Rigging is the process of creating a simple “controller” object to deform another, more complicated one.
In Blender, the “controller” is called an armature (sometimes also referred to as “skeleton”). It can control either:
- the shape (geometry) of meshes, lattices, curves, surfaces, texts, or
- the properties (position, rotation, scale) of any objects.
So we will first talk about armatures themselves, their structure, how to edit them, etc.
Bones, Skinning, Posing
Armatures basically mimic a skeleton, both in structure and behavior, so they are made of bones!
These are the key feature: you can “link” different objects, or different parts of an object’s shape, to each bone, and then moving these bones only affect the relevant object/shape part. For all this to be possible, besides of the standard Object mode and Edit mode, armatures have an extra Pose mode.
We will see how to “link” objects or object’s shape to armature’s bones, the so-called skinning process.
And finally, we will see how to actually deform/transform the objects with armature’s bones – the posing process.
Static vs. animated armatures
As an imitation of a real life skeleton, armatures are mainly designed to animate characters. However you can use them exactly as other deforming or transforming tools, like modifiers, constraints, etc. to pose a mesh for static renders.
As animating armatures is not much different than other animation techniques (i.e. you animate armature’s bones), we won’t talk about this topic here: their few specificities are addressed in the animation chapter.
Rigging is a very big topic, with quite complex features and interactions between them. In the tutorial section you will find some examples that should help you to learn it, and discover advanced rig designs, especially with this BSoD tutorial.