Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Morpheus Rig - and How To Use It

There are plenty of free rigs available these days for the use of students. One of the best is Morpheus, created by the prodigiously talented Josh Burton. It is used extensively by trainee character animators hoping to polish their skills and get better at their craft. Morpheus is an excellent rig but, like all free rigs (and, frankly, like all rigs), it does have a few quirks. Below is a guide for animators to some of the main problems that we have come across, and how to fix them.

Problem 1: Hand IK Orientation
Morpheus's Hand IK control is parented to his shoulders. This means if you animate the shoulders you will animate the hand IK controls, which, mostly, you don’t want.

Under the hand IK control, change the value for Parent in the channel box to world, not shoulders.
Also, the elbow pole vector controls should be set in the channel box (under parent) to world, not to the hand.

Where have Morpheus' textures gone?

Problem 2: Vanishing or invisible skin textures
Morpheus' skin textures can be a bit tricky. You may have trouble making them appear, or, when you render a frame, sometimes his skin comes up black or invisible. If this happens, it is because the skin textures have become disconnected from the source image.

Solution: To solve this, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you created a new project and set to it correctly.
  2. Make sure you have copied Morpheus’s textures into your source images folder. Now do a test render again
  3. If the textures still don’t show up, open up the Hypershade (Window/Hypershade) and look inside for the faulty materials. These will appear black in the Hypershade, meaning no data. Let your mouse hover over the black materials and find the ones named skin materials (it is usually Morpheus’s skin that causes problems).
  4. Double click on the material so that its attributes appear in the Attribute Editor.
  5. Now, in the Attribute Editor, try to re-connect the material with the source image. Open up the file3 node under the materials tab, then scroll down and re-establish the connection to HeadTextureLight.png, or whatever the file is that the material is searching for.
  6. Keep doing this for all of Morpheus’s textures until they are all working correctly. 
  7. Don’t forget to render in Mental Ray - Morpheus is designed to work with Mental Ray only 
  8. If you're still having problems, try using a different lighting setup.
Still can’t make the skin texture work? Animation Apprentice student Giuseppe Candido says:

"that's because it has been used a subsurface scattering material, this is the kind of material to reproduce the skin effect. To avoid that just assign a standard material and reapply textures, it should work then."

What if you want to render Morpheus in VRay? If you really really want to render in VRay, try this tutorial here.

If you are still struggling to re-connect Morpheus' skin textures, try watching this short tutorial below:

Problem 3: Slow Playback

If you turn Morpheus's mesh smooth control to 1, this will slow down the real time playback on screen. Under his God control you'll find the attributes to smooth or unsmooth him.

Dr Euler may help with arm rotations

Problem 4: Weird arm rotations.

Morpheus' arm rotations can sometimes give you strange results. If you are getting odd outcomes, try deleting your keyframes on the arms and starting over, keeping a close eye on the  Graph Editor to make sure that nothing odd is going on. Don't forget that the Euler filter may help - see this blog post for a full explanation of what it does and how to use it.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks. 

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