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Chapter 12. Character Rigging > Forward Kinematics and Inverse Kinematics

Forward Kinematics and Inverse Kinematics

Before we work on creating controls for animating Kila and Grae, it’s important to understand a major principle of character rigging: forward kinematics (FK) and inverse kinematics (IK). FK and IK are two different methods of moving a character in a scene. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you want the character to do, and so both should be implemented into the character rig to account for any eventuality.

Forward kinematics is the process of animating down the hierarchy. For example, to raise or lower a character’s hand you would rotate the shoulder, then the elbow, and finally the wrist (Figure 12.6).

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FIGURE 12.6 Example of forward kinematics (FK)

Animating with FK is highly recommended because in many cases it produces better, more natural looking movements—but it’s not always practical. Say the character is leaning with a hand on a table; we would need the hand to stay locked while the character’s upper body moves. Keeping the hand steady using FK would be practically impossible, but with inverse kinematics it’s a piece of cake.


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