Body Articulation, The Art of Moving Points.



I have a site that might help people get started in the art side of rigging and is starting to take shape, not a lot of written detail yet. Mostly eye candy but I think it still
can help people learn. After I finish the Art side to the body (which is mostly what is up now) I plan to start defining why the body is articulated this way. It is just one method of many out there so it might not work for some. The style of my work is Off the Fence style and not ment to be a true repersentation of reality. This site is not software specific and will not have any rigging info, just the art side. I hope to improve the flow of the pages as I move along.

The main page:

Some motion:




Thanks for taking the time to put such an awesome site together.


i understand that the whole website is modeller-oriented, but still, could you give some information on what kind of software you used to rig the examples and what kind of technique you’re using to keep volume and shape? bones? morphs? shoulder area looks really awesome in down-forward-up-back cycle.


Great stuff! Really impressive deformations, look forward to the next update :smiley:

Regards, Otto


This is going to be a good resource, but would be even better if you included skinning theory and added the basic joints needed for good deformations. By using your 5 span theory, you could demonstrate the average weight percentages that are assigned to the different joints. Perhaps you are planning for that in the future, but if not then add it because it will really help to get Modelers and riggers to see eye to eye.

Another useful section that you could add would be lo-res modeling for games. Even though the systems are getting more and more sophisticated, it is still important to understand lo-res modeling because a modeler won’t be adding as much unnecessary geometry.



Yes, this can be done in any animation package that has a bone system and lets you attatch a morph target befor the bone rotates. But as they start to add up it helps to have code to help manage your

They are just morph targets going on/off to show how much I am sculpting and how much is moving by the bone itself.

One of the biggest thing that I will be writing (On my page soon) about is why things are broken up the way they are. With this type of set up I am trying to isolated the motion of complex areas (like the Neck/Shoulder/Arm, Hips/Legs/Torso) so when you animate three or more controls you get the correct looking shape. No sure if that is a good explanation?

You can see this in the arm that I articulated ( ). While I am working on the arm motion I try to isolate the movement knowing that the shoulder is going to carry a lot of it too. That is why the arm Front/Back and Left/Right look odd at first, but when you add in the shoulder movement ( ) they start to look and feel correct.

One of the things that I had to over come while articulating characters here at work, is to throw out the restriction that our real bones and moments have. I know the arm it’s self cannot rotate up 90 degree’s without the shoulder moving up with it, but I needed to think/retrain myself that it can. By restricting the motion to isolated areas really helps the different morph targets play nice together.

Here is another example. Take a look at the Torso bending over forward to 90 degrees ( ).
This is similar to the arm going up a full 90 with out moving the shoulder. For this character I am splitting up the motion of the spine into four parts. The Hips, Torso, Chest and Upper Chest. They can look odd by themselves but when I animate this character bending forward I will be using all four of the spine controls to achieve a pose ( ).



Ah hippydrome.You took my advice from another thread and posted your site link.What a terrific resource you’re putting together here.Great stuff.As i mentioned on the other thread. The best i’ve seen(when it’s completed)since the Jeff Unay siggraph paper from way back.:applause:


Thanks for sharing it, Awesome!!


Awesome site. Are you going to go further into the creation of deformations and set up to see how good edge flow matches with good skinning and deformation?


Impressive tanks alot fpr sharing.

breal true especific movements and showing the topology that mathc nicely the movement is great , thanks alot for sharing with the comunity and sharing with the comunity.

Really apreciated.


Great stuff, nice shoulder deformation. I think this is a good resource for beginner or people to give them a reference on the body articulation. Thanks for sharing.



Yes, this is mostly going to be a reference site for HiRes Modeling and Articulating.

Are you going to go further into the creation of deformations and set up to see how good edge flow matches with good skinning and deformation?

Yes, but all the body stuff is just a rotation with a morph target fired befor or after the bone rotaion. So I do plane on talking about the different Fall Offs that you can use on the raw rotation ( what the bone moves). There are so many ways to do this but I switch between a coulple that seem to work for me and plan on showing some.
There are mane different approachs to the way that a bone Falls Off but this is just what seems to work for me. Might not work for everyone. I will try to explain why the lines on the mesh are the way they are. For this web site my character has a simple body mesh design. In production, I follow a few of these rules but I kill a edge where ever I can and do not worry about loops and where it dies. But there a rule for that too, which I also plan on showing. My production ways and my personal ways can very a lot but I stay to some basic loops and kill designs that are common in all my models. If I see some new loop or kill design that looks articulatable, I try it out and if it works better, I change and adapt that into my skill set. Produciton meshes can look really ugly some times but render fine in Renderman.

I hope to upload the rest of the Spine sections Front/Back and Left/Right up this weekend.




This is really great. And I really love your ideas for articulation. It makes great sense to me. Thanks for sharing it.


Hi again!

Looked at the “fall of in motion” for the shoulder and I´m wondering; What is the reason for adding weights to the shoulder-joint(s) under the arm(armpit)? Since you correct it with blendshapes later.

// Otto


Hi Otto,

Looked at the “fall of in motion” for the shoulder and I´m wondering; What is the reason for adding weights to the shoulder-joint(s) under the arm(armpit)? Since you correct it with blendshapes later.

// Otto

That is a good ?. I add this in the bone movement because the target would be a liner motion if I did’nt have the pt.s move on the bone arc. I look at it as the animator would, every thing is moving on an arc. By adding weights to the bone movement the less likey you can spot the liner change.




That makes alot of sense, thanks.



Update the Torso section.

and the look of one of the opening pages.

I hope to get to the legs this weekend or so.




good stuff, keep it going!

Just few quick questions, is your clavicle bone = shoulder bone? Also, I see that you use a lot of corrective shape, is there a reason not using extra muscle bone? and is that how Pixar rig most of their organic characters? and dose that get you better result? Thanks!


i presume this technique still gets most of what can be done with classic skinning techniques (including twist bones and stuff). the less shape tweaking needed to be done via correctives, the better the result.



The shoulder motion is the whole shoulder action and rotates from the clavicle. But it is not set in stone. Some chars have the rotaion pt. in a different spot.

is there a reason not using extra muscle bone?

Not sure what this means.?

The arm is broken up into four parts on this char. The shoulder,arm,elbow and hand, each with its own blend shape for the forward/back and left/right motion. Some times for the Twist.

and dose that get you better result?

It gets the results that I need for the type of look that I am going for and is a very fast way for me to get there. It takes about a hard week to make this char body to come to life at this quality. The hands and face are the other two parts that take longer. This is a off the fence type character and is not trying to be a FX type human. This body is also ment to have cloth over it so you only need so much to get the illusion of bone/muscle movement under the cloth.