Getting Started in Animation Part 4

With the summer vacation just within your grasp, our 3d kindergarten are about to come to an end with this very issue. Throughout this four part tutorial series we’ve been focusing on the concept of animation, rather than fancy features offered by any given 3d software. With topics ranging from boxes of crayons to green peas we’ve surely had an odd mix of metaphors for the fundamental ideas, but this hopefully helped you getting the bigger picture.

During the course our hopper has evolved from just being a lifeless object to a joyful character with a will (and rig) of his own. Until now, we’ve put together the animation by directly moving and scaling the geometry of the hopper at different frames. While this approach is very straightforward and time efficient you don’t have any real control of the hoppers posture or any specific expression, even less the ability to change them over time. Using the rig from last issue enables us to continue working in the same manner as before, but with the power to add additional details to the poses and the animation as a whole.

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Box Unfolding

The most straightforward (and powerful) way to set-up the animation is by using bones. For the modelling I would recommend starting out with a simple cube, extruding the sides to match the reference box in its unwrapped state. As there’s a clear distinction between each side of the box as well as the flaps, the placement of the bones should be rather evident. Use a one-bone chain, starting and ending aligned to the corresponding flap, to control each of them. While you’ll envelope each side to a single bone as well, you can use two separate two-bone chains to control all sides. Once all of your bones are in place (should count thirteen), make the flaps a child of the corresponding side bone. Depending on the type of material your virtual box is made of and your desired style on the animation you might want to use a two-bone chain per side of the box as well as for the flaps. While a single bone is sufficient to control the folding, the extra bone will enable you to create a softer deformation, avoiding the otherwise slightly stiff look.

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Lattice Rigging

I guess most of us just think about paper bags as a very practical way to carry our merchandises home from the supermarket, or to stockpile all kind of weird bits and pieces in the closet, though you know you have absolutely no intention of ever using them again so you really ought to toss it right away; but as one of our readers found out, there obviously are other fields of application for them as well.

The paper bag is in fact a relatively old innovation and was mentioned in Europe as early as during the seventeenth century. Tough they where folded and glued by hand during that time they still have the same characteristics – a void, surrounded on five sides by a thin piece of paper.

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