How to Animate Tripod Legs (radial array)


I have very little experience with animation and I am trying to figure out a way to animate the tripod legs from the open position (as seen in the image) to a closed position where they would all be straight up and down perpendicular to the ground.

I modeled one leg and set a radial array around the center axis of the model. So one leg is “real” and the other two are the result of the array. I’m wondering if there is a way to somehow parent or track them to an object so that all I have to do is scale the object down and the legs will follow and proceed to fold inward while maintaining their pivot point.

Thank you!

2021_0407_Total Station.blend (3.3 MB) Capture|533x500


Since you are using non-destructive modeling, this rigging is a little bit tricky.

Easiest way is to add the “Base” Shape Key, then add a “Closed” one, and in edit mode move the legs to the closed position. You can then just keyframe the Value for the “Closed” Shape Key for opening and closing animation.

Another way would be to use a 1-bone armature that you align with the main leg and then on the leg manually insert an armature modifier BEFORE your Array modifier (i.e. no parenting and use only Envelope mode).
You can then animate the rotation of the bone to open and close all the legs.

Good luck!


Excellent suggestions, I will play around with the methods you mentioned and see if I can get it. Thank you!

1 Like

This is exactly the way I made the open & closed states for my music stands, for mechanical stuff, it works really well.

I really like your thinking. Keep it up.

Finally got around to playing with this today and it worked great. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!