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plantigrade, digitigrade, and ungulate

This post has been modified to the original published article on 25 May 2018
Updated: 2  November 2018

The are thee joint-leg configurations for land mammals: plantigrade, digitigrade, and ungulate. The first section below defines these, while the next section contains a 7.5 minute video that shows how the reverse kinematics works on each type of leg when using Duik.


Animals that walk with their phalanges (toes) and metatarsals (long bones in foot) flat on the ground. This was the first type of leg to develop in ancient mammals. The plantigrade sacrifices speed for stability because of its large surface area that contacts the ground. Examples: humans, apes, bears, rodents, rabbits, kangaroos, and raccoons.

Duik essentially rigs the plantigrade front and back legs (or legs and arms) identically. However, you can add an optional layer for the shoulder blade in the arm/front-leg rigging window which can add a more natural look to your puppet’s arm movements.

plantigrade limb


Animals that walk on their phalanges. Their heels and wrists are raised up above the ground, which places these joints much higher than found in plantigrades. Examples: elephants, cats, dogs, birds, and dinosaurs.

digitigrade front limb
digitigrade back limb


Animals that walk on the very tips of their toes, and they often have hooves. Example: horses, cows, ibex, goats, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus. Interestingly, sea cows and cetaceans belong to this group because they are descended from early artiodactyls (even toed ungulates). Artiodactyls include camels, giraffes, pigs, and cattle.

ungulate front limb
ungulate back limb

This post and video are based on the pre-Duik Bassel release. However, the concepts are exactly the same; the only difference is that this post and video use the older Duik graphics and After Effects script to demonstrate the concept.

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