Help please. Animating a simple roaring monster head

Dear all,

I have built a simple monster (below) which I would like to animate, so that it throws back its head, opens and closes its mouth and narrows its eyes. I have built a basic 2 bone armature for the head movement and although this has creasing problems if I move the head excessively I have happy as this is a 1st attempt. I have read a number of tutorials on driven shapes and thought that this would be the best way to control the eyes. I have followed the driven shapes tutorial elsewhere on blender artists and have a bone that moves the monsters left eyebrow. Now I am stuck. When I follow the tutorial again for the right one the bone does not move the vertices.

I am fairly sure I have followed all the steps, but being completely green at all this cannot see where I have gone wrong. Unfortunately the blend file is 12,000k (I have no idea why it is so big) so I cannot post. However please see the below screen prints. The first shows the driver info for the non working bone and the second shows the bone selected in object mode. Oddly the duff armature only shows the bone name if it is selected in edit mode, where as the working one shows it in object mode. Is this the problem? If so how do I fix this?

Can anyone help?



The armature must be in POSE mode to be able to select individual bones, that might be the problem.

As for posting the blend, if you want to post it, use any of the free hosting services, then post the link here.

Many thanks for the reply. Switching to pose does indeed show the bone name, but sadly the control bone does not move the right eyelid. I have posted the blend file to mega upload at w w w . You will need to remove the spaces in the url or search for Monster3G.blend.

Could someone perhaps let me know what I have done wrong, I’m guessing it’ll be fairly obvious to a more experianced modeler, but I’m baffled.

All of your bones are best laid out in the same armature. To fix your file you can do this:

1.) in object mode select all of your armatures (selecting the head/neck one last) and press “ctrl+j” to join them into one
2.) in edit mode parent the eye bones to the head bone by first selecting both eye bones, then the head bone, and press “ctrl+p”

Now in pose mode you can rotate the head bone and the eyes (and mesh) will follow along :yes:

Hmmm… I can see another problem that will likely surface next, so I will address it now…

Your eye bones are not centered to your eyeballs, so when you parent your eye meshes to the bones for rotating, they will pop out of the head.

See this thread for more info.


@ feelgoodcomics : those bones are driver objects for shapekeys, not bones for eye rotation …

@ cogvos : 1) do what feelgoodcomics suggested with the armatures 2) something is off about your IPO curves - I believe one of them drives both shapes - the easiest thing to do is to delete them (for some reason I had a hard time getting rid of them) and create a new curve and add a driver for one side and then paste the curve to the buffer from the curve header then select the other shapekey and then paste from the buffer - this way you just have to change the bone name for the driver part 3) you need to select LocZ instead of LocY to drive them the way you seem to . The local/normal orientation of armatures requires this . If you kept it LocY you would have to drag the bones directly into/out of of the screen .


Nice catch, thanks :slight_smile:

Part of the problem is that the “right upper eyelid” shapekey is opening / closing both eyelids at once.

You might want to keep that shapekey, and rename it to “bothEyelids” or something, Then add a new shapekey for just the right eyelid. Or edit the “right …” so that it only affects the right eyelid.

As far as combining the armatures, you could combine them all, or just combine the eye controls into a seperate armature from the “body” armature. Or not combine anything :slight_smile:

(Combining them has nothing to do with whether the driven shape keys are working, though it does make the animation “bookeeping” (Action editor / NLA editor) easier to use.)

Dear all,

Many thanks for all your help. I confess I noticed that the right shape affected both, but could not work out why it was or how to prevent it. I thought it was because it was lower in the curves list so would affect all above, like a hierarchy? Guess I’m wrong there. Its working on the vgroup basis so why is it affecting both?

I have parented the eyes and teeth to the head bone as I don’t need the eyes moving (they will glow in the final version). Not sure about the teeth though as they need to move with the jaw…

Could someone explain what parenting the bones will do? Will it simply mean that the shape drivers move with the head, as the eyes and teeth do, or will they become attached to the head bone, in the same way as an extruded bone does?

I confess I have had problems deleting as well and think their might be a slight glitch in the blend file. I had funny crashes when rendering and had to reduce the meshes complexity to overcome these. No idea if that is a known problem or not.

Many thanks again.

Regarding the shapekey on both,

it is highly likely that you created the second shapekey while the other modified one was selected… which would have made the base shape for the right eyelid the same as the left one. It is important to select the “basis” shape before creating a new shape, because the new shape is created using the currently active shape as the default position.

