Animation in Blender
This article covers rigging and animating a model in Blender for export with the Blender SMD Tools. It assumes you are familiar with using Blender to create meshes. See Exporting a model/Blender for general exporting help.
Creating an armature
"Armature" is Blender's term for a skeleton.
- If you aren't in , select it from the bar at the bottom of the 3D View.
- Add a new armature with + > .
- To prevent the mesh hiding your bones, go to , find the Display panel, and enable the "X-Ray" option.
with . This is where you will edit the bones in the armature.
- To add bones, use + (add a new root), (extrude from the selected bone/bones), or + (create a new bone where you click).
- To move one end of a bone while leaving the other in place, select one of its connector spheres.
- To rename a bone, go to . To have Blender label bones in the 3D view, go to , find the Display panel and enable "Names".
In Blender, the link between mesh and bones is called a "skin". The Blender SMD Tools support three methods of creating one:
If your model is made up of rigid components, you can create it as a collection of separate objects and then parent each one to a bone.
- Enter and select the bone you want.
- Select your mesh, then use to multi-select the armature.
- Press + and choose "Bone".
You can also set a bone parent via the Relations panel of.
Modifiers affect objects without altering their underlying data, and thecauses a mesh to be deformed by the pose of an armature. To add an one, select your mesh and go to .
The armature modifier can work in one or both of the following ways:
This is the easiest way to skin an organic mesh. Each bone automatically projects an "envelope" of influence, and by repositioning them and changing their Radius a fairly good skin can be created.
- To change a bone's Radius, enable Envelope display from then select its connector and scale it ( ) as you would an object.
A "weight map" defines how much influence each bone has over each vertex's position (an envelope or bone parent simply generates one for you). If a vertex is weighted 50% to two bones, then the associated bones each have 50% control over it during animation.
In Blender, a Mesh's weightmap is defined bywith names matching bones on an associated Armature. The weightmaps of other object types cannot be directly edited.
Managing Vertex Groups:
- Blender can generate and populate vertex groups automatically: select your Mesh, then your Armature, then hit + and choose the appropriate option from underneath "Armature Deform". You can do this at any time, but if an Armature Modifier already existed remember to remove the new one from !
- To create or destroy groups manually, enter and go to the Vertex Groups panel in .
Assigning to Vertex Groups:
- Select your object and enter mode.
- Choose a Vertex Group either with + , which will offer a list of nearby bones, or from the Vertex Groups panel of .
- Paint! You can control the brush settings from the Tool Shelf on the left side of the 3D View. If it isn't visible, press
- You can also manually assign weights from the Vertex Groups panel while in .
In Blender, animations are stored in. You can store any number in the same file but the UI for managing them is poor.
- To manage Actions, install the Blender SMD Tools and use the new "SMD Export" panel in .
- To edit an Action, enter , select the bones you want to animate and use to create a keyframe for the first frame of your animation. Then change to another frame with the arrow keys or and create more keyframes.
For general help with the process of animating, see:
- The official Blender docs
- Noesis' Animation with the Softimage/XSI 6 MOD Tool video tutorial (which mostly discusses the universal principles of keyframe animation)
Blender cannot currently associate more than one Action with an Armature, making batch exporting from busy .blend files tricky.
The SMD Tools overcome this as best they can by supporting the export of a filtered list of all Actions in the .blend, as well as of the active Action. You can configure this from the SMD Export panel of(which starts off as the last panel in the list but can be dragged higher).
To export Actions from an Armature, select it and run the "SMD Export" operator from either:
- The search box ( )
- The SMD Export panel of or
- The menu