The Rigged Systems Addon provides a set of tools that come in handy for making mechanical rigged systems. On top of that, it provides 5 rigs that you can use. Since I see more interest in mechanical rigging, I thought it’s a good idea to post about this addon. The reason there is more interest in mechanical rigging is, I think, that Blender 2.8+ is production ready. That, thanks to the Blender developers, but also the Blender community that provides tons of addons. We have now addons for textures, rendering, UV, modeling, etc. So I think you will see more about rigging coming months.
Since mechanical rigging is not my field, it took me quite a while to get the hang of it. So I hope I can help you understanding the workflow faster than I did.
What’s in the Rigged Systems Addon
First, the addon provides a set of tools that comes in handy to snap (location and rotation) things in place. So you have the object(s) or parts that you design or import. And then the addon provides the rig(s). Now you have to match the rig with the objects (parts) and the helpers come in handy. And the helpers are:
- Cursor to objects Mesh. (This is different that Shift+S > Cursor to mesh which brings the cursor to the origin.)
- Empty – Add Empty (It’s just that hand for later to snap parts of the rig to this point, or to snap other parts. Later you can delete these empties).
- Size Empty (and how to display).
- Selection to selected
- Selection to selected and copy rotation
Then there are special helpers, and that is for the direction and rotation. These helpers work together:
- Set Start point to rotating axis
- Set direction to rotating axis
- Make rotating axis
Next are the rigs:
- Add Cylinder rig
- Add Turnbuckle rig
- Add Universal joint rig
- Add One Wheel rig
- Add Tank Tracks.
So as I would describe, these are helpers, special helpers for rotation/direction, and the rigs. If you got that, then you have already a slight idea what the workflow is. The helpers are easy to understand. They are just there to help you getting everything in place. But the special helpers for direction and rotation needs some explanation.
The 3 special helpers for direction and rotation
Its actually simple. Here an example:
- Select object (or part) A, and press: Set Start point to rotating axis
- Next select object (or part) B, and press: Set direction to rotating axis
- Press: Make Rotating Axis.
Practise the above, so you get that into your muscle memory and don’t have to think about it. Then practise the following: Select the Empty that is created and try the following shortcuts followed by moving the mouse:
So you get a grasp of the working of the empty on local coordinates. Most likely you are going to use this quite a lot. Next: Select another object and (cube will do) and shift select the empty. Press Selection to selected and copy rotation. You can now to the same with the cube as we did with the empty. Could be, for some shapes or objects that you want to turn them 90 degrees on X or Y to get them in right rotation.
Add a rig and line up
So now we got that, we can add a rig and line everything up with the use of all the helpers. For further explanation I suggest you to watch the video’s on the product page. A tip is to set the speed of the tutorials to half speed (0.5) because it goes pretty fast if you want to read everything and follow the actions.
Where to download the Rigged Systems Addon
You can purchase the Rigged Systems addon on Blender Market where you can find loads of tutorials as well. In didn’t include the tutorials here because I think it’s handy you have a grasp of the workflow before watching the tutorials.