View Full Version : Moving Muscle Reference :

08-09-2007, 03:38 AM
Does anyone know where I'd find some 'moving' muscle reference material?

I've decided to spend next week looking into LightWave's animation and deformation system. After reading the manual, I'm left drooling at how powerfull it all seems, and it's got me wanting to learn by building a muscle rig. It seems entirely possible, but I'm no anatomy expert, so I'm after some references of both real and CG muscle movement.

I need to see how each muscle is attached, it's general size and position, and how it deforms through movement of the skeleton. I need to see a real life 'tight-skinned' body that moves in all directons. For example; arm up-down, arm front/back, and leg up/down, leg front/back.

And, because we've not yet managed to get a living human to volunteer, I need a CG animation of the muscles that show a skinless biped with an animated skeleton and flexing muscle movement. I know it sounds a bit errr... yukky, but I can't think of a better way to learn. I'd appreciate any links you guys know of. Even if it's of static material, that's better than nothing, because the more reference material the better.


08-09-2007, 04:23 AM
Maybe you should look after some bodybuilder pics and movies, they often have very prononced muscles and shows how they move.

08-09-2007, 05:46 AM
Depending which muscles you need, a gay friend showed me a YouTube phenomenon - guys flexing their muscles in front of their webcams - if you want free models, there are thousands already waiting...


08-09-2007, 09:00 AM
Well, just to clarify here; I'm not wanting to create a bodybuilder or anything, I only want to build a female of standard proportions. I think a tightly skinned (toned) reference is the way to go for external reference, because any exageration can be toned down in the mesh a lot better than it can be built from what isn't there to start with (if that makes any sense). The only reason I'm interested in the muscle aspect is because I think understanding it would be beneficial in almost every aspect of creating a CG human.

Sculpting, rigging, posing, and even rendering would obviously benefit from an understanding of what goes on beneath the skin.

I'd thought about searching out some pictures of female bodybuilders, but the problem is they're just pictures, not studies. It would be practically impossible to find enough pictures of one model in every major limb pose, and cross referencing more than one model is probably a bad idea.

I've got a couple of books here, and one of them (THE FIGURE The Classic Approach to Drawing & Construction - By Reed), is a good book, but I'm wanting to see it's like, animated.

08-09-2007, 09:47 AM
Try these cd's
Uses quicktime to rotate the models 360.
Very useful for human body study.

08-09-2007, 01:16 PM
Cheers, Trevor.

They're a little expensive for what they are, and although they'd be ideal for a still-life artist, the movement it uses would be of no use to me. The technique they're using though, would be perfect if it were applied to the movement of limbs etc, as opposed to rotation of the whole model.

Thankyou muchly for the link, but it's not what I'm after.

08-09-2007, 03:35 PM
You may find enough referrence at the local book store in the art section dealing with the human form. I found a really good one (sorry I can't remember the title) but it had many nudes in multiple poses both male and female and they are all in very good shape. It would be better than listening a boring anatomy lecture from me on contractility and origin and insertion and the like.

08-09-2007, 03:37 PM
The book may be this one --Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet, Sarab Simblet-- but I'm not sure.

08-09-2007, 08:12 PM
nvm. misunderstood original post...

08-10-2007, 06:26 AM
Cheers, Amurrell.

Well, it certainly exists that's for sure, I just found it on Amazon : Anatomy for the Artist (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/078948045X/sr=8-1/qid=1186744846/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_top/002-5404770-7772022?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1186744846&sr=8-1#customerReviews)

I've just read though all 36 reviews, and it sounds like a really good book.

If I go the static route, forget about 'moving' reference, and get this book. Then from the sounds of it, I'm going to need another one that's literally nothing but hundreds of poses, to back-up this one. From the book you've pointed out to me so far, you seem to know what I'm after, so I'm just wondering if you could recommend one for the poses as well.

So what I'm after in addition to this book, basically, is a book full of poses. The models need to be reasonably buff, but also, some very thin models would be beneficial for understanding this stuff better as well. I'm not sure a book dedicated to poses even exists, but if you know of any, please tell me.

