Tutorial: How to Create Robotic Arms in Blender

Tutorial: How to Create Robotic Arms in Blender

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Language: English

Type: Robot

Number of phrases: 578

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00:00
in this tutorial we're going to model and rig four robotic arms and then we're going to attach them to the back of this animated character and the best part about this workflow is that even if you've never tried rigging before you could learn how to hold the power of the sun in the palm of your hand here we are in blender version 3.0 and i'll try my best to explain every single step of the way and also sometimes why we're doing what we're doing so we'll start off by deleting everything and creating a circle and if you look carefully in the bottom left corner you can see this little menu where you can
00:32
lower the amount of vertices all the way down to three so now it's just a triangle instead and we're going to duplicate this triangle on the y axis and let's take this duplicated version and rename it to claw duplicator and we're going to use this later so let's hide it for now now this triangle is going to be a segment in our robotic arm so let's rename it f2 robot arm and let's say call it dot zero 0 0 as well because this will make it a lot easier once we start duplicating this 40 times so let's go to edit mode by
01:03
pressing tab and let's right click subdivide and we want to subdivide it a little bit more so let's open this little menu and set the number of cuts to two so now let's use this widget to view this from the top let's press z and let's select these edge pieces hold down shift and then you can press r to rotate them and if you select everything and press f it's a little bit easier to see what we're doing so we're just trying to create a shape that is going to look a little bit more interesting than just a circle
01:33
so to make these edges a little bit smoother let's go back to object mode and let's give this a subdivision surface modifier so the hotkey for this is ctrl 2 and this adds a subdivision surface modifier with a level of two so now you can apply this by going right click convert to mesh and it's already mesh but this is just a faster way to apply stuff so now when we go back to edit mode you can see that there is a lot more geometry here so you're going to select everything by pressing a and then e will automatically extrude it on the z-axis you can see in the top left corner here what the value is so let's hold on control and set it to
02:04
one meter okay so this is going to be our segment so let's view this from the front by selecting minus y in this widget and here is the shape that we are trying to create it's going to look a little bit like this and it's going to be exactly 1 meter tall and this is important let's start out by creating a shape that is 0.5 meters tall so press ctrl r to loop cut and scroll two times so you get these three loop cuts and then left click and then right click
02:35
so now we have made these three loop cuts and we want to delete everything except for these so press ctrl i to select inverted and then x to delete and select vertices so now we have this shape that is 0.5 meters tall exactly and we want to make it into this shape because this shape is going to become all these joints stacked on top of each other okay so now we're going to select all these points and you can do that by holding down alt so it will do a loop select and then you can hold down alt and shift to do a loop select at the bottom as well now let's press e to extrude s to scale and then press shift
03:07
z and this will make it extrude inwards on all axes except for the z axis now let's view this from the front again and let's press e to extrude s to scale and then press z and then if you look at the top left corner now you can see that we hold down control and we can scale it exactly by two and this will take our height of 0.5 and multiplied by two so now we have our shape is exactly one meter and the reason why we really want to make sure this is exactly one meter that is because we're going to duplicate this 40 times so any imperfections will be much
03:38
more visible so now that we have this shape we can add some details if you want so hold down alt to select this loop press ctrl b to bevel like this and let's press e to extrude let's scale it up and let's press shift z so it's not getting too tall so now let's just make this little detail here you know if you like you can set this to x-ray mode and in edit mode you can box select this and scale this up a little bit if you want so just make a shape that you think looks cool when it's going to be duplicated 40 times that's basically
04:10
what we're trying to do how do we duplicate this let's view it from the front and if you zoom far not out you'll see that you get this grid pattern that is a little bit brighter here and here here and here and this is basically this is 10 20 30 40. so we are going to make it go all the way up here so you can duplicate this by pressing shift d and if you hold down control you can see that it will snap to this grid so if you just move it one up on the z axis and hold down control all the time
04:41
it will be a perfect one meter duplication on the z-axis and what we just did was just one action and you can repeat that action by pressing shift r so if you just do this a bunch of times you can see that we are making progress and you can zoom out there's 40 meters so you can actually just hold shift r perfect so now we have 40 copies of the robot arm segment so to animate these segments into being an actual robotic arm that
05:12
can move and bend and stuff like that we're going to add some armature so let's go shift a and let's create armature but nothing happens that's because we can't see it because in here it is invisible bone it's hidden you can see there and to make it much easier to see this bone you can go to object data properties make sure the bone is selected and go to viewport display and set it to in front and now we will always see the bone no matter how many joints are in the way so let's extrude the bone all the way to the top and the
05:44
way to do this is you go to edit mode and this top point will already be selected so you can press g to move it so if you press shift c you can see the entire robotic arm now let's view this from the front and let's press g to move it and hold down control once again and since we started on one meter we can move this 39 meters and it's going to be precisely 40 meters and you might be thinking well 40 meters that's way too big for a robotic arm and you're right we're going to scale this down later but the reason why we're
