PhysicalBone3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Embarking on the journey of game development presents countless opportunities to inject life and realism into your creations, one of which is mastering the dynamics of in-game physics for character animation. PhysicalBone3D, in Godot 4, is an indispensable class that bridges the gap between skeletal animation and physics simulation, creating characters that move and react in a believable way to their environment.

What Is PhysicalBone3D?

PhysicalBone3D is a robust class within the Godot Engine that provides the functionality needed to make bones in a Skeleton3D responsive to the physics engine. It inherits from the PhysicsBody3D class, which means it’s specially designed to interact with Godot’s 3D physics system. With PhysicalBone3D, individual bones in your character’s skeleton can simulate physical properties and forces, which adds a new layer of realism to your games.

What Is PhysicalBone3D Used For?

The use of PhysicalBone3D is particularly important when you’re looking to go beyond pre-animated skeletal movements and wish to have in-game forces like gravity, collisions, or custom forces directly affect how a character’s body parts move. This can be for anything as simple as a character’s hair fluttering as they speed through the landscape, to complex interactions like a character’s body dynamically reacting to getting hit by an object.

Why Should I Learn PhysicalBone3D?

Understanding and utilizing the PhysicalBone3D class efficiently means you can take your character animations from good to great. As an aspiring or experienced game developer, mastering PhysicalBone3D allows you to:

– Create more dynamic and reactive character movements.
– Incorporate realistic physics-based interactions within your game.
– Differentiate your game’s mechanics with nuanced physical simulations.

Learning how to apply physics to your character’s bones opens up a new dimension for gameplay and animation, enhancing the player’s immersive experience. So, let’s dive into how you can leverage PhysicalBone3D in your Godot projects!

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Setting Up Your Skeleton3D with PhysicalBone3D

Before you can animate a model with physics, you’ll need to set up the Skeleton3D. This requires assigning a PhysicalBone3D to each bone you wish to be physically simulated.

// Create a new PhysicalBone3D
var physical_bone =
physical_bone.bone_name = "Arm"

// Add the physical bone as a child of the Skeleton3D

Make sure the `bone_name` property matches the name of the bone in your model.

Adjusting Physical Properties

To get the bones behaving correctly, you’ll need to adjust their physical properties. Here, we’ll set the mass and the bounce of the PhysicalBone3D:

// Set the mass of the PhysicalBone3D
physical_bone.mass = 2

// Set the bounce factor of the PhysicalBone3D
physical_bone.bounce = 0.5

These properties determine how the bone will react to forces and collisions. Mass is crucial for how other objects will interact with it, and bounce affects how much it will rebound after hitting other objects.

Adding Collision Shapes

For a PhysicalBone3D to interact with other objects, you need to add a collision shape. This shape determines the space the bone occupies and how it collides with the world.

// Create a new CapsuleShape3D which will act as our collision shape
var collision_shape =

// Set the radius and the height of the collision shape
collision_shape.radius = 0.5
collision_shape.height = 2

// Assign the collision shape to the shape property of the physical bone
physical_bone.shape = collision_shape

Adjust the size of the shape to fit the corresponding part of your model; it’s important for accurate collision detection.

Applying Forces to Bones

PhysicalBone3D objects can not only react to forces naturally within the physics world, but you can also apply forces manually.

// Apply a central impulse to the physical bone
physical_bone.apply_central_impulse(Vector3(0, 10, 0))

// Apply a force at an offset from the physical bone's center
physical_bone.apply_impulse(Vector3(1, 0, 0), Vector3(0, 5, 0))

The first function applies a force directly to the center of the bone, which can simulate things like jumps or explosions. The second function applies the force at a specified offset, which can be used to simulate directional impacts, like a punch.

Stay tuned as we explore even more advanced functionalities of PhysicalBone3D in the next part of our tutorial. We will delve into joint setup and constraints, which will add another layer of realism to your character animations!Incorporating joints into your PhysicalBone3D setup can significantly enhance the realism of your character animations by constraining movements in a lifelike manner.

