Blender & Unity: Manually Rigging Blender Humanoid Characters for use with Unity Mecanim


I’m definitely no character animator by trade, but there comes a time when you end up with a Unity project that somehow requires it. There are obviously many automatic rigging methods available (Blender does actually have an auto-Rigging system called Rigify for biped humanoids) and you could even try to download other rigs made by other people and plonk them into your scene, but I found that so many of the rigs including the rigify one seems to involve so many complicated bones you don’t need, so you end up having to sift through the bones, deleting so many unwanted bones, renaming bones, perhaps even having the impression of the impossibility of rigging up them bones.

Although it may seem terrifying at the beginning (I’m not an animator or rigging specialist!), I found that surprisingly, it is not that difficult to manually rig up all your bones if what you have is a very simple humanoid character. You just need to be orderly and to stick with the admittedly tedious bone naming process. (Although our character is blobby, we’re sticking with a humanoid as we’re going to use it with the Kinect to sync it with the movement of the human user, and our human user is going to return a humanoid set of values that we’ll need to rig up our character to…)

According to the Unity Blog’s post on Mecanim Humanoid:

“The skeleton rig must respect a standard hierarchy to be compatible with our Humanoid Rig. The skeleton may have any number of in-between bones between humanoid bones, but it must respect the following pattern:”
Hips – Upper Leg – Lower Leg – Foot – Toes
Hips – Spine – Chest – Neck – Head
Chest – Shoulder – Arm – Forearm – Hand
Hand – Proximal – Intermediate – Distal

This is the list of all the bones you need (I found it useful to copy and paste in these names directly)

head
neck
collarbone.L
collarbone.R
upperArm.L
upperArm.R
lowerArm.L
lowerArm.R
hand.L
hand.R
chest
abdomen
hips
upperLeg.L
upperLeg.R
lowerLeg.L
lowerLeg.R
foot.L
foot.R
toes.L
toes.R

Optional: eye.L and eye.R

For starters: Ensure that your character model is positioned at origin and that its pivot point is also at origin (0,0,0). Make sure you reset the scale to 1 just in case (Ctrl+A, Select Scale). The hip bone is the key bone in all this, so start by creating one big bone starting from the bottom of hip to top of the chest. Hit Space and start typing “Subdivide Multi” (Armature) and give it 2 cuts so you get 3 bones. These will form the hips, abdomen and chest bone.

After you’ve done the main spine bones, you can turn on x-axis mirror.

– Select the ball on top of the bottom bone (hips bone). Make sure Options>Armature option>X-Axis Mirror is selected, then press Shift-E to extrude mirrored bones. When you’re in mirror mode, every time you create a new bone, you’ll have a second one mirrored on the other side of the X-Axis. Remember that you’ll have to rename BOTH bones later on – if you are facing your model face-on, also remember that L is actually to the right and R is to the left, and name it accordingly.

– Arrange the leg bone into position (you may need uncheck “Connected” in order to let the leg bone go into the right position). Reposition the leg bones away from the hip. Subdivide Multi (1 cut) this leg bone into two bones, forming upperLeg and lowerLeg.

– Shift-E to extrude two more foot and toe bones, and also add in the collarbone, arms and neck+head bone. Do make sure you keep it all in a standing T-pose (as if the character is standing in the shape of the letter t).

– Ensure that all of your bones are renamed correctly as per the list. If there is an L bone there must always be a R bone.

– Go into Object Mode and Select first the character and then Shift select the armature. Press Ctrl+P and select Set Parent To – Armature Deform – With automatic weights. Your computer might lag for a second before its all connected up.

From there, you’re in the home stretch. Export your Blender model in FBX format and then import it into Unity, and in Unity set the rig to humanoid (instead of generic) and at the bottom of that, hit Apply.

Let the wild rigging begin!

See also:
Animate Anything with Mecanim

Second Life Adventures: A Lonely Dinosaur on the Dancefloor, Deconstructed Architecture in the Metaverse, and Hopper’s Diner in Space

I’ve been having internet issues the last few weeks – being in a flat in Venice with no internet and no mobile data, having intermittently poor internet here in Berlin. Once every few months I recall that I have a Second Life account. Last few nights I found that – shock! surprise! – I could actually clamber online after hours late at night, and what do I do online? The really important work I need to do online?… No, instead, I found myself wasting time on Second Life once again.

