Robot Girl Rig

Hey guys. I’ve been working on a rig using the Blenrig system for a little while. Her name is Camille.

I’ve got most of her done, but I’m not quite sure about the facial rig. It sort of works, but did I rig it correctly? This is literally the first time I’ve rigged something like this to completion, so I don’t expect it to be perfect the first time… Or the second time… Or the third time… I’ve redone a lot of this character’s weight painting at least three times!!

Also, some things just don’t work completely. Like the eyelid controls don’t go all the way down. If I want to do the eyelids, I have to use the 2nd layer of facial controls to do it.

Also, I grafted the head onto a body I modeled myself… Not sure how clever that is… But everything else I modeled from scratch, taking inspiration from a few things. Like certain Bionicle pieces and the NS-5 androids from the 2005 I, Robot. The head is from Blendswap, and it was made by danikreuter, and included the eyes and teeth.

Here’s the link to the blender file

Is this the right place for a post like this? Is anyone able to help me out?

I don’t know the Blinrig system. But looking at the eye maybe it is the value on the driver. Seems like it is set too low.

Oohh… I didn’t think to check the drivers… Thanks! :slight_smile:

What did you think of the facial rigging?

Uhh… How exactly do I edit the drivers?

Look at this basics - tut on drivers in Blender:

Okay, I watched the tutorial. It gave a bit of insight as to how drivers work, but I’m still not sure how to edit them so the eyelids and mouth posing works properly. What about those NLA strips?

I have not studied Blendrig a lot and it was a few years ago, but it looked like a quite complex rig to set up and manipulate. Developed to provide a wide feature of movements with a lot of control and good flesh-like deformations in a humanoïd paradigm.
The first things that come to my mind when watching your work are :

Is that a good rig for a robot?
And by “good”, I mean adapted. Except for the head, everything else in your character is a robot, meaning it does not require a complex rig aimed at complex humanoïd movements and flesh deformations. From a quick review, I think most of your robots parts only need very simple axial rotations&movements, very basic IK/FK and maybe just a secondary pivot on the hells to help in situations like a walk cycle. So you might have chosen a RIG that has a lot of useless features for your character and might not have those you need. Leading you to a huge work on an inadequate rig in order to make it work kind of correctly with your model, then you will struggle with animation too for the same reasons. Plus in my memories, Blendering is heavy in computer performances too.

Is that a good rig for you?
Like I said earlier, Blendrig is quite complex. At least in my memories. And when I see you asking how to edit a driver, it makes me think that you are a beginner in that domain.
Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing bad about being a beginner, we all started there at some point. But you have to consider that a complex rig like this one is out of reach if you don’t have enough experience, whether in rigging, skinning and animating. And it’s even truer if this rig is not even adapted to your character.

Quite frankly, if you can’t answer “yes 100%” to these two questions, I would encourage you to use something else simpler (like Rigify which is already a good challenge for a beginner) or create your own simple rig from scratch. I think these two solutions would be reachable for you, and most importantly: they will provide you a lot more of experience rather than trying to use an inadequate and overly complex rig.

Happy anim’

Sorry to have led you down the wrong path. Yes there is a driver there. Been a while since I set up a face rig. But the driver itself does not set the limits. There are other things such as modifiers or constraints that do that.

This rig is fairly complex. But in general, the concept is you set up the driver and then limit how far the item will actually follow with either a constraint or a modifier, or some other method. A driver just triggers or activates or controls things.

In this case it looks like for the eye lids and some of the other facial muscles, they have set up the controllers to activate Actions. So what you are seeing when you move the eye lid controller is the result of an Action (keyframes) recorded on the deform mechanism for the eye lid.

These controllers are hidden normally during animation. And you can not see them as your file is now.

Since the eye is round it looks like you can set some keyframes (or they have a script that does this automatically) to move the eye lid over the eye. Seems like you can customize this.

And so the result is you are simply triggering a 3 frame animation that moves the eyelid over the eye in kind of an arch. So what you see in your file as you open it up, is an action that does not go very far. I am not sure if this is something you set up initially to scale to the eye or what. But you can definitely edit this.

What I did was simply make visible the bone layer (23) that has those deform controller bones, and I edited the actions to move all the way over the eye. But I also added a key frame at the end to put the eye back up to the start position. So that your scene does not start with the eye lids in the lower position.

Then you can simply operate and animate the main eye lid controller to trigger that action over the eye. Pretty cool actually.

The controller bones for the deformations are:


Then of course there are corner bones, lower lid bones and so on.

So I have never used this system and I really don’t know what the proper way to do all of this is. But it seems like a very cool rig. So now I am going to have to look into it more.

Hope this at least helps dial in the issue a little bit more. Maybe you can look over the manual and see where it talks about setting up these actions.

So I finally started doing more research on this rig.

There is information on the facial parts of this rig, in particular the limits of the controllers here:

He also goes into editing the keyframes of the actions for the eye - as I was mentioning above - but he gives data about what each keyframe is for which is helpful. I had it a bit wrong initially.

