How to use Bone Envelopes in Blender to create the bending pipe mesh object?

In this article we will play around with rigging which is a very powerful feature that we can use to bend an object in Blender 3D. OK without wasting time let get started!

Step 1 :

Start the Blender program and delete the default cube. Switch to the front orthogonal view. Create an armature bone (Shift-A then Armature->Single Bone). With the bone selected switch to edit mode. Select the top tip of the bone and press ‘E’ then ‘Z’ then ‘1’ then press enter to extrude the bone one unit upward, do this twice to create two new bones. Now switch to object mode again and press ‘A’ to select all the bones then go to the object data tab on the property window and under Display checked the X-Ray check box to make the bones visible even if they get covered up by another object.

Make bone visible
Make bone visible

Step 2 :

Deselect all the bones by pressing ‘A’ once. Next create a new cylinder mesh (Shift-A then Mesh then Cylinder). Scale the cylinder down ( ‘S’ then 0.2 and enter). With the cylinder still selected switch to edit mode, first deselect the entire cylinder (‘A’) then select only the top face of that cylinder (switch to face select mode then select the top face), pull that face upward in the z direction to cover all the bones.

pull the cylinder up in the z direction
pull the cylinder up in the z direction

Step 3 :

Press ‘A’ to deselect everything again then position the mouse over the side edges of the cylinder and press ctrl-r to add edgeloops to that cylinder. While the line is pink, roll the MW to add about 17 plus loops on the cylinder and left click twice to confirm the loops’ position. These loops are needed to bend the cylinder later on. Deselect all the loop (‘A’).

Step 4 :

Switch back to object mode, right click to select the cube first then shift-right click to select the bones. With both objects selected press control-p then select ‘With Automatic Weights’ . Deselect everything then select the bones and switch to pose mode. In the property window under the display panel select Envelope. Switch to edit mode and select any bone then place your mouse near the active bone and press ctrl-alt-s to scale up or scale down the influence field.

Roll the mouse wheel to adjust the area
Bone Envelopes

Step 5 :

Next switch to pose mode, select any bone and do the bending to create a bend tube as shown below.

Blender rigging
Blender rigging

We can use Bone Envelopes to change the size of the surrounding influence field and then bend the mesh object as we wish to create the product as shown in the following image.

Blender rigging
Blender rigging tutorial

That is it and I hope you will learn something in this tutorial which you can then use to create your own rigging object in Blender 3D.

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