Book Image

Blender 2.5 Character Animation Cookbook

Book Image

Blender 2.5 Character Animation Cookbook

Overview of this book

Blender is an open source 3D graphics application that can be used for modeling, rigging, animating, rendering and thousands of other things. While modeling characters isn't the biggest of your worries, animating them to make them feel as-good-as alive is what differentiates a professional from an amateur. This book offers clear, illustrative, and easy-to-follow recipes to create character rigs and animations for common situations. Bring your characters to life by understanding the principles, techniques and approaches involved in creating rigs and animations, you'll be able to adapt them to your own characters and films. The book offers clear step-by-step tutorials, with detailed explanations, screenshots and support files to help you understand the principles behind each topic. Each recipe covers a logical step of the complete creation of a character rig and animation, so you're not overwhelmed with too much information at once. You'll see numerous examples and screenshots that guide to achieve various rigging and animation tasks, logically separated so you can understand each in detail. The rigging topics are divided by each region of the body (torso, limbs, face, eyes), and further separated by the specific topic (neck, fingers, mouth, eyelids, etc) for clarity. All rigging tasks are accomplished with the built-in tools in Blender, without the complexity of coding custom Python behaviors or user interface elements. The animation topics deal with common situations found in real world productions, showing good practices to understand and overcome the challenges.
Table of Contents (19 chapters)
Blender 2.5 Character Animation Cookbook
About the Author
About the Reviewers

Naming conventions

Naming conventions seems like a boring subject huh? Well... it's not the most exciting part of the animation process, but it helps keeping all other activities more pleasurable and streamlined.

Blender 2.5 has a nifty feature of searching for the name of virtually anything you built in your 3D scene, but that doesn't mean we don't need to be organized. A very useful feature in Blender and most 3D apps is the ability to view your scene in a hierarchical tree-like structure, the Outliner window, as you can see in the following screenshot:

The Outliner shows all objects in our scene organized alphabetically and these are displayed according to their Parent-Child relationship. This is very useful, but you can make things easier to manage by adopting some organized naming conventions.

Our character Otto, for example, has his name as a prefix to all related objects. Meshes, Armatures, Lattices, Materials, and Textures—all start with Otto_. This is useful to separate them from any other object on the scene.


Another useful tip to make our Outliner easier to manage is to add some Empty objects as parents of large groups of objects. The Otto rig for example, has lots of meshes created only to act as custom bone shapes. These objects would create an unnecessary clutter on our Outliner, so there is an Empty object named Otto_Shapes, with all shape objects as its children.

We can have two characters on the scene. Both of them may have a "skin" material applied to them, but they are not necessarily the same. Which one is Otto's skin and which is from the other character? And what about that "Shoe" object? It's easier to indicate the object's owner in the prefix, especially in larger productions.

When rigging, it's important to name bones according to their functions. Having prefixes such as D_ for deformation bones or M_ for mechanism, T_ for target, and so on, is useful for understanding the role of each bone, especially in complex rigs.

For the bones actually made visible to the animator, it's best to name them by their functions or areas of control, such as "Head", "Hand.L", and so on.