Body + Face = 1 object... How to Rig?

Hello All,

As I’m experimenting with Blender, I’m trying to make something that supposed to be simple but I’m not sure what is the “correct” way to do it, I would love to read you suggestions about it so I can try it for myself.

I’ve started to model a simple character that for now is on Low-Poly before I proceed to the next steps.
The character should be simple as you can see on the current WIP screenshots, Body will be also the Head and Face.

I’m guessing that the mouth could be just manipulated in the same object using Shape Keys for morphing.
But I’m confused:

It will work for the general shapes of the mouth: Open, Close, any other related tweak… but what about the Teeth and the Tongue? should I make them as a Separate Objects or Join them as the one main object?

Same for the Eyeballs, are they supposed to be Separated (individual Objects) or Joined in the same main Body/Head object?

The confusion will start on the rigging:
When I will start tweak the Spine/Body which is also the head, I believe that the Eyeballs and the Teeth and Tongue will twisted into weird places so I’m not sure how to rig this.

I would like to make the Mouth controlled by Blend Shapes and not bones but not sure about the Eyeballs.

I also want this character to be very elastic and stretchy, so it won’t get broken if I’ll rotate or bend the body later on using bones.

Can somebody please explain how should I rig such thing consider what I’ve mentioned above?

Sorry about my bad English and Thanks ahead! :slight_smile:



Hi, you don’t need to make everything into one object. A character made up of several objects is fine and is the case most of the time (teeth, eyes, tongue, nails/claws…).

Thanks for the reply,
But as I explained, the problem will be on the rigging… once the body will be bend by the bones… how can I make the Eyeballs, Teeth, tongue stay exactly where they should instead of breaking out of the main object? since they are moving together but not as the same object… as I want it all to be elastic but still have all the parts (not necessarily using Lattice but in general) that’s why I’m confused.

Expand a little bit about the mouth, are you planning on having it modeled, as part of the head, modeled almost like clay strips, or just using an image texture?

Assuming the eyes are modeled, usually they will be separate objects. They will have a two bones eye.L and eye.R that go from dead center of the eye sphere to the outer front edge. Each eye will be fully controlled by a single bone. Those bones will be parent to a head bone. In many rigs the head bone controls virtually every vertex in the face/head. In your case you seem to want multiple head/body bones in which case you should have one bone, e.g. head.002 which controls every vertex directly surrouding the eye, eye.R and eye.L should be parented to this bone.

Photox!!! How are you my friend? :slight_smile:

So… I’m interested in both but since Animated 2D Textures for Eyes, Mouth etc… is something that looks even more complicated for me I will try to understand it on my next test (really want to explore this too).

Clay as one piece of head and body is more like what I’m want to do, this is why I didn’t do anything to the model yet, I didn’t mess with it and show you guys the very basic Low Poly base before I will start mess with it.

Now, this is what I’m confused about:
If the Eyes are 2 separated objects like you’ve motioned. which make totally sense to me. the problem I’m thinking about is…
When the Body (Which is also the head and mouth) will bend or tweaked with a Shape-Key morph… the eyes will not follow exactly the shape of the Body/Head right? they will tweaked but not stick to the exact place?

It’s hard for me to explain why I’m confused about how to do it correct… but I tried.
Thanks a lot for the huge help, I appreciate it a lot! :slight_smile:

Good man, how u doing?

I see, if you are planning on using both an armature and shape keys it will slightly more complex and there are several workflows which might make sense. I understand that the big problem is that the shapekey(s) will move the area around the eye but not the eye bone itself. Here are a few different possibilities.

  1. vertex parenting, parent a separate armature for each eye to 3 verts surrounding the eye, and the bones will respect the shape keys

  2. (separate objects) Driver(s). You have an empty or a bone which controls a driver which set the influence of a shape key AND also moves the eye bones over to match the shape key.

  3. (all one mesh) Use all shape keys (no armature) Use proportional edit, connected mode to warp the body, and then move all vertices on the eyes to match, but still be spheres. Add another shape key using vertex groups (all verts on one eye) to rotate the eye

  4. (separate objects) use only an armature (no shape keys), with bone constraints to control the body entirely with a rig, and just use a parented bone for the eyes.

For most people armatures/drivers would be the way to go, but knowing your (very cool) animation style I might be inclined to recommend #2 – all shape keys. Alot of your animations tend to be in place (not moving/walking) with a repeating dance / head bob. You will have vert level control using proportional edit on exactly the shapes you want, and not need to fuss around with weight painting. If you do try this method, make sure, 100% sure, that your model is fully finished and that no verts will need to be added or removed before making the shape keys.

Vertex parenting (triangle) might be a good solution for you which you might not know about. You know what regular parenting is, so with vertex parenting you choose 3 vertices on the parent object and then parent the child to those 3 vertices. This has the benefit of allowing the child to respond to movement due to both armatures and shape keys. In this example I use a separate armature which I vertex parent to 3 vertices around the eyes. It could be done using a single armature but gets a little more complex. 3 minute video on an eye using vertex parents.

Basic steps:
on the parent object, edit mode, select 3 verts
tab in object mode
select child, shift-select parent
choose vertex (triangle)

Link to youtbe

Thanks a lot Photox!
This is very helpful I will have to test these methods by myself, the latest one with the video I didn’t know about that kind of parenting!
it looks more “sticky” to a specific place, I think it is very useful.

The next subject is a bit off-topic but still related somehow as I’m trying so many ways until I’ll get the one I fill that I can control and rig and start animate more easily.

I also downloaded the latest Blender build that have “Bendy Bones” which looks VERY powerful, and very elastic to control a character with minimum bones but whatever I’ve tested always “break” my mesh after weight map skinning… so I kind of gave up.

The example of this head is something I would love to try and make but as I said, the weight painting part is hell for me… I always fail to get it work smooth even after painting for a long time with sub, add, blur… and it’s like impossible to get such results.

Is there a trick? or advice maybe I can get similar results to the Head and Bendy Bones like in the example?

Also on Aligorith’s Blog but I rather learn from a video because of my bad English it’s easier for me to follow.

I haven’t tried bendy bones, they look fun. This is an area where there’s probably 10 ways to do it, best to experiment and if it doesn’t work you can always use it in the future.