Learn how to create a character animation rig with Unreal Engine’s new Control Rig Mannequin sample

Epic Games Product Designer Jeremiah Grant |
June 15, 2020
Using Unreal Engine 4.25, creating animation-friendly rigs is easier than ever. With our new scriptable rigging system, Control Rig, at your fingertips, you can create animator-friendly rigs allowing artists to iterate in the engine, in the context of their environments, and with the power of the Unreal Engine’s animation system. Currently available in an experimental state, Control Rig enables users to create complex animation rigs for any character type. Our newly released Control Rig mannequin sample project illustrates how a basic character rig can be created and demonstrates how it may be animated in a scene using Sequencer. 
Leverage ControlRig to quickly pose and animate characters in Sequencer
It’s worth noting that Control Rig is Python-ready, which means you can create rigs, customize workflows, and automate your pipeline by leveraging Python in Control Rig. See the Unreal Engine 4.25 Python documentation for more information.

Quick start info

Upon opening the sample project, you will see the mannequin seated at the table. Sequencer will be open with the animation ready to play. To manipulate the rig, simply select and move an animation control from the viewport, animation panel, or Sequencer’s hierarchy view. 

Right-click on the actor in Sequencer and choose Create Animation Sequence to save your animation for use in Animation Blueprints, Blendspaces, and other animation systems. It is often helpful to disable Translation, Rotation, and Scale Snapping in the top right corner of the viewport to allow animation controls to move freely. The Animation Panel contains settings to filter viewport selections to Only Select Rig Controls, allowing you to quickly adjust animations without selecting the surrounding environment.

Control Rig editor

The Control Rig we created for the mannequin can be found within this directory: /Game/ControlRig/Mannequin/Character/ControlRig/Mannequin_ControlRig. Upon opening the file, the Control Rig editor will open, and you will be greeted with the mannequin in a reference pose. The rig graph is laid out in a way that’s easy to follow and grows in complexity the further down the graph you look. To start, you will see direct connections from Controls to Bones for the Root up to the Head. Next, Basic Inverse Kinematics with Pole Vectors are used to control the arms. Finally, math nodes are introduced to set up the feet, which is where the position of the IK effector is being calculated relative to the ankle and ball of the foot to create a reverse foot effect.
The Control Rig editor is where you can create control systems to drive Skeletal Meshes
Explore the Control Rig Mannequin sample project today to learn more about how a character rig can be created and used to animate directly in the engine. 

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