Understanding Joints With PhysicalBone3D

Joints are used to link together different PhysicalBone3D objects, providing constraints that dictate how they can move relative to one another. Godot offers a variety of joint types, each serving a different purpose. For instance, a HingeJoint3D can be used for knees or elbows, while a ConeTwistJoint3D is perfect for simulating neck or shoulder movements.

Setting Up a Hinge Joint

Let’s add a HingeJoint3D to connect two bones.

// Create a new HingeJoint3D
var hinge_joint =

// Set the nodes to which the bones are attached
hinge_joint.nodes.node_a = "Arm"
hinge_joint.nodes.node_b = "Forearm"

// Add the joint as a child of one of the physical bones

Configuring the hinge joint parameters will allow you to limit the angle of rotation and simulate realistic bending motions.

Using a Cone Twist Joint

The ConeTwistJoint3D can replicate the rotational movement for shoulder or neck bones.

// Create a new ConeTwistJoint3D
var cone_twist_joint =

// Set the nodes to which the bones are attached
cone_twist_joint.nodes.node_a = "Shoulder"
cone_twist_joint.nodes.node_b = "UpperArm"

// Configure the joint's swing and twist limits
cone_twist_joint.swing_span = rad2deg(45)
cone_twist_joint.twist_span = rad2deg(20)

// Add the joint as a child of the shoulder bone

By setting the `swing_span` and `twist_span`, you establish the degree to which the bone can swing or twist from its initial position.

Simulating Muscles With PinJoint3D

We can also simulate muscle-like behavior with PinJoint3D, which maintains a certain distance between two points on different bones.

// Create a new PinJoint3D
var pin_joint =

// Set the nodes to be connected
pin_joint.nodes.node_a = "Thigh"
pin_joint.nodes.node_b = "Calf"

// Set the stiffness and dampening for the muscle simulation
pin_joint.stiffness = 500
pin_joint.damping = 10

// Add the joint to our skeleton

By adjusting the `stiffness` and `damping` properties, you determine how rigid or elastic the joint behaves, akin to muscle resistance and relaxation.

Adding Spring to Your Bones

For a bit of bounce, like a character’s belly or breasts, a SpringArm3D can be a valuable addition, providing a spring effect between two bones.

// Create a spring arm and a physical spring
var spring_arm =
var spring =

// Configure the spring properties
spring_arm.spring_length = 5
spring_arm.spring_stiffness = 400
spring_arm.spring_damping = 20

// Attach the spring to the spring arm

// Connect the spring arm to the skeleton

The `spring_length`, `spring_stiffness`, and `spring_damping` settings allow you to fine-tune how reactive you want this portion of your character/skeleton to be.

Dynamic Weight Painting

While the physics simulation adds realism, fine-tuning the weight painting on your character’s mesh can further enhance the effects of physical animation.

// Access the physical bone's collision shape
var bone_shape = $Skeleton3D/Arm.get_shape()

// Set the weights for the collision shape's vertices
for vertex in mesh.get_vertex_count():
    var weight = calculate_weight_for_vertex(vertex)
    bone_shape.set_vertex_weight(vertex, weight)

Proper weight distribution ensures that different parts of the mesh deform correctly as the bones move under physical forces.

Remember, these are just the foundational steps for bringing physics-based character animation to life in your Godot games. Each physical property and constraint opens up a playground for creativity and tweaking, pushing your animations closer to the realism gamers crave. Keep experimenting and iterating to infuse your characters with the perfect blend of physics-driven dynamism and artistic expression.Integrating physical simulations into character rigs can be complex, so let’s continue with practical code snippets that detail how PhysicalBone3D can be used in tandem with your animations for that extra realism in movement.

Creating a Ragdoll

One compelling use of physical bones is to create a ragdoll effect when a character is defeated. Let’s set up a ragdoll on demand:

// Function to enable the ragdoll effect on all physical bones
func enable_ragdoll():
    for child in $Skeleton3D.get_children():
        if child is PhysicalBone3D:
            child.simulate_physics = true

Invoke `enable_ragdoll()` when your character takes a critical hit or falls from a great height to instantly shift from animated to physically simulated movements.

