Best Blender version for Animation

Hello everyone,

This note is to ask whether Blender 25x is stable and whether it offers additional features to consider switching. I have been on 2.46 for quite some time. Now I am trying to figure out how I can catch up and whether additional animation features are worth the effort of learning them.

I have been going around circles trying to teach myself character modeling and animation with dismal success for more than 4 years now. When I was able to do most of my work, the version of Blender that was out was 2.46. I completed some of Wiki tutorials using 2.46 version. The Introduction to Character Animation was the beginner’s tutorial that covered the full process from mesh modeling to texturing, to rigging, and finally to animating a walk cycle. A walking and talking Ginger Bread character. Tony Mullen’s book distributed and was based on an earlier version of Blender. Nonetheless. I was able to use his Captain Blender rig in my 2.46 characters.

Now that I raised the bar and I have been trying to get a realistic looking human model deform well using Captain Blender rig, I have run into a lot of problems around hips, shoulders, even knee areas. I can’t get those deform well when I attempt to pose my character for martial arts poses. When I searched archieves for advice for rigging those difficult areas, I noticed most people were already using latest Blender versions. Some 2.49b, and some even 2.53. Those later versions of Blender seemed to add a lot of new rigging and animation capabilities. I tried to locate tutorials that would cover them: <Corrective> Shape Keys, pyDrivers, Mesh Deform modifiers? Anything else? Are the rigging and animation upgrades to Blender in subsequent releases worthwhile for me to invest the time to learn them. How would I learn them? Would those enhancements make rigging, skinning any easier? Would any enhancement improve mesh deformations at complex joints?

Is anyone familiar with ManCady rig? Would learning it help me with complex joint deformations? How about Dorian rig? would it bring about any improvement to complex joints? Complex joints aside, how does one rig forearms? i guess those have to be done with shapekeys?

Thanks in advance for your input!

First: I think you do not like to read much and find things for yourself. Starting with: This Thread is to post ANIMATION WORK Only. You posted in the wrong thread.

Second: It is obvious that Blender 2.5 has a lot of improvements, and it continues growing each day. Better tools, faster etc etc. I have been using 2.5 since the first version, from modeling to animation. Simply put, 5 stars.

Third: This is an generalized answer. I can’t spend time trying to convince you why should you upgrade. It is all up to you and your personal goals. I do not think either that anyone would take the time to answer all your questions, remember that Blender is FREE.

Good Luck

First: My apologies for posting to the wrong thread.

Second: Despite my references to time and effort investments, you might notice that I was asking where I could find more information, tutorials on the additional animation capabilities of the newer version over older versions.

Third: I was appealing to long term users’ knowledge to guide my subsequent studies to catch up fast. I even highlighted a few areas that sounded relevant to me. I needed feedback to expand on that list.

Fourth: I was calling up on people with experience modeling, animating real human like characters to comment on whether newer version has added new strenghts in shoulder, hip joint deformation areas.

And it appear I threw in a tangential but joint deformation supporting topic: Feedback on which free rigs I should study, tear apart within the new version: ManCady, Dorian, BlenRig?

I like working with Stable software, so I guess 2.49b must be it for now.

Thanks for giving me a format for restating what I needed more conscisely, more to the point.

2.49b is the most stable right now, there are a lot of new things possible in 2.5. Blenrig is probably your safest bet on 2.49b right now for correct deformation of joints and muscles. The guy loves to focus on that. I have an old rig for 2.49b that I think is very solid for animating, but I never finished it because I started a new one with loads more options in 2.5. I can dig it up, but you should do some more research, as mentioned. If you search for knee bend, or joint deformation or whatnot, you will find answers…
I see you’ve been a software engineer, so I doubt you’re lazy… maybe just tired.

What I am is frustrated. When I compare how far I have managed to come, given the time and energy I invested, they just do not match up.

Thanks for your input and encouragement. I have 2.49b on all my computer. Now. Even though 2.49b uses both of my processors, 2.46 could not. I could not get the performance hike I was hoping for. This could be yet another track to open.

See when I saw videos of what Joshua (creator of BlenRig, hopefully did not misspell his name) had managed to accomplish I immediately downloaded his rig. I searched for a documentation that would explain the design and constraints of his rig, all his 200+ bones. So, I could learn from his example, and I could use a downized version of his rig on my character. Nope, what I had found did not allow me to unravel the mystery of his work. Yes, he sets the bar really high, My question is how do we catch up? I realized he uses lots of stretch to constraints, meaning there has to be bones that define what areas of the mesh to stretch by how much. The placement of the anchor and target bones for the bone spaning them, and deciding how to control the movement of the target bone defines the stretch/contraction amount. Very intricate!

And you cannot just Append a prebuild rig with stretch to constraints to your character. The repositioning of bones and reseting of the initial values of all the constraints are very important, otherwise your character will get folded onto herself unusably. I learned all those the hard way by attempting reuse my Captain Blender rig on my new characters. No wonder I can’t make any darned progress. I supposedly try to save myself time, by doing short cuts that are not documented. Then I have to find my way out.
Anyhow that is a very long winded way to saying I dunno how to make use of BlenRig? Too many bones not enough writen documents. I can’t handle video tutorial. Hearing and memory challenged now. I need a step-by-step tutorial that says, do this, that, with screen prints. Those are fewer now a days. well could not find a hair, fur, cloth tutorials that were in printed format. Yet another thread to open.

Well, reading, playing with different rigs. What surprises me the skinning makes the biggest difference at times. I managed to fix some of my deformation problems by changing vertex group to bone definitions. With the same rig, adjust weights, increase overlap between bones that affect the same region. Especially those areas where multiple bones meet is a big challenge. The possibilities to try are endless. So, rig documents that do not show vertex groups per bone is not well documented, IMHO.

I also use 2.49b as it is stable and I can make IF/FK changes because in the beta version there seems to be something missing (they are working on it maybe?) but for now I am sticking to 2.49b and will move up to 2.5 when it is a proper fixed release :slight_smile:

If you want to catch up, start with this:
Make a basic biped rig that you can control well.

  • map out which parts of the body hardy deform at all (ribace, most of the face because of the skull) and make some placeholders for that.
  • Lay out the musclestructure that is closest to the surface (so no deep, inner muscles) and start making bones that act as those muscles. Make these bones stretch to target bones. These bones should be parented at the place a real muscle would attach itself to the bone.

This is very crude, but it is a good start. Like you said, the posibilities are endless. You can use meshdeform, shrinkwrap, lattice, yada yada yada blahblahblah…

If you want a simpler, more crude example, look at my mammoth rig. (see my site in signature) It’s not nearly as tweaked and tested as my other rigs, but it should be easier to analyse, and help you get the idea. It works in 2.49…
If you want to build anything! complex, break it down into simpler components.
Basic part: control rig, the rig you’ll use to move the character.
on top of that: all the muscle layer systems… you can go as deep as you want. And there are plenty of video’s that might not be blender specific, but it’s the technique/general idea you should be after. Really, just google muscle rig or look at some rigging breakdowns on youtube and you’ll find answers.

Here’s some links, not so much for fool-proof solutions, but definitly for inspiration:

There was a certain artist who had some nice articles about this issue (and how to create cloth) but I can’t remember who the hell it was…