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I've got a set of fairy wings I'm making for some 3D animation software, and I'm trying to make them flexible - i.e. so that they can be rolled and curled, as well as flapping.

While I've had some experience in Blender, this is my first time dealing with bone weighting, and I'm a bit puzzled by the results I'm getting. It seems that when I move the bone around, the mesh seems to clip through itself or split, despite not having any separated vertices.

Here's what happened when I rotated a couple of the bones:

enter image description here

Here's what the weighting looks like for each bone, with auto-generated weights:

enter image description here

I know that I'm missing something. Could someone please point me in the right direction?

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  • $\begingroup$ Which way will the wings curl? A quad view of the goal deficient wings with edges showing in edit mode or ... edges only as display maximum type ... or xray bones ... will be more clear. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2018 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ Having auto generated weight with bones equidistant from particular points and great distances relative to the bone during [auto generation bone heat] is not likely to get the results you want as you are demonstrating. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2018 at 6:39
  • $\begingroup$ Your topology looks like not fitting at all, that's what we can guess from the weight paint, please show the topology $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Oct 23, 2018 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ Repeating above. Quad View will show more. You can display all edges in object mode and all vertices in edit mode. Bones in X Ray display mode will show more. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2018 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ Could you clarify: Is wing above one of two, or a pair of wings? $\endgroup$
    – batFINGER
    Oct 23, 2018 at 10:09

3 Answers 3

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I think you must have a bad topology. Besides that, even with a better topology it seems hard to have a good result with a simple armature rigging, it easily creates bad foldings. So I was inspired by atomicbezierslinger and here is what I propose, with a Surface Deform modifier:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank-you. I'll give that a try, but I'm wondering how it will work with exporting. Once I have the wings finished, I'm planning to export them in FBX format, then into iClone. $\endgroup$
    – Tbdanny
    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ oh I don't know anything about that $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:43
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Mesh Deform Modifier is Well Suited to the Task

A simple armature controls a simple box cage mesh. The cage mesh controls the final wing shape.

I will write more. But we hope to give you immediate tools for your work.


enter image description here

  • Bind Simple and Near vertices. Depicted in the image above. Then enlarge the shape with extrusion/scaling in [edit mode]. Click and Zoom to see larger image. Edge lines are difficult to see in a small image.

    • simple to model
    • simple to armature weight
  • The cage is different than the wings. The simple cage can control your wings. This cage is easy to roll/spiral and thus rolls the wing through the Mesh Deform Modifier.

enter image description here

  • The image above show the lousy wing inside the cage. I am sure your wing will be very artistic. The mesh deform modifier is displayed on right.

  • This is a quick mock up slightly tailored to your question. Please excuse the simplicity. Note the vertex density of the cage and wing must be adequate and appropriate for your goals. This is echoed in the video link below. Please inspect and improve the process for your goals.

enter image description here

Lets pretend the image above was newly created as fairy wings for your question and not just another modifier.

On a humorous note or not.

Moonboots wrote an answer to your question 3 or so hours after my answer. A short excerpt is reproduced here.

enter image description here

I wish I were flattered. 👼

It is interesting to note the graduated weight similar to proportional editing with smooth falloff in the last picture of his answer. The mesh is deformed/beformed with greater intensity near the bone itself. The difference is subtle. This may or not be of interest to the OP.

The technique in this answer it to avoid such smooth falloff.

From the famous video website is a tutorial!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2CqQUXraeY

The topic is Mesh Deform modifier. ... To save us both time.

From the minimal documentation.

https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/dev/modeling/modifiers/deform/mesh_deform.html

enter image description here

  • The image above shows the desired weights for one bone. No manual weight painting. Extrusion preserves the previous weights.

  • The circular ring mesh is displayed below. We display folding rather than rolling. Replace the example mesh with your Wing mesh. This is not a tutorial on Mesh Deform Modifier. This proposed answer has the goal to give you immediate steps in the right direction.


enter image description here

  • Mesh Deform can work with the technique above

enter image description here

  • This is an example of desired weight [stripe]. Done through modifiers. The stripe exists or is red in a small portion near the bone. Face connectivity is [not] considered.

Another Alternative Not Recommended

  • Place multiple armature spines parallel to each other so that every vertex is controlled by a near by bone. Experiment at your own risk.

Python Script Success Results

The OP can ignore this in the near future. Some future readers might benefit. The above material is simpler.

enter image description here

  • Stripe in XY Plane or ||. Python.
  • Because there is little edge alignment with X or Y axis. We think this is more difficult to manually weight paint when a large, inconvenient number of weight stripes are needed.
  • The large stripe is for easy visibility. Color gradient along Y axis. Concrete Python improvements are possible.
  • Read Python at your own risk. Python subject to massive cleansing and refactoring. Minimally tested. Please inspect and improve.

enter image description here

  • A comparison of Armature Placement and Mesh Modifier. They are similar for this simple test. Testing remains. Arrow indicates only the Armature Modifier is active.


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  • $\begingroup$ Please post code as code, or not at all. Definitely not as an image, which IMO will be ignored in the present.. $\endgroup$
    – batFINGER
    Oct 23, 2018 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ I will ignore at present. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2018 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thank-you. I'll give that a go and see how it turns out. Do you know if this will work if the model is exported to FBX format? $\endgroup$
    – Tbdanny
    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:26
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Thank-you to all who replied. It was a bad topology, and I was able to get it working after fiddling around with this.

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