What is best and easy approach to animating this?

I am modeling a WWII aircraft and wish to animate portions of it (canopy, flaps, landing gear, etc.). The flaps and landing gear have proven easy enough, but I want to animate this canopy that collapses down. In the GIF below I’ve been able to get a simulated collapse of the canopy by using hooks and some object constraints, but not satisfied with result. I can’t seem to limit the movement or rotation of the hooks themselves and using hooks is probably not the best way to do this. I attempted doing this via armature and bones but proved quite difficult. Is there a simpler way to make this animation, perhaps using constraints?

I think an armature would be best. The canopy can be two IK chains going to the top section. Hooks are a quick fix, but not really ideal for mechanical rigs of rigid objects.

@yogyog Thanks for the reply…why 2 IK chains? One for front and one for rear? Can you point me to a tutorial that would explain how to set a chain similar to this?

one for the right side, one for the left.

It’s possible with constraints, yes. Copy rotation for the green ones, copy location for the blue one, and transform constraint for the red one to translate location to rotation.

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Thanks this helps in understanding, but having issues getting this to work. Can you send the .blend file?

One other comment, the canopy is tapered larger in front, smaller in back. So not sure how to get the bone rotations to line up with the hinge axes.

untitled.blend (106.4 KB)

OK, i think it can be simulated by bones easiest.

Select the edge across the top of the panel in object edit mode, snap cursor to it. Then go to edit the bone of the armature, and snap the tail to the cursor. Then select the bottom edge of the panel, snap cursor to it. Then do the same again for the bone, except with the head this time. Then go and select an edge on the side of the panel, snap cursor to that. Then in bone edit mode, ctrl-N to recalculate roll and pick the cursor option.

If you did that right, the bone should be lined up. If it’s still not on the desired axis orientation, you may want to change the roll by ±90° increments until it’s the way you want it.

Hope that makes enough sense to be useful.

I must be dense or something because this whole bone thing just doesn’t seem to work logically to me. I’ve tried 6 ways to Sunday to make this work and cannot get it working where this will collapse as shown in the picture. Especially when the canopy is tapered back and down as it is. If anyone can help I’d appreciate it…and the help I’m looking for is not only to make it work but to explain why the bones are placed the way the are and how they interact and parenting. Just not getting it. Lots of tutorials that show how to build a rig, but can’t find any that explain the why armatures work the way the do, when you need to reverse bones, how parenting affects the rig, how to keep bones moving or rotating along a custom axis, etc.

Anyway, here is the blend file of the model if someone wants to give it a try.

Canopy Test Rig File.blend (547.2 KB)

Thanks for all the help thus far, it has helped me understand some.

This is what I was saying for alignment…

Issue is more with the curved panels at this point, because they’re not straight along the edges as I thought. So the relatively quick alignment process doesn’t quite do it on its own. Still curious if I can figure something out though.

Here’s what I could come up with: Canopy Test Rig File_PJS1.blend (550.4 KB)

IK bones on their own weren’t sufficient, since although technically the bones should have been orientated and positioned properly, they’d still be off on their own Y-axis enough to not work right. I figure this mechanism is hinged at the ends, and those points just went wherever they wanted with the initial bone rig I had.

However by using an extra set of bones as a hinge and then targeting a reference point on the IK, now I have something that makes more sense in it’s behavior. I think that’s about as close as I can get it for now.

Hey, I worked on your file also, I think the geometry of the parts is inaccurate, I can get two of the three to line up - but not all three at once. Look thru several different set ups. Post back if you have any questions.