraint, set chain length to 2, repeat for all limbs
  10. With a lower limb bone selected in bone properties limit the x-axis rotation (lock y and z)
  11. Bind each mesh to corresponding bone using parent/child relationship.

Introduction to Rigging – Finishing a Rig for a Simple Model by Adding Control Bones

This tutorial shows how to add control bones which make posing the figure much easier.

Below are the Blender files for the model with the basic rig and the model with the finished rig with control bones, use first file to copy the tutorial, you should end up with something like the second one –

monkeyWithRig.blend monkeyControlBones.blend

The key points are –

  • How to add IK target control bones to the legs, allowing the rig to jump up and down.
  • How to add a root control bone to move the whole figure from location to location

In detail –

  1. In edit mode use shift E to extrude leg control target bones
  2. Use alt P to break parent
  3. In pose mode, select a lower leg bone, select bone constraints in properties window and in IK constraint, set target to amature and select the new target control bone, repeat for other leg
  4. Use shift A to add a new ‘root’ bone.
  5. Make the leg control bones and the back bone children of the root bone

Introduction to Rigging – Creating an Animation Using a Simple Model/Rig

This tutorial shows how to animate the rig (monkey man) created in the previous tutorials.

Below are the Blender files for the model at the start and model doing a jump animation, use first file to copy the tutorial, you should end up with something like the second one –

monkeyControlBones.blend monkeyAnimation.blend

The key points are –

  • How to remove transforms from a rig ready to start posing
  • How to copy and paste mirror flipped poses
  • How to add key frames for a posed rig
  • How to fine tune the animation using the dope sheet

In detail –

  1. In pose mode use A key to select all bones, in the pose menu, Clear Transform – Location and repeat for Rotation
  2. Select all the bones of the posed arm, in pose menu select Copy Pose, select all the bones of the other arm, in pose menu select Paste X-Flipped Pose
  3. In the first frame, pose the figure, use A key to select all bones, insert keyframes – LocRot (location and rotation)
  4. Go to frame 20, pose figure, use A key to select all bones, insert keyframes – Available
  5. Using the Dope sheet, zooming, scrolling ready to grab and move the keyframes.

Creating a Walk and Run Cycle for a Simple Rig (Monkey Man) Part 1

Creating a walk cycle for a simple rig (monkey man) is covered in this part 1 of the tutorial.

monkeyManV1.blend – This is the file used at the beginning of the tutorial, use it to copy part 1 and part 2.

Key points –

  • Create a walk cycle from just two poses (mirrored and duplicated)
  • Use the DopeSheet in Action Editor view to save the current action and give it the name ‘walk’

Detailed Points –

The first and most important pose of the walk cycle is the open stride
1. the back is rotated slightly forward
2. the near leg is moved forward, the far leg is moved back
3. the near arm is moved back to balance, far arm forward
4. the whole body is moved down slightly

This pose is keyframed at the beginning and end of the cycle.
The mirror image, x-flipped version is keyframed in the middle of the cycle.

This gives a shuffling walk with the ends of the legs in permanent contact with the ground.
To fix this an intermediate pose with a leg lifted off the ground is needed –

1. as the legs cross the far leg needs to be raised
2. the near leg needs to be straightened to take the weight
3. the whole body needs to be moved up slightly.

The intermediate pose needs to be keyframed in between the open stride poses and then keyframed again (x-flipped) further down the time line.

You should have a basic walk cycle. To save the cycle and start the run cycle in the same file –

1. Go to a DopeSheet window
2. Change the view to Action Editor
3. Name the current action ‘walk’
4. Click the plus symbol to create a new action

Creating a Walk and Run Cycle for a Simple Rig (Monkey Man) Part 2

Creating a run cycle and duplicating it in the DopeSheet is covered in this part 2 of the tutorial.

monkeyManRunCycleTutFinal.blend – this is the file created in the two parts of the tutorial.

Key points –

  • Create a very simple run cycle from just two poses.
  • Use the DopeSheet in Action Editor view to repeat the run cycle by duplicating keyframes.

Detailed Points

  1. The first and most important pose of the run cycle is the open stride. The pose is  much more vigorous than for a walk cycle with all the bones positions changing a lot and figure flying above the ground.
  2. This pose is keyframed at the beginning and end of the cycle.
  3. The mirror image, x-flipped version is keyframed in the middle of the cycle.
  4. This gives a run cycle where there is no contact with the ground.
  5. To fix this an intermediate pose with ground contact is needed.
  6. The intermediate pose needs to be keyframed in between the open stride poses and then x-flipped and keyframed again further down the time line.
  7. You have a basic run cycle, now what to do with it?
  8. To create a repeating version of the run cycle, create a new action (called runRepeating) starting from a copy of the run cycle.
  9. Use shift and  ‘D’ to duplicate the keyframes and place them down the time line.

 

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