It is on the cloud, but these vids are free. No subscription required. Just so that is clear.

You make a lot of good points. I really only chose Blenrig because of the facial rig, and I don’t get as good performance in the viewport as I’d like. I know how to make good “robotic” rigs, and I could probably use my experience rigging the face in Blenrig to make my own Bendy bones-based face rig.

Thank you. This gave me some much needed clarity. :slight_smile:

Alright. So, I will give you my opinion for what it is worth.

The entire purpose of rigging is to give you the ease of animation with logical options to solve production problems while animating.

Rigging is broken up into two categories. 1) The process of designing the underlying mechanics and 2) the process of designing animator controls.

The background behind auto-rigging is simply and nothing more than the process of creating a module that can be easily duplicated and replicated across multiple characters - in production. The way this works is to set up a way to have a definition rig (the one that lets you adopt to the scale and proportions as well as add or delete options for a specific model) that can be edited and then create scripts that 1) create the underlying controls and 2) Creates the controls for the animator.

A good auto rig is the result of years of research and work. Built upon decades of previous R&D, standard practices and known issues and solutions. Rigging of course is a constant and evolving field. When new technology and tools within Blender (or any other app) become available an auto rig can be updated or replaced to include this technology.

The purpose of new technology is - in the end - ease of animation and solving more problems in production which results in improved results while animating and faster approaches to save time.

There is absolutely no situation where a rig is too complex or “overkill” unless 1) The underlying mech is flawed or 2) not enough thought was put into the animator controls - including giving one the option to turn things on and off as needed. As well as options to adopt the set up process to a particular character. For example not going through the tedious process of rigging and setting up deforms for a fleshy character when you rigging animating a robot. This is an option, not a requirement.

A rig properly designed (1 and 2) results in the best animation experience. And the best animation experience is speed, flexibility and quality. Probably in that order of importance.

It has already been predetermined by decades of those who have gone before that the effort spent on rigging (research design and implementation) pays off 100 fold in animation speed, flexibility and quality.

So if you are going to embark on animating characters it is important to understand this ratio of effort. Something like 100 to one. (just to pull a figure out of my arse But it is probably more like 1000 to 1). Animation is incredibly tedious and time consuming and is by far the most time consuming (labor-wise) of all of the production processes in 3D animation.

And the decisions you make about rigging should reflect this ratio. Otherwise you will pay for it in increased and almost deadly animation time. For real. You want to kill a project? Go lax on rigging. That will do it.

This of course is aside from the various time saving techniques of animation you can learn.

Now here is another ratio to consider.

The time it would take you to research understand, experiment with and create rigging at the level of something like Blendrig (or rigify) that gives you a proper ratio of advantage in animating time is probably again 100 (or more) to 1 of the time it would take you to research and study and understand and existing system.

So time invested in understanding the fundamentals of rigging to the degree you can then study rigify or blendrig and learn to use either system is but a mere fraction of the time it would take you to create your own.

And going back to a comment earlier. And if you were thrown off by my comment about drivers then you have a long way to go to create something that is worth the effort and will give you the ease of animation and not a headache trying to use a tool not properly designed.

My opinion comes from 20+ years in 3D. A lot of time studying rigging as well as rigging my own characters. And time spent research my own approaches. Not to mention experience with auto-rigging systems on many platforms.

I am by no means an expert on rigging. But I understand enough to know where the effort should go.

So in my opinion unless you want to become a full time professional rigger, and create some cool stuff, stick to animating.

And further I think there is a reason they went with BlendRig and are not using Rigify - to my knowledge.

Thank you for your wise words. :slight_smile: Rigging, to be honest, isn’t my strong suit. Animation is. I can make some very basic, rigid rigs very quickly. Basically a skeleton with IK, and parenting individual body-parts to the bones, and hard-weighting (no or very few gradients as necessary) portions of a mesh. It’s quick and easy to use, but even optimizing that kind of rig took me awhile to do.

Looking back, I should have more respect and amazement for those who went to all the trouble of rigging just a Minecraft character, let alone Vincent, or Victor, or Norman (all of those three using Blenrig). All of them are very easy to use, and their facial rigs are amazingly satisfying. I think I need to leave the more complex stuff to more experienced riggers.

Indeed. You and I are more or less in the same boat there. I can do some rigging. In fact I recently rigged up a simple robot arm set up that a character had to interact with. In this case I used Rigify for the character. But I think in future projects I will use all Blenrig. At any rate I was able to make an acceptable rig that would ease animation well enough on the robot arm side. It was simple enough. But I have learned my lesson on character rigs. Not my bag.

I don’t know if you have a cloud membership or not, but those tutorials on Blenrig look real helpful.

Best of luck!

Thanks, Richard! :slight_smile:

Yeah, animation is awesome.

It is, isn’t it? :smiley: It’s so satisfying to see something you’re working on come together through motion, action, and time! :smiley: