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 can become 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!



Robotic arm layer style 1

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

Foreward kinematics

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


Inverse kinematics

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, Centipede 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 or Rotation property.


Robotic arm layer style 2

The 2nd dropdown sets the posture: the way the body is supported by the arms.

Single arm

This renders a single arm without a body.


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 and Body colour properties.


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).


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.


Robotic arm layer properties

Position

The position of the arm (base effector).


Rotation

The rotation of the arm (base effector).


Size

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


Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist

The angles of the joints. These properties are only used with Forward kinematics.


Target layer

This property is only used with Inverse kinematics. 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.


Body size, Body colour

The size and colour of the body.


Colour

The diffuse colour of the arm.


Specular colour

The colour used for specular highlights. If this property is (0,0,0), the diffuse colour is used as the specular colour.


Specularity

The size of the specular highlights.


Beam size, Beam colour, Beam flicker speed

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


Transparency

The transparency of the arm.


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.