It's time for us to tackle our next project, the Dragon's First Birthday! Here we overview and outlines some of what's in store!
We begin by looking at the storyboards for our project, showing how the animation will pan out and identifying some of the key effects.
It's time for us to create our star character. For this, we're going to be going into some much deeper polygonal model for NURMS smoothing.
We start our modeling process by creating the image planes that will house the references of the dragon character.
The modeling of our dragon begins in earnest by creating the initial shape of his torso, from which we can branch out the arms and legs.
Next we extrude out the shapes that will form the arms and legs of our dragon character, adding the detail we need to move them about.
No dragon is compelte without some sort of a tail. In this video we create the primary exrusion that will server to create the tail.
Moving down the body, we now create the shapes that will form the feet of our little dragon character, complete with toenails.
The dragon's hands will be a little more complex, allowing us to animate the individual fingers and thumb, as well as the wrist.
Here we pull a thumb shape out of the initial slab of the palm, creating the detail necessary to animate our dragon's hands.
To improve the look of the tail we add some simple spikes coming off it it. This decoration lends more to the look of the the dragon.
Although not very long, our dragon's neck needs to be flexible enough for him to be able to look around and blow on the candle.
In this video we take a look at creating the initial start for the head shape, which really begins as a very simple exrusion.
From our initial head shape, we now pull out the dragon's snout, which will serve as one of the character's more defining features.
Into the head we will now indent some eye sockets, into which we will place some spheres later to form the actual eyes for the dragon.
With the sockets in place, it's now time to take a look at how we're going to handle the eyes themselves, which we create here.
Although not very visible in this particular character, we now create a very simple mouth for our dragon, so that he can blow fire.
Just as we did with the tail, we will now create some simple spikes branching off from the head to give the dragon more character.
The primary horn atop the head will give the dragon a very particular look and allow for an effect similar to a hair style.
These secondary horns will accentuate the first, allowing us to further the hairstyle-like effect created at the top of the dragon's head.
We now produce some final horns to wrap up this decorative portion of character creation. With that, we're ready to move onto the wings.
In this video we tackle the dragon's wings, which we will use to help him hover as he burns his birthday cake to ashes.
We need to create a UV layout for the purposes of texturing, and in this case we're going to make use of 3ds Max's pelt mapping system.
We begin by creating a simple pelt for the upper torso of the dragon, onto which we can later paint a tee shirt for character effect.
Next we use the Pelt mapping system to create layouts that can be used for texturing the dragon's arms and legs.
Once the arms and legs are completed, we can move on and start creating some texture coordinate layouts for the tail and wings.
Next we lay out the UVs for the character's hands, allowing for easy placement into the final layout and simplified texture painting.
Here we create layouts for the horns along the dragon's back, as well as some of the other parts of the character's body.
The feet will require a little bit of attention since the shape is a little bit complex. In this video, we add them to our texture layout.
We now create the layouts necessary for the texturing of the horns atop the dragon's head.
Next on the list, we create the final necessary layouts that will allow us to create some textures for the horns along the tail.
In this video we tweak out some of the UVs of our final layout, making it easier for us to read and work with in Photoshop.
With our layouts complete, we have only to create the templates that will be taken into Photoshop for the purpose of painting textures.
Here we take a look at the texture that was created for the Diffuse maps, discussing how they were created from the ground up.
Because our shaders are fairly simple, there aren't many more maps to discuss. Here we cover the remaining textures used to finish the dragon.
To test out our textures, we now set up a simple render using the Light Tracer Advanced Lighting system, which creates a realistic clay render.
In this video we take an in-depth look at using 3ds Max's Position constraint for causing one object to follow the position of another.
Another key constraint for use in animation is the Orientation constraint, which causes the rotation of one object to match a second.
We now move on to the Look At constraint, which causes an object to orient a specified local access so that it points at a target object.
Path constraints allow for animation that follows a spline, which can be great for moving cameras and other objects through a scene.
This scene shows a demonstration that we'll be using for Path and Link constraints, in which we move an object from a toy train via a simple crane.
In this video we establish the constraint animation demonstrated previously, showing how to animate between multiple link targets.
Character rigging is largely reliant upon proper use of Bones. In this video, we teach you the concepts of bones in Max and how they work.
3ds Max includes a fantastic toolset for creation and editing of bone objects known as Bone Tools. In this video we show you this interface.
Character animation can be handled via either forward or inverse kinematic systems. Here we describe the difference and benefits of each.
