Bad To The Bone (...or Bad AT Boning)

There’s a ‘compress file’ option?


Yup, . …under the file menu … No problem I’ve downloaded it and am looking at it now.

I find it’s generally not a good idea to have a deforming bone also be an IK target. It’s cleaner to create a seperate bone, whose parent is either none or preferably a “MASTER” bone (which is the parent of all other bones … to easily move/pose the entire armature). I did that with the ears, and keyframing the IK target works. (I don’t know why your IK setup was not working, but when the Const field in the IK solver shows RED, that indicates some kind of error condition. (Although I notice now that adding an IK constraint “without” target … then changing the chainlen from non-zero also produces that red warning … though the chain usually does work ok … i.e. like your tongue chain)

I tried adding a new IK solver “without target” and it gets an error also … using my “detached bone” method works fine however.

I also noticed you have “Object” keyframes on your armature. It may not affect anything, but you generally don’t need or want them, usually only POSE keys would be used with an armature.

Still looking at the “ear root / rotate with head” issue.

edit Found the problem with the ears : Change bone.024, bone.050 from HINGE (ON) to hinge (off), and you should see the ear bases behaving normally

I noticed that there are some bone/skin weighting problems, (bending at the waist e.g.) and that some of your bones are not connected (upper arms to chest/shoulder). I would generally try to have all bones connected unless it causes a problem … seems there are more problems when you start with them disconnected :slight_smile:


I originally set those hinge bones because moving the ear tips moved the head, which wasn’t what I wanted - I then later found out about the chain length feature, forgetting to ‘unhinge’ those bones.

Yeah, I did notice those red Const boxes, but if I was the kind of guy who paid any attention to warning signs, I’d probably not get out of bed in the morning… :slight_smile:

Thanks for your help on this, I’ll try out your suggestions ASAP and keep you posted…

Hey again, sorry for the late response - I don’t have 'net access at home at the moment…

I did try to unhinge those bones, and sure enough rotating on the z axis kept the ear roots in place. However, tilting his head to the side ended up twisting the ear tips in weird directions, which I couldn’t compensate for.

Pushing for time, I had to disconnect all the ear bones and parent to the head bone. I’m sure it’s not the correct way to do this, but I was in a corner (as ever…).

Anyhow, I was able to pose as I wanted - albeit having to keyframe each bone instead of just the solvers.

Here’s the latest WIP.

The main problem now is that the ears are stiff - like wings. I had wanted add a little life to them - a bit of swaying, etc. I may be able to do that manually I suppose, but I will come back to that time-permitting…

Looking good. I think the lip-sync looks better (I hope it’s different :slight_smile: ) and will only get better as the acting progresses - and better still when you render (which softens the lip shapes a little)

I’m not sure why Mike prefers bones to be “connected”. The head on my character uses a number of disconnected bones, all parented to the head bone, and they all work fine. It’s probably best if you lock the Loc transforms (N-Key) so they don’t drift from their intended location as tends to happen otherwise.

The story might be different for IK chains but I haven’t delved too far into the world of complex constraints yet.

I wouldn’t have ear bones physically connected to the head bone in any way. Just put ‘em where you want ‘em, parent them to the head bone and lock the root ear bones’ Loc transforms. Supplement the ears’ movement with a couple of shape keys to add interest to the movement if you like.

The main problem now is that the ears are stiff - like wings. I had wanted add a little life to them - a bit of swaying, etc. I may be able to do that manually I suppose, but I will come back to that time-permitting…

Put Hooks on the tips of the ears, Parent them to the HeadBone and give them a SlowParent.


At this point I’m not sure if/why I prefer connected bones either :slight_smile:

I asked about this awhile ago if one was better than the other, and like many things the answer I got was “it depends” :slight_smile:

Ah, the N-Lock thingy ! … I haven’t used that much, that’s probably why I was depending on the connected bones thing :slight_smile:


Take a look at this thread on recording real-time mouse-movement.

I’ve been experimenting with it and it’s pretty cool for getting smooth “mocap like” movement. I’d suggest you add an empty and animate that using the technique, then use a copy-location constraint from the IK controller bone of the ear(s) to follow the empty(s).


Thanks for the continued advice guys, I’ll see what I can implement.

In the meantime…

Please elaborate on this - I like the sound of the idea, but couldn’t find the right options/menues to test it out. Are you suggesting no bones in the ears, but a vertex parent to a hook? I haven’t used hooks before, and have no 'net access at home to research it myself… and isn’t a Slow Parent the kind who discovers your bad behaviour one week, but disciplines you the next…? :slight_smile:

Part of my problem now is that I’ve had to split up much of the IK chains - I’m animating almost as though everything is FK… but I’m still open to suggestions for sorting the ears out (I may do a comical bit where they stand upright).

See this blend by xeetstreet:

From this thread:


Neat stuff. Interesting that the Hook’s show up in the Modifier stack.


Did you seperate (disConect) the IK target bones from the end of the ears, like I suggested? I would also add another bone to the rig, call it “MASTER” or something and make it the parent of the ear IK targets, or make IK targets have “parent NONE”. (The disadvantage to that is that they’ll get “left behind” unless you key them with the rest of the bones … maybe not a concern with your current animation).

If not, that might be causing you problems. The IK-without-targets-ears may have been one of the reasons’ why it doesn’t seem to be possible to keyframe them.


Well, I’m getting a little lost unfortunately - trying to wing it as I go along… However, I managed to get a little ear movement in manually. The movement is a somewhat odd (I tried to use the ghost effect to help me pose the keyframes - ‘Onion Skin’ style - but the ghost image doesn’t persist once you start to grab a bone, making effective placement a bit hit-and-miss) but at the least there is some improvement to the last WIP.

That thread seemed to assume a prior knowledge of hooks, with little explanation of the actual method used, and the the demo video referenced in the thread seems to be down, I’ll try to check out the blend if I get the time.

One thing occured to me though - isn’t this whole ‘slowparent’ thing the same sort of effect as a ‘delay deform’ for bones? not that I’ve tried it myself, mind you…but then you guys knew that, didn’t you…?

It seems the term ‘Delay Deform’ is a bit misleading, merely de-activating the deformation… anyhoo…after a bit of a bumpy ride, I feel I’ve got the final clip to an acceptable standard. You can always tweak and retouch, but I’ve decided to wrap things up and move on. I’ve got a long way to go before I can do more of this stuff with any confidence, but this certainly has been a great learning experience for me, and I thank everyone here who contributed.

Next stop - Dinosaurs… :smiley: