Aircraft rigging

Hi there,

Currently I am modeling an aircraft and I would like to start rigging the moving parts, such as flaps, gear etc. There are a few things I can’t figure out myself and I hope you could give me the answer to this.

I got flaps, but the problem is that the consist of 2 parts. Like in this picture. I would like one to follow the other. Also they need to follow a slighty curved path down. What I am able to do is to make it move, but I can’t let it follow a certain path and also I can’t make one follow the other. How should I do this?

Second. I have the elevators at a slight angle of each other. As you can see on this picture

I can rig them to move, but I would like them to move simultaneously.

Last thing is the landing gear. There are three sets of landing gear and each move in a different direction. How can I let them move simultaneously? This is how it looks like

I used constraints to do these operations (armatures are not needed). Currently I am revising my book about these and other aircraft detailing issues and their solutions. I do it on example of the P-40B aircraft, but you can apply similar solutions to your B747. The book will be published at beginning of November. If you wish to get now a “draft version” of this book (in English), just let me know on PM.

You should be able to use drivers for that. Same with the landing gear. The movement of one drives the movement of the other. One thing that might help is to create an empty for each control surface and parent the control surface to the empty. That can help make it easier to set the axis of rotation rather than messing around with the control surface’s native axes.

You can see the empties I used in this video (about halfway through…)

Steve S

No offense to the previous responders, but I wouldn’t go that route, I’d use an armature instead of constraints. I think you can accomplish everything I’d do with an armature with just constraints & drivers, using an armature is just my preferred way.

For the flaps, I’d use 3 bones, one for each section, one bone for the pod covering what I assume is covering the mechanism that moves the flaps. Since they’re flaps and move the same way for each wing, both down at the same time, I’d add one control bone to control it all. Constraints on the bones would be what make it all work.

For the elevator, 2 bones for each elevator, one control bone.

For the landing gear, bones for every part that moves & constraints to make it function so I can animate the gear retracting. Create an animation of it all working, then add a control bone and action constraints on the bones animated. One control to make the gear retract/extend, one control to key frame.

For a one time animation, just constraints and drivers would work, but if the animation gets beyond a simple one, I’d do the armature…


Flap nests inside the wing and slide / rotate out. To be able to animate that, first you need good cross sectional drawing of it. I had to do this without good drawing but here is my quick layout that shows you simple flap rig:

Layout the wing profile with nested flaps. Each flap rotates from some point in space. Bone must be created in such a way so that when it rotates with each flap you get stowed and deployed position right. All I did after that was to use Copy rotation constraint on each bone to rotate just the right amount. I ended up using flap3 bone as a target for all other bones, since it rotates the most. All other bone rotation can be controlled by influence amount.

In reality you can’t have big single links controlling flap like that. Links are broken up and fitted inside the deployment mechanism pod under the wing. But action is the same.