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This course provides an overview of modeling, animating, and rendering 3D graphics in the open-source software Blender 2.6. Beginning with a tour of the Blender interface, author George Maestri shows how to create and edit basic objects, work with modifiers and subdivision surfaces, and apply materials and textures. The course also demonstrates lighting 3D scenes, setting up and using cameras, animating objects, and assembling basic character rigs.
Facial animation is just one component of building a character and rigging him. That shape animation really doesn't affect things like the arms, the legs, and the body. For that, we really need an armature. Now, armatures are basically like bone systems that go through your character and allow you to deform the character by moving the bones. Now, before we actually fit an armature to this character, let's go through some of the basics of armatures so that way we really understand what we're working with before we proceed.
So I'm going to take this little character that we have and I'm just going to go ahead and hide him by clicking on this little eye icon in the viewport. And let's just do a quick look at how armatures work. I'm going to go into a front orthographic viewport and under my Add menu, I'm going to select armature. Now, armatures and bones in Blender are a little bit different than the ones you find in other packages such as Maya or 3ds Max.
Everything stems from a single bone, so when you create an armature you're basically creating a single bone and then growing that bone into your character. So let's take a look at the basics of a bone. We have three modes for an armature. We have Object mode, which is the object itself, and that way I can move it in space. Then we have Edit mode, and this is for creating the armature in the character.
In other words, this is where you actually build your skeleton for your character, and this allows you to go into each bone and find individual parts of that bone and work with them. Then finally, we have what's called Pose mode, and this is where we actually do animation. But right now we're going to kind of hang out in Edit mode, and so let's go into this and see what we have. Now, each bone has a base, a body, and the tip.
Now if you select the body, you can move the whole bone in Edit mode. If you select the tip or the base, you can position that bone. Now under the Properties panel we do have an option for Armature, and we also have an option for each individual bone. Right now, let's take a look at the Armature panel. We do have a couple of Display options. By default, it sets it to this octahedral display, which is pretty much what you would expect from any type of bone.
These look very similar to the bones in other packages. We can also display the bones in Sticks, as Box Bones, Envelopes. Now this is actually very important because you can actually see what parts of the mesh each bone is affecting using this mode. Or we have Wire, which is a very light way of seeing it. Now if you want, you can click on names for the bones. You can show the axes of each individual bone, and that can be very important for things such as seeing which axes you need to rotate.
If you want, you can also turn on X-Ray mode, and what that does is it allows you to see the bones through the skin of the character. And then if you want, you can do Delay Refresh. Now sometimes if you have a complex character, it's going to try to refresh the deformation of the mesh while you pose a character and that can slow you down, and this will give you a little bit faster interaction so you pose the skeleton and then the character will snap to skeleton. Now in addition to this, we can group bones. We have Pose Libraries, which we'll get into, and we can do Ghosting when we get into animation.
Now that we understand the components of a bone, let's show you how to actually build those into a skeleton. We actually do it by using Armature tools here. Now, if you notice, we actually have some modeling tools for our bones. One is Extrude, another is Subdivide. So if we want to, we can actually extrude bones. I'm going to go back into my front viewport here, and let's go ahead and hit Extrude, and when you do, you can see how this bone actually extrudes.
So if I want a bone on top of this one, I can simply extrude it. And if I want, I can extrude it again, and so this is how we create a chain of bones. If we want, we can also subdivide bones. So I can right-click on the body of a bone and subdivide it, and I can move that subdivision as well. So if I want to reposition bones, I can do that. And again, the tip of the bone defines where it's positioned. So if you select the tip of the bone underneath, it will go ahead and scale underneath, so you can see that.
Now, if we want to create trees of bones we can do that. We can select the bone here and extrude to one side or the other. So I can extrude out this way, hit Extrude again, and extrude out this way. It's very similar to 3D modeling. And again, each one of these has a name associated with it, and it's all located underneath this Armature object in the Outliner.
So if we scroll down and select the armature, you'll see that we can select each individual bone. If we want, we can Ctrl+Left-click on these to give them a name, so we can just type in a new name if we want. So these tools allow us to literally grow a skeleton for our characters. We're going to start with a single bone and then extrude, subdivide, and add additional bones to create the skeletons that our characters need.
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