Rigging for Vehicles & Rotating/Steering Wheels


(Clockmender) #1

I have had several requests recently for advice on how to rig vehicles on complex paths, S bends and the like, so I have published four tutorials on my website just look for the menu items on the right of the pages. :grinning:

The first covers the basic principles for cars and articulated lorries (Truck-Semitrailers on the West side of the Big Pond) that are used in all four tutorials, and for vehicles including motorcycles and aeroplanes. I have not shown any suspensions yet, these tutorials are about getting the wheels to rotate and steer and getting the bike and plane to bank on corners, without having to keyframe everything.

Here is an image of the Bike:


The Truck:


And the plane:


I have used a mixture of basic Armature Rigging, Drivers, Animation Nodes and some of my own AN nodes. The models are very basic, just to show the principles and there are four videos, one for each tutorial, to show the animations in operation.

I hope you find these useful and if you have any questions, please either ask here, or send me a PM. The question that comes up time and again is how to make the wheels rotate properly when the vehicle strays from a Global Axis, these methods take care of that in a simple and easy to use fashion. :eyebrowlift:

Cheers, Clock. :slight_smile:


(ajcdfin) #2

Nice job Clock, some really good info


(Clockmender) #3

Thank you sir!

I have started working on the suspension and added the rider, here is Erkinator braking to a complete stop: :stuck_out_tongue:


Note the rear wheel in the air, the front forks compressed and the rear swinging arm rotated down a little. :eek:

This is all done with Animation Nodes and a modified Armature. I will add this to the tutorial once it is all finished. I have used my Speed & Acceleration node to get the speeds and accelerations to feed the bone rotations and to set the text object parented to the camera.

Here he is pulling a small wheely at the start line and just getting his foot on the footrest:


This is the node tree:


Cheers, Clock. :cool:


(scottmcc) #4

Thanks for sharing!! This will help a lot with my current project. How would your suspension setup would respond to a rocky path. would the wheels come of the ground or would you animate that separately?


(Clockmender) #5

Suspensions are now explained on THIS page. Here are two pictures form that tutorial:



Showing a suspension pitched and lowered. Here’s the blend file from the last part of the tutorial:

suspension.blend (581 KB) Just move/rotate the “body” bone.

It’s all about keeping the wheels on the ground and then moving the body to where it should be. The are many ways to keep the wheels on the ground, indeed there are tutorials to cover that on this section of BA. Whatever method you use, even having a separate curve for each wheel, that is what you must do, i.e. control the wheels then control the body. :yes:

Cheers, Clock. :eyebrowlift:


(Meshmonkey) #6

Awesome! :eyebrowlift: Thanks so much for sharing.


(scottmcc) #7

That’s rad! Thanks again!


(Clockmender) #8

@meshmonkey & @scottmcc, Thank you gentlemen for the kind words.

I am going to make a video involving the car and the bike in some kind of race, not sure of the details yet, but it will involve some fast driving and nefarious shenanigans, also I think I will make the car do some tail sliding and maybe the bike do some jumping - who knows? When I was young we used to take two close hump-back bridges near Dovedale in England at such a speed that we took off on the first and landed on the down-slope of the second - then hit the brakes hard before the following corner. I never crashed doing this, but would not try it again now… :no:

I have started on making the bike a much better model:


With better materials and more detail, I shall do the same for the car, including adding a driver and start a WIP on BA once I have some progress. I shall, of course detail the rigging and animations in the WIP.

Cheers, Clock. :eyebrowlift:

PS. Don’t forget to ask me here is there is anything that is not clearly explained and I will do all I can to do so. :yes:


(Clockmender) #9

I have added a new tutorial adding to the previous ones, to cater for two things, one is rear steering wheels on coaches, etc. and the other is to cater for transition between flat and inclined roads, here is the armature:


The tutorial is here.

Cheers, Clock. :slight_smile:


(özgür) #10

Thanks for sharing
Granddads know best! :eyebrowlift2:


(Clockmender) #11

You’re welcome my friend!

Cheers, Clock.

PS. Does anyone want to know how to rig a peddle cycle with the rider’s legs moving as they should, I can add that to my website if anyone wants it.


(Clockmender) #12

I have updated the website with a new Tutorial.

This shows a revised and more accurate method to activate the front suspension when the bike pitches, here is an image of the new bike (well parts of it, it is not finished!):

Cheers, Clock. :smiley: