Tips & Techniques - Animation
Creating a Slithering Motion for a Snake
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Version 6

You've just spent hours modeling a perfect snake and you need it to slither just a short distance. Well, you could use bones to animate it, or if you happen to have made your snake with a loft NURBS you can have each segment follow a defined spline path and offset the sequences. That all sounds like a lot of work though. Here is a very quick method of getting your snake to move with a simple, neat slither motion. The exact numbers will vary from snake model to snake model, but the concepts are the same. I've provided you with a simple Coral Snake to work with, very deadly.
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Step 1: Group your snake model together into a single object group. Now create a Wind Deformer (Objects=>Deformers=>Wind).
Step 2: Group together your snake model with the wind deformer. The deformer will now affect the snake.
Step 3: You need to set the Z axis of the wind so that it points across the snake and not along the snake.
Step 4: Now comes the tweaking part. Double click on the Wind icon in the Object Manager to change its settings around. You'll want to uncheck the Flag option since it will pin the object in place at its axis and not allow for a free deformation along the entire snake. Now depending on the size of your snake model you'll want to play around with the Amplitude and Size settings. The Size number controls the wavelength of the Wind wave, so if you want you snake to have a lot of turns in its slither motion you would decrease this number. The Amplitude controls how much the snake slithers from side to side. Decrease this number for short quick slithers and increase this number for wide slithers. The final settings for this snake are Amplitude=200 Size=750.

Step 5: Now simply move the snake model forward or backward and it slithers!