Anyway, I'm going to take a walk into town right now, see what I can find in Waterstones, and hopefully they'll have this book in stock.

Thanks :thumbsup:

08-10-2007, 12:34 PM
Actually, don't bother with that recommendation.

I took a look in Waterstones, there were a few books (not the one I wanted to see), and they were all pretty much useless IMHO.

I think I'll play with LightWave first in order to get a better understanding of what can and can't be done. From there, I'll try to develop some method of getting an accurate mesh in a more technically accurate way.


08-10-2007, 03:32 PM
Good luck with your search. There has to be a lot of reference out there on this topic, but I know that you are looking for the subtelties in movement of "regular" people. Perhaps careful personal observation would help a little. People-watch for a while, with out looking 'weird' of course :) and maybe you'll see what you are looking for.

08-10-2007, 03:48 PM
1: study athletes such as short distance runners and such.

2: get a picture that shows muscle locations and such (no skin human).

3: have your hand over ,for example, your biceps and then move it in different ways to get an understanding on how it works.

4: join the local gym, good source for reference and good for you :)

08-10-2007, 03:53 PM
I'd thought about searching out some pictures of female bodybuilders


men and women have exactly the same musculature...women tend to have smaller muscles than men though, but bodybuilder women are so pumped with male (and animal) hormones that the difference between men and women becomes non existent.

08-10-2007, 11:34 PM

Why dont you ask them ? Amazing works - LW to boot oh warning some of it not for kids though :/

08-11-2007, 04:32 AM

Cheers mate. Not sure I could do that though. Still, I did get a good study of a certain part of some babes anatomy yesterday during my walk to Waterstones. I walked about 20 feet behind her for almost two miles, and for once, I had a perfectly good excuse for doing so!

My thanks go out to her, and her beautiful arse :D

When I got to Waterstones, like I said the books under that section were pretty much useless. There was one book though (Greys Anatomy for Students - New Edition), which I very nearly bought. There was no price on it though, and there was a queue so I left it for now. What I liked about it was that it showed everything (Skeleton/Muscle/Veins), and most impressively, it showed, for example, every muscle and how it's attached in a seperate illustration. Each muscle was shown attached to a bone, without the other muscles covering over it and hiding what you need to know. Further than that, it then shows how everything is layered (what's placed on top of whatever), and all that sort of thing. It even showed the flow of veins through the body and their positioning etc, pretty impressive I thought. One other thing I liked about it was that it was very technical, but thankfully didn't give off much of that horrible 'medical' feel - which I hate!

The more I look into this, the more I think it's the most essential book us modeler types could possibly own as a reference for this sort of thing. It's anatomically accurate (produced by experts), and is unbelievably detailed. I think I'm going to buy it next time I go into town.

I think with that book for internal reference, and strategically lit photographs of hard-bodies for external reference, it would make for the perfect knowledge base to work from. You really could achieve anything, and do it with perfect accuracy.


I agree, athletic hard-body types are the way to go for external reference.

I've no need to go to the gym though, 'cause I've got a Multi-Gym at home. If I did what you said, I reckon I'd likely recieve a quick blow to the groin area if was caught. And it'd be especially painful if that blow came from the knee of some mega-fit hard-bodied babe if you know what I mean :hey:

I'll give that one a miss!


Thanks for the link, I think those women have had their fair share of protein supplements :D

They're pretty damn detailed I gotta say. The artist has clearly studied anatomy. They're also a good example of why studying this stuff properly has it's benefits in the long run. The veins for example, really add to the effect. And if the artist had not took the time to study such things, then they wouldn't have been so confident in making them part of the image.

Quite impressive!

08-11-2007, 06:19 AM
After reading the manual, I'm left drooling at how powerfull it all seems, and it's got me wanting to learn by building a muscle rig.

Hi Pumeco,

Are you thinking about builiding a muscle rig with underlying muscles that will actually deform skin?

