How to Make A Hydraulic Arm In Cinema 4D Revisited

July 8, 2014

Today, we will revisit the older hydraulic arm tutorial which broke in the change from R13 to R14, we will rig up a robotic arm from scratch. This time we’ll also put together the claw and wrist setup instead of ending in a stump, plus add in tubes for hydraulics that automatically stick to the proper spots. We’ll be using lot’s constraint tags, spline IK tags, and one very important IK tag.

In part one we will setup the mechanics for the arm and claw, building enough geometry to give us the proper visual queues to know we’re making it correctly. Also, we will be paying close attention to priorities of out rig to weed out order of operations mistakes.

Part 1

In part two we’ll add in the pistons for the hydraulics, setup the tube system for linking different parts of the robot, and add a control for moving the base around. At the very end we’ll use this rig as raw material to put together an entire bipedal robot rig.

Part 2

Tutorial Focus:  , ,

  • One heck of a tut! Many thanks Chris

  • would have to go through this coz of i gona do some robotic rigging……… nice one

  • Hello

    I have inspiration for next tutorial for you. Its nice effect. How to create something like that.

  • amazing chris i love vfx tutorials thanks alot keep doing

  • amazing chrise i love vfx tutorials thanks alot keep doing

  • Chris,
    another great tutorial!
    One question though: You showed the hydraulic cabling technique, I think, in a lamp tutorial before. And as you mentioned in this tutorial, it kind of breaks, when the parts are moving too far, so the splines stretch too much. What I’d really love to see (and tried doing by myself in several ways without any success yet), would be a technique to constrain the length of the splines as well. That would be sooo awesome!
    Anyway, thanks a lot again!

  • Just a small suggestion:
    Instead of using an n-gon inside of an goal Null-object, you could simply switch the Null-object to display as a hexagon.

    • The reason I don’t do that is when I do character animation I use the selection tool to only grab Spline objects. Nulls are often used in the model/rigging thus could be accidentally grabbed. That of course could be avoided with setting/hiding layers but I like it as a workflow.

      • And learned another one…
        Using C4D for so many years and totally ignored the Selction Filter. Even had to search for it… Cool, thanks, just another great tip.

  • One more question (sorry): What is the End joint for?
    Just a visual guide? Or a remnant of a more complex rig? Or most probably I did miss something?

  • Chris –

    Thanks again for another great set of tutorials. I always get so much useful information from your presentations. Keep ’em coming! Thanks again!

    – Marv

  • thanks Chris for sharing all the great tips&tricks “hidden” inside your tutorial … especially the “Spline to Joints” with the IK-Spline is a much simpler way then the dynamic spline to create this kind of connections. also the magic “Connect” object found another use for that “double-sweep” … VERY helpful and thanks again!

  • Thanks Chris. I think it would be so much nicer if the duration of these tutorials were a little bit less. So, when people reference back to them, it would be much easier to find these awesome tips. Cheers, Love ya guys.

    • That’s the trick though, people ask for topics that are long! Rigging or animation will almost always be longer unless broken down into tiny pieces, which would end up being more of ‘this tool does this’ video rather than making something fun.

  • Awesome. I tried to do the other one but I stopped halfway through. It was kinda complicated following along when all you hear is put this “here” and “there”.

  • Amazing videos Chris! So much gold in here.

  • Very educational, Chris! Much thanks to you and everyone at GSG.

  • Another Great Tuts ! Chris !….so far I’ve managed to follow every steps of the tut in “part one”(not entirely understand but..hey I have fun tweakin ard!).Gonna continue Hydraulic on part 2 !

    -Cheers !

  • Thank you so much. One of the best tutorials I’ve ever seen. Covering so much valuable topics – this is really awesome.

  • Here’s my version , hehe ^^ luv it !

    Thanks Chris !

  • I cannot move “close” into xpresso and it is not getting orange. whats wrong?

    • step at 39:23
      need help, cannot mark “close” orange or move it into xpresso, I am not getting the hand sign during moving into xpresso, what am i doing wrong. please help, thanks

      • I think you are using an older version of C4D. Try draging the Xpresso node into Xpresso and click on the red corner to see all the possible outputs of this node. Choose the one you want (‘Close’).

