View Full Version : Which way to better rig a wing

04 April 2008, 08:14 AM

I am currently looking at how people rig birds and I keep seeing two different approaches:

The right one is constructed like the actual bird physiology, the skin between the shoulder and the wrist would stretch. But I often see it done like in the left picture too.

- Has anyone experience with one or both (or a different) methods and can comment on the pros/cons, especially in respect to being able to fold and flap the wings and with the same rig.


04 April 2008, 09:56 AM
There are lots of ways to rig a wing. Every person has a different perspective for rigging characters, especially if it is something interesting like a bird's wing...Basically you donot have to be always anatomically correct. A simple rig with better flexibility is ideal. Also, the skeletal setup depends on the types of controls that are going to be needed as far as the animaton is concerned. So, I would suggest to do experimental rig of different varieties and see how the rig works...

04 April 2008, 06:15 PM
It is always good to use anatomical images for reference, but remember the most important thing is useability and end result. example: cartoons are based off of humans, so they use human reference and modify that to achieve the look and feel of a cartoon character(pixar films such as Incredibles, Monster's Inc).

To better help you, do you have sketches of poses that it needs to achieve?

04 April 2008, 11:56 PM
I wouldn't go for the left one in any case, simply because without the real life setup, the wings wouldn't be able to retract at all, which you would either if the wings have to retract entirely in a rest position, or if you want to make a convincing fly animation.

04 April 2008, 09:08 AM
Thanks for the input,

I donīt have specific sketches but the bird is has to rise and spread itīs wings in a majestic pose... I think that there is no way to get that to look good with the simpler setup, though I am sure it would work for small birds. I found some information on Tyson Ibele`s website (, he used a pretty simple rig and for his animation and I think it worked great. The bird even folds his wings with this setup and because of the size and type of bird and the speed of movement it looks right. But for a bigger type of bird I think it would fall apart.

Currently I am doing it like this: The arm skeleton drives a curve which is lofted to a second curve at the back of the wing. This creates a NURBS surface that has the feathers riveted to it (with follicles). The feathers are orient constrained to a couple of guide feathers, for added control when the wing folds.

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04 April 2008, 09:08 AM
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