Cinema 4D Tutorial – Rigging a Simple Character Easily with FFD Rigs


everybody it’s EJ from I design calm and in today’s tutorial I’m gonna show you one of the easiest waves you can rig up a simple object by using what’s called an FFD rig let’s check it out alright so here we have mr. toast and basically this is a very simple character as you can see no limbs or anything like that but what we’re gonna do is use what’s called an FFD rig to rig this guy up so we can kind of combine a abend a bulge and a twist to form our all-in-one using that ffd okay so let’s just go ahead and cover what an FFD is to go to the de forma menu and we go to FFT what it stands for is freeform deformer and basically what this is is just a bounding box where if you position this to encompass your geometry so I’m just gonna move this in place we’re gonna go to my for up view I’m also going to adjust the grid size here that’s gonna control the size of this FFT bounding box in the XY and Z and basically what I want to make sure I’m doing is encompassing all of the geometry that I want to deform or you know any any geometry that’s that’s part of your character or the object you wanted to form and fit it inside this bounding box and you don’t want too much slack you want to have this be flush up against your object you want to make sure that none of your character or the objects are outside of this bounding box if that’s the case and you have objects outside the bounding box causes all types of issues and and it won’t actually the freeform to form and want to form anything outside of it so very important and basically how the freeform two former works is just like any other deform or where for it to deform an object or set of objects we need to place that ffd or that deform ER in the same level of hierarchy as the objects you wanted to form so I have this toast group null and under that and all I have the mouth the eyes in the subdivision surface that has the little toast body here okay so what I’m gonna do now is go into point mode and here you can manipulate the points on this 50 if I select this top right point and move this around you can see that because my FFT is in the same level of hierarchy as all these objects it’s deforming all of these objects as one kind of mesh here which is really cool so if I go ahead and undo that grab my rectangular selection by hit hitting zero and if I want to select all of these points here and move it up and down you can see all right I’m deforming my character if I rotate this I’m you know animating this character as well so basically what you could do is just kind of rotate and select these points and really get some really cool character animation like I said this is like a twist and a bend deformer and even like a squash and stretch to former all in one what I’m gonna do is just go ahead and undo all those all those little edits there but the problem is is to get that nice animation you have to keyframe all these groups of points on this FFT and that’s just not an efficient way to work because basically what you need to do is go into point level animation mode here and point level animation tracks introduce a whole bunch of complexities number one being that you don’t have the traditional like ease-in and ease-out keyframes it’s a kind of a weird animation track point level animation tracks so we need to figure out a different way to be able to control these points as groups okay so what that’s where we’re going to go ahead and rig up this FFT using a traditional method of rigging in general which is using joint rigging okay so joints are basically like bone structure of an object and what I’m first gonna do is just add enough grid points to get enough detail on this FFT so it’s kind of like if you have a cube and you want to bend this cube so let me just add a bend deformer here and you bend this you’re gonna see that we don’t have enough resolution here or definition on this object because we don’t have enough segments or subdivisions so that’s kind of what we want to do is we want to enough segments or points to define our bends and our twists and stuff like that so what I’m gonna do is just increase the grid points in the X by 1 and in the Y I’ll add a few more points so we get a little bit more definition resolution on the bending and then for the grid point Z this is fine the the three points is fine so now what we can do is go ahead and create some joints so like I said joints are basically your bone structure I’m gonna go ahead and go into front view and add our joints and add joints we’re gonna go to our character menu and go to the joint tool not joint but the joint tool and here we can start drawing joints now to draw a joint we need to hold the command or control key down and click and then we’ll just click again and that’ll form a single joint so let me go ahead and let’s pull this down so we can see what we’re doing so it’s adding this as a child of the ffd and clicking and see I just went and did something a little goofy so let’s undo that I’m gonna hold the command key down click and click again right where this grid line is so right there and you can see that created a couple joints there I’ll create another joint here for the neck because basically what you’re doing is making joints kind of like the bones in your arms where you’re basically defining where your object can pivot and Bend from so I want this to bend around the waist the waist of this toast and then Bend around the neck of the toast ok so right about here and then we’ll just go ahead and complete this by going and clicking right at the top of the head here just make sure that you don’t click twice like I did and create a few more joints and then you can go ahead and edit this if you want to by just clicking this joint and moving this around okay so what you also want to do is make sure because I’m noticing there’s a little bit of a gap here at the top of this ffd so first thing I’m going to do is just drag-and-drop this route with all these joints drag it outside of the ffd and I just want to move