|This tutorial describes
how to design a simple character, make a walk cycle for it, and then have
it walk through a scene. It has three parts:
1) Building the body parts,In this first part, you will build the objects that will make the visible body parts of your final character. Since the main reason for this tutorial is to animate a character, the objects are rather simplistic. If you want to skip it, you can begin with another section. You can download the previous section's file (located at the end) and start from there.
|Its always a good to have
an idea as to what your are building before you start. Here we'll
build a character based on a cartoon figure my friends and I used to draw
in junior high. You can tell why we didn't become artists by looking
at it, but we had fun.
In this tutorial, we'll only animate the legs. But there is no reason you can't carry it further.
|Let's begin by making the body. It's simply a sphere, so it won't take long. Start with in the Object Editor with the front view filling the screen. Select Add Sphere from the toolbar, click in the center of the screen and drag to create a sphere. Now double-click on the sphere to show it's properties dialog and set it's diameter to 30. You can also give it more detail by increasing the number of divisions used in the longitude and latitude axis. Something like 18 for longitude and 12 for latitude looks good. Just remember that more details take longer to draw, and can make file sizes bigger, so don't go overboard. Now click OK.|
|You should also
give the object a name. Otherwise it will get hard to remember what
is what when you are making your character. Select Setings->Object
from the menu, and enter something like "body" for it's name.
Next make a material for the sphere. Select Options->Materials from the menu to make the materials toolbar visible. Double click on the "new" entry and select your material properties. Click "OK" and then click the Apply button in the materials toolbar. Make sure that your object is selected.
|One final thing that you can do that can make your later construction of your character a bit easier is to center it in it's coordinate system. You do this with the Edit->Locate->CenterAboutOrigin menu command.|
|Next you'll build a single feather. You can add it to your character multiple times, so you don't need but one. This is a rather stylized feather, built from a cone and a sphere, but it works on a bird that has a sphere for it's body.|
||Select Object->New from
the menu and a new, empty object will be added to your project. Name
it "feather" with the Settings->Object menu command. Then select
button in the toolbar. Click down on the origin and drag up about
four grid lines and release the mouse. This will add a cylinder the
your object. Double click on it and set the length to 40, the start
diameter to 0, and the end diameter to 4. Click OK. Now straighten
it up by selecting the Edit->Rotate->RotateNone command, and move it to
rest exactly on the origin with Edit->Locate->StandOnOrigin. It should
now be standing straight up.
Next create a sphere and set its diameter to 4. Move it over the origin with Edit->Locate->StandOnOrigin. Now all you have to do is move it straight up to the top of the cone for the final feather. To help keep it aligned you can turn off any x-axis movement by deselecting the X axis . Then select move and drag the ball up to the top of the cone. You might be able to align it with the top better if you zoom in or use wire frame mode View->Viewport->Wire.
Now open the Materials toolbar and double click the New button to add a new material. Choose a bright yellow color, and apply it to the feather. Keep both parts selected, and select the Build->Group menu item. This will lock the two parts of the feather together so that you won't accidentally move them apart.