  • Welcome
    I wanted to tell you I’m the biggest fan of your business, and you’d like to tell you something about this lesson in the second video in the ninth minute precisely, why not use the Xpresso ? calculate ? distance ? and make the hydraulic piston extends and shortens with the movement without the presence of a distance.
    I am an Arab nationality of Libya and I hope that the message is clear because I’m not good at English.

    • Because thats the way hydraulic works. In the real world no cylinder would grow magicaliy. Its just moving metal. No growing, no streching.
      The only way is a longer piston. Longer piston, longer distance.

  • Thank you Guys, this tutorial really helped me in a very difficult job. Very useful!

  • Tremain / ROKN Design August 12, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Dude, love your tutorials. “We want it kinda doing this thingy there.” Love how you just do you while teaching us. Thanks.

  • Hi! Thanks a lot for this great tutorial !
    Just a question about the technique used for the “cables” stretching with the robot movement … possible to use it with an Helix ?
    To get some kind of a car suspension spring type.
    The helix will produce a lot of joints after using the “Spline to joints” function, and an huge object manager list …

    Thanks !!!

  • Wow, thanks Chris! You and Nick have taught me a ton over the years. Your previous hydraulic arm tutorial was a major resource for some robots in a music video I did a while back:
    Can’t wait to mess around with the Convert Spline To Joints technique!

  • Hi Chris,

    Thanks a lot for this complicated tutorial. And I say complicated, ’cause this is the very first joint rigging tutorial I’ve done in my life.

    It sometimes went too fast for me, but it all made sense after completing the tut. I think I need to practice more and more to know what these expressions does.

    I really need a beer now 🙂


  • Well explained tutorial..First of all thanks for explaining all the points step by step.With the help of your article,I can easily make a hydraulic arm.
    Thanks for sharing!
    For more details please login to our website

  • Sweet! How would we switch parenting so that we could animate it picking something up?

  • here’s 2 Chris Schmidt robot arms having a tennis game

    breakdown here

    thanks Chris

  • Michael Willfort January 5, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Hi There,
    I find your projects just great! Thanks for all that work!
    A dream would come true if you could one day present a “customizable robot” for C4D…
    You guys are the right ones to do that: A robot where I can enter my own robotic body parts like arms legs feet, head etc. and you provide the rigg, presets for moves and a great tutorial…. how do you like the idea? I would love to build a custom robot for my company:)
    please let me know if this can be some day
    cheers Michael

  • Chris,
    thank you for this tutorial!
    Remember in the beginning of part 2 you said you had a problem so I seem to be having the same one there. when I press Constraint “Up” my Extrude goes wrong direction. Could you please tell how to solve it? Thanks again.

  • Awesome tutorial! Has really helped me with a project for work. I had a slight issue with the Up Vector constraint on the hydraulic tubes, whereby they were moving in an erratic manner, so I just added an aim constraint as well as the Up Vector and this seems to have worked (using Cinema 4D R16). Thanks again!!

  • It’s a great tutorial and full with many techniques and knowledge

  • Hi.

    Awesome tutorial! Could you please make a little addition to it ? I’d really be interrested in picking up an object like a cube with it… I was searching around the net but didnt really find a tutorial about that.

    Thanx in advance!

  • Just finished the first part and I have my arm completely modeled but the client wants the arm parts doubled in length. Is there an easy way to adjust everything or do I have to start over from scratch?

    Thank You =)

  • Hey Chris… Working under a deadline to fiure out animating a patient lift… Using your tut as a rigging guide… I’m in R13 and can’t find the Command Window for the PSR reset…?? It’s not Shift-C in R13. Do you know what the command is or what is that window specifically?

  • Nice but can i ask 4

    where is the modeling tutorial for this model?

    i don’t have the previous tutorial about the modeling technique
    so can u help

  • at about 18:50 you can’t rotate one of the nulls so you have pretty much no choice where one end of the cable comes out of, anyone know of a workaround?

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