this down and adjust this grid size in the Y so there’s not as much slack as there was before okay so something like that and now we can go ahead and check out what our joints are doing if we go into our four up view we can just you want to make sure that this joint chain is aligned to the center of your object okay so that’s looking pretty centered and now we can go into our perspective view now basically what a joint can do is you can move this around and rotate this and basically what we want to do is use these joints to be able to rotate all of those points so have each of these joints be able to control an influence rows of points on this ffd and the way we’re gonna do that is build a relationship between these joints in this FFT using a command called bind okay so what I’m gonna do is select all the joints that I want to deform this ffd and influence this FFT and then I’m also gonna select the FFT so I’m going to hold the ctrl or command key down to add the FFT to my selection and I’m gonna go to character commands and bind and what this is gonna do is you can see if I move my joint now we’re actually controlling the ffd if I rotate this we’re controlling the FFT which is then deforming our character so let’s check out what happened when we bound those joints to our FFT number one we have this skin to former and you can see that this is just deforming the FFT so we have deformer deforming into former so if like the former inception here and we have these joints which are basically determining which joint is is deforming and influencing which points on this FFT and we can figure out which points are doing what or what joints are doing what if we hold the shift key down and double click on this little weight tag and this will show the weight manager and if I click on each of these individual joints so say joint one okay you can see that the color-coded square here is red which means whatever point is red and if I hover over this you can see what part of this ffd points is being influenced by what joint you can see that there’s FFT point four vertices four and it’s a hundred percent influenced by joint one if I go to joint two you can see that that’s green color-coded green you can see oh this row of joints is being influenced by joint two okay so that’s looking good and then we have joint three which is blue and that’s kind of controlling all the rest so if I go ahead and grab joint three and rotate this you can see yep these are all these points these vertices on our FFT that are now being controlled by this joint now if you’re seeing something a little bit different say you have if you click on your red and maybe there’s some red dots here and there’s some green dots over here or some you know different joint influencing these points that’s where we can go to the mode and go to absolute and you can actually paint on the influence of these joints so what I’m gonna do is go into my weight tool so here you can add on two influences depending on which joint you have selected so I can just click and drag and now these points are influenced by joint – okay so you actually don’t want that because if I go ahead and rotate this you can see that this isn’t even we have this roll of Joe of points and then this roll of points deforming this character and we just want cohesive rows of points being deformed by individual joints here so if I want to change this back to the red I’m just gonna go back to joint one and go back to my weight tool here so what I’m gonna do is with this joint selected just go ahead and click and drag and they will turn these points into red and make those points be influenced by this joint so just if you want to edit this any you can determine which points are influenced by what in case you’re you’re binding didn’t go as expected you can actually paint on these joints manually okay but that’s really all you need to do if you did it correctly you shouldn’t even have to worry about painting any weights or anything and being the Bob Ross of weight painting don’t need to do that but basically now we’re we’re set with this kind of setup okay now we can animate this character by rotating these joints okay so we have this kind of thing we have a twist we have all this stuff going on just by rotating these individual bones but thing is is you do not want to have to you know click on each of these joints and rotate them manually typically in a rigging workflow you want to have these joints easily to be easily selected and use a null that you can then use as a controller and stents that have actually you know selecting these joints especially if they’re in a hierarchy I want to be able to click and drag you know in this viewport and be able to select each of the joints that I want to rotate so one traditional rigging method is say I want a the waist joint and then the neck joint to be controlled by nulls what I’m gonna do is select both of jeeze both of these joints go to character conversion and I’m gonna convert those joints to nulls okay and then what I’m gonna do is just drag and drop these two joints outside here and I can actually rename this so this can be neck dot control and I’ll double click this joint and this can be waist control okay and basically what I want to set these up these nulls to do is to drive the rotation of these joints so here’s the waist joint I’m going to select that first and then hold the command or control key down and select this waist control and go to character constraints and go to PSR constraint now what this allows us to do is use this null to drive the rotation the position scale and rotation of this joint so watch what happens if I select this null hit R you can see that I’m now controlling and driving that joint by using that constraint tag so now what I can do is with this null I can change this display to circle and have this rest in X&Y and just scale this up and boom you can see Vettes this is what we’ve been working on this whole time is now if I want to select this waist joint I can just select this null and since it’s driving this joint