How to create Muscle Bones in 3DS max?

Step-by-step tutorial explaining how to create Muscle Bones in 3DS max.

This tutorial will show you how to create muscle bones in 3DS max which can be used further as muscle for proper and more realistic deformations. If we talk about a muscle, it is something that stretches and squashes according to the movement of our body parts and this property of muscle makes it different from bones as bones are rigid. So in this tutorial you will learn some techniques to make a bone Object acts like a muscle and how to link it to the rig.

Step 1

create muscle bones in 3ds max

First off, make a bone in Viewport through Create Panel » Systems » Bones.

Step 2

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Now go to Animation Menu » Bone Tools. This will bring up the Bone Tools Dialog. Under the Bone Tools dialog, you will find Object Properties rollout, where we need to tweak some settings.

Under Object Properties rollout, uncheck the Freeze Length option and set the Stretch property to Squash. Before doing this please make sure that the bone (Bone001) is selected. Now you can see that the bone is acting pretty much like a muscle.

Step 3

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Now, we are going to add some volume to our muscle object. I am using Edit Poly modifier for that. Go ahead, add few edges to your muscle object and just pull them a little bit outwards. Tweak until you get the desired shape of your muscle object.

Step 4

create muscle bones in 3ds max

To put this muscle to work together with the rig system, we have to make a little setup first.
Create a point helper through Create panel » Helpers » Point and align it to your muscle object using Align tool (Alt+A).

Create another helper and align it to the end bone. Now, we have both bones having point helpers aligned to them.

Step 5

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Now select all the objects, press Alt+Right click » Freeze Transform, select the end bone and Position Constraint it to the helper aligned to it then select the main muscle bone and LookAt Constraint it to the helper aligned to the end bone to avoid the breaking. Now, select the muscle bone and link it to the point helper aligned to it using Select and Link tool. The setup is complete but one last thing to do, just hide the end bone as it is no longer needed.

Step 6

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Let’s work on the appearance of our muscle object to make it look different from our bone objects. It’s also an important step as we have to differentiate between our bones and muscle objects while working with a rig. It’s an optional thing but I usually recommend you to follow this step as it becomes much easier to recognize our bones and muscles rather than to select every single bone to see whether it is a bone object or a muscle. :)

Now, open Material Editor or press M on your keyboard to bring up the material editor. Go to Maps rollout, click on Diffuse Color button then select Gradient material from material list. In Gradient Parameters rollout use White color as Color#1 and Color#3 and use Pink color as Color#2. I am using R = 255, G = 102, B = 102

Step 7

create muscle bones in 3ds max

As you can see that there is some problem with our texture. It’s due to the default UV coordinates of our object. To fix this just apply a modifier called UVW Map. Under Parameters rollout, select the mapping type to Cylindrical. Under Alignment group, select the desire axis according to your muscle position, y-axis is working fine for me. Now click the Fit button to fit the mapping gizmo to your object. Now it’s looking much better than before.

Step 8

Now the muscle rig is done and it’s time to link it to a rig. I am using a simple arm rig having a simple iksetup for demonstration.

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Setting up a muscle object with a rig is not that hard. I am using this muscle object as bicep muscle. We need to fix this muscle object over arm bone. Now, select the muscle object and align it to the arm bone and link Point001 to forearm bone and Point002 to the arm bone. Test the rig by moving the arm control and see how the muscle object start stretching and squashing as we move the arm.

We are done now. Here is the final result with bicep and triceps muscles aligned to an arm rig.

create muscle bones in 3ds max

Hope you find this tutorial helpful. Feel free to post your queries and comments.