In this tutorial, you will be learning how to create an eight legged spider walk cycle in 3ds max. Insect walk cycle is quite hard to animate as compared to the bipeds and it’s a big pain for the beginners and those who haven’t animated such type of complex rigs before. So, in this tutorial, I am going to show you how I use to animate spiders or any eight legged insect in 3ds max. The example given below uses the same technique.
I am using a very simple custom rig in which the body is controlled by a blue Shape (body control). Legs are obviously done using inverse kinematics and each ik chain is controlled by a small circle and finally all the controllers are linked to a master control (red circle).
Let’s start with the right side legs of the spider first, so, let’s select the left side legs and hide them for now.
Now, go to Left viewport (L) and turn on Autokey (N) and pose the spider as shown in the image.
Select the fourth leg of the spider and move it away from the body. Repeat the same thing with the first leg.
Move second and third leg close to each other as shown above.
Now, go to frame 10 and pose the spider as shown in the image.
Move the fourth leg closer to the body. Repeat the same thing with the first leg.
Select the third leg and put it closer to the fourth leg. Select the second leg and put it closer to the first leg as shown in the image.
Grab all the leg controls, select the keyframe at frame 0 and then Shift + drag it to create a copy of the keyframe. Now, put that keyframe at frame 20 in order to make the animation loopable.
The sliding movement of the legs is completed. Now, let’s create the up positions of the legs.
Go to frame 5 and select the fourth and the second leg of the spider and move both the legs a bit upward.
We have to repeat the last step with the first and the third leg but at frame 15, so, go to frame 15, select the first and the third leg of the spider and move both the legs a bit upward.
During walk, body of the spider should not be still, so we have to animate the body so that the walk will look more convincing. Select the body control, go to frame 0 and press K to create a keyframe at frame 0. Copy (Shift + drag) that keyframe and place it at frame 20. Now, go to frame 10 and move the body control a bit upward.
Your animation will look something like this.
Now, we are done with the right side legs and we need the same movement on the left side legs of the spider. We can copy the exact motion to the left side legs using a simple trick. Before proceeding further, I am isolating the first leg pair of the spider so it will be easy to deal with them.
Go to frame 0 then select the left side leg’s control and align it to the right side leg’s control (y-axis).
We have to repeat the last step at frame 10, so, go to frame 10, select the left side leg’s control and align it to the right side leg’s control.
Let’s take a look at what we got till now. Here, the left leg has 10 frames of sliding motion; on the other hand, the right leg of the spider has complete 20 frames of animation. You can clearly see a jerk in the motion of left leg as it currently has only 10 frames so it can’t be loopable yet.
One more thing we have to notice that both the legs are moving in the same way. In a walk cycle, position of the left leg should not be same as the right leg at the same time. If we take an example of human walk, when our right leg comes forward then our left leg goes backward (Just opposite/reverse) and the same thing applies here. There should be some delay between the movement of left side and right side legs of the spider. Let’s fix this.
In order to get the correct movement of the legs, we have to swap keyframe 0 and keyframe 10. So, let’s select the keyframe at frame 0 and put it at frame 10. Repeat the same thing with frame 10. Select the keyframe at frame 10 and put it at frame 0. Here, we are just swapping the positions of the keyframes (0 and 10) in order to reverse the movement of the legs. Now, copy the keyframe 0 by shift + dragging it and place it at frame 20 to make the animation loopable.
Here is our animation with correction. Please note that the left leg has sliding animation only. Now, how to know that at which instance the left leg should go up. It’s quite easy; if the leg of the right side is up at frame 5 then the opposite leg should go up at frame 15 and vice versa.
According to the last step, the right leg of the spider is going up at frame 5, so, left leg should be up at frame 15. So select the left leg controller and move it little bit up in z- axis.
Now, you have to repeat the same process of creating and swapping keyframes with each pair of legs. By repeating the same process of aligning and swapping key frames with each pair of legs you will get something like this. Spiders generally move fast so you can adjust the speed of your animation according to your comfort.
Here’s is the quick flow of the process:
Select Left leg controller > Align it to the right leg controller at frame 0 and 10 (single axis) > Swap the position of 0 and 10 keyframes > copy the first keyframe (frame 0) and place it at frame 20 > move the left leg up (at frame 5 or 15 depends on the up position of the right leg)
We are done with the walk cycle; let’s make the spider to follow a path using Path Constraint in order to make it more interesting.
Create a path using Line tool then select the master control and go to Animation > Animation Constraints > Path Constraint. After having the Path Constraint active, just click on the path and test the animation. As we can see that our spider is following the path but not the way we want. Let’s fix this in the next step.
In order to make the spider move correctly, we have to tweak some Path parameters. So, first select the master control, and then go to Motion Panel. Under Motion Panel, you will find Path Parameters rollout. Under Path Parameters rollout, search for an option called Follow (Path Options Group), and turn it on. Now, inside Axis group, set the axis to y with the Flip option on.
That’s all; here is the final eight legged walk cycle of a spider. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you have any suggestion or query regarding this tutorial just let me know through your comments and emails. Good Luck.