Biomechanics References

As designers, artists, and developers, we are only as good as our references; trying to understand how an eight-legged spider moves without a reference is nearly impossible – but give the skilled animator a reference, and enough time, and almost anything is possible.

That’s the purpose behind this page of biomechanics references; to give the artist / designer / animator / developer some kind of reference to work from, whether it is a video capture of a real creature moving, the notes or illustrations from a scientist, or toys and models that mimic biomechanical movement.

Bipeds as Walking Machines

Human Gait Study at Harvard – barefoot vs wearing shoes, great side view

CNN article on barefoot running with useful links

Discussion of why T-Rex probably walked slowly with straight legs, based on comparitive animal research.

Discussion on the efficiency of the human gait and robots that mimic the human gait.

Discussion on the biomechanics of walking.

Discussion of Animation of Bipeds (an animator’s perspective)

Overview of Human Run Cycle Dynamics for Animators by Rodri Torres

Human Running in slow motion, side view

Human treadmill Walking

Human Gait Study – one natural, one stiff legged

Quadrapeds as Walking Machines

Leg Mechanics of Quadrapeds

General Quadraped Anatomy

Walking, Trotting, and Turning

Running and Galloping

Four-Legged Speed

The Dog’s Elbow

Cheetah biomechanics – video clip

How a tiger moves with pictures and interesting analysis

Dog walking rather slowly

Dog running slow motion

Forces acting on a horses legs

Elephant baby and family walking and running

Adult Male elephants walking – You can see from this video that a typical elephant walk is initiated by the rear leg first; then, when the rear leg has almost completed its motion and the rear foot is about to plant on the ground again, the front leg on the same side of the animal lifts off. Once both legs have lifted and planted, the rear leg on the opposite side begins its movement.

Lizard attacking and eating rat, some slow motion

Insects as Walking Machines

A discussion on insect locomotion and the foot-forward strategy of locomotion

Another very interesting article on Insect Locomotion and Dynamic vs Static stability

This is a PDF that covers (very technically) stepping patterns in Ants

Cockroach on simulated hard terrain

Good top view of praying mantis walk

Ants very close up, normal speed

Slow motion video of ants walking (and hurling themselves with trap-jaws!)

Robots inspired by animals (waterstrider, salamander, cockroach)

Combining electronics and insect systems

Interesting flying six legged helicopter robot

6 legged robot vehicle burning man

john deere 6 legged walking tractor

walking forest machine six legs

multilegged sculpture cardboard

Antweb.org – huge ant photo database


Spiders as Walking Machines

Spider Anatomy Link

Interesting interactive closeups of spider anatomy

Funnel weaver spider attacking ant, good leg motion but a bit fast at 300 fps

Good shot of spider walk close up

Another good spider walk from above

mechanical spider vehicle

Engineering project – spider tank

Insects as Flying Machines

This is a fantastic video given at TED by Michael Dickinson in 2013 on how a fly flies. One of the best I’ve ever seen, well worth a look.

Here is a great discussion of insect and bird physiology and flight

here is the pdf for the above article

Fluid flow biomechanics of Flight (and Swimming)

Adult dragonfly anatomy

Link to dragonfly study

Here is a link to airflow study of dragonfly

Great explanation on Insect Flight Aerodynamics

On Insect Flight – Passive Wing Pitch Reversal

Another great dragonfly slow-motion, taking off

Dragonflies very close up

Slow Motion bumble-bees (can see sculling motion of wings)

A fly in slow motion, can see wing flaps but hard to see sculling

Ladybug flight slow mo

Locusts in Flight, cool thick second wing

Dragonfly wing motion, absolutely surreal and beautiful

mechanical spider vehicle

Engineering project – spider tank

Combining electronics and insect systems

robotic fly – hi tech non-toy

another shot of microrobot fly

Birds as Flying Machines

HummingbĂ­rd flight in slow motion

Another vid of hummingbirds, slo mo, but not so slow as to see wings move

More birds in slow-motion flight (mostly take-off here)

Morphing aircraft mimics a swift bird’s wing changes

Fish as Swimming Machines

Fluid flow biomechanics of Swimming (and Flight)

Jumbo squid attacks camera

Dolphin Swimming

Dragonfly wing motion, absolutely surreal and beautiful

Pacific Tailboats, a fin-powered kayak (movie)

Surfboard fin hydrodynamics tutorial

Humpback whale fin tubercles inspire more efficient windmill design