Here's another great animation tutorial by George Maestri, the original animation producer of â€œSouth Parkâ€. Earlier we posted his tutorial 'Anatomy of a Walk'. This time, he explains the fine details of animating reptiles and of snakes in particular.
Aside from being useful when animating, this article has been a bit of general education for me: did you know that snakes have many modes of motion? George discusses serpentine motion, sidewinding, concertina motion, rectilinear motion and more. He then goes on to explain the best tools to use to create these modes of motion using animation tools.
His conclusion is that Spline IK (a mix between spline animation and IK chains) is the best way to animate snakes. I'm unsure if Blender's new armature system has this functionality. Would anyone care to enlighten me about that?
Wow, that was a really great article! Very informative. I tried animating a snake in Blender once, actually, and found it extremely difficult. I ended up cheating my way out of it and by just applying a curve deform to the snake model:
I set exactly two keyframes for the snake to bring it along the path. But that method is extremely limiting! It would be awesome if Blender had Spline IK capabilities. It would be good for a number of things in addition to snakes - rope or cables, worms, caterpillars, tentacles, heheh.... :D
Anyway, thanks for posting!
I was just thinking about making an animated snake. So this is very useful,
Blender doesn't really have this functionality, but i think the new modifiers will be better for that, you'll be able to blend armature and curve deform somehow, also setting up vertex groups for them.
Bart, you publish this one the day Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin dies, coincidence or sign?
Coincidence :) I read the news after I published this..
it inspired me to do a sample file, you can find it in thys thread:
You can do this in Blender, but it has limitations...
Very nice, pildnavok!
I'd love to see Spline IK in Blender.
Nice one, pildanovak!
Why don't you use b-bones for the snake body in a similar IK chain?
Finally we'll see a "Snakes in a Blender" movie spoof soon.
Seriously: Alas Steve Irwin, he will be missed. 
Gez: I used b-bones.
Blender does not have splineIK. B Bones are great but do not behave like spline IK. One could use a curve modifier instead of an armature though (which would arguably work better than spline IK since it would not rely on a set amount of bones). A mesh modified by a curve modified by a curve ensures constant length. A lattice with spline interpolation could also work ( i believe there is a dolphin example in the 242a demo files which uses this method).
Uh, it seems the link is already down. Anyone got a copy of the tutorial ?
Nevermind it's back online!
Thanks a lot