Crouching Spider, Hidden Butterfly: Or how to make and rig a spider in 3D -Part One

Originally I was going to post something on how to rig a spider or a collection of Spider rigging and animation tutorials.  And yes, you'll still get that but I wanted to show you how to incorporate lessons, tutorials etc into your workflow - even if the tutorial is on anther piece of software.

First off, let me begin by saying that I have been obsessed with rigging a spider for sometime.  One of my portfolio pieces was a spider jumping on a "weboline".  Unfortunately because the file is older and on a CD "somewhere" I don't have a copy available to post - I'll do that once I've gone through all of my piles of plastic media to locate it.  I'm so glad most of my stuff is on a cloud drive now - but alas stuff from the 90's may fall victim to my procrastination paradigm.

Obviously this was in the early days of 3DS Max and the version I used was R1 - the first iteration of 3DS Max.  3DS Max has come a long way since then - but it is still basically the same program.  I've been using it almost as long as I have Photoshop and I doubt that I'll stop any time soon.  Anyway...  For this article I created a simple spider via ZBrush.  Why ZBrush?  Well because I wanted to and because I wanted the flexibility of being able to use the model later on with a more complex normal map but since I wanted to test out the rigging a low-poly version would be used from ZBrush to rig.  Basically I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Here's the rudimentary model I created from ZBrush (you are welcome to use this in your projects for personal or commercial use - but no redistribution):

Here are some links if you are curious as to how this was done:

Once it has been brought into 3DS Max with bones etc applied (I'm using R7 here same copyright as the ZTool version - free for personal or commercial use; do not redistribute):

Ok so I have a spider - now what?  

Well I went on a hunt for a spider rigging tutorial.  To my surprise there weren't as many out there as I would have thought but still quite a few and more than enough to gain some knowledge about rigging spiders.  My favorite was "Spider Walk" by lotsofrobots.

Although he doesn't get into the step by step of rigging he does provide the files and scripts for you to use in your animation.  I think a lot of people would have loved a more thorough explanation of the process but if you open the file and take a look a lot can be gained.

The next tutorials I took a look at were located on YouTube called Spider 8 Rigging Animation low res:



Pretty decent tutorials and they give a guide as to how to rig your spider up for animation.  The thing I found lacking was an explanation of how the spider is supposed to move.  Do the legs move first or the body?  Both move at the same time?  Several experiments later I ended up with a really weird walking spider.  But I won't give up and I'm not ripping the script from lots of robots (not yet anyway).

Here's another rigging tutorial on YouTube:

This tutorial I liked.  I could use and most of all it gave me the information I needed.  However I really liked the script provided by Lots of Robots.  Hmmm what to use it for?  Oh! I know - a bunch of spiders coming out of a jack-o-lantern and then covering up the screen.  Totally creepy!  Or another idea that wouldn't use the script - a spider that is spinning it's web and then catches a butterfly.  Both are really complex ideas.  Perhaps more than I can chew.  I don't care.  I'm gonna try them.  We'll see how well I'm able to implement the actual functionality and execute the idea.

Here's a better explanation of the spider walk movement (this tutorial is for Maya but you get the gist of it):

Here's a project overview on a mech-tech or steampunk spider on 3D Total: 

Steampunk AND spider, you can't go wrong with that!

Here's an interesting tutorial/overview on spider/modeling/rigging in Modo:

Feel free to comment and add to this repository of Spider goodness.  Also please do tweet or like this blogpost.

Please come back for updates and part two of this series...

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