|Now you'll build a foot. To keep thing simple it'll just be a tetrahedron that's been elongated. You can make a more sophisticated one if you like, of course.|
|Select Object->New and give it the name "Foot" using the Settings->Object menu item. Then add a tetrahedron. First select Build->Primitives-> Tetrahedron then select Add Primitive mode from the toolbar and add a tetrahedron to the object. Since your characters' bones are oriented along the Y-axis, we need to build the foot with the toe pointing straight up. So select Edit->Rotate->RotateX90 to reposition the tetrahedron and enter Point Edit mode. Drag select the top two points. Your image should look like the top on at the right. Deselect the X-axis and move the two points straight up to about twice their initial position. Then select the center point and move it down until it is on top of the lower point. The front and side views should look like those to the right.||
|Now go back to Object Edit mode and scale the foot until it's about two grid lines tall. Then move it up to rest on the origin with Edit->Locate->StandOnOrigin. Add a material with your choice of colors (I used a yellow orange 247/207/71). Apply it to the foot and it's finished. The right image is an ortho view of the final foot.||
|The beak is also a very simple object, just four triangles, two for the top and two for the bottom. You can build it for two squares.|
|Select Object->New and give it the name "Beak" using the Settings->Object menu item. Start in the top view. Then add a square to make the upper part of the beak. You do this by selecting Build->Primitives->N-Gon from the menu and specifying 4 sides. Then select Add Polygon in the toolbar and click and drag the mouse to add a square of about 3 grid lines tip to tip. Fill it in with Build->Fill from the menu. Switch to wire frame view (View->Viewport->Wire) to make sure that the square was divided in a vertical direction, since this will be the way that your beak is oriented. There should be a white vertical line inside of a green square, like the image at the left. You may have to move the beak sideways a bit to see the line, as it may be hidden behind a grid line. If the square is split the other way, rotate it to this orientation.|
||Enter Point Edit mode and select the two side points. Scale t hem towards the middle to a width of about 2 1/3 grid lines, and them move them up to almost as high as the top point, like this.|
||Now select the top point and switch to the front view. Move the point up about one grid line. Select the lower center point and move it up about 1/4 grid line. The front view is shown at the left.|
||Now switch back to Edit mode. Select the beak and center it over the origin with Edit->Locate->StandOnOrigin. Then create a mirror of it with the Build->Mirror menu command, selecting the Y direction to mirror. If you view the beak in filled mode, you may notice that the bottom part is always dark. This happens when the normals are facing in the wrong direction. You can fix the by first selecting just the bottom half and applying the Edit->FlipNormals command from the menu.|
||Finally, give the beak a color. I used the same color as the foot. You might want to group the two halves together with the Build->Group command so that you won't accidentally separate them.|
|Note: Here you created a fixed position for the beak. If you wanted to animate it, you would make the top and bottom parts as different objects.|
|The final object to build in the Object Editor is an eye. LIke the beak, it will be made of several parts. You can make them separate objects if you want to animate the eye opening and closing, but here we'll just make a fixed eye.|
|Select Object->New and name
the new object "Eye". In the front view, add a sphere .
Double click on it to view it's properties dialog, and set the diameter
to 10 and the longitude and latitude divisions to 18 and 8. Convert
the sphere into an editable mesh with the Build->ConvertToMesh menu command.
Then make two new materials, one shiny white and the other shiny black.
Try a roughness of about 50, and a specular value of 0.6 for the white
and 0.7 for the black. These colors will be white of the eye, and
the pupil. Select the sphere and apply the white material.
Now switch to Point Edit mode and then enable Face selection . Drag Select the top most row of faces, as shown to the right. You may have to switch to a different view to see what you've selected.
|Then select the black pupil color from the Materials toolbar and apply it to the selected faces. Now your object has two materials at the same time. Deselect the faces by click/dragging the mouse in a blank part of the window, and switch back to Edit mode. Select the object and apply the Edit->Rotate->RotateX90 command. Your eye should now look like the right. Move it to the center with Edit->Locate->CenterAboutOrigin so it will line up with the eye lids easier. Then hide it with the Edit->Hide menu command to keep it out of the way for a while.||
|The eyelids are made of the halves of spheres, and are just a bit larger in diameter than the eyeball. Create a sphere of diameter 10.5, with the longitude and latitude divisions also set to 18 and 8. Rotate it by 90 degrees around the X-axis and convert it into a mesh. Center it with Edit->Locate-> CenterAboutOrigin and change into Point Edit mode. Make sure that you have Point Selection enabled, and Drag Select all of the points below but not on the center line of the sphere. You may need to zoom in by temporarily going into Object/Viewport mode and enlarging your view for easier selection. Then delete the selected points.||
|Now switch back into Object/Edit mode and select the side view. Select the eye lid and Rotate it to the right about 30 degrees using the right mouse button. This will tilt the upper lid far enough for the eye to appear open. Add a new material with the color you want for the eyelids, and apply it. Switch back to the Front view and select Edit->ShowAll to make the eyeball visible again. If you can't see the inside of the lid when viewing it as a solid, select Options->Backside. This makes both sides of a surface visible.||
|Now hide both parts and make another half sphere in the same way, but this time keep the bottom half. When you're finished, unhide the other parts and your eye is finished! You might want to select all three parts and group them to keep them together.||
|Now you're ready to go to Part 2 of the tutorial where you will build a skeleton and flesh out your character.|
|To download an Anim8or project containing the objects built in the tutorial, click here: tutorial_simplewalk_1.zip.|
|This page was last updated on November 1, 2001.||
Copyright 2001 R. Steven Glanville