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Video: How does a Tank work? (M1A2 Abrams)


Jared Owen writes:

I wanted to share some behind the scenes from my latest video on how a tank works. The tank treads were done using curves and a over 100 objects on each side for each of the links in the track. This would have been incredibly tedious to do by hand so I wrote a python script to set up the modifiers and the drivers. Then to move the tracks all I need to do is animate a single property. I learned this technique while doing my escalator video last year. Then I used several hook modifiers on the curve - this way I can animate the tracks going over bumps and obstacles. I am wondering if there's a better way to do this? Either way, this worked good enough for this video.

You can't have a tank video without some sort of explosion. I've used blender's smoke/fire simulator in the past but it just recently got mantiflow which is a bit different. I still have a lot to learn! I used it for the smoke simulation but I struggled creating a realistic explosion. I ended up faking the explosion with yellow/orange emission shaders and some compositing. Not perfect by any means but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!

About the Author

Avatar image for Jared Owen
Jared Owen

I make 3D animations about how things work and post them to youtube!


  1. What were those dimensions again? The vast majority of the world's population does not use, or understand, "feet 'n' inches"!

    • In hindsight I should have definitely included metric as well. Considering this is an American tank I figured imperial measurements should be the first ones. Thanks for the comment

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