Building the underlying muscle rig is 'relatively' straightforward (still extremely difficult if you want total accuracy)
But having the muscles slide under and deform the skin above is not possible in LW.
That sounds like a bold statement to make and I would love to be proved wrong.
But the reason is, that we don't really have any way of having one piece of deforming geometry affecting another in this way except by using clothfx and clothfx can't cope with the complex collisions involved in a skin simulation.
I've tried it with Syflex, and its still very difficult despite having a far more stable solving engine and very accurate collisions.
There are 3rd party deformers such as polyfit, which at first glance appear to help, and with some effort, you might get one bicep working, but I have yet to see a decent muscle rig in XSI let alone LW.
A couple of years ago I did a sort of faking it thing in LW with textures and morphs. (easier to do now with nodal)


It might be worth doing something like this in certain areas of the body


I don't want to put you off, but my advice would be to do the rig R&D first so you don't build a beautiful model and find out later on that you can't actually rig it to do what you wanted.

08-11-2007, 07:52 AM
Hi Pumeco,

Are you thinking about builiding a muscle rig with underlying muscles that will actually deform skin?

It might be worth doing something like this in certain areas of the body.
WTF - that's sick mate :bowdown:
That's bloody excellent, and yes, that's 'exactly' what I'm wanting to do!

Put me off?

You must be joking. I mean, if that clip isn't enough to make anyone realise the importance of doing it right, then I really don't know what is. That clip has just encouraged me big-time, and I know I'll never give up until I have a full figure working like that. Thank's big-time for posting it :)

I'm going to read your thread right now, but tell me, why do you have doubts about doing a complete figure like this? Surely if the technology is there to allow a demonstration like this, then it can be none, right?

Like I said earlier, I'm just getting into this. And to be honest, even having a printed manual isn't making the learning curve very easy, so I have a question if that's OK. Basically, I'm just wondering if we are able to control the stiffness of soft and cloth dynamics by using maps. When I read the manual, it's very basic in describing it's use. For example, it'll tell you how to control the property of a soft object (make it like jelly or whatever), but it doesn't say anything about using a map to make some parts stiffer than others etc. Same with the cloth - nothing!

Is it possible to control these things with maps or perhaps something else? I can imagine things would be really limiting if this was not possible, and would be a real shame.

Another question is can you recommend any free tutorials that would learn me at least some of the features you used to create what you did. I'd figure it out eventually, but if there's something freely available that'll ease the learning curve, then I'm obviously all for it.

Again, thanks so much for posting that demo. Now I 'know' I made the right choice in LightWave :thumbsup:

08-11-2007, 12:59 PM

I didn't re-read my thread (I made that in 2004) but I think I explained how I did it later. (I used 'smartmorph' but you could use nodal displacement now)
It's basically using an image to push the normals out in certain areas to replicate the look of something moving under the skin.
However, it wont be a good enough solution for a full body. I doubt if it would work well enough for something complex like an arm.

I'm glad you feel like you made the right choice in LW, but, to be honest, any package could do what I did in that test.

08-12-2007, 04:22 AM
Cheers, pooby.

I read your entire thread and it answered a few questions. First of all, I noticed there was discussion about maps, so that made me pick up the manual again and try to find what I missed. Indeed, I can see that maps can be used to control dynamic properties. I think the reason I missed it in the first place was because of it being referred to as "FX" in the interface. I saw them but ignored them, thinking it had nothing to do with maps :foreheads

But yes, I've always intended to delve into the rigging and animation side of it before working on the mesh.

Anyway, I found that thread of yours interesting, but I'm surprised that after all you guys achieved, you kinda gave up on it. I don't know much about LightWave just yet, but from the tools available, it seems entirely possible to build a full figure with under-the-skin movement. You guys have obviously found the limitations to the methods that were used. So I'm going to learn the individual tools, and hopefully come up with another solution. Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat so I'll have a bloody good go at it, anyway.

As for the mesh, when I get round to it, here are the two books I've decided upon (but could change my mind) :

For INTERNAL reference (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=5414987)
For EXTERNAL reference (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=4009184)

The second book is the one suggested by Amurrell. Not having seen this book in Waterstones, though, I'll just have to order it and hope it's up to scratch. I've tried to find some sample pages but it's been a waste of time, so, if anyone knows of some samples of this book on the web, please post a link.


