View Full Version : Muscle/Skin system

04 April 2003, 02:28 PM
I was just wondering if anyone as come up with a alternative way of simulating muscles under the skin, i have tried several methods

A: Wrap deformer, works well but no sliding under the skin

B: influence objects, again works fairly well but still no sliding

C: soft body, allows sliding but to tempremental

I read an article buy a guy called Richard addison wood who wrote the muscle/skin system for lord of the rings and also have seen stuff that ilm does, and it sounds like both methods use volume to acheive the desired affect, by this i mean The software looks at the empty space between the skin,muscle and bones and tries to maintain this volume.

any way enough of me going on, anyone else got any suggestions? as this subject is something i am extremly interested in

04 April 2003, 07:23 PM
Yeah, the softbodies while using rigid bodies(for bones and muscles) sounds like the best solution avaliable to us guys in maya right now.

your best bet is probably support someone like this...

hes working on a plugin for a muscle system

05 May 2003, 11:27 AM
been lurking for about a year here so here goes.... go to

it's called ACT Pro 1.6, it quite a bit of money but it's pretty affordable considering what it can do. it says it's for max but the maya version should be out sometime this month. just pointing you in the right direction. :thumbsup:

05 May 2003, 12:24 PM
have tried out A friends copy of ACT on max and have heard about it for quite a while but they have been talking about a maya version but it never seems to materialize. but that is definately the kind of thing.

05 May 2003, 12:28 PM
Does anyone have a tutorial for how to do this using soft bodies? It's the one way I've not tried it before, and would like to see what kind of results it gives...

05 May 2003, 06:01 PM
dont really think there's any online. My old teacher Todd Palamar has a book that has a few chapters at the end about it. Ive seen it at amazon.

this should be a link to it: Creature Feature (

but here's the basics:
model your mesh in polys
model a skeleton. and model muscles (have them work w/ SDK and deformers like squash)
once your skeleton and muscles work. make them all passive rigidbodies
make your mesh into a softbody and make it interact with the rigidbody muscles
tweak all the settings with the softbodies and rigidbodies

05 May 2003, 06:17 PM
In order to get the true sliding of a muscle you will really have to build it like it has muscles. Attaching with it's true origin and insertion points.
The influence objects thing works really well on a nurbs sphere that is driving the skin (muscle). But the refresh is terribly slow, and therefore only a good idea, if you have lots and lots of time on your hands. I think using blendshapes is really not a bad way to go, they update alot faster (usually, but depends on the mesh).
I am currently creating a facial setup that uses the wire tool as the influence, and then blendshapes made out of the wires. It works pretty well, and the files sizes are riduculously small. I have 16 blendshapes (so far) on my face and the file is only 600k. If I had 16 different polygonal faces in the scene it would be at least 5 mb by now.

05 May 2003, 09:30 PM
hey, that's a good idea. using the wire deformers as the blend shape..i'm gonna go try that out..thanks! :)


05 May 2003, 06:07 PM
I'm actually looking at writing a muscle system in Maya API as well. I've actually already looked into it a bit.

Where is that article by Richard Addison Wood, I'm curious to read it.

05 May 2003, 08:43 AM
It is not really an article buy him but in the article he does give a good discription of the concept, i would be interested in testing your plugin, i would love to be able to code such a plugin but i cant code at all,

here is the article

05 May 2003, 12:43 PM
Thanks that was an interesting read. Some of it was similar to what I was already planning and figuring out.

05 May 2003, 01:08 PM
i'm too writing a muscle plugin in maya api, more to learn the api than to use, if you want to see how works and test it i post a new version in thos post.

muscle plugin (

still have a minor bug that i must solve when i have time

05 May 2003, 06:17 PM
i just find a web of a senior researcher that had a very good pdf explaining a way to made a skin/fat/muscle system.

amary aubel page (c

05 May 2003, 08:10 AM
I've tried the Sculpt deformer (in Maya 5) with objects controling the deformation and that works quite nicely, with the proper settings IMA. It's terrible slow though when you have multiple NURBS objects deforming a poly-object, but on NURBS it works OK. I havent tried it in a rig yet, but I guess the calculation time will go right off the scale. So I think you'll have to wait until you render to get feed back...

