I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m not going to say that Gronky’s rigging process is over. It’s never over. But the rig is now fully functional, let’s put it that way.

There’ll probably be bugs to work out that will only surface during animation. Also there’s no IK controls for the hands (not that Gronky needs IK controls for his hands, he doesn’t touch anything). I’m happy to go to animation without IK-controlled hands because today, vexed by a painful shoulder injury, I decided to just downscope the hell out of the character rig and finish off the bare essentials.

1 – 7 September has been another huge week, though.

Kicking off with a major annoyance in the form of a misbehaving arm, I spent a couple of days in research mode and figured out how arms work. I ended up with a solution that uses four bones per arm – non-twisting “direction” bones leading out of the shoulder and elbow, and non-directing “twist” bones leading into the elbow and wrist. The twist bones are weighted to smoothly take effect up towards the elbow and wrist. It took a couple of tries to get it working but once I realised the trick was not to let the twist bones have ANY effect anywhere near the joints furthest from them, it got better.

In the process of gathering wisdom, I also learnt some new rigger jargon – specifically “candywrapping”. That’s when a cylindrical mesh screws up like a candy wrapper under the influence of bone twist, losing volume in the process. A common problem in the arm area, I found out.

By Saturday I’d come down with a rather evil little shoulder injury that stopped me from sitting up at my desk for too long, so I had to begin pacing myself as I continued rig-weighting vertex by vertex to fix up deformations around the elbow. It was even worse on Sunday but I soldiered on, taking frequent breaks while rig-weighting the neck, setting extra constraints to stop the rig from deforming in ways that make the mesh break, and nutting out a quick and awesome solution for giving Gronky that smooth shape he needs despite the rig weighting being all over the place.

So yeah, the rigging is about 95% done and the remaining 5% will be minor troubleshooting after I hit animation. Maybe I’ll end up building that IK system for the arm after all, but I don’t think I’ll need it.

This week’s videos:

If you’re ever in the mood to watch me make “A moment in the sun” in timelapse, non-stop, you can always check out the YouTube playlist.

Moviewise I watched David Cronenberg’s “A History Of Violence”. It was pretty great – somewhat reminiscent of other movies like “No Country For Old Men” or “Fargo” where bad things come to small town USA. I also watched Terry Gilliam’s solo debut film “Jabberwocky” which was surprisingly good – a dark cousin to “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”.

I finished the week off with a walk cycle which I posted here. It’s still not lumbering enough yet but I’m still getting to grips with animating a big heavy character. It’ll come. 🙂

Journals Stuff I made

Thinking walk

This is my thinking walk. More grotesquely exaggerated stuff.

Blender Journals Stuff I made


Still feeling a bit under the weather. The flu is now just a headache.

After having tried to make myself well with the restorative power of laughter (Futurama seasons 1 and 2), i went for something quick and cartoony. As opposed to the vast majority of CG animation, this was animated pretty much frame for frame with no automatic inbetweening.

Do other countries use the phrase “pissbolt”? Appears not. But that’s what this is. Pissbolting.

It’s not great but compared to my first run i’m seeing progress.

Blender Journals Stuff I made

Mopey walk

Here’s a mopey slightly depressed walk. For today’s session i pored over video reference for 2/3 of it, then spent the remaining 1/3 animating in fits and starts. It was worth really pounding the video reference for as long as i did because it taught me a few things about how to animate someone who’s tired.

In a nutshell it feels like tired people have much less functional motor control, and their actions are weirdly more violent and at the mercy of physics than someone who’s more alert and has more vigour in their body. A tired person will kind of fling their limbs around whereas an awake person will guide their limbs to where they need to go much more precisely. Like, the leg action of my reference walk is swing hip forward, swing lower leg forward, hover for a fraction of a second then drop the foot onto the ground, sending a shock up the body that ripples subtly up the flesh for 1/5 of a second or so. When the leg’s made contact, the knee’s pretty much locked and there’s a heap of side-to-side motion, almost like walking is balancing on poles. It’s like a Frankenstein walk, except the top of the body hangs down too.

But it wasn’t just motion analysis drawing lines on the computer; i was doing sketches of poses too, just to try to capture the physical attitude of moping. I’m bad at sketching and i was bitching about it on Twitter a lot until i had my eureka moment – stop drawing what’s in the picture, start drawing what the picture’s saying.

I like the 9B woodless pencil and smearing pen as media, too. I just hate trying to sketch from real life for the time being because i’m so bad at it. Not to worry – i have a book.

The motion analysis i did within Blender was also much better this time around – i think i found a bug as well where if you have too many grease pencil layers open, one gets shifted off the stack interface and can’t be retrieved. But yeah – lots of layers of grease pencil plus a movie clip on loop sitting behind the 3D viewport is fantastic – scribbling stick figure abstractions over video is a superb way to see what’s going on.

As for the walk itself? Pretty damn pleased with it. The sense of weight in my walks is improving even if it’s still got a long way to go, but as long as i keep at it i’ll get there.

Blender Journals Stuff I made


So i couldn’t think of what to animate today until the last minute. I went with a zombie walk because i’m feeling more comfortable with walks after having done a couple.

My animation doesn’t have a lot of weight in it yet but i feel like i’m getting better at spotting and attending to glitchiness. Everything’s still a bit stiff and weightless right now but i suspect walks show the (in)ability to convey weight in animation fairly brutally. I’ll keep at it, then.