But don’t fret, you can easily create a vertex group for the right side of your face to fix this (you need only select the vertices you want to be included in your eyebrow in this case). Make a vertex group for the right side and call it “Right”, “Right Side”, or whatever makes sense to you. Then select the shape that affects both eyebrows (I believe it is called “right upper eyelid”) and in the VGroup: field enter the name of the side you want it to effect using the vertex group you created. This is also covered in greater depth on the ManCandy DVD.

You should be able to parent the teeth to a jaw bone as well, it should work fine.

Parenting bones will make them follow along. So yes, the shape key driver bones would move with the head if you parented them to the head bone in edit mode. You can parent them with ‘keep offset’, and they will remain in their current position, which is likely what you want here.

Dear all,

Many thanks for all your help. I have now fixed the eyebrows, joined the shape controllers to the main armature and have added a jaw bone but sadly have another problem. I have parented the lower teeth and some selected vertices to the jaw bone. The Jaw opens and closes fine, but the teeth move further than they should, it as if the are moving faster and so end up outside the main mesh, as attached.

Can someone tell me how I can get the teeth to stay in the mouth? Do I add more bones, and if so how do I get two to run either side of the jaw? Or would parenting them to the main mesh work? Can I somehow select the base of the tooth and root it into the main mesh jaw area?

Hope someone can help.



Are your teeth skinned to your armature as well as being parented?

If not then I would assume you need to do some weight painting on your lower jaw. If you make the weights 100% on the jaw area, and remove the influence of all other bones on the jaw (by removing the vertices from the other groups), the jaw should extend as far down as the teeth…

Hi there,

I have skinned and parented the teeth, however when I checked the lower jaw I found it was also skinned to the head bone.

Removing this skinning has improved things, however the teeth are still rotating too far. I am also getting an odd situation when I open the mouth wide. The teeth and lower jaw all flip upside down, which results in a 180 degree twist in the jaw and downward pointing teeth(!). Finally having removed the head skinning on the lower jaw I’m now finding that it does not move properly with the head. I guess the last can be fixed by forcing the jaw to rotate with the head bone? However since it is already joined to the head and body bone I’m a bit stuck as to how to do this. I sort of need the jaw to be able to follow the head when it moves, but can’t figure out how to do this.

oh no no, don’t remove the skinning from the head! I meant from the teeth. The teeth are behaving correctly, it’s the weights in the head mesh that need to be adjusted!

You just need to re-weight the jaw so the mesh deforms to the extreme of the pose. Since the teeth are parented directly to the bone, there isn’t a weighting issue - they go where they should. The weights in the jaw are what need tweaking. I’m pretty sure atleast. Right now I imagine the other bones in the head are effecting the jaw, and their influence needs to be removed in order for the jaw to extend fully…

Sorry you have lost me a bit here. Could you tell me how I re-weight the jaw so that the other bones don’t affect it when I move the jaw bone, yet still affect it when I move the head bone? These seem to be mutually exclusive. Would it help if I uploaded what I have currently?


Have you done weight painting before? What I mean is that the weights need to be adjusted so the jaw bone has 100% influence of the lower jaw, and the other bones have 0% influence.

Here is an explanation of weight painting if you need it.

Edit: in fact, the whole noob to pro manual is a valuable resource to keep in your bookmarks :yes:

Weight painting is cool! Not only have I been able to solve the jaw issue, but also the folding problems around the monster’s neck and shoulders. In fact the only problem I have now is with the jaw bone. Initially it was a child of the torso, but this did not work as it would not move with the head, and so the jaw did not work. I made it a child of the head bone and detached it. Now I can move the jaw, and the jaw moves with the head. But The jaw no-longer acts like a hinge (selecting hinge does not work as this does not appear to what I expected, that is cause the jaw to pivot about it’s base) as the bone is no-longer attached to anything!

How do I keep the jaw bone attached to the base of the head bone? every time I make it a child of the head it attaches to the top of the bone and I want it attached to the bottom?


Hinge is something different than I’m thinking you think it is. Hinge keeps a bone from rotating when its parent rotates. So I would strongly recommend not turning on hinge for your jawbone.

All bones pivot around their head, and connect head to tail… so for your jaw I would recommend parenting it with “keep offset” so it stays offset from the head. That’s the way I always do it :yes:
There is no need for it to be directly connected to its parent.