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I am very new to bones, and something I haven't been able to figure out is how to constraint vertices to certain axis.

Consider the following: enter image description here

This is a simple model with some bones I added. Now, See what happens when I rotate the two middle bones:

enter image description here

I have circled where there is an undesirable deformation. What I would like to happen (but for these two bones only) is for the vertices to be constrained along Y. Basically, I want the vertices to slide along the edge, not rotate around the pivot. Everything else about this is fine to me; I just need the vertices along the edge that are connected to these bones to never move inward (or outward for that matter).

What are some ways to accomplish this?

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Consider setting the deforming bone option Relation Parent [Inherit Rotation] False as depicted below. The bone will still be moved by parent movement.

enter image description here

Here a parent bone is rotated. Parent bone set to [deform] False. This is an attempt to emulate your images in the question.

enter image description here

Below a bone constraint.

enter image description here

You can restrict bone axis movement. In general restrict bones rather than vertices.

The default armature automatic weights were accepted. Weight paint mode below.

enter image description here

The vertex density supports the curved images.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for such a detailed reply! Unfortunately, I was unable to apply any of this successfully. I'm hesitant to use constraints as well, because I ultimately will be manipulating these bones in a game engine, and I am unsure the constraints will carry over. $\endgroup$ – dmarra Sep 21 '15 at 21:49

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