Shoulder Techniques

Hi everyone, I´m currently working on doing a fully posable realistic rig based on bones deformation only (No shapekeys), for future shareing with the community.

So far I´ve done quite a nice job with the body and legs, the only thing left are the arms.

So, if any of you have some shoulder rigging method that you want to share, here is the place.

Thanks in advanced.


Thanks Fligh, but I´ve already seen tose posts. As I said in another post, I´m making use of jorge rocha´s tips and techniques, but still he uses shapekeys, and what I´m trying to do is to achieve excelent deformation just by using different combination of bone structures, no shapekeys.

I made a lot of experiments before driven shape keys existed and results were almost acceptable, using lots of floating bones with lots of different constraints. More tweaking might have made it convincing.
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But I didn’t go further because driven shape keys appeared.

There is still a lot of other things you can try, such as action constraints, empties parented to vertices and hooks parented to those empties.

Lattices with driven keys are also a good way to control deformation, although maybe difficult to place for a shoulder.

Wow, thanks Jorge, I´m somehow new to blender, never thought of the empties technique, I´ll see what I can do.

I am getting one ready. It will be a detachable arm rig (from shoulder to wrist) with full mobility, that can be put into any existing rig. I will post it when it is completed, if you wish.

That would be great Cognis, Thanks!!

Looking at the thread again I am starting to think I may not be delivering exactly what you need. Anyway:

Yeah, a better name would have been nice… Nonetheless, this is the rig I intend to update into my character. It provides complete detail in wrist, elbow and shoulder, and anything in between. I do not use armatures in the same way most do, so the shoulder, elbow and wrist are all actual objects; I tend to use hooks or similar ways to attach a skin mesh.

The wrist reacts to an armature IK target (called Wrist Target; it’s an Empty) to allow you to place the hand. Actually, the wrist is just copying the location and rotation of a ‘wrist proxy’. Decrease the Influence of the Copy Rotation (target: wrist proxy) whenever you need to rotate the hand freely. If you decrease the influence of the Copy Location constraint, the hand will fly off, though :wink:

Don’t mind the Armature.001. It was a necessity, to keep the elbow from flipping 90 degrees upwards when the arm stretched fully. Armature.001 has no other purpose (might seem like overkill, but it works quite well). Keep it and the Elbow Proxy invisible during rendering. In fact, keep everything invisible during rendering :slight_smile:

The Elbow always tries to point towards an Empty called Elbow Target. this lets you control how the arm reaches for things; you can make it reach under a table or over a fence, just move the Elbow Target. Note that it can be a bit daunting to navigate the target in 3D through a 2D window, but you get used to it (I am still trying to make it more user-friendly).

And… the shoulder! It moves in the basic ways I have found a shoulder to move. I did look at actual anatomy to simulate it, but how things work and how things look may not always match. The outside ‘point’ of the shoulder objectbasically represents the deltoid; when the upper arm is pointed down (in relation to the torso), the deltoid points out. Moving the wrist high makes it point more and more upwards. And so on. If the movement of the shoulder is too drastic for you, turn up the Influence in the Shoulder object’s Copy Rotation (target: Shoulder Socket). The ‘deltoid’ will stay more in tune with the torso then, rather than with the upper arm. Play a little with it.

Oh, and yes, the torso can be turn, swivled, moved, etc, and the arm will (should) fit, shoulder adjusting to circumstances automatically. Just remember that the Elbow and Wrist Targets are seperate beings (though they can be parented to the torso, sacrificing some freedom but getting more predictability). If you do a lot of moving and rotating with the torso and leave the two targets, the arm will turn in inappropriate ways. Just move the two targets to where you want your hand (Wrist) and Elbow to point, and everything is happy.

Hope you enjoy. Please let me know of problems or ideas for improvements. I am still doing some clean-up and streamlining, too.

Cognis, I thinks this is a very nice concept of rigging. If I´m not mistaken it could be possible to somehow simulate actual musculature by using objects linked to the bones and hooks.
Really really nice concept.
Right now I´m giving my rig another chance with bones and weight skiining, but if results don´t come up clean I´ll try it your way.

Thanks a lot.

Sure thing :wink:

Plus, I’m told the two approaches combine easy, once you get the hang of it. So take what you need, and leave the rest to history!

I´ve been playing around with hooks for a few minutes…but as far as I can tell the way that hooks influence the mesh is exactly the same as of bones.
Therefore, I think that there´s no difference in having a hook with certain falloff or having a bone with the exact same weights. The mesh deforms exactly the same way.
So, up to now, I can´t figure a way to use hooks in order to fix the shoulders. I mean a way that gives a different result than using extra bones.

Keep in touch

You are completely right. Hooks and bones can easily give the exact same results. In fact, if you prefer bones, just go to Pose Mode and parent bones to the shoulder, elbow and wrist objects (if you feel like poking around inside the rig, you can even delete the objects and simply apply the same constraints to your bones).

I prefer hooks at the moment, but there is no logical reason to it; they work the same, except hooks have no IK. And I haven’t even gotten truly into using falloff with hooks, sounds very interesting :slight_smile:

Hooks also don’t have any really programmable systems, also, and–this is extremely important. They have no home base. You can’t reset the pose if you don’t like it, and if you don’t like what you just did, all you can do is wale on Undo and hope you have enough.

True. I just have a habit of making backups frequently, so I rarely notice (and if I notice, things have gone so horribly wrong that no system feature would save me :D)

EDIT: As a matter of fact, partially true. You can cancel out movements by resetting the hook objects (like Empties) to their initial rotation and location through object properties. Not a recommendation in any way, just a thought. And as a matter of fact, I find that the homebase is not always a boon; I hate when I have to coordinate changes according to an original pose. But that is just one of my eccentricities. If you want safety, use bones.