[WIP] Weighting and animating a female mercenary

Hello everyone!

Recently I decided to give blender another chance. I decided to create a rig that could be used to create animation sprites for Jagged Alliance 2. I created mesh in Milkshape due to technical reasons as well as because Im much more familiar with that program.

Here is screenshot, odd coloring is required by JA2 pallete:

Anyway, once I mashed together a model and I decided to use blender for animation. I went through crash course of blender and I managed to create a pretty nice skeleton that can be rather easily animated thanks to constraints (big kudos to blender cookie for tutorials).

Now I got into the part I cant find good tutorials for: the weight painting. I spent quite a while looking for info on that one, but there is few things I could quite get, or tutorials were for old versions of Blender.

So: I have models divided into several groups, I want to assign WHOLE group to bone. From what I know I need to use vertex groups. I was able to assign stuff to groups, but I wasnt able to find any options that would allow me to assign groups to bones.

How can I paint weight on ALL vertexes under brush (even those I cant see, underside etc.)? This one is important for me, I tried all the settings in weight paint mode, but I wasnt able to get what I wanted.

On tutorial vids I saw a button that allowed to limit space that could be weight painted, but I couldnt find in newer 2.57. Is it still there somewhere?

How can I disable automatic weighting? I turned it on by mistake and I cant find an option to turn it off.

Please help, a step by step instructions are welcome.

I will keep this thread open in case I run into more problems (and Im pretty sure I will ;)).

I sure this link can be useful to you

dont forget download the .blend files

take a peek also here


if it is any help you must set up with empty groups, make sure your armature is in pose mode and then enter your mesh to weight paint mode, select the bone you want to paint with right mouse button and paint with left mouse button.

I dug through enough tutorials to understand how to do weight paint using brush and stuff. I have problems with more in depth stuff like I described above, so I was hoping for answers for those questions.

Thanks anyway.

A quick crash course…

To make bones effect the vertex groups u need to have them with same names, like if one of your arm bone is “L.arm1” then the corresponding vertex group has to be named the same “L.arm1”

Easiest way to get same vertex groups is when you are parenting your object to a armature, select “With empty groups” that way you get all your groups named and then they dont get auto weighted

You can see all your vertex groups under object data tab. Now you have two ways to assign them either in edit mode, you select all your verteces that u want, select correct vertex group from your vertex group menu and hit assign(making sure your weight value is 1), and now u can tweak your weight just by going to weight paint mode.

Second way would be just in weight paint just select corresponding group from menu and just paint ur weights where u want hem to affect, vertexes get auto assigned to your group that is active currently depending on ur brush weight(any weight number above 0 auto assigns vertex to ur active group)

to switch between vertex groups you want to paint, u dont need to leave weight paint mode just select new group and paint it

ps. also on an object, to make sure only groups are affecting ur transform, turn off envelopes in armature modifier panel


Ok, I have one little problem before I can show you guys a rendener of now weighted model.

For some reason some materials dont have textures when rendering. I go to texture tab and load the texture, but it dosnet appear on preview ball. I somehow made one of those work, but I used a copy of working material. Could you tell me how to fix this, ofr future reference?

I still wasnt able to figure out what causes problems with textures. However I was able to get them working in render window. So here is render of now posed merc:

I also learned how to animate in blender, just basics, but they are enough for now. If anyone wants to know, then let me say that when you animate a firing stance or something similar then turn OFF inherit rotation for objects like gun, you can then move gun, but it will keep the angles you set. Same for head.

Any more tips you guys could give me for animation?

Could you guys give me a hand? I need to render same animation 8 times, from different camera angles. rotation of camera and spotlight is 45 degrees. I could do this manually, ie. render and rotate, render again. I would like to automate this process. What would be best solution here?

setup 8 cameras at the wanted angle,
let your animation repeat and set a camera-change
at the new start of the animation to the next camera.

Then you end up with all 8 views rendered in one long run - saved as? single images?, or video?
But i wonder, if it is old JA2 the sprites are very small and i have no knowledge about the use and storage of the game-animations (there is a re-worked JA2 source, but i never could make it build in 64bit, it did only run in 32bit for me - but this was a version some time ago … around 2007).

short youtube-vid using camera-switching in 2.5x:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq0wtgekSyA
(from ideasman…?)
and the key to set a marker is ?M
what the video only short shows,
set a camera to the active camera: ctrl-keypad-0
scroll in timeline to the start frame and press M
to insert a Marker in the timeline
and press Ctrl-B to bind the current camera to this marker.
Then scroll to next change in timeline,
select next camera and make it to the current camera (ctrl-keypad-0)
insert a marker with key-M
and bind camera ctrl-b to this Marker … etc.

Hmm this takes care of camera, but what can I do about spotlight lamp? I need it to rotate together with camera (45 degrees).

Oh, those will be single images.

BTW: Dont worry about putting it in JA2, we already figured it out on Bears Pit and we already have 1 working test animation. Now I just want to make it easy to automate rendering of animated model.

if the only rotating object is your animated character, then it might be better to use the other way. Keep your scene-setup fixed, thats camera and lightning, and let the character rotate for each run of the animation.

To create a simple first scene use the default blender-scene with the cube.
Add an Empty to the center and animate this Empty to do the 45 degrees switches
after one animation-run, maybe every 30 frames.
If you then parent your animated char(armature) to this Empty, it will rotate like the Empty. To adjust the time-span for different animations move the keyframes of the animated Empty.
How is the “layout” of the animation-screenshots done in JA2?
And how do you mark for the different rendered equipment (like different weapons) or do you have to do every action with different weapons?

It would be more easy to setup a default render-scene if those settings are known.
Things like how many animations, how long each, what kind of render-image-names(numbering) and so on.

Ok I parented all bones to the plane I had under model (for shadows). Now I can rotate it and model moves with without problem, I was afraid that rotating model will mess up animations.

I would like to know how to technically rotate model during animation. Personally I would do this like this: 10 frames animation (as required by JA) as normal, then after first cycle ends animation rotates plane and keep rendering another. So form what I understand I need 20 frames (2x times same animation) for 2 views. Or there is some easier way.

Another thing: I have 10 frames of animation for bones, I would like to select them all in one go and paste again, not copying and pasting keyferames one by one. Is it possible in blender? I could find such info.

JA2 Animations are pretty much like gifs, several images displayed one after another. Usually there are about 10 frames per angle (8 angles) unless its more complicated animation. In terms of equipment it looks like this: grenade (general thrown stuff), handgun, dual handguns, rifle and knife, there also special animations for shooting rocket launcher or mortar. However I planned to make all models use same skeleton so one animation needs to be only done once.

Still rendering in blender is only one step, then they have to be edited (removing background, scaling etc.) and then imported into program that allows editing JA2 animation

if you dont get the way to do it like i posted:
create empty,
animate the rotatin of the empty,
parent the armature object to the empty.
create nla for armature with its single
animations repeated …

then you have to provide the small (use compression in blender-save-options)
blend-file with the armature … and some of the animations (like you said, the 10frame-anims)
to do the setup of it as example.

btw. removing background in blender would be to render only the lighted model with an alpha “background”.

Ok, so I have models with same skeleton and I want to have bone animations seperate from all of them. So it would look like this:


All models have same skeleton and I would like to “trade” animations between them. How should I set this up.

I tried pasating frame from one file to another but without succes, same with appending.