Spline IK systems allow you to control a chain of joints using a spline rather than a single effector. We show you the setup process in this video.
For our demo character, we're going to use a particular type of foot rig that allows for a rolling action as the character moves along.
Now that we've demonstrated how the foot rig will function, we now begin the construction process by getting the bones and controls in place.
To make things easier to animate, we now set up a basic automation system for handling our character's feet as they roll up off the floor.
With the foot rig in place, we simply need to wrap up the remaining controls for the character's ankle and knee, and the leg is completed!
To position our character properly in the scene, we will create a master control to which the base rig will be parented in the end.
Moving up from the legs, our next step is to create the rig system for our dragon's spine, which will be handled through Spline IK.
Here we wrap up the necessary controls for manipulating our spline, which in turn will drive the spinal joints of our character.
With the spine done, we can branch out and start rigging up the arms for our demo character, with controls for the shoulder and elbows.
By implementing a hand lock feature, we have the ability to have the hands stay in place, such as on the edge of the table, when animating.
Rather than do all of the rigging a second time to set up the opposite arm, we will now duplicate the existing rigged arm across the body.
We now rig up the head and the neck of our character, using a much simpler setup for controlling rotation of the bones.
We now take a look at rigging up the hand in such a way as to provide control over the curling of each individual finter.
Using the Reaction Manager, we now create the curling system for each of our dragon's fingers, in order to simplify aniamtion.
Here we wrap up the control system for the dragon's leg rig system, using some of the techniques discussed earlier.
We now wire up the rolling system that we're going to use to autmoate the motion of our dragon's feet while he walks.
In this video we compelte the final controls needed to wrap up the leg rig for our dragon. We can now move on to the spinal area.
By adding some bones and Spline IK, we can quickly create the necessary rig for controlling the spine of our dragon character.
To help control the spine of our dragon, we add in some controls for twisting both the top and bottom of the spinal column.
The arm rig for our dragon is fairly simple, consisting primarily of some shoulder and elbow controls. We begin setup in this video.
Here we finalize the arm rig, getting the IK and control objects into place and ready to start moving the arm around.
Our head and neck rig will allow us to change the orientation of our character's head joints by bending the neck.
Using the skills we discussed previously, we now create the rig for the base hand of our dragon character, including the palm and finger bones.
With the fingers in place, we now need to establish the system that will automate the rotation of the bones, rather than having to rotate each.
The tail rig will also be kept fairly simple, since we're not trying to do any kind of complex animation with it. We set up the control system here.
When our dragon floats above the table, we want to be able to flutter his wings. This requires that we create a simple IK rig as shown.
In this video we approach how we're going to set up a control system for the eyes, allowing us to move a target that they eyes will track.
Now that they eyes can move, we simply need to set up a system that will allow the dragon's eyes to blink and close.
We will be attaching the character's geometry to the rig skeleton with the Skin modifier. In this video, we introduce you to how this works.
Envelopes allow for quick and easy editing of the area of effect that each bone has over a region of character geometry.
Sometimes it's better to adjust vertex weghting manually than relying strictly on envelopes. Here we show you how to do this.
In this video we show other methods of controlling your skinning scenario, such as painting skin weight values on a surface.
Now that we understand how skinning works, we can take a look at applying skinning to our character to attach him to the rig.
In this video we make some critical edits to the skinning around the dragon's feet so that they can deform properly during animation.
Here we handle some basic tweaks and adjustments to wrap up the skinning process, after which our character is attached to the rig.
Angle deformers allow you to change the shape of geometry in a given area based on the angle of a joint. This can help clean up deformations.
This demonstration teaches you how the Morpher modifier works, which is a great way to handle blendable facial expressions on characters.
Though his facial animation is to be kept simple, we will create some basic morph targets for our dragon to animate his features.
In this video we outline the use of a user interface for controlling a character during animation. We will build this UI in upcoming videos.
Before we begin coding, it is important for you to understand the basics of MaxScript. In this video, we give you a quick introduction.
IF statements provide for conditional decision making within your scripts, which can give your scripts a simple form of intelligence.
Adding comments to your code can be a critical way to keep all of your changes straight and help you see how your code progresses.
Here we talk about creating custom user interfaces in 3ds Max, including some of the different types of UIs that can be generated.
3ds Max provides a convenient way to design your own interfaces thorugh a tool that is very similar to Visual Basic.
Here we create the primary rollout for our character control user interface. This rollout will later house all of our controls.
With the rollout established, we need to add some basic functionality using our newfound programming skills.
