Created character, but have Rigging Question!

Hey guys, I’m experienced in the graphics field, but haven’t been at blender all that long. I’m creating a little animation for work. It’s this little rabbit guy who is a logo for a company. I created the character, but I’m having issues figuring out how to rig it. The problem is that in all the rigging examples, the character is made from one mesh. This guy has a couple different parts. (see the photo) I tried messing with parenting the objects, but they kept moving incorrectly when rotated… :confused: Can one of you experts help me in the right direction?

A lot depends on the range of motion your character requires, but from the looks of things, I’d say you need to make an Armature (“skeleton”) for this critter, and bind the various body parts to bones (the Armature’s components) using one of a number of possible techniques, so that moving (or rotating, or scaling) the bones will animate the character. This is the standard way to rig an articulated mesh like this. Having separate body parts doesn’t prevent using an Armature, you just have to decide how you want to link the character’s mesh(es) and Armature together.

Re: building the Armature, I’m sure you can find many resources and tutorials as guides, but the basic principle is that everywhere you want the model to flex, you’ll need a joint in your Armature.

This thread answers a similar question about how to bind a model with several separate mesh parts to one Armature.

Thank you for the information! I’ve learned how to actually make the bones and armatures, and where the joints ought to be. The part I don’t know is how to bind the parts to the bones. I’m sure its something stupid like pressing a button I haven’t tired yet. Would I just parent the foot to the foot bone? If so, do I still have to parent the objects to each other? (elbow to shoulder, etc)

There are a couple of ways to do it, parenting is only one, and there are even a couple of ways you can do the parenting – see that thread I linked to above, and check the Manual and the pages on Tutorials and stuff. It’s just too to complicated to describe it all in a forum thread, 'specially if you haven’t done that kind of thing before. The tutes will be a better way to learn it, I think.

Could you (or someone) recommend one way? It’s a bit overwhelming to research 5 different ways to do something you don’t know how to do. Basically, the rabbit just needs to hop a few times and move his head, and bend his ears.

It’d be difficult to recommend the best method without knowing exactly how your model is assembled – mainly, which are the separate parts (individual objects), which are composite objects (a number of objects Joined into one) and which are a single continuous mesh – and how you want it to move.

What kind of motion do you want – rigid, kind of robotic, where the only flex is at the joint centers, or more “organic” where the limbs flex along their length some? Do the ears flop or just wiggle a bit using their connection to the head as the joint area? Does the head rotate on the neck as if it’s a knob on a stick, or does the neck flex like it has a few spine bones it it? These kinds of considerations can make a big difference in the “best” way to build your Armature and bind the mesh(es) to it.

Ok, if you look at that image I posted, each seperate mesh is listed. (except the eyes and teeth) The lines from the labels show where the mesh starts and stops.

The motion will be robot-like where most of the body is stiff. The only place where ‘bending’ will occur is the ears (which will be a little floppy), the neck (which will be segmented), and possibly the middle of the body. The rest can act like metal parts that bend only at the joints.

Thank you for your help!

To make the mesh one select all the different meshes and press Ctrl + J that will join them

I wouldn’t Join the meshes in to one single Object, since so much of it will move rigidly. But some parts can be Joined, and others may need to be separated from one another. A few observations:

If the only hinge points in the forelegs are the shoulder and elbow joints, then I’d use Join to make the shoulder and elbow objects into one object. The sphere at the elbow is the hinge point, I assume. The foot object looks OK as is.

The rear leg should be structured the same way, with the hip object extending down to include the “stem” and the joint sphere. The rear foot should not include the joint sphere, unless that’s the way you do it with the front legs – really doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent. Consistency in the structure just makes things a bit easier to work with.

With those adjustments, build an Armature with joints at all flex or hinge points. In the neck that might mean more than one joint since it’s segmented, same for the ears.

The rigid parts I’d make children of the appropriate bones in the armature. That way they’ll follow the motion of the bones as a whole unit, without doing any weight painting. The Armature will have to be put in Pose mode to select the bones, rather than the Armature as an object. Select your body part, the bone, and then use CTRL+P and choose the “Bone” option.

The body, neck, head and ears could be selected together, and made children of the Armature (not Object or Bone), using one of the options that creates vertex groups for you if you haven’t done that already. The Manual can give you details on these options. You’ll probably have to weight paint the meshes and edit the Vertex Groups created to get the proper deformation when the bones are moved, because the default weighting is rarely spot on.

You could also Join the body, neck, head and ears into a single mesh and make it a child of the armature in much the same way, but it might complicate the weight painting some since you’d have more difficulty painting the discrete parts of the mesh than if they were kept separate. A lot depends on the details of the model construction, which I can’t see fully in the posted image.

I know this probably sounds a bit like gobbledygook at this point, but it covers two basic approaches for the kind of movement you want, some rigid, some flexing. Check the tutorials and the Manual, and don’t get too discouraged if it gets confusing, it’s a lot to try to absorb all at once.

Awesome, thank you. I will try this today at some point and let you know how it goes! I love blender, but man I wish they would re-work the interface and make it user friendly! Or maybe just dummy-friendly! ha

I think everybody experiences the B-GUI (“bee-gooey”) blues when they first start out, but I gotta say it is a very intelligently-designed UI once you get to know it. I’m particularly fond of the huge degree of flexibility you can have, without a lot of effort, when arranging any particular workspace, project-by-project. Consistency in the design & implementation of controls, windows, menus, etc., isn’t 100% but I’ve used few apps where it is, and for the most part, it’s consistent where it counts, in the major toolbox suite.

Happy Blending!

Yeah, it would be difficult to make a completely user-friendly interface for a program that does so much.

Anyway, I managed to get the arms and legs working! I joined all the meshes, made the bones, and then used the weight painting to select what part of the mesh is used by the bone. Now my only issue is figuring out how to move the whole thing! I guess I need to parent the creature to his bones.