How to set up bones correctly in a complex character

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How to set up bones correctly in a complex character

Post by Nimphaea » Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:57 pm

Hello, here I am again with another question...

I have made a character in Moho, and everything is on a seperate layer. Some things are in group layers because they belong together. For example: The arm and the hand are in two seperate layers, together in one group layer. Is this correct to do? Here is what my setup looks like now:


Now, my question is this:
In the Moho tutorials there is a tutorial about setting up bones for complex characters. This is the workflow in the tutorial, selecting everything in a layer, moving it out of the way, adding the bones, moving everything back in place, like this:


But... Since my artwork is not really allways on one layer, but most of the times "one object in layers in a group layer", like the arm and the hand... How can I connect bones to grouped layers without having to move everything in every group layer apart? Everything is lined out perfectly now and when I have to move every small thing in every group layer apart I will have to line those things up again to combine everything when 'the bones are set up. Is this just _the_ _best_ method, or is there an easier method where I can keep the contents of my group layers intact?

Thank you very much in advance.

[Edit] Now I have tried to do it as clean as possible but I noticed that bones don't work on layers IN group layers... You can't make some group layers and put them in one bone layer and manipulate your artwork like that... is there another method?...

Look at the head for example... It would be a pain in the neck to control every little freckle and lash and so on... The head exists now of 5 different layers in one group layer to keep them together... How can I make one set of bones for the whole character? [/Edit]
Nolan Scott
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Post by Nolan Scott » Sun Apr 30, 2006 4:03 am

You might like to have a look at my file “Walk in the Park”
You can find here:

In the group-layer “Animator” you’ll see there is a bone-layer “body”
and in there a head-group-layer with its own “eyebrow” bone-layer.

Group-layer can be either bind with the “Bind-Layer-Tool” to any bone,
but if you want bone-control you have to create separate bone-layer
in your group-layer and sub-group-layer.

This keeps some excellent order in complex animation – one has just
to animate one bone-layer after the other – adjustments are very easy to do.

Hope that helps a little.

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Post by heyvern » Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:17 am


I have found myself doing EXACTLY what you did... and also finding it dificult to control those group layers with bones later.

Instead of using a group layer for the arm and hand... you could use a bone layer for this. A bone layer is EXACTLY the same as a group layer... but you can add bones to it.

This helps later when trying to animate. You would need to add ANOTHER bone layer inside the arm group layer to animate it (using bones of course. You could animate the layers but this is a nightmare fore easy animation).

Unfortunately... bones on a layer ABOVE this bone or group layer can't control the vector layers points. You can only link a layer to a bone.

Here is what I do now...

I don't bother to worry anymore about nested layers and bones. I build my characters exactly as I need to.

I then create one "master bone" layer at the top for ALL animation.

Then what I do is use a modified version of the bone slave scripts that I jury rigged (available in the scripting section of the forum) to link the master bone layer to any other bone layer ANYWHERE else in my document.

Here is the thread for the script and a sample file:

I have been using this like CRAZY for the past few weeks. It seems like I use it constantly. I can have bones anywhere at all in the document... embedded as deep as I want... and I can still control ALL bones from one master bone layer at the very top of the layers pallete. This master bone layer doesn't even have to have anything in it.

Important! The bones should all be the SAME... same position... same angel etc. Master and control bones need to be identical. I usually just duplicate the bone layer and use it over and over where ever I need it.

This technique allows for using the masking features more efficiently. I can have an arm bone layer completley outside the rest of the layers and still control those arm bones from the master layer.

I have been tweaking the scripts for this and should post another update... but I keep finding new things to fix.

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Post by Nimphaea » Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:13 pm

Thank you so much, your help is fantastic!!

Nolan, your file is really a wonderful learning source. Thank you so much for sharing it!! I am going to give it a very very close look today to learn from you... It's really great, thank you very much!

And Heyvern, wow... That seems to be the solution... I hope I can figure out how it works, you must be very bright... I looked at your example file and it's really amazing... Just what I was hoping for... Now I'm going to try if I can get this to work in my own file... I really hope so!!

Thank you very much for the fantastic and useful answers!
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