Human Rigging and Animation


It seems like forever now that I’ve wanted to animate characters moving: specifically fight scenes with accurate human models. I am pretty experienced with modeling, texturing, UV mapping… I can create great still images and I can even make pretty reasonable characters, but every time I have attempted to rig a model, whether it is one of my own or otherwise (a makehuman model for instance), I always fall short and end up with some kind of error. There are a large amount of tutorials out there that allow a person to rig and animate a cartoon or cartoon-like character, but there doesn’t seem to be any resource (that I can find) to help with (hopefully full explain) rigging fully detailed human characters relatively realistically. So many things change when realistic muscles need to happen. I know that there’s really no actual muscle simulation (that I know of?) in blender, but just getting things to deform the way I’d like them to would be great. Anyone have any ideas to offer?

Some questions (and I haven’t done any blending for a few months so I might be out-of-date on my version of blender and my knowledge of features):

Is it necessary to weight paint every single portion of every character that I want to use? In other words, if I have two characters, a male and a female, who I’d like to animate, and they have approximately the same proportions, is there a way that I can just copy an armature from one character to the other without the tedious re-painting? Along with this question I’d like to ask what the best methods for weight painting are? I have painted two whole characters in the past but I feel like I have two major problems: very little control over the hands and feet, and major problems when I attempt to, say, lower the character’s arms to their side or raise them up in the air: everything deforms very wrong and it looks like I’m pulling the character apart.

Where should the bones go? Has anyone done any fight-scene sort of animation in the past who has any tips on how the armature should be set up? I’m contemplating just mimicking the actual human skeleton but I’m not sure that this will work and if it does I don’t know what a simpler way would be.

I’d like to do relatively detailed (hopefully not necessarily complicated) animation but I’d like to do it as quickly and intuitively as possible. I know that there will be a lot of keyframing in a combat scene because few moves are repeated, but how exactly does a “cycle” work/what is it? I know about walk cycles, but I haven’t rigged a character well enough to get one right before. Does the animator just somehow tell the model to “take a step” between such and such a frame and the other frame? Or is there something different to it? When someone has a cycle, like a walk cycle, can the animator change the speed of it?

Fingers and Toes. I sort of mentioned this before but I want very detailed control over the fingers and toes of the character. Ideally I’d like to have something that allows me to move/deform all of them at once, only along the actual limits of the joints, and then a separate bone or whatever to move each individually. Fists, typing, everything would be great to be able to have. Any resources on that?

Lastly, eyes. Probably my simplest question, I seem to remember a tutorial somewhere that allowed the animator to make the eyes look at an object, and so moving the object would move the orientation of the eyes.

Thanks! Sorry, I’m long-winded :slight_smile:

If you haven’t successfully rigged a simple character and made it walk, then ‘realism’ is not a place I would suggest starting! Build a ‘cartoony’ simplistic character first, get that working right, make it walk, and then worry about rigging realistic characters with muscle simulation :wink:

There are many resources for learning rigging (in fact all of the resources for rigging I am aware of!) on my rigging blog, including example files, tutorials, and what have you, created by myself and many other blenderheads as well :slight_smile:

Rigging in Blender is still young, and although it is a very powerful program for character development there has been a huge gap between ‘advanced’ and ‘beginner’ rigging information. I’m hoping to help bridge that gap and see character development in Blender thrive, as more users like yourself begin creating characters :slight_smile: