Dangling Wires

Hey all,

I’m in the process of building a mech (giant robot monster), similiar to the one in District 9. I am aiming to make this character appear very grungy and out of alignment, as if rushed to put together.

Anywho, I thought a great effect would be wires, or perhaps hoses, that are connected to various parts of the mech. Now what I am stumped on is having the “slack” of those wires sway as the mech moves (without intersecting other parts of the mech, deflecting off). This of course means two points that remain connected to the mech as the rest sways freely. (Let me know if I’m not making any sense, or if you need some sort of visual!)

Is this something that would best be done with careful animation? Or can Blender calculate that kinda stuff?


There are a variety of ways to do this. Perhaps the easiest is this:

  • Make your tubing with a Curve object
  • In Edit Mode on the Curve, select on of the end vertices that “connects” to your main model.
  • Press Ctrl-H and make an Empty Hook. If you select this Empty and move it around, you’ll see that it moves that end of the curve.
  • Make another one for the other end.
  • Attach those Empties to your main model, using either vertex parenting or by training them to the bone that moves that section.

Your tubing will move along with the mech now.

If you’ve actually modeled your tubing in a standard fashion, you can give it a Curve Deform modifier, then animate in the Curve in the fashion noted above.

Ok, but what I’m really going for is for the excess of the wires to sway physically/realistically as the mech moves (for example a walk cycle, in reality a wire would be swaying back and forth during the cycle). Is there anyway to do this in Blender without keyframes and all that business?


Hmm, I accomplished something similar using a curve set as a soft body, creating the wire as a long, straight tube with a few subdivisions, and setting the curve as a modifier to the wire. You have to play around with the settings to get it right though. Here’s the video (just watch the last half), is this what you’re talking about? http://www.vimeo.com/6450116

A softbody modifier on the curve should do this for you.

Best wishes,