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I may be on completely the wrong track here, but I'm making a character. They have thick cartoon hair and a dress.

If I weight paint the dress to the basic rig, it will not look great. If I have to animate the hair for every frame, I may go mad.

What is the general strategy in these situations? For the hair I was thinking I'd add rigging to the hair and it could be influenced by physics for an animation? I don't need to know the exact workings here, just whether it is possible. e.g. I animate a run, and from that run, bones with physics could animate the hair. Then I can just save out all the resulting keyframes.

I was thinking something similar with a cloth simulation on a rigged dress, though this seems like it would get more complex. I look at some AAA games and they regularly rig robes and dresses to just be weighted with the legs, but it always just looks like they're wearing trousers that are attached at the middle. I'd like to animate a dress, but hopefully still have it bone-based.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hair, especially thick cartoon hair, can be animated by Softbody or Cloth physics. No bones are needed: blender.stackexchange.com/q/238677/107598. And yes, a cloak, dress, or robe can be animated with bones. imgur.com/a/nyNPbeR. You need to add bones and create a rig. IK helps with the animation. (blender.stackexchange.com/questions/233945/…). Cloth sim and rigged animation is a complicated couple. It also depends on what you're going to do. Pure animation in Blender or export to a game engine? $\endgroup$
    – Blunder
    Oct 12, 2021 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ Looking to export to a game engine, but not really done animation beyond rigging a basic model and a walk animation. I'm not entirely sure how animating without bones would work in that environment $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2021 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ Here is an example of a cloth sim that controls the bones of a tail cap. Could work for hair, too? blender.stackexchange.com/questions/41235/… $\endgroup$
    – Blunder
    Oct 12, 2021 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I'll check it out. Also noticed you're the guy who helped with my twisty-forearm model. I've since really gone over the video linked in that question and am currently working on some clothes clipping issues if you find yourself curious. I have appreciated the topology, though it isn't liking the clothes :P blender.stackexchange.com/questions/240519/… $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2021 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ Using simulations on bones speeds up the workflow greatly and allows game compatible character animations. The strongest workflow I have seen for this is in this video by Pierrick Picaut. Take a look here youtu.be/1cXyIjaFxXY $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2023 at 6:53

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Yeah you can as was answered by the tail cap by Blunder in the comments. That is a really simple example of what can be intensive with complicated hair/clothes, but is still a great explanation of how it works even in 3.1. I’ve used simple mesh cloth sims with empties parented to vertices of the simple cloth sim mesh with different pin weights on both armatures and curve set ups in geometry nodes.

One weird thing that frustrated me was how to create the simple mesh cloth sim. I suggest starting with a mesh cube, going into edit mode, press 1 for vertices, press a to select all, press m to merge and choose center to have one vertex mesh then press e to extrude a simple line mesh. You need to choose your pin vertices and parent to your character (typically a parent to bone on the main character armature). I’ve run into issues when trying to get the cloth sim to work on a plane that I merged where the cloth physics didn’t work.

The simple cloth sim mesh is a good technique to add physics to bones or curves. Depending on your preference you can do this with bones that are snapped to the simple cloth mesh vertices/empties or curves that have the same empties as hooks used to animate the curves. Both work well but are intensive on the work needed to set up (a lot of snap cursor to selected, snap selected to cursor, add empty and other repetitive commands and toggling between object and edit mode).

The work is worth it though and is a good way to prevent these bone rigs/curves and the meshes they control from going through the main character when you turn collisions on for the base character mesh. Plus it doesn’t require a complicated mesh to be simulated.

This is just my preference as I’ve found complicated meshes are fussy to get predictable and good results with physics simulations. When I finally came across this technique it just made a lot more sense to me and didn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. It’s a very “Blender” workflow in that it isn’t intuitive or obvious but once you get it, then the possibilities it unlocks are pretty awesome.

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