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I need to set up a quite huge army of characters. My goal is to make them walk inline, rhythmically, and following the shape of the landscape. I know it's possible to make something similar with boid particles, but the best I can do is to make a hord, following a leader particle, but in that case the slave particles aren't walking inline, but more like a zombie group, whereas I need inline walk.

Any idea how to do that ?

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Create a flat Lattice and Shrinkwrap it to your terrain. Make sure it has enough divisions to conform to the terrain accurately.

The reason for using a Lattice is that directly Shrink-wrapping a mesh against another mesh when animating will create jittery snapping artifacts as verts latch on to other verts, while a Lattice on the other hand smoothly interprets the curve and makes it usable via the Lattice Modifier.

Create a particle emitter plane and put a Lattice Modifier on it that uses that Lattice.

Animate the emitter plane traveling across the Lattice.

The original animated characters must be on an enabled layer or their animation will not be calculated for their particles.

Particle people marching over the landscape

With just one character model used, the marching looks too uniform. But this can be remedied by using a group instead and having each model in the group have variation in physical appearance and walk cycle.

There's just one more issue to address. You may have noticed some of the troops are scaling the steep hills too quickly. Others have limbs intersecting with one another. These problems can be fixed by using shape keys to deform the vertex positions of the emitter mesh to steer troops away from obstacles:

Shape Key deformation controlling character position

An alternative to using Shape Keys is to Hook an Empty to their emitter vertex and control them using that. The Empty will need to be parented to the emitter mesh to move in relation to it.

Hook-Empty controlling vertex position and particle character position

Note that these techniques require the particles to be set to emit from verts, not faces.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thx a lot ! Actually, this almost solve my problem. I won't use the second part of your answer, because the soldiers are viewed from far, but thanks anylway for that! I said It "almost" solved my problem, because My goal was not only to make them walk on an unheaven terrain (wich your solution allows very efficiently), but also to make them walk inline, as an army in formation, this kind $\endgroup$
    – Aleph
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Aleph Oh, an inline formation is super-easy. In your particle system set the particle number to the number of verts in your emitter mesh. Make sure Emit From Random is not checked. Emit from Verts, as I mentioned before. Set the Start and End values to 0, and the Lifetime to the maximum number of frames you will need. Since your emitter plane will be a grid, they will walk in a grid formation. Also make sure Physics is off, or they'll fall through the ground. I wanted to add a section about particle settings, just haven't had time. For now you can reference my .blend for details on that. $\endgroup$
    – Mentalist
    Oct 27, 2015 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thx a lot for these precise answers @Mentalist ! $\endgroup$
    – Aleph
    Oct 27, 2015 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ that's great!!! $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 9 at 13:50

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