Advanced Hand Rig


I am currently trying to rig a hand that should be able to assume fairly complex poses. As I have no real experience in organic stuff, let alone rigging organic stuff, I wanted to ask for help here. If someone has some tips on this area, screenshots, blend files, general techniques, it would be much appreciated. An oldie but goodie.

I don’t know your level of knowledge but I have uploaded a quick hand rig that wil be helpful if you are a true n00b at this. Note that the palm is disconnected from the fingers but finger1 finger2 and finger3 are children of it (edit mode), and the fingers have IK solvers with chainlen 3 (pose mode). This also demonstrates a simple but good naming convention and hierarchy, if you have two hands on a symetrical character you would need L and R (left,right) after each name. To finish this simple rig and make it better you would add control bones on another layer and apply more constraints to limit rotation and such, but complex animations can be achieved with just this. But it would be easier for the animator with more controls and constraints.


n00bie-hand-rig.blend (129 KB)

That’s a nice start N00BIE, but I feel I should say something here…

I have a feeling this ‘targetless IK’ technique was an old Blender hack to achieve easy FK animation… and since much of the rigging documentation is quite dated I still see people using it. But there is never a need to use targetless IK! The Auto-IK feature will produce the same behaviour without any broken constraints. If you remove the targetless IK solvers in your rig, turn on the Auto-IK, then grab the end finger joint and translate it you will see the behaviour is exactly the same.

Another thing to watch out for is the orientation of your bones. Since the bones in the fingers are all curved sideways, the IK will want to bend sideways by default as well. That can lead to frustration.

Also if you turn on the ‘axes’ display you will see the finger joint axes are all pointing in different directions. The Z axis of each finger bone should be pointed out the top of the finger, and the fingers should be straight (laterally). The fingers in your rig would be very difficult to animate in FK, since each finger segment would want to rotate in a different direction! (turn on the rotation gizmo, set it to normal and then try rotating the fingers in pose mode to see what I mean)

I don’t mean to pick on you N00BIE because I know you meant well, and I know it might seem like I’m being fussy here with these ‘advanced’ details. But understanding these things helps prevent the problems and frustrations so many beginning riggers run into - which makes them think it is harder than it really is! Of course, it isn’t easy until you understand what you are doing. There are definitely no shortcuts when it comes to rigging, because tiny problems like these turn into impossible to fix messes by the time the character is complete! And if you don’t know what you did wrong to begin with - woah boy! lol. I think it is far less frustrating to invest the time into learning these things properly, than to try to fix an improperly rigged character :yes:


There are many hand rig examples here to refer to. I also recommend checking out some of the full character rigs, because many of them also have hands (check my sig). I’m also taking this opportunity to re-do a hand rig I made some months ago which used 2 armatures unnecessarily (it was experimental - but I feel it may just be confusing people :)).

I like the rotation constraint on the fingers instead of the IK technique seen almost everywhere else because it allows you to straighten the last joint by simply turning off the constraint (scaling the curl control does this). Another feature is the palm curl control can curl all the fingers, or just the pinky side if you translate it towards the pinky.

Play around with it, have fun, and let me know if you come up with more designs/ideas :slight_smile:


handDemo_FGC_jpbouza_revisited.blend (343 KB)


Agree with all you say, I whipped that rig up in 5 minutes, just trying to give Hoverkraft a starting point. I am in the storyboard/layout phase with my big project and haven’t looked at serious rigging in over a year. Like you said- just trying to help.

I had a sense that it was just a quick example. I was speaking generally when I was referring to users who do not know how to rig, while thinking about the types of rigging problems I encounter in this forum, and in no way was I trying to imply that you personally do not know what you are doing. In fact, I am fairly certain you do! I just felt the example was misleading to anyone unfamiliar with rigging. Nothing personal was intended at all :slight_smile: I’m sorry if you interpreted me that way.

Thanks to both of you, you really helped me out. Thankfully I only had to force the hand into three static poses, no animation for now. So I managed that and I am churning out the animation. Once the soundtrack is done and all is wrapped out I will let you see how it turned out.

This whole exercise really made me appreciate the complexity of this delicate instruments we call our own (and I don’t mean Blender this time, :-)).

I love threads with .blend attachments. Thanks for sharing.

BTW, I just discovered Jonathan Williamson put a hand tutorial on-line.

This is a similar tutorial to the Elephant Dream Man fingers rigging. Try to find this or follow the video.

it is quite usefull because you can pose also in complex acting the hand with 2 bones: one scaling/rotating and the second is an IK giving the curve to the finger.

Thanks for the tut. The voice is something else tough…