Animating With Physics

Blending keyframe animation with physics can produce lifelike results. Here’s how to enable physics simulation on just one part of the body – useful for creating floppy limbs, dynamic hair, or clothing.

// Function to enable physics simulation on a specific bone
func enable_partial_ragdoll(bone_name):
    var physical_bone = $Skeleton3D.get_node(bone_name)
    if physical_bone and physical_bone is PhysicalBone3D:
        physical_bone.simulate_physics = true

You would call `enable_partial_ragdoll(“Head”)` for a head that reacts naturally to motion, while the rest of the body stays in controlled animation.

Interacting With Environment

Physical bones can interact with other physical objects in the environment. Let’s make a character’s hand push objects on contact.

// Triggered when the physical bone collides with another object
func _on_Hand_PhysicalBone_body_entered(body):
    if body.is_in_group("Pushable"):
        body.apply_impulse(Vector3.ZERO, Vector3(10, 0, 0))

Attach this to your PhysicalBone3D’s `body_entered` signal to apply a force to anything the hand collides with that’s marked as “Pushable”.

Applying Damage Based on Collisions

Harness the physical properties of bones to apply damage to characters:

// Function called upon physical bone collision
func _on_PhysicalBone_body_entered(body, force):
    if body.has_method("apply_damage"):
        var damage = force.length() * damage_multiplier

This code calculates damage based on the collision force’s magnitude, which can then be applied to any colliding object that can receive damage.

Restoring Animations After Ragdoll

After a character has been in ragdoll mode, you might want to restore back to keyframed animations. This snippet smoothly transitions from physics simulation back to animation control.

// Function to disable the ragdoll effect and regain animation control
func disable_ragdoll():
    for child in $Skeleton3D.get_children():
        if child is PhysicalBone3D:
            child.simulate_physics = false
            yield(get_tree().create_timer(0.1), "timeout") # Wait for physics updates

This `disable_ragdoll` method turns physics simulation off and waits briefly before resetting the pose, creating a seamless transition back to normal animations.

Using these code snippets as a building block, not only do you get to dynamically react to gameplay scenarios, but you also create a layer of depth and complexity in your character’s animations without intensive manual keyframing. Experiment with different physical properties and constraints to discover the perfect balance for your game’s specific needs. Let the virtual laws of physics give your characters that extra touch of believability that can captivate your audience.

Where to Go Next in Your Godot Learning Journey

You’ve dipped your toes into the world of physical simulations with PhysicalBone3D in Godot 4, but the adventure doesn’t end here. To continue honing your skills and expand your knowledge of game development, the Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is an invaluable resource. Whether you’re starting from scratch or building upon the basics, this comprehensive curriculum will guide you through creating your very own games using the latest version of Godot.

The project-based structure of these courses not only makes learning practical and hands-on but allows you to work at your own pace and earn certificates to showcase your newfound expertise. By covering a plethora of key topics, from GDScript and 3D asset implementation to intricate gameplay mechanics, our Mini-Degree is designed to equip you with a solid foundation in Godot game development that can be applied across various industries.

For an even broader range of Godot tutorials and courses that cater to all skill levels, explore our full collection of Godot courses. Each course is crafted to keep you up-to-date with the latest industry practices, ensuring that your learning journey is as current and effective as possible. Unlock your potential and bring your game development dreams to life with Zenva – where we empower you to turn your creative vision into reality.


Delving into the world of game development can be a transformative experience, and with Godot’s PhysicalBone3D, you’re well-equipped to bring a new level of authenticity to your character animations. Remember, it’s not just about creating games; it’s about crafting experiences that resonate with players. As you employ the concepts discussed, your characters will start to move with purpose and interact with their surroundings in ways that truly enliven your virtual worlds.

At Zenva Academy, we’re excited to be part of your journey from learning the basics to mastering the intricacies of game creation. Our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is the perfect next step, offering the knowledge, tools, and confidence you need to take on any game development challenge. So why wait? Embrace the adventure that awaits and join us, your allies in learning, to transform your passion into a playable reality.

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