Robotic arm layer

What can I do with the robotic arm layer?

With the robotic arm layer you can animate robotic arms.

How do I add a robotic arm layer?

Choose LAYER > Add layer > Add robotic arm layer... to add a new robotic arm layer.

The new robotic arm layer can be selected from the layers dropdown to make it the active layer.

What is a robotic arm?

A robotic arm moves from a shoulder (the base effector) via a few limbs to a hand (the end effector, tip of the arm or finger). The limbs are connected with joints.

Attach a layer to the arm

Choose LAYER > Attach layer > Attach active layer... to attach an existing layer to the robotic arm. The layer is now attached to the tip of the arm.

When rendering more than a single arm (as set with the Arm pairs property), the attached layer is attached to the centre of the layer.


Point the arm to a layer

Switch to Inverse kinematics and use the Target layer property to make the tip of the arm follow another layer. In this screenshot it follows a sketch layer.


Light beam

Use the Beam size and Beam colour properties to add a light beam to the tip of the arm.


Switch

When the arm is symmetrical around the elbow you can switch: the hand becomes the shoulder, and vice versa.

Press <Ctrl> + <Alt> + R to switch. This adjusts the Position, Rotation, Shoulder and Wrist properties.


3D models

Change the model of the active robotic arm layer by choosing MEDIA > Change model....

The robotic arm layer requires a model with joints. BixPack 43 comes with a collection of ready to use robotic arm models!

Info for 3D modellers

Robotic arm layer style 1

Forward kinematics

The 1st dropdown sets the kinematics method: the way the arm is animated.

With forward kinematics you control the angles of the joints and BluffTitler computes the positions and rotations of the limbs. Use the Shoulder property, Elbow property and Wrist property to set the angles.


Inverse kinematics

The 1st dropdown sets the kinematics method: the way the arm is animated.

With inverse kinematics you control the position and rotation of the tip of the arm and BluffTitler computes the joint angles. This position and rotation is taken from another layer. Set this layer with the Target layer property. A container layer works best.

Not all positions and and rotations are possible and sometimes the arm gets tied up, so be careful with extreme targets.

When using the Spider style, Centipede style or Mammal style, the arms try to reach the floor at vertical position 0 and automatically perform a walk cycle when you animate the Position property or Rotation property.


Robotic arm layer style 2

Single arm

This renders a single arm without a body.


Line

Positions the arms in a single line without a body, but with the possibility to add light beams.


Axial

Positions the arms in a circle pointing upwards.


Radial

Positions the arms in a circle pointing outwards.


Spider

Positions the arms in a circle.

Set the number of arms with the Arm pairs property.

Set the body size and colour with the Body size property and the Body colour property.


Centipede

Positions the arms in a line, with the arms pointing sideways (sprawling stance).


Mammal

Positions the arms in a line with the arms pointing downwards (erect stance).


Robotic arm layer properties

Position

The position of the arm (base effector).

1st slider: horizontal (x) position

2nd slider: vertical (y) position

3rd slider: depth (z) position

Press <F2> to render the coordinate system.


Rotation

The rotation of the arm (base effector).

1st slider: heading

2nd slider: pitch

3rd slider: roll

Press <F2> to render the coordinate system.


Size

The size of the arm. To make it easier to switch arm models, the arms are normalized in respect to their range.


Shoulder

The angles of the shoulder joint. This property is only used with the Forward kinematics style.


Elbow

The angle of the elbow joint. This property is only used with the Forward kinematics style.


Wrist

The angles of the writs joint. This property is only used with the Forward kinematics style.


Target layer

This property is only used with the Inverse kinematics style. The tip of the arm tries to take over the position and rotation of the target layer. A container layer works best.

When this property is negative, the direction is inverted.


Arm pairs

The number of arm pairs. The total number of arms is twice this value.


Arm span

The distance between the tips of the arms furthest from each other.


Writer

Use this property to render only a selection of the arms. The 1st slider sets the end position, set it to 1 for the last arm. The 2nd slider sets the start position, set it to 0 for the 1st arm. The default value of (1, 0) renders all arms.


Body size

The size of the body.


Body colour

The colour of the body.

1st slider: red

2nd slider: green

3rd slider: blue

When the mouse is inside the tool window and you press <F3>, the colour dialog is displayed. But when the mouse is outside the tool window, the colour of the current mouse position is picked.


Colour

The diffuse colour of the arm.

1st slider: red

2nd slider: green

3rd slider: blue

When the mouse is inside the tool window and you press <F3>, the colour dialog is displayed. But when the mouse is outside the tool window, the colour of the current mouse position is picked.


Specular colour

The colour used for specular highlights.

1st slider: red

2nd slider: green

3rd slider: blue

When the mouse is inside the tool window and you press <F3>, the colour dialog is displayed. But when the mouse is outside the tool window, the colour of the current mouse position is picked.

When this property is (0, 0, 0), the diffuse colour is used as the specular colour.


Specularity

The size of the specular highlights.

Set the specular colour with the Specular colour property.


Beam size

The size of the light beam. When using the Inverse kinematics style, the 3rd slider of the Beam size property is relative to the distance to the target.


Beam colour

The colour of the light beam.

1st slider: red

2nd slider: green

3rd slider: blue

When the mouse is inside the tool window and you press <F3>, the colour dialog is displayed. But when the mouse is outside the tool window, the colour of the current mouse position is picked.


Beam texture size

The size of the beam texture. The path is fixed to BluffTitler/Media/Textures/LightBeam.png.

Set this property to 0 to turn the texture off.


Beam flicker speed

The flicker speed (frequency) of the light beam in Hz. To convert from BPM (Beats Per Minute) use the following formula:

Beam flicker speed = BPM / 60


Beam pattern

The animation effect of the beams. The default value of 0 means no animation.


Beam pattern speed

The speed (frequency) of the beam pattern in Hz. To convert from BPM (Beats Per Minute) use the following formula:

Beam pattern speed = BPM / 60


Transparency

The transparency of the arm.

0 means fully opaque

1 means fully transparent (invisible)


Depth bias

This property can be used to solve sorting problems.

Layers have to be sorted according to their distance to the camera. This sometimes goes wrong when using very big, very small or irregular shaped layers. When this happens, use the Depth bias property to fix it.