People unfamiliar with Second Life often ask me, “What can you do in Second Life?”, “Aren’t all these virtual worlds dead already?”. So here is a list of things you can do right now in SL – or rather some of things I’ve done this week:

1. Walk through some abstract wastelands

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Lots of half-built places with strange lighting that look like a cross between a glitchy p-model music video from the 80s, a seapunk animated gif, and someone’s incomplete rhino 3d project. But don’t get me wrong, most of them are less interesting than what I’ve just described. A lot of them are very mundane as well, like reproductions of grassy hills and boring houses with boring normal furniture inside them.

2. Walk around in the prehistoric world of dinosaurs

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Went to Prehistorica, the Dawn Kingdoms, where they also have a collection of very convincing dinosaur avatars for sale!

3. Become a dinosaur

I decided to become an apatosaurus (also known as brontosaurus), largely because it was just about the BIGGEST.

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4. Become a Dinosaur and and walk around “London City”

“London City” is a sim which looks like London but is set by the seaside, merging some of the elements from London with a seaside town. I tried walking around making loud roaring noises and growls and stamping sounds but no one seemed to take notice. Some other avatars skittered around underfoot, trying to figure out how to operate the free go-karts in this parcel…

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Sadly, as I was still a gigantic Dinosaur, I was too big to go inside the Tesco and Tube equivalents in “London City Pier”. Its hard being a dinosaur.

5. Become a Dinosaur and walk around a beach – almost

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I also wanted to go to the beach in Jamaica but they had a compulsory swimsuit policy. That meant that I couldn’t go to the beach because I didn’t have any dinosaur-sized swimsuits to wear there. Again, its hard being a dinosaur.

6. Go to a party as a Dinosaur

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It’s lonely up there, being a big dinosaur, and dinosaurs can’t dance because all the other people are too tiny and its impolite to step on them…

7. Become an Android and do taiji in a japanese pavilion by the seaside

I was bored of being a dinosaur by this point, so I switched to being an anime style android. Utilizator makes really excellent full mesh avatars. This is the Rikugou A; Utilizator also makes the popular Kemono avatar, of which there are endless mods it seems, all very professionally constructed (except that I don’t really want to be a furry…)

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8. Fly through outer space

I visited Ars Simulacra: NMC’s SL Artist Showcase Island, which can always be counted on for a good experience. All of the following images are from Ars Simulacra’s MediaMorphosis.

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9. Wander around immersive landscapes

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I should like to rent a large plot to build something on this scale one day just so I can experiment with it slowly! How much of these effects are “accidental” or intentional designs? I believe that a lot of what looks impressive is sometimes very simple in its underlying construction. And looking back, I’m surprised to realise so much time has passed since I first saw these kind of spaces. I’ve already been on SL as nothing more than a casual user for over 7 years now. It has almost been 3 years since I stepped into Kuru Kuru World. This type of floating, deconstructed space has been in the metaverse for so long; its nothing new but I still wonder if we can learn anything from it and apply it back to architecture in the real world.

These sort of spaces still remain as some of my favourite kinds of spaces in SL to walk around in. I realised the image I had in my head for a proposal I had written recently (to be built in real life) comes a lot from my fondness for such spaces in SL.

What’s interesting for me is the use of video on the 2d planes which are used to create structures. In such a world, “light” or more correctly “colour” also operates completely differently. A media “texture” with glowing white elements appears as a bright light that reflects off the faces of the avatars, and the shifting transparency in these moving image layers also produces unexpected diaphanous and complex-looking waves, especially when you cam around them. Much of these are housed inside huge megaprim domes with “infinite” seamless interior textures, which only reveal their underlying structure when you fly about and cam out as far as you can.

10. Visit a replica of Hopper’s Diner

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An obvious landmark to reconstruct in a virtual world, and famous for having been used as a visual reference for the “future noir” style of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Where Blade Runner faithfully reproduces the colour tones of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”, here the lonely diner itself is faithfully reproduced as a physical 3D space to wander in and around. I feel a bit strange walking around it, standing outside looking in, sitting inside looking out – I wonder, by spending more time in the virtual Hopper diner, will the diner eventually appear in the maps of my dreams…?

Team Fire’s Fun House

After watching Grand Designs, I decided to invest in a sweet little piece of virtual land. Since we can’t build it in real life, we’ll build it in Second Life. And I hadn’t realised how affordable Second Life land was in the rolling auctions – for about L2500 (approx USD10) I got a simple 512m sq plot (my land tier limit) on the side of a mountain by the seaside. Seemed like a good kickstart for practicing some building and scripting. I don’t know if thats a good price in the Second Life land auctions since I haven’t watched the numbers for long, but it seems reasonably affordable as the startup cost to embark on this game. A GAME WITH NO RULES…

Introducing the site of TEAM FIRE’s NEW FUN HOUSE:

