Realtime muscle system alpha version

  • March 30, 2012
  • Blender 2.6x
  • Render: Blender Internal
  • Creator: vvaris
  • License: CC-BY-SA
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I build a rig that allows muscle deformation in real time applications as a part of my thesis in kajak university of applied sciences. I wanted to also wanted to study whether change in the polygon area could be used as mask to apply different texture maps.

The rig works in real time with most game engines and doesn't require additional coding or tools. The rig is also fast to apply to a new character. In the video character has only normal map. In the parts that character has checkered pattern textures, I'm blending 3 texture maps depending on the area increase or decrease of the polygons.

Polygons which area is close to original get yellow texture, polygons that squash get red texture and stretching polygons get green texture. I'm hoping to use these three textures to give the character wrinkles and pronounced muscle features where muscle expansion happens. Some areas work well but some need still work.

Rigging and animation by me. Model by Nick Zuccarello. ( Downloaded from the model came with blenrig animation system, blenrig was not used to in this example, this rig was done entirely by me.


  • Jonathan Kim profile picture
    Jonathan Kim

    wow! impressive!

    Written March 30, 2012
  • daren profile picture

    The bones don't move and the images aren't packed.

    Edited March 30, 2012
  • luismurciano profile picture

    Because the skeleton is in Rest Position, press the Pose Position Button and you can move it

    Edited March 30, 2012
  • daren profile picture

    Ahh -- I see -- That's cool with the arms. Are you still working on this project? When do you graduate?

    Written March 30, 2012
  • vvaris profile picture

    Indeed the textures are missing, sorry about that, I will update the blend file next week and add the textures also.

    Written April 01, 2012
  • Ohlsen profile picture
    Written August 05, 2013
  • Ohlsen profile picture

    @luismurciano Thanks for this sir. Sounds simple and it is, but how much pain if you don't know it. My regards.

    Written August 05, 2013
  • gavlig profile picture

    This is amazing! Hope you'll finish it and merge with the main blender branch. Wish you good luck with your thesis!

    Written March 30, 2012
  • vvaris profile picture

    Thanks! this is done just by using bone constraints and thus works in main branch. Nothing special here, just little rigging.=)

    Written April 01, 2012
  • kdotart profile picture

    This is superb! Good luck on the thesis. I hope to see more. And thanks for sharing!

    Written March 30, 2012
  • mnuss profile picture

    This is literally the next step up in cg animation

    Man, Thank You

    Written March 31, 2012
  • LswaN profile picture

    Wow, that is so cool, can't wait to look at the blend!

    Written March 31, 2012
  • denfrost profile picture

    wow! very cool. Thank You Vvaris.

    Edited April 01, 2012
  • gmodruls profile picture

    I needed this. Thx

    Written April 14, 2012
  • lickylicky profile picture

    ok, i'm in pose mode, but it's still not working.

    Written May 05, 2012
  • vvaris profile picture

    Thats because the armature is in "rest position" and not in "pose position". You can be in pose mode but not have the armature in "pose position".

    You need to select the armature go into Object data(by default on the right side, an icon with stick figure on it.) there under the skeleton press the "pose position" button.

    Written May 30, 2012
  • wasa profile picture

    Very nice. I haven't looked at the blend file yet but it looks like you're using 3 states for the muscles, with the 4th state added it should add a greater level of realism. Extended, Compressed, Relaxed, Contracted Mixing the 4 shouldn't be too difficult based on your work so far. Anyway thanks for the contribution, I might have to see about implementing that 4th state myself ^^

    Written May 12, 2012
  • itsshah profile picture

    This is a very nice rig. I'm going to use some of the concepts in my own rigging.

    Written August 16, 2012
  • Nalim profile picture

    Very cool rig and very cool model.

    About the license: am I allowed to use the rig (not the model) in a unity made game distributed in connection to advertising (like a blog or somesuch)?

    Written September 05, 2012
  • KebabKebab profile picture

    Awesome! But there's a little problem with the middle finger, the weight paint isn't good on it and it does crazy things when you try to move it.

    Written October 20, 2012
  • Zelgiust profile picture

    even with repaired weight it still does weird stuff. I don't get it :/

    Written March 28, 2020
  • life profile picture

    gracias :) tanking very

    Edited October 20, 2012
  • zingzong profile picture

    uhhh, tutorial please?

    Written October 24, 2012
  • JMaines profile picture

    It is not obvious which bones are for manipulating the animation of the mesh and which bones are supposed to be hidden. However, I liked the neck rig once I figured out which bone to move. I suggest you add custom bone shapes to the most important bones (the ones the animator should see) and hide the rest of the bones on various invisible layers.

    Written June 11, 2013
  • anandaroopm profile picture

    hi , your rig is quite impressive, I do appreciate how you have used bones and constraints to get better muscular deformations , but I still don't understand how you are extracting the polygon area informations and driving it to blend 3 different textures, can this method be used to create dynamic vertexgroup information too, this surely is exiting as it might help to drive blend shapes, would be very glad if you can explain the same in detail my email

    Edited June 24, 2013
  • Shadahan profile picture

    any tuts on how to do it, after all those who want to start game development would need some tips ;D ty

    Written October 24, 2013
  • khorseman profile picture

    It's a very nice rig. The "muscle" bone constraints are similar to a setup I have used several times, and even gives me a few new ideas for improvement of my own rig. But the textures are still missing from the file, so we can't see how the real magic happens. Any chance of you ever updating to include the textures?

    Written April 28, 2014
  • SantiWS profile picture


    Written May 18, 2014
  • hanninbal profile picture

    i like it but not user friendly in terms of animation. Understandable if this is a prototype rig but if you were to send this to an animator he would probably send it back. Also, how would I apply it to another mesh, could I just click on (with automatic weights)? All in all very nice work. i can tell you took your time learning and rigging this. I am currently trying to make a muscular Model with each muscle expanding and contracting like the real ones should. this helps a lot for my paticular case.

    Written August 07, 2014
  • body4489 profile picture


    Written April 15, 2016
  • Banderlog profile picture

    Nothing more stupid than that, I haven't seen in my life. Not running anything else. NOTHING AT ALL, COMPLETE ZERO, ABSOLUTELY. P.S. It's all good. Understand how to use it.

    Edited January 10, 2018
  • Banderlog profile picture

    It's all good. Understand how to use it.

    Written January 12, 2018
  • kompgrafx profile picture

    awesome work, love it.

    Written August 31, 2018
  • yes profile picture

    what button is undo rest position

    Written July 21, 2022
  • zirdukukko profile picture

    I too am giving my thesis at kajak university, but I don't think mine would be half as good as yours though. You're thesis can potentially lead to prevent neck injuries and pain. That's why you're thesis is much more valuable for sure.

    Written April 02, 2024