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I have an animated character, and I would like to pin a separate object onto its belly. The object is made up of a couple parts: a soft body and a cloth hanging from a shape key'd mesh, all parented to an empty so I can move it around easily.

I'd like to pin this empty to the character mesh, so the object moves with the character and stays on its surface as it animates. How can I do this?

[edit]: I've seen a few similar questions that are answered by simply parenting the object to a bone in the model. As the surface of my character's belly deforms as it animates, I don't think this will work for me.

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    $\begingroup$ If the objects you wish to pin to the character are not under some other constraint I can't see a reason why they couldn't just be placed where they're to be and simply "parent" them one at a time to that character. Select one of the objects, hold SHIFT down and select the character or perhaps the bone/armature that's controlling it's belly, then press CTL-P , select "Object". This will force that object to go wherever the character goes and stick to it's belly. I've not yet done this when shapekeys are involved however. $\endgroup$
    – Edgel3D
    Feb 18, 2017 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ I've just confirmed that previously installed shape keys don't affect the parenting process. The add-ons just follow the parent about and stay put on it's "Belly". Remember, you may have to parent to one of the character's bones, but try it's torso first. (Blender vers 2.77a with W10) $\endgroup$
    – Edgel3D
    Feb 18, 2017 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately this method breaks when the character's belly deforms under the influence of multiple bones, such as when it's bending over. Parenting the objects to the bone cause it to move with the bone, but not with this kind of complex deformation. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2017 at 7:05

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Parenting to the character's vertex was what I was looking for. To do so:

1) Select everything. 2) Enter Edit mode (tab), and select the vertex you want to pin to. 3) Exit edit mode. 4) Select the object(s) you want to pin. 5) Shift-select the character. 6) Enter edit mode. The vertex should still be selected. 7) Press Ctrl-P to parent to vertex.

The objects will now follow around that vertex as it deforms.

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