Animating with muscles: spot the difference?


Howdy all,

I have been working on some animations of the human form using muscle to deform the skin.

Below is a still from the animation.

Do you think the muscles improve the look of the animation?

The software that was created to make the aniamtion is Absolute Character Tools from cgCharacter

the animation can be downloaded (300kb) from here

(use right click and save as) have your div x codec ready



oops forgot the image

By the way the animation and image is just the OpenGL hardware preview, I am more interested in the animated geometry rather than the shaders and lighting.

The motion is just a standard mocap I cant take credit for that.

The point is the muscle animation is procedural you set up the muscles once and they work for any motion.


You can definately notice the difference, but some of the muscles bulge funny, or maybe its just a bit extreme, the one on his left thigh seems to ride up a bit… There seems to be some wierd direction to the bulging in the ass, like each cheek was split down the middle or something, which might be right… hang on, I’ll just go dance naked in front of a mirror & see if I can see my bum… LOL :smiley: Still, it looks better than the one on the left! :slight_smile:


Looks Great Sam.
You dues ever going to port it out to xsi?

I’ll agree that some of it does look a bit too defined, but only because it’s so local to those areas, back of thighs and fore arm. Whereas the back and shoulders show little. Have you set this area up yet? Across the back where the traps, romboids, and especially across the scapula where the infraspinatus and supraspinatus would extend to the arm. It seems to fold a little odd into the arm off of the back to me.
The butt didn’t really bother me, it’s a bit odd but not a real stand out.
Is it the compression that makes it look to have stumps?

Good work dude,

Man I’d kill for such tools.

have fun,


Good to see a fellow Adelaidian here :)…


Hey everybody thanks for the feedback

I agree with everybody the buldges are a little out of whack in him bum area and they are a little over defined in the back of the upper arm and upper thigh.

but it is a work in progress

As for the port to XSI frumpy, it is something we have considered but cgCharacter are busy pouring resources into the larger Maya community at the moment.

For now it works like a treat in Max.

gotta scoot, more later.



There are currently no muscles in the back at all only in the legs and in the arm up to the rump and shoulder only



Good to see A fellow Adelaidian?

Good to see a couple I say.

Keen to see it with the back set up, would also love to see a head on it and how the traps work up into the neck also the sternomastoid.

Keep up the good ones dude and say hi to Jeff if he’s about.



I would like to get back onto doing the trunk and neck of this chap but i have been diverted to another task.

So many funky muscles to do.

I will say hi to jeff, on the provison you say hi to Sue from me.

Hey I worked out why it says we are novices you have to make a number of posts before you can change it to something cool

its bit of a bummer cos it make it sound like we are novices to the cg community, its just not right!

Have any of the max guys where you work given ACT a go?

go Adelaide! w00t!



I’ve seen Mark Snoswell demonstrating it at discreet. I think the technology is very advanced, especially for it’s price range. Rather easy to use, too. Very impressive. However, most demo animations done with it have something weird about them. Maybe it would help to make the muscles less defined, take into account that there’s fat beneath the skin, too. As more animators start using ACT they will develop techniques that will make it look better. The potential is huge, I have no doubt about that.

Good to know they are porting it to Maya.

I’ve noticed he was dancing like that girl from their demo.


The motion is some demo motion that was lying around on the machine. Probably character studio installed files.

You picked it he does dance like a girl, the motion is called nightclub 9 from a folder called female. I find it is a bit of a change from the gun ho karate moves.

Does this animation fall into the weird category? Naked man with no feet, hands or head dancing like a woman?

Or is more to do with how the muscles are used?

I think I am guilty of going a little heavy handed with the muscles, moderation isnt my forte



I mean weird the way the muscles look. If they were more subtle it would look much better. They do create volume in the right places and all (unless you make a mistake placing them), but it looks strange when they are too visile.

Some tecnical things - if you could put tendons on the underside of the knee (sorry, I don’t know what they are called in English) it would look better. You can’t see the shoulder blades. Calf muscles don’t move.

Did they implement muscles “pulling” the skin in? Looks like they did. I was impressed how Mark used muscles not only as muscles but for other purposes (including modelling) as well.

I’ll try it for sure. Do they have deals for education customers (schools and students) by the way?


the shoulder blade / scapula do not seem to be working as they have not been implemented yet.

I agree with you about the backs of the knee, the hamstring tendons.

muscles are a kick ass method of modelling whether using the primitive themselves or using them to push a mesh around and then collapse with the new state.

not exactly sure of all the details for educational licensing

drop a line to the sales staff.

I am sure something can be worked out for a student license.

seems like everybody wants subtle, so subtle it shall be


Very interesting thread… want to se more…

Samhodge do you have some good links for releated muscle/anatonomy stuff… please share so we all can show the best result from the product ?

I have a question… the built in act muscels is very primitive… so I thought if there is a ease way to just model the muscle in highpoly with cool details and textures… and then use the acs muscle / selfmodelled muscle to deform the skin ???



The best book that I have seen on the subject is “Clemente- Anatomy” it is actually a medical reference.

But as far as movement science goes you will need to get a book aimed at phsyiotherapists or sports scientests, cant think of the names of the books off the top of my head. I think one is ‘Joint Structure and Function’

You really need to know which muscle contraction cause which joint to bend. It is also really important to understand the attachment points and how the muscle lever off of the bones.

Then you also need to learn the language of anatomy and movement science to understand these books.

I was lucky enough to work with a team of physiotherapists for over two years while we worked on Torson the virtual athlete.

But as frunmpy mentioned the Fine Art site, has some excellent reference.


thanks ALOT thx !!!

I have a question… the built in act muscels is very primitive… so I thought if there is a ease way to just model the muscle in highpoly with cool details and textures… and then use the acs muscle / selfmodelled muscle to deform the skin ???


Gota study it. Working with sport science people, physiotherapists must have been ace.
I still train martial arts now, but when I was training 4 times a week, and half of the dudes I was training with were doctors or studying medicine that made a huge difference. The tie in with that, animating, rigging, liffe drawing, and anatomy classes came together so well. one complimented the other so well.

Are you going to have more stuff to show soon? I check the site here and there but have see litle update. I’d love to see a stylized character as much as a human.

Have fun dude.



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