06:16
working with so big numbers is because this grid is much easier to work with at this scale so now we want to make this bone into one bone for each segment so that means we have to make this bone into 40 bones so right click subdivide and when the number of cuts is set to 1 we get 2 bones and when the number of cuts is set to 2 we get 3 bonds so that means we have to set the number of cuts to 39 to get 40 bones so now let's go back to object mode and let's select all the segments by pressing a
06:47
and make sure the armature is highlighted like this and now you can press ctrl p to parent all the segments to the armature and we're not just going to do a regular parent under armature deform we'll set it to width automatic weights so now we can select the armature and we can go into this new mode called pose mode and each bone can now be rotated and the segments will follow and you might be thinking well that's an awful slow way to animate a
07:18
robotic arm and you're right what if we could say to blender hey blender i want to take this bone and i want to move it over here can you figure out where the armature will be just figure out for me and blender will go okay it should go like this this is called inverse kinematics and it's pretty easy to set up so select all the bones make sure they're pointing straight up you can clear the rotation by pressing alt r and let's select the bone in the top let's go to pose inverse kinematics add ik to bone and
07:50
then select to new empty object so what just happened is that blender just figured out that all these bones are connected and it made an empty object at the top so we can go back to object mode we can select this empty object and we can press g and just move it around and blender just figures out where all these little objects should rotate to make it look like it's one arm but there's a big problem with this rig if we try and rotate this empty object nothing happens so select the armature and go to this
08:20
new tab called bone constraint properties and here we can see the settings for the inverse kinematics constraint and you can enable rotation so now you can select this empty object you know what let's rename this to ik target because that's what it is and now you can press g and you can press r to rotate you can press r r to rotate two times and you have a really powerful rig and what's so powerful about this rig is you can select the armature and you can press g and move that around as well so
08:53
now you essentially have two points where blender will always figure out what is going to happen in between these points and this makes it super easy for us to be animators so what we can do with this rig in one end we can make a claw and in the other end we can place a human and that is exactly what we are going to do four times so let's start off by creating the claw and now we're going to use that claw duplicator that we just made so select everything and press h to hide and in
09:25
the outliner repair let's click this little eye icon on the claw duplicator so this object is going to be the base of our claw so let's go to edit mode by pressing tab and let's rotate it on the x-axis by minus 90 degrees and then you can press f to fill let's scale it down a little bit e to extrude perfect there is our claw base and if you like you can clear the location that's going to make things a little bit easier okay so now we're going to create the claw and this is actually quite similar to what we did in the walk cycle tutorial so i highly recommend that you
09:56
check it out so what we're going to do is we're going to create a plane and we're just going to go to edit mode right click merge vertices at center so now we have an infinitely small point in 3d space i'm going to extrude this by pressing e on the y-axis and if you like you can hold down control to make it exactly 2 meters and now if you press a to select everything and move it you can see we have an infinitely thin line so to add thickness to this let's go to the modifier properties add modifier skin and this will make a blob and it's
10:27
actually still just these two vertices and we can open this menu here by pressing n to access the vertex data and if we adjust this vertex data you can see that the skin modifier is responding so let's lower this like this and let's take this other end and let's lower the y radius and you can actually select this and move it a little bit on the y axis as well let's place it in the middle there that's good now let's enable x-ray by pressing alt z and now you can see that we have these two vertices but we want to make one in
10:59
the middle so we can bend it like this press a to select both of these vertices right click subdivide and now we have this point in the middle and we are one button click away from having a rigged claw in our scene it's this button create armature but right now it's disabled that's because we have to go back to object mode and now we can click create armature and now we have a rigged claw so let's go to pose mode and let's select one of these pieces and you can press r and x to rotate on the x-axis and let's take this one as well perfect now let's select the first bone
11:32
again let's move it up on the z-axis this is good and now this is the cool part let's go back to object mode let's select this plane and actually let's rename it claw in the modifier properties let's collapse the skin modifier and the armature modifier and let's give it an array modifier so this is going to give our claw more fingers let's set it to three and then we're going to disable the relative offset and we're going to go down to object offset and enable that so now you can use this little eyedropper tool and select the
12:03
claw duplicator and that's it now you can select the claw duplicator you can rotate it on the y axis and you can hold down control and do exactly 120 degrees and now these two fingers of this claw will copy the rotation of this main claw so that makes this much easier to animate so let's select the armature of the claw let's press ctrl tab to go to post mode and now you can rotate this on the x-axis and you have a rigged claw so before we make the robotic arm visible again let's just move this out of the way a little
12:34
bit and let's press alt h this will reveal all the hidden items and we can select our claw press s to scale it up let's move it on the z axis let's make sure it lines up with the robotic arm as good as we can and perfect since you have the entire claw selected you can hold down shift and select the ik target press ctrl p and set parent to object so now you can select the ik target you can move it around you can rotate it and we have a fully rigged robotic arm
