Feature suggestion: 'Armature Empties'

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Feature suggestion: 'Armature Empties'

Post by matt_e »

One of the things that annoy me about the current armature system is that in order to use pose mode etc, you must use bones for your trackto targets and IK solver points. This can get quite confusing as when you look at your armature, you end up with a whole mess of bones that all look the same, and especially in complex rigs, it gets very difficult to figure out what are the bones in the skeleton, and what are the controllers you should be moving around to pose your character.

I propose a new type of armature object that is part of an armature, but is just used as an 'empty' - it can't be used as a bone in a link itself, but can be used for constraints. This would make it much easier to find and select your controllers when posing a rig. It would be pretty much the same as using standard empties for your trackto targets etc, however these can only be used within an armature for that purpose. Here's a very rough concept 'sketch' I quickly drew up to try and explain what I mean.

Current armature system: using bones as controllers

Proposed addition: using 'Armature empties' as controllers

The second picture is a lot less confusing, especially if you have a very complex rig. Anyone know how difficult it would be to implement this? (I'm not a programmer)


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Post by soletread »

I totally agree with you. Although the latest version of Blender has had some upgrades to the armature system. Quite welcome ones, like sliders for constraint levels etc. For the first time I have been able to do a centre of gravity for characters.

I still think it would be great to impliment your idea. If you have a fast computer you could hide all the bones except the ones to manipulate with. But then you would have to have your mesh visible also, which is not really an option on a slow machine.

Wish list:
1) Rotate limits
2) Proportional rotation up a bone hierarchy
3) Colour coding


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armature empties

Post by soul_crash »

when blender still had those weird IKAs you could parent empties to them and do all kinds of stuff. really doubled the functionality. they should just bring back the IKAs so one can use either that or the armatures. or both!

your idea is awesome though. ^_^

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Post by Pablosbrain »

You can parent empties to the armatures as they are now... they are much more functional than the old way. But I agree... I like the idea of having some part of an armature system that could also be used as the targets...

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Post by Apollux »

I agree... and here is a work-around I use.

1.- Put a IK-Solver constraint from the bone to the empty (nothing new here)

2.- Create another bone inside the armature.... this new bone isn't the child of anybody.

3.- Put a Copy-Location constraint to the empty. It should copy the location of the new bone.

4. Hide constrained bone from step 1 and put the empty on an invisible layer... all that is left visible is the new bone from step 2.

Now, it may seem like you have acomplished nothing by all this. But take a look again... it certanly look more clean now that when you used bones as targets for IK-solvers. And now that you can animate the influences of any constrain you can use the empty like a separate object (by using influence = 0 on the Copy-Location) or like a member of the armature (influence = 1).
Last edited by Apollux on Wed Mar 19, 2003 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by kaktuswasser »

that would INDEED be good.. I'd recommend these nurbish-spheres thingies like in all the other apps..

cya henrik

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Post by Hos »

I think an armature should be a general
container for all sorts of interesting objects:
bones, bezier curves, twisty type things
(akin to the way you can twist a knot in a path),
and manipulation objects (which might include
empties, among other things).

Please note that you can hide bones in edit mode
as of blender 2.25, which might help reduce the

I should also note that the use of regular empties
as targets should probably be discouraged
(empties don't work in the action window).


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Post by Apollux »

Hos wrote: I should also note that the use of regular empties
as targets should probably be discouraged
(empties don't work in the action window).

If you do as I posted you will get your empties working in the action window because they are constrained to bones that you CAN set actions for. Have done it a lot of times, allways works.

Of course this is a somehow complicated work-around, if they include 'animation empties' things would go way more smoother.

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Post by sten »

Sorry for digging up this topic up ;)

but I wonder if there is any development on this part at all,
would be interesting...

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other ways

Post by solmax »

why do that? since NLA is available for all kinds of objects you can use regular empties for all kinds of objects. for those who only use 2.25 for any reason, here a quick and production proved workaround:

- have your skeleton
- make another armature: create small bones where you'd like to have emties for IK control or whatever
- in the main skeleton using posemode select the bone you wish to apply a constraint and assign a bone from your helper-armature as IK target.(in "OBJECT" type in the name of the helper armature, then an additional field pops up underneath where you can type in the name of a bone from that armature).

this way you simply animate with your control armature and can hide the actual skeleton.

i dont' think it's necessary to mess up armatures with all kinds of gizmos and helper objects, rather speed up deformation and and get state of the art with rotation limits and such - it's all being discussed before, I think the developers have a clear view on what has to be done here.

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Post by Hos »

No empties, only lucky charms:



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