Add a “Working animation”


Up to here we have made our self comfortable with the tools. Now we will go into animation. Yes, you read correct, we now are animating the Tank-Top. that is, we make it move along with the Avatar bone movements.

The most complicated part of the Tank-top animation is the area around the shoulders, that is the straps (there are 3 bones involved here).

Lets rotate the collar bone and the shoulder bone such that the avatar raises the arm up into the air. (You rotate bones by right clicking them, then press “r” on the keyboard and move the mouse) Now you already can see, we have issues:

The tank-top distorts!

Important: While you can pose the bones in weight Paint mode, it is better to get out of of here for a minute, switch back to Object mode and select the Armature. You will see in the next step how this is fortunate.


Distortions show up when arms are moved straight up

Hint: always rotate your bones along one of the axes. Best is to keep in front view, or side view when you pose the bones. Or use the axis constraints together with the rotate function, like: “r x” to rotate around the x axis for example.

Store the Pose into the Timeline

Before we go on, let us store this pose in the timeline. The timeline is a separate window, normally at the bottom of the Blender screen. In the timeline you can “store” poses of your animation at different times.

Right now the timeline should be set to frame 1 and it spans over 250 frames in total:


We store the pose as follows:

  • Select both bones, mCollarLeft and mShoulderLeft
  • Now while the mouse hovers above the 3D view, press “i”
  • From the popup menu (see image) select “Rotation”

Now the pose is “keyframed” to frame 1, that is whenever we move the timeline to frame 1, the just stored pose gets displayed.


key types (OpenSim and similar worlds only support Rotation)

Note: We are key framing the Armature here. That’s the reason why we stepped out of weight Paint mode and made the armature the active Object. If we had kept in weight paint mode, we would have attempted to keyframe the Tank-Top, which is not what we want here.

Note: Actually the first keyframe makes this pose static along the entire timeline range, so regardless where you place the timeline, the pose remains as it is. But see next…

Add a secnd keyframe

  • Now let us move the timeline to somewhere around frame 60.
  • And then repose the arm to point straight downwards.
  • And when you are satisfied with the pose, do another keyframe just as before: select the affected bones (shoulder and collar), press “i” and select “Rotation”.

Now we have added a secnd pose to the timeline. And the good news is that blender automatically calculates the transition between the 2 poses while you move the timeline between the 2 keys. Note that the neutral T-Pose is somewhere along frame 30.

So we no longer need to frequently grab the bones and rotate them into different poses. Now we have a whole range of poses which we can use and reproduce easily just by scrubbing along the timeline. So we can inspect nicely how the distortions on the mesh evolve with the pose changes.


Adding the T-Pose and a Marker

Lets add one more keyframe on frame 30 to have a defined location for the T-Pose:

  • Move the Timeline to frame 30
  • put the skeleton into T-Pose (ALT +r will reset all rotations of the selected bones)
  • Press “i” and keyframe Rotation (Mouse in 3D View)
  • Press “m” to set a marker (Mouse in Timeline)
  • Marker -> Rename marker  and enter “T-Pose” or whatever you prefer as label.

Note: You do not need to add markers and labels. this is just a convenient way to remember what happens in the Timeline. You can set up as many markers and keyframes as you like.

Hint: Remove a key by pressing ALT + i  while you are in the frame from which you want to delete the key.