The simplest Car Rig I've ever built.


After my 4x4 autodrive system, I started to search how to achieve the same result or better, with the less objects possible.

The video below is only an animatic. It is only a test without shading nor texture.
It is a demo of my current minimalist car setup made with BLENDER v2.49b.

The goal is to provide to the end user the simplest rig, with a maximum of functions, giving the more life to the animation.

Only 9 objects are used for this setup : 2 Empties, 6 meshes (not 7 as written in the video : it is a typo error.) and 1 lattice !

No Physics simulation. Only “mechanics” made with constraints. Ground detection using 5 sensors (vertex groups) on a plane affected by a ShrinkWrap modifier.

Several vertex groups in each object give spatial references for the numerous tracking constraint, allowing realistic animation for the car and the pilot character.

Features of the setup :

1 - Automatic ground level and obstacles detection.
2 - Four independent wheels.
3 - Dynamic suspension with automatic transversal slope.
4 - Tires deformation.
5 - Automated steering wheel.
6 - Automatically animed driver.
7 - Can follow a Curve or a keyframed Empty.
8 - The system allows as well to build long trucks with trailers.

Just add the body of the car, the four wheels, the steering wheel and your own character, or edit the provided character.

The tires deformation can be improved. I’m still working on it. Maybe I’ll have to add one more object to solve things.

The wheels require a vertex group to allow the tires deformation without affecting the wheel rim.

Currently, if you don’t need the transversal deformation of the tires, the setup is already usable, but I will provide a blend file when I’ll have fixed the trouble with the tires. So, be patient and stay tuned !

Best regards,


This is great, it looks fantastic so far. The car seems very responsive and the dude driving is brilliant also.

Thanks seanser, I’d love to see your amazing BMW animated with my rig !

Stay tuned !

ROUBAL, it looks really great! You have done a really good work, guy.

Very cool - hopefully there is scope for using this in Durian ( a 4x4 Cart Wheel vehicle :slight_smile:

AhAh! I’m not sure that we will see such things in Durian !

Here is a new video of the same animation with tires deformation improved and the character chewing a chewing gum !o)

Next step : I have to simplify my Long truck system taking in account the technics I used for the car setup.

The blend file should be available in a close future !

I have seen your Land Rover moving on
Its great. Looking like real.
and its leaving marks on the ground too…
and dust is also looking real.

Nice and great.
How could you achieve such a great Blender.

A question:
I’ve seen some of your videos, but your rigs can let a car got far from the floor? Like taking of off a ramp like a stunt car? Thanks ^^

@kkrawal : Thanks for your comment. Is it a question ? I wrote a tutorial for the 4x4 system and the Blend file is provided too.

Search 4x4-Autodrive-v6.1 on this page :

@Cloud-GL : A goal of these rigs is to keep the wheels always in contact with the ground, which is the main difficulty when animating a vehicle on a bumpy terrain. If you want the car to take off, it is possible by editing the file by hand. It is a work done in “secondary animation”. The rigs are made to do most of the works, and fine details can be added in a second time here and there.

This said, The contact with the ground is achieved thanks to the ShrinkWrap modifier . In Projection mode, this modifier allow two objects used as targets, if you add an unvisible copy of the road, with some deformations where you need a “take off” effect, the modifier will make an average between the road altitude and the unvisible second target, and your car will take off exacly where you want it to do !o)

I used this trick in my 4x4 demo to help the wheels of the “Blend Rover” climbing over the tree trunk.

In the current setup, as there are multiple ShrinkWrap modifiers with various Offset values, and because I use them in “Nearest Surface point” mode, allowing only one target per modifier instead of two, it would be very complicated and tedious to use this method.

Fortunately, there is a very simple and efficient method that we can use : Just duplicate the road and make the copy real by applying Multires, and all the modifiers. This will be the rendered road. The second one will be set to wire and not renderable, and will be editable in two manners : You can either edit the curve supporting the road (if you used one), or the road mesh itself (useful for detailed bumps and on a terrain without roads). The curve deforms the road in XYZ and gives it its general shape, and the road deforms the curve in detail in Z direction, through the ShrinkWrap modifiers.

