In This Chapter
Making shape keys
Taking advantage of hooks
Working with armatures to control characters
Building a simple character rig
When it comes to character animation, a character is often a single seamless mesh. This makes it virtually impossible to animate that character with any detailed movement using the object animation techniques in Chapter 10. I mean, you can move the whole character mesh at once from one location to another, but you can't make the character smile or wriggle her toes or even bend her arms. You could break the mesh apart and use a complex set of parenting and constraints, but then you lose the nice seamless nature of the mesh.
What you really want to do is find ways to animate specific parts of the mesh in a controlled way without tearing the mesh apart. To do that, you need to create a rig for your character. A rig is an underlying structure for your mesh that allows you to control how it moves. It's an integral part of modern computer animation and, if it's done well, it makes the life of an animator monumentally easier. Think about it like turning your 3D mesh into a remote control puppet. This chapter explains the various tools and techniques used to create rigs. Then you can create a rig for nearly any object in Blender and have a blast animating it.
If your mesh, whether it's a character or a tree or a basketball, is to be animated in a detailed way, it has to deform from ...