Tadaa! G jumps off a tree

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Like a muppet, I again added more than one complication with my next attempt at animation. I’ve kept the PitchiPoy Rigify script, but spent some time bulking my figure model up to match the older child, and adjusting the rigging and edge loops for improved deformation (I think it’s improved, although it’s certainly not 100%).

Bald figfure standing on a logThe biggest new feature, though, is: HAIR! My subject was not impressed that she’s still bald, so I thought I’d just quickly build a simple, non-deforming “hat” of hair.

What I quickly did was to get frustrated with my attempts to build hair, and out of curiosity turned to tutorials on creating locks of hair with B├ęzier curves. Kent Trammell has a good CGCookie tutorial up on YouTube that has everything you need. I spent far too much time for the result, but certainly learned from the experience!

Another detail I couldn’t help adding was some “soft-body” physics simulation for the ponytail. At this point it’s rudimentary.

I felt as though my animation learning curve plateaued a bit on this one; I thought it would be an easy clip to bash out because so much of it is just arm rotations, but that motion had a lot of subtle individual motions in it that I couldn’t help chasing, and they really need more polish to really get across.

Now I know how to pin a jellylike ponytail on a donkey, though (even if I haven’t quite got the parameters tuned on the soft-body modifier).

I’ve made some notes on the animation workflow, over at chrisnicoll.net.

Second animation in Blender

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I have a video of the kids doing some interpretive dance to The Fox, and it’s packed with comedy gold. It also has a lot of variation in movements, good to study. Here’s an artist’s interpretation of how a few seconds of that went.

This time I corrected one of the errors I made in my first animation attempt: I chose a much shorter sequence to animate. I made plenty of new misjudgments to counter that, though. I should have thrown together a character mesh and let it deform however it wanted to; instead I let myself get distracted in trying to understand the flow of edges. With moderate success.

I also spent some time putting the action in a room with a TV and other objects, and making lamps. I’d planned to leave the couch as a rectangular prism, but this was annoying one of my kids. I should have told her to be happy she has a real couch to jump off of in real life and to leave my virtual boxcouch alone. But instead, I modelled a couch. Luckily for me, she isn’t feeling claustrophobic about that windowless room. Windows and curtains are not on my immediate list of things to practice in Blender.

After all that I was able to get down to work moving the character around. I don’t know if I really convincingly captured the near-miss with the desktop, but it makes me laugh, so I’m reasonably happy. Yes, the toes are still poking into the floor occasionally. Just imagine there’s a carpet there, with a really high pile.

I wrote a little more about the rigging, specifically the foot controls in the PitchiPoy version of the Rigify script.