Rig Advance and Woes

When Is It Time to Break Up?

1 After the fifth time trying to re-create the corrective shape keys for her knees, with all its fiddly impossibilities (this vertex goes 5 pixels per trackpad swipe, that one goes 500 pixels for the same motion… WTF), I got super impatient and thought to myself: there has to be a better knee, elbow, ankle (, shoulder) rig method out there.

But I forgave Rigify and just stuck with her.

Why does he say the same thing over and over? Because I keep rewinding and watching the same 8-second segment of the video over and over.

But after I forgave Rigify… Verachantesse’s hips… something was totally wrong with them. I realised I’d put the hip joint a little too high and back. So I tried to move them.

Recall, I’ve totally lost the metarig due to all the tweaks I’ve done on her generated rig.

I cannot for the life of me move those joints. Whenever I manage to click all the fiddly little joint ends, helper bones, etc (10-12 of them?) and move them slightly forward and down, suddenly all the deforms go insane, and her body turns into mush, and I feel sad.

What’s happening? I don’t know.

So then for real I decided to see about making my own rig. Sorry Rigify. You were good to me, but there comes a time…

I did yet another search and came upon this genius: Royal Skies, LLC with his 35k subscribers (35.001k now?). He has a bunch of really annoying 60-second tutorials on things, including a better knee rig.

Don’t get me wrong. He is annoying, but damn he packs the info in there like nobody’s business. And he’s pretty well a genius, as I actually unironically stated in the last paragraph.

Hard to stop raving. That Royal Skies dude. Wicked smart.

I’ve watched about six hours of him saying the same thing over and over. Why does he say the same thing over and over?

Because I keep rewinding and watching the same 8-second segment of the video over and over, of course.

Before we talk too much more about that, let’s look at the fiddly Rigify “two hundred hours wasted on corrective shape keys” method, shall we?

Look at the picture at the start of this section. Niice! Except, what’s that with her knees?


What have I wasted my life on?

The Royal Skies Era

1 Now let’s look at about twenty hours of watching Royal Skies LLC and his weird accent, and hacking together our own ugly rig with no widgets.

We’re concentrating on the knees. And hips. And elbows. And shoulders. And her neck. And the new face rig. Mainly those. Is there anything else?

The knees. Oh, my God, her insanely lovely knees. I can’t stop staring.

I can’t stop staring.

But also, check out those shoulders, and the deform when her arms come forward. Her clavicles and neck muscles have good definition.

But that isn’t enough! Hips. Let’s look at her promising hips next.


1 Hips! Amazing hips!

Well, okay, they aren’t amazing, but they’re pretty good, promising, even.

And I think I will be able to get them to near-perfection with just modifications to the underlying rig.

And, while you’re here, look at her knees again. Why not? Obsess over those beautiful joints.

I’ll do that the same time I add the knee squash.

For the sort of pose where her gluts are pressed into her ankles, I think I will even be able to solve the squashing-to-the-side of her thighs and calves using some drivers.

But even with no drivers (and I still can barely believe it, no corrective shape keys!), the knees look pretty convincing.

Hard to stop raving. That Royal Skies dude. Wicked smart. Go subscribe to his channel and watch his vids and donate some cash on his Patreon.

The New PhiloRig

1 This rig has most of the bone structure of her hips/pelvis in place, in a nice loop over the leg. It seems to make things mostly-correct. The tops of her gluts on the outside edges are still incorrect, but I think a glut stretch will fix that.

Here are the main bones/controls, to the right.

…the shoulder rig is much improved [but] she has no foot roll.

I have a muscle system for pecs, lats, neck, traps, all reworked to better reflect actual anatomy of a human. I’ll put together a tutorial eventually and remove the last one, because the shoulder rig is much improved.

The elbows are about 90% done, but the elbow rig didn’t work as magically as the knee rig, and I will have to put a driver to add the squash on the inside of the fold. I’ll do that the same time I add the knee squash.

I have (static) bones in her cheeks, skull, sternum, and ribs (at least) to help hold the correct form.

I setup bone groups with colours to make everything sensible and comprehensible.

There are all sorts of copy location/rotation/scale and stretch and limit and whatever constraints all over her body. Master controls to control many things at once. And I’m just getting started, I think.

She has no foot roll. Everytime I tried to do that, somehow I got a cycle that would make things go wonky.

Also, I couldn’t do the spine control the way Mssr Skies suggested. When I did, her entire rig went insane and all over the place, so I had to do something else.

In all, I don’t think my rig will make animators happy, because it’s kinda weird, but it definitely works for me for now.

This is the first time in my 15-20yr of using Blender where I finally have a character rigged where I can pose her in about 95% of anatomically-correct poses, and all the deforms look relatively okay. Yeah. I’m amped.

The Final Result

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Yeah… hair. Hair is still an unsolved problem. Sorry for hair going through her skin and other crazy stuff. I don’t think Blender is well-suited for animating hair yet?

I tried a few things, but none worked, so I’m back to the drawing board.