here I can rotate this and I can animate this way so this is just a really nice workflow hack of building these controllers and like I said this is like a traditional rigging workflow here so let’s do the same thing with the neck alright so here’s the joint I’m gonna select the joint first that I want to control and then grab the neck control holding the command key down to add to the selection go to a character constraints pierce our constraint and if we did this right we should be able to rotate the nut neck control there and edit that I’m just gonna undo that and let’s go back to our display go to circle go to X&Y scale this up again cool and now I can go ahead and just go in high v FF D so now all I have is our controls and I can even color code these as well so I can go on my neck control check out an icon color change the used color to on and let’s maybe choose red for that neck control so we can see the color coded null there check on icon color for the waist control turn this on and me we have blue okay so we have very nice organized and neat nulls here for our control and basically now we only have to keyframe these control nulls to be able to animate our character which is really cool so with this ffd rig setup we have our bend okay we have our twist and we have our bulge now let me show you how we can kind of make a bulge and adjust the scale the ffd points by using this null so what we’re gonna do is go into object mode I’m gonna hit the T key and scale and you can see now I can scale this up okay I can go to the same thing with the waste basically what this is doing if I turn back on my f FD is its scaling up the collection of points on this null okay which is really cool so one thing I’m noticing if we click and drag on this wastes null okay it’s only moving this row of points but check out where the controller is I actually want this to controller to also control these points down here so we already showed you how we can change this if we want to edit this so I’m just gonna go double click hold the shift key down double click on your weight tag go to joint let’s see which joint do we want joint to okay and we want this joint also influence these points here as well so we have we’re set to absolute mode we’re on joint two let’s just click and drag and paint on all of these points okay now what we should be able to do is grab our waist and now we’re controlling these two rows of points okay and let’s grab our neck and you can see that we could you know see if this is okay I think that’s alright because it’s just controlling these top two rows here so that’s nice so we have control over how the points are being deformed with each of these objects now maybe this is better maybe this is worse I don’t know maybe we have if we just go and shift double click maybe we have joint 3 actually control these points here so we’re kind of moving all the influences down a row so let’s go back to our weight tool and just color these in here as well okay so now let’s see if this works okay so here’s our waist move in the waist there’s our neck move in the neck and actually like this a little bit better so basically what we did is we just adjusted the influences of all the points again sometimes the auto rig the auto weighting does always work in your favor but at least you know how you can go in there and edit the influences of all these joints and paint them on okay so now we have only that first joint that isn’t gonna be rotated at all it’s gonna be stationary it’s gonna be that bottom row of ffd joint two is gonna have that second row of points here on the ffd controlled and then joint three is gonna control everything else in joint for doesn’t have any influence because it’s the very top okay so now you can go ahead and now we can go back to our object mode and just kind of scale up our waist maybe are too many carbs this guy ate too many carbs and that’s happening and then the neck we can kind of squeeze that down shrink his head I don’t know maybe that that’s a thing but there you go make sure you go back into model mode if you don’t want to you know scale that anymore but basically now if I just hide my FFT again I can go in animate this character have all types of fun animating just those two controls for this simple character now a cool thing about FF D in why it’s better than actually going through traditional rigging methods is your deforming this deform ER and you’re actually not worried about any of the underlying topology or you know mesh underneath so if you have really bad topology and a you know in a object that you want to rig this prevents you from not having to be able to you know having to go through the waiting process of waiting the actual mesh because all you’re doing is waiting the the outlying ffd to former that then is going to deform everything else so that’s really really awesome yours you can even throw in other objects in here you know throw a sphere in here just make this in the same level of hierarchy and you know maybe he’s got ears I don’t know or a bump on his head I have no idea but you can see with that sphere in there we can just go to the waste control and neck control and that’s a part of it as long as your objects are within this bounding box it’s gonna be deformed and manipulated by the joints and you know via our controls that are controlling the joints okay so one thing we can do is let’s say we have some arms here some simple arms that we’re gonna give to my toast and what I’m gonna do is basically I want these to rotate these arms to rotate with this neck control so what I’ll do is I can either place these underneath the neck control or just place them under the joint that I want here so that’s actually joint three so just place this underneath here and if I grab my neck control so it’s gonna be this neck control again is controlling this joint three I can move this around now this kind of falls falls apart if you rotate too much but if you’re just doing simple movements you can have your arms kind of going with this okay so we have the arms going