Showcase, tips and thoughts on animation

Blender Project – Rigging eyes

So, I have been gone for a while, it has been busy weeks and there haven’t been much time to write things on the blog, but I came up with the idea of document the process that I have been following to create the project I am working on to do my social service. It could help on two things, first spread the knowledge over the Internet about Blender and have a place to return in case I forget how to do certain things.

I started it on Maya, but soon I thought it would be interesting if I made it on Blender, that awesome free 3d software. I had some knowledge on it and this is the perfect opportunity to become an expert on it, so to speak.

I will not start form the first steps, I’ll take it from where I am currently working and as the project enters in a pipeline loop, when working in different models, it will automatically catch up and make a perfect description of the process.

At this moment, this first character I am making is a circus host, which is already modeled and has some textures and shaders. This is how it look right now:

It also have the major part of rigging and on this days I have been figuring out how to properly make a facial rigging on it. Here it is a snapshot of the model and the bones that it currently have.

I broke my head for several days just to get the eyes  to work properly. The main problem was that they weren’t normal spherical eyes, they are quite flat because I thought it would be easier to achieve the toon effect (and now that I think it over, it would have been better if the eyes were spherlical). And the way I got the eyes to work is having this bone configuration: the head as parent, then a Aim bone in front of the face and as children of that bone, the bones that will controll the pupils.

The dotted lines are the parent relationships

Then just to make it look better, I put them some custom shapes, which work best if are taken from plane shapes. For the bones that directly move the pupil, I set up a shape and used the option “At”, which places the new shape on one of the bones in the Armature, in this case the AimEyes Bone. Then edited the custom shape to offset it from the centre of the AimEyes bone. Also change the layer of the shapes and turn them off, for clarity sake.

This is were you can change the shape of the bones, and the option "At" is where you want to place it

This is how it looks after changing the shapes of the Eye Rig.

Once I get the eye rig work properly, I moved to make the character blink. For that purpose I made some Shape keys for the face, one for the upper left lid, other for the lower left eye lid and the same on the right side. Then, to have a better and easier way to control them, I followed this next tutorial I found on youtube about assigning custom properties to the bones, and with some basic driver relationships, control the amount of deformation each shape key would do on the model.

The audio is not perfect but it gets though.

The next thing on the list is making the corner lips bones to work properly, but as for now, I haven’t got them working as I think they should. I will be working on that feature on the next days and when I get it I will post it. And if it took to much time, maybe I’ll do some more key shapes.

I hope this could be of some help to anyone, and if there are any questions or require further instructions, please leave a comment.

See you next time.

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2 responses

  1. Is it possible to render 2d eyes in Blender?

    July 14, 2012 at 19:43

    • I came across that question on the early stage of the project and here are the two things that I think of:
      1. My first way of solving this issue was making a plane, which then I unwrapped and applied a texture of eyes. Which then you can move to fake the eye movement.
      2 This is the way I have it right now. I have the head mesh with the eye holes, and also meshes for the pupils and the white part. Then to have the eye movement, you only need to translate the pupil mesh to get the illusion of eye movement, and of course you need to setup the toon shader on the materials so it looks like 2d animation.
      I hope that’s some useful information, and you can ask for any further specific knowledge

      July 14, 2012 at 20:40

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