Saw Snoswell demo their fantastic muscle system at the 3d festival this weekend, and they are working on a Maya version. The MAX version was simply fantastic, doing deformations in real time! Totally!

05 May 2003, 08:39 AM
a freind of mine was speaking to a guy from ilm at siggraph last year and apparently the muscle and skin system they use is quite similar to the softbody method, and has many of the same problems, like the character not being able to intersect itslef and it can take between 3 and six hours to do the calculations for one character

05 May 2003, 05:32 PM
Thanks larryVM!

That doc helps a lot. Actually much of the basis was the same as what I was already planning, so it was good to see I am on the right track.

As for speed issues, a lot depends on how things are done. The Max muscle system that is out is actually realtime or near realtime...tho I don't think it is as complex as some of the things mentioned in the above papers etc...


05 May 2003, 06:33 PM
thats rigth for me too, i read some thing that are in may plugin too.

one question, are you workin with a new worker from spain called Erik?

is a friend of mine and begin work in blue sky this moth

05 May 2003, 06:37 PM
Yeah the cgcharacter people are porting to Maya. My version right now is all on paper...I need to buy Maya at home first...hahahaha.

Erik yeah, he just started here a week ago or so. He sits right next to me on the opposite side of my cubicle wall.


05 May 2003, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by michaelcomet
Yeah the cgcharacter people are porting to Maya. My version right now is all on paper...I need to buy Maya at home first...hahahaha.

Erik yeah, he just started here a week ago or so. He sits right next to me on the opposite side of my cubicle wall.


Say hello to him from some spanish freaks!!! Partners from the forest!!!

:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:


I have been on the talk of Doctor Snoswell , from cgcharacter, in coppenhaguen last week (3D Festival). They are developing for maya the absolute character tools....actually i know the developer, hes spanish as well...(wow, we are all spanish!!!) He is going crazy with the maya SDK, he is an extraordinary MAX developer (he worked the arnold renderer in fact), but maya is getting hard....:airguitar :airguitar :airguitar sure he will do an amazing work!!!

The point is that the muscle system is AMAZING!!!
:drool: :drool:


05 May 2003, 08:56 PM
BTW does anyone know if u have to use VC++ 6.0 or can one use the new .NET version of the microsoft compiler. I can't even find standard versions of vc6 anymore.

05 May 2003, 09:39 PM
You can apparently use .NET to compile plugins for Maya, but .NET uses a different project file format so you have to do some massaging of the converted projects. Alias is using ver 6 for compiling Maya 4, 4.5, and 5.0 according to what their tech support told me. You can find professional versions of MSVC v6.0 out there for retail sale, but no standard versions. ( The standard version if v6.0 is available here and there on Ebay.

I found and read the Aubel thesis paper a couple of months ago. Very cool stuff and interesting ideas. I've been planning on working on a muscle/skin system similar to that paper as well, as soon as I get time (in the next few months). I haven't had a chance to look at Larry's plugin yet. Just watched the videos.

Michael Duffy

05 May 2003, 09:45 PM
Cool thanks mike.

Yeah I really don't want to spend $400 in pro if I don't have to. And am not 100% sure about ebay versions...heh.

When u say there are issues with converted projects, are you referring to any older stuff that was done, and samples...or even new projects that get setup? Do you know if they auto project creation wizard Maya has works with .NET? I suppose it wouldn't be that hard to setup proper linking and includes anyhow...

05 May 2003, 10:28 PM
I don't run .NET, but from what Alias tech support told me it is mostly that .NET converts the v6.0 project files into its own format. So this affects existing projects, not new ones. However if you have multiple coders working on a project, they would all have to be on v6.0 or on .NET or they couldn't share the same project files. I don't recall if additional minor tweaks need to be done to the project settings after the conversion or not.

I don't know if the project wizard works with .NET or not.

Yeah, you'd have to be careful with the Ebay versions... have to make sure you get one that hasn't been opened at all so you could be sure that person hasn't registered their copy with MS already.

Michael Duffy

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