So, you can see that it is possible to get the maximum of possibilities from this rig !

Nice work ROUBAL!

I see, thanks!

Philippe ROUBAL : great work
i like wolrd of cars :slight_smile:
really it’s nice animation

Thank you !

Here is a new video link, showing a jumping test over a broken bridge :

For this new animatic test, two meshes objects have been added to the
setup, and two Empties.

The wheels are more independent and their slope is affected by the weight of the car.

The two Empties are not really necessary if you need only automated animation, but they are very useful to allow an adjustment of the wheels slope, espescially when the car takes off, like when jumping over the broken bridge.

In this sequence, most of the animation is automatic, but secondary animation has been used to increase the fall of the wheels when jumping over the bridge : by moving the front and rear empties along their Local Z axis and inserting few Loc keyframes, it is easy to simulate the wheels fall, due to gravity.

Please forgive the poor sound quality. I have subscribed to Vimeo +, but the reencoding of the sound is not as good as expected.

This is looking so great, ROUBAL!

I can’t wait to study how you’ve set up the ground detection!

@bunny : I used almost the same method as for my 4x4-Autodrive-v6.1 (available with PDF manual in the Blender section of my site) : shrinkwrap modifier, but very simplified. Instead of several planes, I used only one plane but several vertices are set in several groups and used as sensors. The other big difference is that I have not used an armature. Be patient, I still have to improve and simplify things here and there to provide a versatile setup usable for trucks as well. The manual also is not yet written.

I know this mis a bit off topic, but since I have used your 4x4 rig I wondered if I could adapt two of the sensors to track the ground and attach them to a characters feet to simulate skiing? Then as the character moved downhill, his feet would track the landscape. Still thinking about it…

@Atom : It is a good idea ! with several hooks attached to the sensors, you could even get some smoothness in the Skis ! I’ll try to remember to do a trial when I’ll have enough free time (maybe around year 2025… :o)

For my own, I still have to think about tanks suspensions and the nightmare of the caterpillars (tracks) tension ! I have got new ideas while working on the current system, but there are often some steps from ideas to something really working !

To be followed…

Considering I don’t know anything in this area this is being very critical but I would say that with the broken bridge test, the landing when viewed off to the side seems just a little off to me I think because of the landing placement and the manner in which the wheels reconnect with the road at the very edge. The jump from the driver’s point of view inside the car looks great and the guy chewing gum is a very nice touch.

I’ve just started on my own design of ‘pony car’ at the moment inspired by a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, I’ll definitely try your setup once I’m finished and you have inspired me to think about a mid air render a la dukes of hazard.

the landing when viewed off to the side seems just a little off to me I think because of the landing placement and the manner in which the wheels reconnect with the road at the very edge.

@seanser : This part can be improved easily by the user, because the bounces are defined by editing the fake road (unvisible) or the trajectory curve. The transversal slope of the wheels is done by secondary animation, using the two empties controlling the front and rear wheels. I did it very quickly, without much care.

Hi ! I have not had much time these last weeks, but finally I have written a step by step tutorial and cleaned the setup.

So, here they are !

Cars and Trucks Autodrive - Blend files and PDF Tutorial available here :

I hope that everything is understandable.

As I have had to rebuilt everything from scratch to create the images for the tutorial, the names of the objects aren’t always the same as the names used in the complete blend files, but after understanding the tutorial, you shouldn’t be lost.

Some constraints here and there may have changed and some parenting as well, because I found some improvements while writing the tutorial.

Just play with the files and look carefully at the parents and constraints.

Please, read the Infos and Warnings in the text window of the Blend files. This could avoid you to search why the animation seems to be broken in some situations ! Some features only work if some layers are visible, for example… So, please read carefully everything !

Enjoy !

Best regards,