Until Next Time, Keep the Flash Out of your Face



Foundations - Rebuilding the Pose Library

1 1 Last time I built the post library, I did it rather haphazardly.

This time, I decided to apply a bit of methodology.

First, I pose her as spread out in every way as possible. Spread limbs, fingers, toes.

Then, I pose her as scrunched up and small as possible. Fists. Knees into chest.

I try to create a series of poses that will be good starting points for other poses

I try to create a series of poses that will be good starting points for other poses. I don’t know how successful I am. Time will tell.

Missing Rig Bits

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The Zombie Pose is cute. Surely.

I want the tendons on the back of her hand to stand out

But I want the tendons on the back of her hand to stand out. Her toes similarly lack tendons when her toes are curled up/back.

I haven’t figured out how to solve this yet.

Clues? Write me! I’m Philo Vivero on gmail. It should be pretty obvious how to turn that into a workable email.

On top of that, I still have no idea how to rig hair. I have an extra constraint: I want to be able to re-parent geometry to the rig with automatic weights all the time. This makes it difficult to include the hair rig inside her body rig.

I will explore things like “child of” constraint, and hopefully this provides a solution. In any case, hair is proving to be a big challenge. I will probably give her a tied-up hair-doesn’t-move hairdo again soon.

Random Renders

Just a random selection.

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Long Hair - So Many Disadvantages…

1 Besides looking weird when the hair flies through her shoulders, there are other disadvantages.

Long hair really limits her poses.

Like, it really limits the poses I can put her in, before you notice the hair is just a static thing parented to her head bone. No gravity weighs on this hair, no.

Also, if Verachantesse looks too far to the side, her bangs cover her eyes, which are really important parts of a glamorous inhuman character such as she.

So, although her old hair-up-in-a-bun hairstyle is overused, I don’t have any other one, so I had to pull it in throw it on her head, and start rendering.

1 As soon as I did, I noticed her shoulder deforms were actually quite bad in several poses, even some I had posted before. The hair masks the problems. I don’t want bad deforms hidden. I want good deforms.

So I had to spend a few more hours tweaking shoulder bones, muscles, and vertexes.

When deforms look bad with automatic weighting… something is slightly off.

When deforms look bad with automatic weighting, in my experience, some joint or bone constraint is just slightly off. Fix it, and you’ll get better deforms on a bunch of poses you didn’t even notice were poor.

So: fix your joint positions and bone constraints first. Then, if necessary, weight paint.

Let’s look at where we can go with zero weight painting or corrective shape keys, shall we?

Zero Weight Painting

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No Corrective Shape Keys

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Just Drivers and Bone Constraints

1 Drivers for the shape when her knees are at full bend, and her thighs/calves are squished out to the sides.

She has inhumanly huge eyes, and the typical eyelid solution doesn’t work.

And for when she blinks. Because she has inhumanly huge eyes, and the typical eyelid solution doesn’t work.

1 Bone contstraints to get the various clavicle, scapula, shoulder, breast, arm, leg, etc deforms looking right.

Probably similar to what Rigify does, because I have similar controls to Rigify, and it seems to suffer some of the same problems Rigify did on pole targets movements, etc.

Behold Her Beauty

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A short list of things I like about this rig over Rigify:

  1. knees and elbows - the Royal Skies joint is far superior
  2. shoulders - great deforms in upper back and upper front - also I have a similar joint to the Royal Skies knee/elbow joint here that helps
  3. hips - splits?! Rigify could not do that!
  4. breasts - they move with the shoulders in a natural way
  5. better control over eyelids, for proper blink action
  6. better finger/toe master control

I would really love… some Rigify guru to help…

I would really love it, though, if I could get ahold of some Rigify guru to help port these enhancements into Rigify itself.

Seriously, people. I’ll pay you.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever do the technical work myself, even if it is kind of easy. I just don’t have the time.

The day job is pretty demanding.

The PhiloRig - Behold the Glory!

1 Just a screenshot of her rig as it is today. I use B-Bones with different X/Z sizes to make them into makeshift widgets. I probably will never make actual widgets for the bones because, again… day job takes too much time, and this is good enough for me to keep track of things.

I’ll keep open my offer to pay someone to port this into Rigify, to solve that.


Let’s Make a Huge Awesome Render!

1 Wow. Pretty cool, right?

Wait. What are those weird shadows on that one’s hand? Or growing on the other one’s arm?

Oh right. Those are their eyelashes. Flying around randomly through the scene again.

The girls themselves don’t have eyelashes. Because they’re flying around. WTF.

I just aborted ten hours of rendering, because all the renders have this problem. This is just terrible.

Not in a great mood, no.

So here is a random assortment of the ones that worked fine, because I suspect I didn’t move the rig around the scene (they’re roughly at the origin).

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You might have noticed I’ve made an Indian version of her. That’s for the Heart’s Girls artwork I’m going to do. See elsewhere on the site for what I am talking about.

Not in a terribly good mood for talking about it now, though. Just know… there are plans. If I can figure out how to work around these annoying Blender bugs.

Or, I suppose, figure out how to report them.