13:05
with a claw and now to animate the claw instead of just pressing r and x you're gonna have to press r and x x so you have to press x twice that way it will rotate on the local axis instead that's really cool so now let's go ahead and find ourself a human and i like to use a website called mixamo here you can see this guy is called why bot he looks like this and then you can search for animations let's search for idle and here you have all kinds of different types of animations
13:36
really good high quality motion capture on this website i like this one breathing idle you just have a little bit of back and forth movement there i think that's pretty cool so let's go ahead and download this so we just click download here okay let's just move this stuff out of the way a little bit because it's going to be placed right here so let's go file import fbx and just find your fbx file mine is called breathing idle because that's the one i picked and then import fbx
14:06
so there's our little human in our scene and if you press play you can see you have an animated mocap guy in your scene that's pretty cool we need to scale down this arm and we need to attach it to the back of this guy so let's select the arm make sure everything is selected let's press s to scale it down i always think it's so difficult to find the right size of this thing i think that's good maybe maybe a little bit smaller yeah take the armature of the human let's actually call this armature human so we know which one it is and then let's rename this other one to
14:37
mature robot now let's rotate the human 180 degrees on the z axis perfect and then let's take the arm and let's press g to just move this and let's just attach this cyborg thing to this poor guy and now let's by the way if you think it's difficult to select the ik target sometimes you can just right click and adjust empty display size and it gets a little bit bigger now let's rotate this
15:09
around like this so to connect the armature to the human is actually surprisingly simple and it's a really elegant solution all you have to do is select the armature of the human go to post mode and if you like you can set it to x-ray now you can see all the bones and you can just take one bone press g and just move it and just see what is this bone controlling and what you want to find is the bone that controls the part you want it to be attached to so this bone is going to have a lot of animation data which you want to be transferred into this arm and it's just
15:42
such a simple solution and this will work with any mocap rig you just select the bone that you know have the animation data on it and then you just go back to object mode and now when you select the armature of your robotic arm and you hold down shift and you select the entire armature for the human now you press ctrl p and you can set the parent to just be the bone and blender will know what bone you have highlighted so now when you press play you can see there's a little relationship line there going into this bone that we selected you can press play and you can see that this rig has been connected
16:13
and this claw can still be animated in all different kinds of ways and it's a really cool rig so now all we have to do is to duplicate this robotic arm three times so let's just select the human press ctrl i to select inverted let's view this from the back so press shift d to duplicate and only focus on the claw don't matter about the tail of this thing because that's what we're going to move and let's shift d again and shift it once more so now what you can do is you can just take the armature of this robotic arm and just move it
16:47
and let's just place these that somewhere that looks good and you can rotate this a little bit down on the x-axis maybe you know what these lights can be a little bit distracting so if you want to get rid of them you can go to the overlay and you can just remove relationship lines so now when you press play your four rigged robotic arms are connected to this motion capture data and all these arms can still be animated freely like this [Music]
17:23
[Applause] [Music] go [Music] [Music] [Applause] before you go all crazy i have to warn you a little bit it's a little bit unstable let's say i want to move this over here look at that it's glitching around
18:09
you see this like that and this is a little bit of a problem with this rig let me show you what i'm talking about let's say you're a 3d animator and you're animating a leg and you want the knee to be pointing this way all the time you want to make sure that this doesn't look like it's going like this right because that's not a way a knee works so what's normally done is to create what's called a pole target this is just an invisible object that just tells the rig what way should the knee be pointing not necessarily what way but
18:40
it's like a way to control the knee and we could use that hair as well so let's say you have a scene that is just completely messed up and you want to try the pole target thing let's create an empty object let's call this pole target and let's select our armature let's go down to bone constraint properties and let's set the pole target to be this empty object and now you can see that we can move this pole target over here and we can move this around and it's more stable right it's not glitching out so much
19:12
because we are sort of controlling where the knee is but here's why i'm not using it in this rig the armature is impossible to rotate now we're losing the small rotations in the shoulders for example and we're losing all those little things that just makes this rig work so in this rig i have prioritized functionality over stability and i think it makes of a more fun rig and unfortunately this is going to be a little bit of a buggy rig sometimes if you have a solution to this i'll be happy to read a comment about it please
19:44
help so this is a powerful rig and it should work with most mocap data i just think it's a really fun rig to play around with it's the next day now and i just played around with this in eevee a little bit did some clean up of the geometry of the joints and added some random motion to these claws but i just felt a little bit bad for leaving you like this so i just wanna for the first time on this channel just do a part two like a follow-up to let you know how you can make an actual video out of this project
20:23
so stay tuned for that video [Music]

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