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[Maya] Using non-linear deformers on control curves?

polycounter lvl 4
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BTDarmstad polycounter lvl 4

Hi, I'm in the process of rigging a snake character. I'm loosely following a tutorial from 2017 that both uses Advanced Skeleton, and is manipulating the rig using a non-linear deformer in the form of a sine wave.

I have rigged this snake with an IK spline, which is supposed to have its first pass animated by point and orient constraining each control curve on the rig to the control curves affected by the deformer. After that's done, the idea is to bake these animations over to the snake, remove constraints, and continue fine tuning the animation from there. I don't know if that's the best way to set this up, but it's the best I can come up with at this time.

The problem is that while the control curve does follow the non-linear deformer, its pivot stays where it is, not affecting the snake's control curves at all! Why doesn't this work? Was this only possible in older versions of Maya and got taken out? Is there any reason why the actual transform of the control curves in question won't move, and seemingly only the control points of the curve are manipulated by the deformer? I have no idea why this isn't working, and it's driving me insane. Are there any other tools for this sort of thing in Maya? Working with curves/splines is one of the very few things I miss about Cinema 4D, where working with splines was a dream compared to Maya.

Here's the tutorial I have been following:


About 10 minutes in, it appears to be working just fine for him, but why? The cluster controllers remain in place for him too, which is just irritating to look at, but it's working.


  • ylke
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    ylke polycounter lvl 5

    So I watched the tutorial, and no it's not something that is only possible in older versions of Maya. In the tutorial he uses the non-linear deformer on the control curve, not the transform. I don't really like this method because it'll disorient the animators when they're animating.

    You can however, attach locators to a curve that is affected by the non-linear deformer, and then connect those locators to the controllers so it'll move along with the curve when it gets deformed.

  • BTDarmstad
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    BTDarmstad polycounter lvl 4

    Hmm, the only difference I noticed is that he selected the NURBS curves in the scene in the select menu, while I selected them manually.

    I did find a solution that worked, though. It's almost like what you suggested, but I used a strip of polygons with rivets attached to edges aligned to each controller in the Y axis instead. Since every other tutorial only used geometry, that's why I came up with this idea. It appears to work just fine, except the controllers don't rotate. Not sure if it would be any different with any other setup using the sine wave or other deformers.

    I guess this is just the solution for serpentine locomotion loops, but as far as I can tell, offsetting the rivets works just fine if I want to modify the motion pre-baking, or possibly even block out any kind of snake motion without worrying about the middle controllers following either the start or end controller, which is how Advanced Skeleton handles IK spline setups anyway.

    There is probably a similar way to make the locators move along a spline while retaining the correct distance between them, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

    Look at him go ๐Ÿ

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