Rigging & Animation



The process of creating a skeleton for a 3D model so it can move. It is essentially a digital skeleton bound to  a 3D mesh. Similar to a real skeleton, a rig is made up of joints & bones, which act as a handle that can be used by animators to bend the character into desired poses. Some of the key terms used are:

  1. Joints / Bones – are points of articulation needed to be able to control the model.Joints


(Joints, n.d)

  1. Driven Keys – allows a control or object to drive multiple different objects and attributes. It has 2 parts:
    1. The Driver – object in control of the animation.
    2. The Driven – The objects & attributes that are being controlled by the driver.Driven_Key(Driven Keys, n.d)


  1. Blend Shapes – allows the flexibility to change the shape of one object into the shape of another object. Eg: set up poses for facial animation which can be operated by one control slider by tying in all the poses to the slider. This is a great way to quickly make face poses without having to move individual facial controls around but it does limit the edit ability.


    (Blend Shapes, n.d)

  2. Inverse Kinetics (IK) – allows the child node within the rig’s hierarchy to influence the movement of its parents. Eg: if you position your character’s hand the rest of the arm chain will be calculated. This allows the animator to animate independently of the chain’s hierarchy.IK(Inverse Kinetics, n.d)
  3. Forward Kinetics (FK) – allows the character rig to follow the hierarchical chain. This means more control over the chain, but also one needs to position each joint in the chain independently of each other.FK(Forward Kinetics, n.d)
  4. Control Curves – these help in manipulating joints within the rig by using simple NURBS curves placed outside of the character so one can easily select the curve to position the character instead of using the actual joints which can be tedious at times.Control_Curves1(Control Curves, n.d)
  5. Constraint – these are important parameters that limit an object’s position, rotation and scale based off of the attributes of the parent object.Constraint(Constraint, n.d)
  6. Deformers – these are algorithms that can move large sections of vertices on a model to produce organic shapes. E.g: Using a cluster deformer can help create facial controls for eyes, cheeks etc.Deformer1(Cluster Deformer, n.d)
  7. Skinning – the process of binding the joints to the 3D mesh so as to allow the mesh to follow when the joints are moved.Skinning(Skinning, n.d)
  8. Weight Painting – is the process of assigning the extent of influence a joint has on an area of the model.Weight_Painting(Weight Painting, n.d)
  9. Facial Rigging – When creating complex character rigs the facial rig setup is often at a whole different level. Facial movements require a lot of stretchy & organic motions & hence a simple joint setup doesn’t suffice. It needs a combination of deformers & blend shapes.Facial_Rig(Facial Rigging, n.d)


The process of displaying still images in a rapid sequence to create the illusion of movement. These images can be hand drawn, computer generated, or pictures of 3D objects. There are various types of animations. Some of them are:

  1. Traditional Animation / Classical Animation – In this technique each & every frame is created by the animator by physically painting them.


(The Animation Process From 1938, 2011)


  1. Digital 2D Animation – This technique involves creating 100s of drawings and animating them to show some kind of movement. Using softwares such as Adobe flash, limits the number of drawings used. Small variations like changing the color or frame rate can be done easily.


(Making a Walk Cycle, 2013)


  1. Digital 3D animation – This technique involves the creation of an animated sequence using 3D models via softwares.


(CGI 3D Animated Short Film HD: “Selfillumination”, 2016)

  1. Stop Motion Animation – This process uses frame by frame animation where physical static objects are moved around and during the post production it is shown in a fluid movement.

(Western Spaghetti by PES, 2008)


  1. Chukimation – This is a combination of stop frame animation & live shots where characters are dropped into a particular frame.


(Good Burger in Chuckinmation, 2007)


  1. Puppetry Animation – Is created using life like puppets instead of objects.


(Indian Shadow Puppet Animation by Gul Ramani, 2010)


  1. Clay Animation / Claymation – Pieces of clay are moulded to create characters which are kept in a set & with only short movements the whole scene is made.


(Sammy Squid: Turns The Other Tentacle Claymation, 2011)


  1. Zeotrope Animation – is one of the early forms of animations. Some still images are drawn on a drum and when turned in a circular way, it creates an illusion of movement. The visual effect created by a zoetrope is the principle behind creating animated GIFs.


