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File: rigging.jpg (552 KB, 1365x948)
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What are the blue things on the right image that look like empty objects?

How do we call them?
How do we make them?
What are they for? If their purpose is animating vertex groups, why not do it just with bones?

Any links to videos explaining that?
custom bone shapes for better selection and posing. They are simple vertex meshes (the rigger has to make then by himself) set to world origin position and hidden on some unused layer.
Somewhere in the bones panel you can change the appearence of a bone to any other shape you've created in the scene. This way you can select the bones better and by giving it a special form you can better recognize it's movement direction or function.
This is especially usefull when someone else is making the animation than the rigger. He can see rightaway which bone does what without having to examine the rig itself.
I get it. And what is the purpose on the big circle with arrows on the floor?
It's a whole body controller, you move the whole character with it.
Another anon here. I have heard that whenever possible that bone (the root) shouldn't be animated or moved at all. Why is that?
Alright anon let me help you out.
These are controls that your joints are parented to. The reason we use these is so we don't have to put keyframes on the actual joints because that would be very limited and causes problems.

1. These round circle controls are pretty straight forward most of the time. They control the body part that they surround. That's also why they are shaped that way.
2. This is the elbow vector. The elbow always points towards where this control is.
3. Probably the main body control, it's shaped differently to be easily distinguishable from the other controls
4. This is the heel control, it's a control that allows you to raise your heel while the foot actually stays in place. This is not a crucial control but generally makes your life easier because you don't have to counter animate the foot position.
5. this is the main foot control, if you move this one you also move the heel and toe controls.
6.This is the Global control. This control is parent over all other controls and is used to conveniently position and scale your rig in the world. You don't use this for animating, unless you work on games with stationary animation.
7. These are the knee vectors, the knees will always point towards where these are located.

It can be moved, scaled and rotated and all other controls will follow. It's to conveniently place your character in the scene before you start animating. You don't put animation on this control.

Any more questions?
File: cute.png (484 KB, 1365x948)
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Numbers correspond with this image
Thanks anon, that's crystal clear!

So, if I understand correctly, all of these controls are empties shapes replacing the real bones (as first anon said) except the elbows and knees vector (2 and 7) that are empties with a Track to constraint so that elbows and knees can look at them.

Also what kind of problems could keyframing the joints bring? Any examples?
other anon, they don't replace the bones, the control them. Think of them as the strings of a puppet
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I meant replaced with a custom shape (like in pic). Or are the bones still there but hidden??
you're welcome!

The bones(we call them joints) are still there but like you say invisible. They are controlled by the controls, so lets say I rotate my control the corresponding joint will move with it.

The "emptie shapes" are simple curves/lines which you can draw in any shape you want.

>Also what kind of problems could keyframing the joints bring? Any examples?

I'm not sure if I can explain this very clearly but I'll give it a try.

Joints are chained in hierarchy and they sort of have a special system to them.
Their position parameters they have are basedn the distance they have from the joint before them in the hierarchy and not based on world space. You can't freeze transform joints either(this means setting it's position parameters to 0 even though it's not really at 0 in the 3D world.)

The main practical problem that this creates is that when you've moved your rig around it's almost impossible to move it back to it's original shape.
When building a rig you make sure that when you move every control to 0 it's back to default. Because joints almost always have some position value to them this is not possible.
You can rotate/move all bones back to their rest positions by selecting them and pressing ALT+R or ALT+G.
Also I am not shure if Blender uses the modern joint system. I think Blender still uses traditional bones.

>what kind of problems could keyframing the joints bring?

Well, there is the notorious gimball lock, where in certain situations your character instead of moving his arm in a straight fashion he rather performs a magic dance.

And there is that squishing/twisting of geometry that occur when bones are rotated too much. You can avoid it by activating 'preserve volume' to some degree. Otherwise you'd need dual quaternions implemented, of which Blender sadly has none.
But... you can activate B-Bones. They can be subdivided into segments with an ease in and ease out option. This way you can avoid geometry squishing as well.
Tried ALT+R and ALT+G, no results.

Gimball lock occurs when using controls as well though

The main reason you want controls for your joints is so that you can build more advanced rigs. Build IK/switches and put parameters on the controls etc.
Controls parented to the joints. Animators would shoot you in the face if they had to animate the bones directly. They also hate it when you just add attributes for face rigs. Lazy rigging 101

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