First car rig

So finally. I took the courage to try a rigged car.
I had to do this sometime anyway since I got a lot of requests to have the wheels separated on my previous vehicles Assets.

But I thought, maybe I could push it a little further...
Do something more than just separate the wheels.

Where to start? I knew in general how a rig looked like for a character but for a car... that was a mystery.
Fortunately, I have a citizenship at so I can check some tutorials out.
The biggest task was to model the car completely. Since I already had modeled some different cars I choose to work further on the first one I made.
Doing this I had the opportunity to make a full concept for the car.
I had to think first what kind of propulsion will I give it because that is defining the details on the car.
After some deep thought, I choose to make the car electric. The reasons for this were multiple:
First... its easier to model since I don't have to model a big engine and an exhaust pipe.
Second, since the car is digital and only is used on computers it cannot be anything else that electric... since computer, consoles and mobile devices don't run on combustion engines but on electricity.
and Third... its a much cooler concept 🙂

The moddeling

With that planned, I began the task to enhance the basic model I already had.
That meant separating the wheels and create space for the wheels to turn.
Since the 'donor' car model was an empty shell, I had the create an interior also.

First I remodeled the car a bit to be able to cut out the doors and trunks.
Then I created the interior mesh and the trunks.
Next stop was to make sure that everything looks normal when all the doors are closed.
Since it was an electric car I needed to show the motor also.
I decided to put the motor in the back since its more compact than an internal combustion engine.car_motor
The dashboard. what look to go for?
It's a simple car so the dashboard needs to reflect that simplicity.
The idea was that in real life you could step in the car and directly use the car without needed to learn complex controls.
I tried different layouts, but most were too busy or did not mix well with the whole.

Finally, I choose to have one big dial for the velocity and a big screen for the rest.
For those who have noticed by now... a lot of this car has been inspired by another real Electric vehicle: the Tesla Model S, although mine does look completely different 🙂
Some seats had to be made also to complete the car. Although to be honest I was a bit lazy for the seats so that is something I'll need to update in a next version of the model.
I took care to make everything believable in a sense without breaking the style of my work so far. So everything had to have the lowpoly blocky look I used in all my assets so far. Interiors of the car and doors are finished and changed the materials for the windows to a glass shader.


The Rigging

As the modeling part was completed it was time to concentrate on the rigging part.
The question was on how far I needed to go. Since the car is simple and it's my first try at a car rig I would keep it simple but usable.
I didn't want to give up due to complexities. Rigging is something that takes time to learn well.
There are a lot of tutorials on cars so choosing the right one … which I would also easily understand my lack of experience was a tough one.
I choose to use some tricks I learned while watching some tutorials of Chris Kuhn because they are very well explained.
I never used constraints before in blender. I found them to be confusing and honestly, I never had a real use for them in the past.

But now… I had to 🙂

So with the wheels separated I linked some constraints to them so that the wheels spin when the car rig is moved forward.
Then I needed to make the front wheels steerable since, yeah, that's what they do.
The difference between local and global coordinates are important here to prevent conflict in the rotations.

The Steering wheel needed to be coupled with the steering of the front wheels. This was an absolute must and seen afterward an easy thing to do.
The doors and such were next. That would make the whole car a complete workable vehicle.
Not sure if is really usable for a game engine. But this model was mostly to learn some new tricks anyway. I did try to keep the polycount low though.
But how to control all these amazing possibilities.?
I knew how to move everything but I thought it would be easier to create some controls so other people didn't have to dig into the constraint setting and maybe mess the things up.
I created a control panel to make it easier and afterward I discovered that this could also be used to link a real controller, like for example a game controller for use in the blender game engine.
And There it was... My first car rig.
All shiny working doors and spinning wheels.

It was a great experience and I learned a lot making it.
This is a first version of course. I might continue with this car or take another model for a more advanced rig but that… is something for the future.

In the meantime, you can download the car rig on blendswap and and play with it yourself.

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