with the neck null here so really cool stuff being able to animate a character very easily using FFD and then kind of we can even throw these arms inside our group here and they can actually get deformed as well but you’ll see the problem with that is you know it’s twisting and deforming and again you can see what happens when you have an object outside of your ffd it kind of gets stretched there because we have a bit of our object outside there so what we can do is can either go in here and adjust the grid size you’re gonna see it’s gonna smush down our character so what you’re gonna need to do is just manually move this with inside the boundaries or if you needed to adjust your ffd again you’re gonna see that this is gonna squash everything so in that case what you’d need to do is first go to your neck and waist control and actually a good way to work with controls is to go to the coordinates here and you’re gonna see the waist control I didn’t move and we have or just base settings or starting settings or this 90 degrees and 90 degrees for the rotation and the pitch and the banking let’s go ahead to the that control and let’s try to reset this back to what it was let’s try 90 and 90 and then just zero out the rotation in the banking now this is basically your default your starting position and rotation of our controls and a smart thing to do is to instead of like memorizing what these numbers are and if we want to get back to square one we don’t have to remember like okay yeah that was 90 degrees and this was you know 141 704 whatever what we can do is select both of these controls and use this freeze transformation I’m just gonna throw that down if I hit freeze all what that’s gonna do is store all of those values in this freeze transformation what this allows us to do is zero out all the coordinates here so now if we went and we move this stuff around all we need to know is that okay to make this back to where it was from the get-go is just zero everything out we can even do the shift C to bring up the commander and hit reset PSR and that will do the same thing as well so that’s really really easy workflow and this is you know how you want to work with controllers that I should have set up from the get-go but basically what you’ll need to do to adjust the ffd is to reset your controllers okay and then what you’re gonna do is go to the skin of deform er there and in this include tab you’re gonna want to do exclude and now we can have the free range to be able to adjust the grid here without deforming or you know stretching out or doing any of that scaling we saw before with this FFT so now we can adjust this maybe make this a little wider and then once we’re done just go back to mode and just go include and now if we move this stuff around move our controllers around wallah we now have our wider ffd our bigger ffd and we don’t have to you know rework or do anything like that and we have our freeze transformation so we can always go back to zero and start from square one all over again but just a really cool workflow here we can you know and animate our characters by just animating these controllers here okay and one thing if you want it like you know have this guy jump up or something what you’ll need to do is actually set up a controller for this bottom joint so let’s go ahead and do that right now so just do a little refresher of how to do this we’re gonna go to conversion convert to nulls and let’s just say this is the bottom control bottom duct control and again do that PS are constraints so select the joint first then the bottom control go to constraints at PSR and now you can control the bottom as well so you can you know even set up a hierarchy with these controls so maybe we want the waste h out of the bottom and the neck h out of the waste so now we can rotate all these things and maybe do something like that or you know maybe you just have the bottom control control everything so now you can animate the you know the bottom maybe this guy’s hopping up yeah we want to like stretch your mounts new little squash and stretch kind of thing so just so much control here setting up all these different controllers and basically if you’re completely new to rigging this is you know kind of a beginner’s introduction to all of the steps you need to take to set up a real rig but the great part about this workflow is we got the simple simple character and we’re just kind of dipping our toes into typical traditional rigging but I got really excited wife I discovered this this way of rigging simple characters using an FFD though hopefully this unlocks a lot of possibilities in your head a lot of ideas in your head and get you into just learning how to you know get into the the fundamental concepts of rigging alright so hopefully this helps you unlock different ways and methods to animate and rig up different characters or objects that you want to ideally animate in a very simple and easy way and hopefully this kind of shows you that you know some of the fundamentals of rigging or not that hard concept wise but you know Dragan can very easily get very into the weeds but hopefully this just inspires you to maybe get get used to the lingo in the work flow and maybe learn and dig in a little bit more into some of these concepts so if you have any questions about anything I cover in this tutorial please let me know in the comment section below if you like this tutorial please hit the like button you feel like what I’m doing here and all my tutorials here on my channel please subscribe I’d really appreciate that and as always if you create any characters or animate anything using this MFD rig I’d love to see it be sure to tag me on Instagram and on Twitter if you show me on an Instagram story if you tag me on Instagram short story I’ll be sure to check it out and post it on my Instagram story to kind of spread what everyone’s doing and show off what everyone’s doing so thank you guys so much for watching this tutorial I’ll see you guys in the next one

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