Get a Grip On Props: Animating With Constraints

Sharing some experiences with animation, Nick Arbeiter offers a multi-part look at animating with props by way of constraints. If you are new to animation, or the idea of characters interacting with props still is a bit of a mystery to you – well you are not alone.

focus on handheld props, and the general setup for creating the constraint and grouping system

One of the most common hurdles for animators to get over is the concept of using constraints to help along the animation with props. There are many ways to handle the idea of characters picking up props and putting them back down. Typically the concept will center around using a constraint to allow some sort of hierarchal change with the elements that are being animated.

Nick shows a few different situations in where you would want to use constraints to animate props, walking through some of the setups as they will most likely change for certain types of animation challenges.

Starting off with a focus on handheld props, Nick has a look at the general setup for creating the constraint group system which will allow you to create an easy and repeatable system for putting props into character’s hands. This will also let you retain the flexibility to animate the prop independently.

There is also a look into using constraints for having the props leading the hands of the character which is a bit different than the first setup. Nick notes that he uses this set up primarily for characters that need to interact with heavier objects.

Nick also has a look at a situation where you would have two handed prop interactions, where one of the character’s hands leads the action.

Lastly, Nick looks at  some of the logic behind picking up, putting down or letting go of objects, this includes how to set up multiple constraint systems and the tricky part of switching them on and off. It’s Nick notes that this can be used for space switching for props easily.

1 comment

  1. Nick Arbeiter

    Wow Lester, this is such a cool article! I’m so honored you thought highly enough of these little tutorials! It’s crazy to me they are popular, haha. But I really do hope that they help out those who don’t get the logic behind constraints or who haven’t been officially shown how to use them!

    Only note is, I don’t know if you intended to put the first video in here about general prop setups, but the fourth paragraph alludes to it. =P

    Thanks Lester!

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