MagicRopes : Special setup for ropes and chains

Hi, derivated from the setup using dependencies that I built some time ago for long trucks with trailers, I have created this setup that I call “Magic Ropes”.

Download the blend file below (for Blender 2.49b).

This setup allows to create all kind of ropes, garlands and chains, including cartridges chains for machine guns or whatever you can imagine.

Just select Layers from 1 to 6 and play with the Empty attached to the tip of the rope/chain.

No curve used, no IK chain, no bone. All the trick is in a very simple tracking constraint repeated for each segment :

1- A segment is parented to an empty.
2- An empty is parented to the segment.
3- The segment is tracking the empty parented to it.
4 - The following segment is parented to the previous last empty… and so on.

Nothing more, repeated as many times you need it !

The ropes and chains are on layer 1,2,3,4,5,6 and their empties are on layers 11,12,13,14,15,16.

  • Only one Empty is required to move the tip of the rope.
  • You can animate a snake really easilly !
  • You can move the rope in any of the 3 directions.
  • You can cut the rope by selecting and moving any part of it,
    and if you want it to be free, just unparent the first empty
    from the previous objects in the chain.
  • You can pull objects with the ropes and chains : on Layer 6,
    the chain pulls a cannon ball.
  • You can attach your rope to an arrow, and an archer will be
    able to throw it.
  • Almost infinite effects can be achieved by scaling the Empty
    along various directions. You can shorten or increase the length
    of the rope and get all kind of other effects.
  • You can also edit the first segment of the rope and modify the
    whole rope in a breeze.
  • Try to make a knot !

The current rope is made of segments, like a chain. But it is possible
to create a slave object (made of one unique mesh)and animate it by
using the empties as hooks. It requires more efforts,but allows very interesting
effects. One of them : animate and render a long plane supporting an UV texture used
to create animated waves trails for boats, following smoothly the curves of the trajectory. This texture with displacement mapping will allow to achieve great effects without fluid simulation.

The blend file is here :

Have fun !

Thanks very much for sharing this technique and your blend file.

So simple, and such a great result. Thanks for your contributions to the community. I need to do more!

Brilliant idea! Cool! :slight_smile:

I’m impressed! Thank you :slight_smile:

@ROUBAL or anyone who tried the nice example with blender-2.5:
the original setup with a few hundred through constraints connected items
make my blender-2.5 very slow and seems to do something like a stresstest.

Same computer and blender-2.49 has no problems moving the first empty around
and let the rest (snake) follow in realtime.
Anyone who can confirm this manner/cpu-stresstest with blender-2.5 (alpha2 - and i use the 64bit-linux-version).

Nice work.

The only flaw I can find is that it is not possible to create the same animation every time. For instance, I took the rope on layer-1 and made the empty follow a path. When I hit rewind, the rope does not reset. The rope or chain is always in the current state it was last changed to. Is there a way to reset on rewind?

@atom : Yes, of course : it is really easy to reset the thing in order to get always the same path :

At frame 1 : put the Empty far from the actual starting point and insert a Loc key.
At frame 2 (or frame N) : Put the Empty atthe starting point for your animation and insert a Key.
Then, insert al required keys after frame N.

There is also another solution, but it has to be applied when you build the chain : Insert a keyframe with constraint factor at 0 at frame 1 and an other with constraint factor at 1 à frame 2.

This Ipo on the constraint will reset it. After that you can link-duplicate by Alt+D as many times you want to build the chain.

@test-dr : I have not tested with Blender 2.50. With 2.49b, it works very fluently with a very long rope on a Pentium 4 monocore at 2GHz.

Great work Roubal, this is some really neat stuff!

Id like to get it working in 2.5x however, for an animation im working on.

When I try to open it in 2.55, Blender crashes and this error is printed several times while the .blend tries to load:

Im assuming its to do with the script compatibility…

how did u do the parenting and stuff? i am a beginner and need to know. if not i need to know how to copy and paste from different blender files. thx!

@gotblendah you might want to get into some beginner tutorials which cover that kind of basic stuff.
Shift select 2 objects and ctrl+p to parent. A lot of the rope setup is done with rigging constraints and python scripting as well.
Also look for tutorials on appending, which is importing objects from other .blend files.

Thank you ROUBAL for the awesome and clean setup!

We are currently working on a 2.5* implementation of this setup.
We will soon release the .blend file and a script to automatically build the rope.


SciVis Group
CNR Pisa Italy


You can find here

the Magic Rope setup for Blender 2.5, with a script for automatic building.


Maria Francesca Zini
Scivis Group CNR Italy

Thank you sted and myrtil for making this script !

I have not yet switched to Blender 2.5x because of a lack of time. So many things to do, so many softwares to learn, and my Flying Circus project going too slowly…

This script will bring a great gain of time to make ropes ! I will test it as soon as possible !

Tried to download the file and got a file404. I’m guessing it’s been removed by now, if you still have it could you repost the 2.49b blend file Roubal? I am working on something this may be a perfect solution for.

this is pretty cool.cldnt have found it at a better time.thanks