08-12-2007, 04:57 AM
This book might be useful to you.

Click on the books cover and search inside to see if it' s what you want.


08-12-2007, 05:34 AM
...I used 'smartmorph' but you could use nodal displacement now...
Yes, actually when I read your thread about Dpont's MDD-pointer node I thought/hoped that you were going to show us some awesome skin-sliding examples. :) Then again, being far from an animation expert, I wouldn't know how difficult it would be. Anyway, we have far too few examples of what can be achieved with this node.

Pumeco, in case you've missed it, here's the thread I'm talking about:

08-12-2007, 07:20 AM
I just wrote a whole message on why it won't be possible.

Then I re-read it and realised what an arrogant Git I was for assuming that I'm the authority on what will and what won't work. So I deleted It.

Instead, I wish you the best of luck.. I hope you succeed where I failed.

08-12-2007, 10:42 AM
It's too bad you've deleted it; I'm sure it contained interesting insights. On the other hand I can understand that users could get discouraged by your post and don't even start experimenting. Even the most experienced users sometimes can miss the simplest solutions.

08-12-2007, 11:56 AM

Thanks for the link, it's not bad at all. I like the ability to preview the pages like that, it's just a shame I can't do that with the other book as well. I like the fact that it has diagrams and such, but it looks like it's all drawings from start to finish. With a book like that, you're relying on the artists rendition of anatomy, and that's not always a good idea.


No, I hadn't seen that thread, thanks for posting it. I'm not as impressed as by the one shown in pooby's other thread, though.


I wish you hadn't deleted whatever it was you wrote, there's no way I'd have though it as being arrogant. But now you come to mention it, I hope I didn't come accross as being arrogant by suggesting I'd try to find another solution. Remember, the opereative statement there is "trying" to find another solution, and that's something I'll probably fail to to.

Nah, like I said; I'll have a bloody good go at it, that's all. If I fail then that's cool, but hopefully someone else will give it a bash as well.

One of the reasons I want to do this is for gaining a very deep understanding of the animation and physics elements of LightWave. Rendering and materials will come to me at light-speed, but these other areas won't. I've never had such a powerfull all-in-one studio as LightWave before, so I intend to stick with it permanently - and learn it the best I can.

This venture, project, or whatever you'd want to call it, is going to be a mighty fine learning curve for me. But even if it fails, I'll have gained a lot of know-how through attempting it. So, please, if ever you wan't to stick your nose into it and give me a nudge in the right direction, that'd be great mate :)

Deleting a message before I've even read it, lol, what a tit :D

03-24-2008, 04:12 AM
For animals other than humans, this site (http://www.digimorph.org/specimens/Elephas_maximus/skull/) seems to be a fantastic skeletal reference (with rotatable 3d reconstructions).


03-24-2008, 06:56 AM
That's a great link, I wonder if there's a human equivalent of that?

You revived this thread in a timely manner as well 'cause I was wondering how pooby might be getting on with the new animation features in 9.5. I never got round to starting this project because at the time, I was struggling with the interface a bit. Once I've completed my Modeler config's I'll be doing my Layout config's, and then, finally I can have a bash at this stuff.

Pooby, I hope you're still experimenting with getting a full-figure rig to work like those shoulder blades. I'd love to hear you animation guys say that NewTek have done good with the new features. When 9.5 becomes publically available, it'd be great to see that experiment thread of yours updated with some other techniques to be had from the new features.

03-24-2008, 07:53 AM
I use these books for reference:

They are good for external and internal reference respectively. Muscle mags also have great examples taken to extremes and often in mid-motion or a flexing pose at least.

You can see a shot of the muscle rig I built in Maya in my demo reel at www.OT3D.com at the end of the first segment. Despite its complexity its surprisingly simple, with most muscles being nothing more than a NURB shape controlled by a tip, root, and middle control cluster which was then linked using set-driven key to bone motion. For all its coolness though, Maya can become a slow pondering beast for animation when using deformers for muscles. Anyone who has used cMuscle can back me up on this.