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Okay nothing has been built yet but we have grand designs for a skybox/sandbox of some sort… in the meantime, I rezzed up a giant flower that rotates. I mean, obviously, it can be really hard to find our precise plot on the mountainside if there isn’t some giant spinning psychedelic flower floating over it. And so we sat on top of the giant flower on the mountainside and admired the view…

ALSO…

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OH and we also met our hunky tattooed neighbour, who is probably going to start up a chain of sexy nevada-style casino brothel skyscrapers next to us. He probably thinks we’re a bunch of inexperienced tools, wiling away our days, sitting on a giant retarded flower next to his plot…

BUT I’LL BET OUR FLOATING FUN HOUSE WILL BE MORE FUN THAN HIS CASINO SKYSCRAPER!

I’ve decided to seperate my SL from my RL interests, so for those interested in following our building progress and other tips/notes on Second Life Building, you can visit our other building blog at teamfirefunhouse.blogspot.com

Patterns: A 3d sandbox world building game

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Everytime I have a spare moment to do… well… nothing, it seems I end up going to Second Life. I suppose I’ve played SL for roughly 6 years now, on and off. [See also: iggydix.blogspot.com and secondlifemonster.blogspot.com] I guess its a kind of pointless, aimless wandering game. Which suits me fine. I don’t know how other people use it, but if I didn’t have an interest in building/3d modelling or programming or virtual spaces, I don’t think I would have stuck with casually playing this game so long.

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For some reason, despite having a fairly nice little gander about, I kept having intermittent problems rezzing up normally, and instead of looking like a white statue as I had planned, I looked more like a moire pattern. I also kept losing my connection whilst repeatedly trying to TP to the Kowloon parcel I had once visited a long time ago. During the downtime, I saw a small advert on the SL startup screen about a new game also produced by Linden Labs…

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A few minutes later (and US$ 9.95 poorer), I had bought an activation key and was up and running with PATTERNS. Visually, it reminds me of Minecraft-meets-Flatland’s aesthetic. I’m sure detractors will complain that the gameplay does have a semblance to Minecraft in the “mining” process, but the rest of the game’s objective is quite different.

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Despite looking very “simple”, the pieces rely on a realistic physics and fluid/particle system. And as you build simple bridges or structures or even bombs, you have to find the right kind of material that will not collapse on itself depending on what you are trying to build with it. And unlike Minecraft, there are no Zombies or Creepers about to come to eat you when the sun sets. Its just a big happy sandbox for discovering materials, exploring floating islands by slowly building bridges to cross over to them, and building more and more complex 3d polyhedras out of triangles and squares.

Basically, its like Minecraft minus all the parts of Minecraft’s gameplay that annoyed me (i.e.: being eaten suddenly) – multiplied by a mathematics/geometry puzzle. Because oh yes, trust me, you’re going to have to figure out how to quickly fit a tetrahedron with a goddamned square pyramid to form a flat plane in order to get to the other island. And then you’ll probably want to make more Patterns in the library within the game to order to automate your building process…

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The game is blest with amazing environmental light – Linden has really got WindLight down pat, because the environmental light is absolutely gorgeous and brilliant for what seems on first sight to be such a simple game that is entirely built of squares and triangles. In Patterns, the sun and the moon will rise and set in quick succession; you can see the rays of light come into the structures whilst you’re inside mining for materials.

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You can download Patterns here. This is an early launch called Genesis Release (public alpha) and its available on the site or via Steam for US$ 9.95. More info on building is on the Build Patterns Wiki.

ADDENDUM – More about Building BOMBS

Contact Bomb

Brimstone Bomb

The simplest bomb consists of 1 Brimstone cube + 1 Brimstone square pyramid + 1 Starene square pyramid. It will explode when you touch it on the second time. You can stand on it and the explosion itself will not hurt you, but it may throw you off the thing you are standing on and you might shatter into pieces. Its a quick way of harvesting Unbreakable materials.

Rocket Bomb

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The Rocket Bomb consists of 2 Brimstone cubes + 1 tall Rubble square pyramid. The rocket will fly once constructed, for the length of approximately 60 squares and then explode. From experience sometimes it explodes even sooner than you would expect if you are hoping to arc it into the air and have it come down again. If you have shot it in too wide an arc it will almost always certain explode in mid-air, so be warned. Once I bombed the Floating islands in Barren Plains so much that… THE MOUNTAINS OF BRIMSTONE, STARENE AND CLAY COMPLETELY FELL OFF. THEY STOPPED FLOATING! Which brings me to the question: WHY DO THE FLOATING ISLANDS FLOAT? WHAT KEEPS THEM THERE???

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