View Full Version : R&D:spine rig

11 November 2002, 12:47 AM
Here's a spine setup ive just finished, for max 4/5. Its part of a lot of research stuff along with my faceR rig im working on, towards my next short film. Have a play and see what you think, just rotate/move the 2 large point helpers. I'll post it on my site also, when its finished.

P.s theres a few clitches i have to iron out.


12 December 2002, 01:31 PM
Hi eek,
I followed you from the thread with your fantastic facial rig. I don't have Max, and would love to see what kind of groovy idea you've baked up for the spine!
Could you post some screen shots? :thumbsup:

12 December 2002, 12:29 AM
great aprouch man,
seems to have almost the same effect as a spline ik spine.
pretty neat aprouch.


12 December 2002, 01:31 AM
I checked out this rig, and it really seemed promising. Inspired by eek's idea, I rebuilt it and took it a few steps further by adding some missing functionality.

I hope you don't mind, eek :cool:

Get my version of the rig (right-click and save as...): Spine V2.max (

By the way, that's Max 5 only. I could rebuild the rig in R4, though, if necessary.

Here's how to use it:
1. Blue circle: Bends the lower spine along with the hips. Also, rotate on local X to twist the lower spine.

2. Orange circle: Independently rotates the hips.

3. Yellow circle: Independently bends the lower spine.

4. "H" control: Sways the hips from the mid-spine.

5. "T" control: Sways the upper torso from the mid-spine.

6. Yellow "box" point at top of spine: Bends the upper spine. Also, rotate on local X to twist the upper spine.

The rest is just a stripped down leg setup, with a COM object for good measure.

NOTE: Many of the points I used to enhance the setup have their box, cross, etc. properties turned off, so you'll have to select them from the selection dialog to examine what I've done with them.

I'd love some feedback on this, especially from eek. Thanks!

12 December 2002, 07:49 PM
hi LFShade,

Nice improvements, how did you fix the twist problem? Im using max 4 /xsi at the moment max 5 seems a bit flaky to me! could you possibly do a down coversion to max 4, as i'd like to check it out.

By the way if anyones stuck on anything, im always here!

P.s nice improvements!

12 December 2002, 08:15 PM
Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you're not bothered by me running with your idea :)

I'll start working on an R4 version now that I know someone's interested. Fixing the twisting action was tricky, but the solution actually turns out to be quite simple. I created an additional point helper at each spine joint, with orientation constraints to the upper and lower control shapes. I weighted the constraints similarly to the way the IK handle positions are weighed to their points -- the higher up the spine, the more influence from the upper control & vice-versa. Then I created more points, one for each of the IK chains' joint angle, and linked them to the previous points accordingly.

I'm not sure what whimsy drove me to link an additional bone to each spine joint. I think it's because I wanted to add the wings, but had already converted the spine bones to meshes for some reason. Ultimately, these additional bones really arent' necessary, they were just for show :shrug:

R4 rig will be available soon so you can check it out! Thanks for the comments, eek :cool:

12 December 2002, 10:28 PM
Hey cool LFShade,

We tried that approach but were geting flipping at 180 degrees, I'll give it another go though, and keep playing with it! next challenge stopping compression and crunching happening!


12 December 2002, 12:27 AM
I know what you mean about the flipping, but I don't see that as an issue since the average spine doesn't twist that far. Not the average human spine, that is. I'm not sure what you mean about compression and crunching. I don't suppose you could post a small image or animation to illustrate the problem? You can use the R4 rig if you like - the link to it is below :)

There are still some issues with the twisting in my setup, since I've not found a way to make the IK angle target points follow the spine by position -- when you sway the upper spine left and right, it tends to twist around toward the character's centerline, which is not exactly natural. If you find a way around that, please let me know!

Grab the all new, exciting R4.x version of the spine R&D WIP! (

I've left all the various point objects visible for easier inspection. And, just for fun, it's animated! Nothing fancy, just a progression of rotations on the various controls of the rig. I was bored.

Cool Tidbit of the Moment: I've now transplanted this spine rig into my Cartoony Elf ( character, and I'm sllloooowwwlllyy getting some animation done! Christmas will have long passed before I'll have anything worth showing :hmm:

12 December 2002, 12:46 PM
Ahh i see LFShade twist idea nice! i was positionally constraining, the first point to a bone..basically it wasnt working now it does!
The compression problem is that if you move the top controller to far down, everything either flips or crumples!

The XSI isner fixes this, so however far down or close you bring the top controller to the bottom, it automatically pushes out to compensate!!

A pic showing you the crumpling problem:
(i know its exagerated but you may need to put it in extreme poses)


12 December 2002, 08:17 PM
Ahhhh! Yes, that is a problem. Although I'm not sure under what circumstances you would need this much compression of the spine. If this is for a cartoony setup, maybe there's a way to implement stretchy bones so that the tension doesn't get screwed up as the IK handles move closer together. I'll crunch on that for a bit and see where it gets me.

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