In this video we track down any errors in our code and clear them out so that we can move on to other portions of the script.
We take a closer look at the process of creating a rollout to contain the morph controls for our character and debugging it.
We now create an area to house the controls for our character's hand and perform any necessary debugging to get it implemented.
At this point we can add in the necessary controls for our characters feet, and then finalize the script that we have assembled.
It's time to take a look at wrapping up our set. Here we create the walls of our set and the table that will hold the cake and utensils.
The cake and utensils are created here with some simple modeling operations. We can now move onto other props in the scene.
Here we create some additional party props for our dragon's birthday, including some simple balloons and the hat for his head.
In this video we create some trim to go around the walls, as well as the flame to be placed on the birthday cake's candle.
The banner and tablecloth for our scenes will be designed using cloth, in order to get a smooth draping effect.
In this video we begin the process of texturing up the scene for our dragon's party, including the walls and other areas.
This video demonstrates the process of texturing the floor of the room. This prevents the scene from looking too generic.
We continue the texturing of the scene, taking care of the banner on the back wall, as well as other props of the shot.
We now texture up the dragon's birthday cake, as well as the party hat that is placed on top of the character's head.
It's time to generate the animatics for our scene, and our first step is to produce the simplified versions of the models.
We can now create the basic animatic for our dragon's animation. This process is handled and discussed throughout this video.
In this video we take a look at the process of starting our character's walk cycle, and get the basic poses blocked out and in place.
With the base poses in place, we can now add in the key in-between poses for our walk and proceed with accentuating the animation.
Our next step is to make our arms a part of the overall motion. Here we take a look at moving the hips and adding in some arm swing.
With a cycle now in place, we can extend the animation out that our dragon walks up to the table from the exterior of the shot.
In this video we establish the dragon's positioning against the table once the walk sequence is completed, as well as locking the hands.
In this video we get the initial animation in place for the dragon's first attempt at blowing out his birthday candle.
Having failed the first time, the dragon now tries again - with a little more force - to extinguish the candle on his cake.
Fed up and ready to do some serious puffing, the dragon pops up into the air and blows as hard as he can, trying to put out the candle.
Here we accentuate the aniamtion we came up with for the second attemp, adding in some anticipation to give more character.
Using the cues of the previous video, we also go on to put in some anticipation for the third attempt at blowing out the candle.
There are twelve 3ds Max scenes. Seven are known. Four live in secret. One will be revealed.
Using our facial controls created earlier, we can now animate some changing expressions on our dragon character.
While the dragon is floating, we'll add in some foot kicking, as if he's excited and working as hard as he can to remain airborne.
After looking at the aniamtion, it becomes clear that the first two attempts need to be longer to extend the feel. We handle this here.
To show the dragon's excitement, we create a simple animation of him clapping his hands together after approaching the table.
Here we add a little more time and motion to the third attempt at blowing out the candle, hoping to clean up the overall look.
We discover that we need to pick up the pace of the hand clapping, which we take care of in this video.
In this video we take a closer look at the facial expressions, tweaking their animation and adding some blink motion to the eyes.
This video serves as an overview of the process of finishing up the animation, creating any necessary tweaks and adjustments.
Here we create the lighting scenario that will be used for our aniamtion, as well as set up the lighting settings for effect.
This is the first of a four-part series in which we take a look at the process of creating our dragon's firey breath.
We continue the process of working out the flames for our scene, setting up the behavior of our particles as they are exhaled.
We also need to create the necessary textures and materials for our fire effect and make sure they'll work for our scene.
In this video we wrap up the process of testing out our fire effect for our little dragon, and can add it into the scene.
Using what we learned over the previous videos, we now add our fire effect into the dragon animation scene.
With some tweaking (and a couple of render tests) we are able to finish up the fire effect for our dragon's breath.
Next we need to have our fire affect the cake and candle. This is done through some transform aniamtion and morph target work.
We need to create a texture that gives the impression that the table cloth has been charred by the dragon's flame.
Now that we have finished our textures, we can animate the change in the look of our table and plate as the fire is blown.
Our candle will be handled through the use of a surface, bones, splines, rope, and a glow effect. Mix them all together here!
In this video we add some last minute embellishments to the cake's material to make it a little more pleasing to the eye.
Everything is burnt up. Now we just need some smoke to come off of the charred material. Here we set up the particle system.
With our particles in place, we now create the material that will make them look like smoke. Afterward, we create the lights for the flame.
In this video we handle some of the final adjustments and tweaks to the scene, and then fire off the final rendering.