how would you rig this mane?


I have made this lion model and I want to rig his mane.
the idea is to have it flexiable enough to move the mane as a loop and position the mane parts that could intersect with the mesh legs during animation in hopefully a natural way…

I did a chain of bones in a loop as first pictured and thought if I want to move the whole hoop I would create a switch bone (highlighted in blue; second image) and make the root bone of the loop the child of the switch using the “child of” constraint.

So far this has not worked so I thought there must be an easier way and why not ask for some help on ideas from more experienced blender users.

Any help is much appreciated :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance


Personally I think the many bones of the “loops” will be more trouble than help. My approach would be to make the mane mesh separate from the body, and make it a closed mesh, like a soft-sculptured tube, with the inside wall of the tube closely fitting the lion’s neck. Then apply Softbody physics to the mane, with the lion’s body being a collision mesh. Weight the mane mesh so that the upper part retains the majority of its shape as the “Goal” for the Softbody simulation, and give less Goal weight to the lower part of the mane where it has to interact with the body through collision. Tweaking the density of the mane mesh and the Goal weighting should provide a satisfactory response to the leg movement without having to keyframe or shapekey the whole thing manually.

Once you have a good Softbody sim done it may be helpful to convert it to shapekeys fro final editing, to remove any unwanted intersections or to smooth out the motion.

Thanks for answering Chipmasque

My lion is going to be a stone lion, so making it a stiff soft body like jello will be good.

My lion is low poly like, so do you think I will need more geometry for the mane and neck?
The head is a separate mesh from the body already but is the same object. do I need separate the head from the body object and make it a completely new object in order for this to work?

And just for clarification I extrude the mane mesh up into the head area to make a tube, but not the neck part which is attached to the body, that will be okay the way it is? is that right?

sorry for the additional questions to your suggestion. I have never tackled soft body in all its glory apart from the odd make a simple curtain sim from a plane tutorial.

The convert soft body to shape keys for final editing has kinda gone over my head, but hopefully the blender wiki will have some answers.

Thanks for offering a different approach any answers to the questions above are much appreciated


The Soft Body object and its Collision mesh(es) are most often separate objects, so the mane and body should be also. You can do Self-collision with SB objects but it’s really finicky and can produce odd results under some circumstances. I usually avoid it if I can. I’d extrude the neck to join with the head, and link all this to the main armature for the overall body motion, basically the lion minus the mane.

I’d then model the mane to fit snugly around the neck, like a fat sleeve – there are ways to get an exact match between the outer neck surface and the inner mane surface – and also link it to the main armature using similar weight painting. The intent here is to get the mane as a separate object but for the most part moving with the body as if it were part of the body.

One that’s done, you can apply the Soft Body physics to the mane, using a weight-painted vertex group (likely one which contains all or nearly all the mane mesh vertices) to control how much the Soft-Body physics affects the mane. This is what the “Goal” vertex group is used for in the SB sim.

For example, at the top end of the mane where it meets the neck/back of the head, you probably want the mane to act only under the Armature control – here you would paint the Goal vertex group with a weight of 1.0 (solid red). Soft Body physics would(should) have no influence on that part of the mesh. Down at the lower front where the chest and legs meet the mane, the collision between body and mane should govern the motion, so you would paint considerably less Goal weight, allowing the SB physics to work more strongly there.

In other places around the mane you may want a little “jiggle” from SB motion, so an intermediate weight can be given to the Goal, allowing both Armature & SB to have some influence.

It’s a bit of a balancing act, getting the Goal weighted so everything moves as you want it to, but the results are worth it imo. While it would be possible to rig the mane and key its motion fully via an armature, I think it might tend to look too stiff and less natural, since with the SB physics it can have a little “independent” motion governed by the body’s action.

In terms of modeling the mane and body to work well with the SB sim, my rule of thumb is that a denser mesh will provide better collision detection (a good thing) but too much density can really slow down the collision calcualtions (not a good thing). So try to add loops and increase mesh density only where it’s actually needed, in the areas where collision is more important. It’s also a good idea to use a collision proxy, essentially a duplicate of the main body mesh that moves just the same, but from which have been removed all faces that will have no SB interaction. This can really speed up the physics sim calculations. The proxy can be set to not render, or be placed on a non-rendering layer as long as it and the SB object, the mane, share that layer.

Wow thanks . You have really given me a good push, i’ll separate the meshes and add more geometry and give it a go!

Thanks for taking the time to answer my query