(Zoetrope – praxinscope 48 frames!, 2010)

  1. Cut-Out Animation – is the process of moving paper cut outs under the camera lens to say a story.

(“Coco” – Paper Cut Out Animation, 2014)

  1. Sand Animation – A technique that uses a lit glass table as a canvas on which the animator creates an animation by moving the sand in certain directions. The whole process is photographed and then during post production, they are merged to show the sand animation.

(ATORMENTA sand animation, 2009)


  1. Typography Animation – a combination of text in motion is known as typography animation. Typography animation is widely used during the titles part of a movie.

(Inception – Typography animation, 2010)

  1. Paint-on-glass Animation – this technique uses slow drying paints on a glass canvas, which allows the animator to manipulate the art and photograph them simultaneously to create an animation.

(The Umbrella – A short animation made with oil paints, 2012)

  1. Drawn-on-film Animation – One of the oldest techniques of animation that involved scratching, etching directly on an exposed film reel, introducing the light in variations to create shadows which are permanently embedded on the film created in a dark room, or just stick the black film reel on to a workboard and punch holes into them or stick just about anything on the film reel.

(Drawn on Film Animation, 2014)

  1. Flip book Animation – This technique involved artists drawing a series of images, with little variation to the pictures on a flipbook, so when the book is flicked rapidly, you can see the series of images in a fluid motion, trying to show a scene.


(Michael Jackson Flipbook Animation, 2013)


  1. Pin screen Animation – This technique uses a screen being pricked by thousands of headless pins to create pin screen animation. Once the pins are pricked, the screen is lit on one side, which casts shadows, based on the depth of the prick.


(Mindscape, 2014)


Animation is the amplification of an idea through simplification and abstraction; a sight gag timed to perfection; a visual poem; a moving painting; extraordinary sublime moments in the orchestration of moving image and sound; throw-away sick slapstick humour designed for the moment; stories that remain with you forever; time-based imagery that can be fantastically surreal because of its unique process of realisation; a journey through the human body and other datascapes; the invisible made visible; informative dynamic graphics that monitor critical processes; an animated neon sign. At its best, animation is an exquisite character performance synthesised at the end of a pencil, or increasingly through the sweep and click of a computer mouse, that would otherwise win an award for best acting


  1. Masters, M. (2014). Key 3D Rigging Terminology to Get You Moving. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from http://blog.digitaltutors.com/key-rigging-terms-get-moving/
  2. Beane, A. (2012). 3D animation essentials. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.
  3. Rigging Of Animated Characters. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.toonboom.com/resources/tips-and-tricks/rigging-animated-characters
  4. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from http://www.animagicstudios.com/animation_glossary.htm
  5. 20 Different Types of Animation Techniques and Styles. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from http://webneel.com/different-types-of-animation-styles
  6. Little, S. (2011, August 21). The Animation Process From 1938. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ORkIrHUbg
  7. Draw with Jazza (2013, August 8). Making a Walk Cycle (Speed Animation Tutorial). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF58evKqehU
  8. (2016, January 8). CGI 3D Animated Short Film HD: “Selfillumination” by André Kutscherauer. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiKXdbW9MRg
  9. (2008, July 5). Western Spaghetti by PES. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBjLW5_dGAM
  10. (2007, January 5). Good Burger in Chuckimation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdgk_-wJFfw
  11. Ramani, G. (2010, September 8). Indian Shadow Puppet Animation – by Gul Ramani. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsHxJ160Fk
  12. (2011, October 16). Sammy Squid: Turns The Other Tentacle Claymation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkZGDTIijHs
  13. (2010, January 2). Zoetrope – praxinoscope 48 frames! Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkGPvm8B7m4
  14. (20014, December 31). “Coco” – Paper Cut Out Animation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo6-6ENTl7o
  15. (2009, April 2). ATORMENTA sand animation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MVS-3fIcu4
  16. (2010, December 12). Inception – Typography animation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjUyrrKZzQ0
  17. Li, X. (2012, April 18). The Umbrella- A Short animation made with oil paints. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwJqpwWUZt0
  18. Abegglen, J. (2014, January 22). Drawn on Film Animation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjDAepjjop4
  19. Flipbook guru. (2013, November 29). Michael Jackson Flipbook Animation. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n2YF7mfP5s
  20. (2014, November 26). Mindscape. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydiaPnag0YE
  21. Animation Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from http://minyos.its.rmit.edu.au/aim/a_notes/anim_intro.html