Fastest, easiest way for character animation noob to rig baloon animal (tail, but no hands, feet, knees, elbows)


I’ve only dabbled in character animation. I have, and have used RH tools within Cinema 4d. the only other rigging I’ve done is in 2d, and don’t have time for steep learning curve.

Balloon animal is super simple. Front and back legs are tied together, so it’s essentially just one front leg, one back leg, spine, neck, head, and tail with no feet, hands, elbows, or knees.

Haven’t fired up RH in a while. Can’t remember if it has settings for non humanoids.

Is it the best tool, or should I look to something else for the simplest way to get this up and running in short order without having to dig into things I barely understand like weighting?


the easiest way… well chesee but how about the bend deformer?


Yeah, I could do it manually, and the scene is simple enough that all I really need to do is have him hop around and wag his tail… though I was hoping for some basic auto weighted behavior with head moving from body motion, etc. Maybre a way to spring delay the head from the neck or something like that. A basic bobble head thing would work here.

Also have a head I don’t want deformed… so maybe keep it outside the deformed parent, and drive it’s psr via a dummy head object within the deformed parent?

You’ve got me thinking too about doing a blend morph of sorts. Never done that before, but I’ve seen some tuts, so if he just needs a few deformations to hit a small numbrer of poses, maybe jsut put them into a morph so I can keyframe the specific poses? I think that’s how it works from what I’'ve seen anyway.

Any auto-rig situations well suited to the simplified non-humanoid case?


Can’t picture the model. Can you provide an illustration file?



I’d be happy to be a bit of a travelling partner with you on your rigging objectives. I am taking the day off from my database work and this is an area I have wanted to explore more.

I’ve done very little character work but am happy to try a bit today. Perhaps we can share some notes along the way.

Here is what I can tell you:
Primary tools for you to consider:

-Joint chain. A simple chain can be applied to manipulate just about anything. You might want to start by just adding a joint chain to a row of polygons to get the feel for it.

-You will want to be familiar with using the following deformers: Bend, Jiggle, Twist, SplineWrap, FFD, Twist, Collision…and maybe a little bulge, taper, shear and smooth. Cineversity has a nice new series on all the deformers. It’s lightweight consumption.

C4d has pre-built rigging templates for bipeds, birds, insects, etc.

Training Resources:
Tim Clappham is a highly esteemed trainer and he has a Rigging Course. I’ve gone through some of it. This course isn’t focused on character rigging, but on rigging in general. Paid course here.

One guy who does a lot of c4d character rigging and also a lot of FREE tutorials is Vozz. Vozz also has some free rigged models and some modestly priced one as well. You might opt to adapt something he has set up.

The thing to remember is…even if you build a perfect rig you still have to animate it…which with tons of keyframes can get quite time-consuming. So you might want to see if you can find a suitable MoCap file. Alternatively you can create animation cycles that can be looped.

MoCap training:


I haven’t created it yet, but it’s a just a straight forward balloon dog. Her’s a similar example I found online:

I may or may not actually tie the feet together, but I need to get it done quicly, and the added detail of legs moving independently isn’t necessary. Really just need to give the slightest hint that it’s alive, so hopping, tail wasgging, and minor head tuns should do it.


Reaching overload on projects to be cleared, so really trying to keep this bit as basic as possible. I forgot about the built in rigs. Might need to take a look there, though I’m starting to think basic deformations might be enough. Actually might be more accurate as moving a leg of an actual balloon animal would necessarily bend the base of the spine, etc.

All the other info is good stuff, and items I will no doubt dig into for more advanced projects when time permits, but the more I think through this one, the more I’m drawn to the basic deformer approach. Familiar with half that you mentioned. Will look into the others. No sub at cineversity, but will check out available deformer vids.

I’m using some mocap stuff for another character (Mixamo), but that one is already rigged, and this one just needs a hint of being more than a still object.

I don’t know much about morphs, but my gut is telling me at this point to look into creating a few basic poses via deformers and just keyframing a few morphs between them. I think I’ve seen a tut somewhere that did it that way.


Your balloon dog should be simple (smart) as there aren’t many joints to fuss with.


If you want coffee break viewing…here’s 90 seconds of aspirational overview on a couple sweet c4d rigs:


Nice. Looks like the kind of thing I’d rig together if I had a LOT more time to do so. Actually, my original idea for this circus character was to have him riding a comically tiny tricycle, but I just don’t have time to work it out, so decided sticking his head on a balloon animal got the absurdity across with much less fuss.

I started out thinking maybe there’s just an auto rig thing with a tail I could stick him into, but now that I think it through, a balloon dog wouldn’t articulate at the joint so much as deform at the joint since each section is pressed up against the next deforming each other. Really doing it right might involve bones and soft body inflation, but for my comic purposes, I should be able to look into some basic deformation morphs to get the general idea across.

Any particular favorite tuts or other resources that touch on using morphs in this way? Any key terms I should look out for?


EyeDesyn has a couple a morph tut that might be helpful. Older but still very relevant. The character he uses reminds me of your project here.

If you go back to videos he published in the same time frame you might find others that help. I think he does one where he just uses a couple of deformers.


Ahh… I think that’s the one I glanced at a while back that I ccouldn’t remember the details of. Pose Morph. That’s the term I was trying to remember.

I generally relate to the way he thinks, so should be a good fit. He does have an uncanny knack for making the exact thing I need.

Bookmarked to view as soon as I wrap current sub-project.



RE: reference image.
It’s a typical quadruped without the foot roll. You should just get by with IK or IK-spline (bendy) depending the story board you are going for.


I’ve messed with a few IK rigs before, but had never heard of IK spline. Will need to look it up.

It’s actually even simpler than a quadruped since I’m sticking with typical balloon animal anatomy meaning the feet are tied together… so it’s effectively just one front leg, and one back leg.


Actually Mate quite the opposite is true.

I work with alot of Mocap Data via Iclone pro’s Excellent retargeting system ,which is on par with Autodesk Motionbuilder.

Mocap Data will always Have a key for every single frame
as opposed to hand keyed animation which will only have frames at …well “Key” points in the timeline of the parameter being animated such as this Daz female’s “fear” facial morph I hand keyed at frame #75 in Daz studio.

However C4D ,like all modern animation systems, has a very decent key frame reducer function to get Mocap Data keys down to a Managable level for editing.

Also if the OP rigs his own character he wont be able to Find an exiisting mocap file that will match his custom bone naming and rotational order.

Particularly for a non biped “balloon animal” with a tail that need to be animated as well so IMHO hand keying such a rig will likely be his least frustrating course in this instance at least.


Do you need to bend the baloons? Or can they be stiff?


Not particularly picky here… but now that I think it through bending probably works better because they are deformed by each other, so bending allows simple deformations on static geometry whereas if they were all stiff and just rotated at joints or something like that, they’d come apart and cross over each other, so one way or another, they need to deform.



Given that he wasn’t using a standard biped…you are right re. mocap.


I’ve got two characters in this project. The other is humanoid, and uses mocap in some scenes, and RH tools IK rig in others. Took me a while to learn to work with, though (Still working out some of the details for stringing together and retiming mocap).

Morphing deformations looks good for this one as I look into it.


I’ll be curious about your impressions on RH tools.