You could certainly build the muscles and bones in LW and animate the character in layers, but you won't get the skin deforming to match. You could however make some very clever morphs driven by joints mixed with 'muscle' joints to deform the flesh to follow. This is where the Smartmorph plug-in would come in handy, as it allows you to create morphs with more than one shape, allowing you to set up morphs with a beginning-middle-end or even beginning-middle1-middle2-middle3-end. It's not the perfect solution people think of when they say 'muscle rig' but for specific shots and motions it could do a lot to help you finish the project.

You could also use a program like ZBrush to create some animated displacement maps. Most people use these to create folds and wrinkles, but there's no reason you couldn't make one just to displace skin over a muscle and just animate the displacement image to match the muscle movement.

So I guess I'm of the opinion that it can be done, even if just for specific sequences. Sure you may not be able to build a rig that has muscle deformation no matter how you pose it (like the spider-man rig which apparently only has four or five controls for all of its posing; all muscle deformations are clusters driven by sd keys), but you could probably get away with simulating muscle movement for specific shots.

Just my $.02. Gotta stop writing before I hit that git stage pooby mentioned. Good luck with this!


P.S. a little O.T. here, but has anyone else seen the Nat Geo Fight Science specials? They say they use extensive mo-cap for accuracy, recording speed and force, etc. Very cool stuff. I highly recommend the series to anyone who is a fan of 3d or martial arts.

03-24-2008, 01:50 PM
Cheers, othornton.

That first book was already on my list for external reference, but I've since decided I really don't need an external reference book because, without wanting to sound crude, there are plenty of nude women on the web in poses that would make good reference material. However, I'm still going to need an internal reference and have decided to go with this one :


Even a quick browse through this book was enough to make me realise there's nothing to touch it for detail of internal structure and external considerations. I think this book, coupled with nude models from the web will be the perfect resources for what I'm wanting to do.

Anyway, I'm strictly a LightWave user now, so I intend to do all modeling, animating, and rendering in LightWave (although I'll have to use ZBrush for texturing). I have two aims for this project; firstly to gain a solid understanding in all aspects of LightWave workflow, and secondly, to have (hopefully) something good to show at the end of it. I might fail at the latter, but no matter what, I'll learn a lot along the way.

My plan is to create a female model that can be posed and animated, and look perfectly natural with 'any' humanly possible pose I throw at her.

Right, time to learn LightWave ... what does this button do?

03-26-2008, 10:07 AM
i dont know if this can help you but in this site there are a lot of human reference photos.
Last galleries are made of photo-sequnce of semi-nude mans and womans:


look at the Event Photos, Las Vegas Swimwear Show Part 1 2 and 3

03-26-2008, 06:02 PM
caccipergolo, that's an excellent find - cheers mate :thumbsup:

The photosets under the archive section are really good. That's a good resource 'cause it covers a lot of aspects; expressions, body form, and cloth draping.

BTW, I was checking-out your web album and I'm curious why you haven't got those 'Woman Test' renders in the LightWave forum galleries.
The sculpting and rendering is excellent.

Was is done in LightWave?

03-28-2008, 03:26 AM
I'm glad you find that site usefull!
no that test was 100% blender, i wish i had the time to do somthing in lw but i'm simply too busy at the moment.
(aniway your avatar is killing me...:D)

03-28-2008, 05:48 AM
Blender's looking pretty awesome, but I just can't get the hang of the interface. I see it kinda like trueSpace; powerful program - bad interface. Still, you've clearly got the hang of it and it shows. As for my avatar, I think people have gotten used to it now. I might even keep it because if I got rid of it, there'd be a few tears I think (hrgiger and inigo07 especially spring to mind).

What can you do eh :D

04-02-2008, 07:11 PM
Haven't checked all the links posted, so apologies if this is a repeat.
Eadwaeard Muybridge is a great source for the movement of muscle. It's all stills and pretty old now, but still worth a look.
More info on him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge
He has several books available on amazon last time I checked.