Creating an Animated Character Step by Step

To create a new file, restart seamless.
Click the create box button: box button

set position
Click where the 2 centre lines in the grid intersect to set the position of the box,

set baseclick to set the size of the base,

set-heightand click to set the height.

Like a fully grown caterpillar, the task of our box is complete and is ready to be converted to nurbs patches so that we can begin nurbs patch modelling. Convert the box to a patches by clicking the butterfly button: butterfly

convert to patch
Increase the number of control bands to 9 and then click done.


So that we can see where our body is positioned with a front on view front view, open the grid grid button control panel and click the xyPlane check box.

Zoom out a little using the mouse wheel.

To move our view up, click on empty space and drag down until the centre horizontal
line in the grid is right down at the bottom of our view.

We can drag each point one at a time to shape everything but the rectangle selection and the lever tools can greatly speed things up and they're easy to learn by using them.

Before using the rectangle selection tool to select all our points, click the backface ignore button backface
          ignore button to toggle out backface of ignore mode so that all control points including the points at the back of our model, get selected.

select-all-points To select the points with the rectangle selection tool, hold down the shift key and drag out a rectangle to surround all the points in the model.

After selecting the points the lever tool appears. It has a blue pivot point at the base of the 2 levers.

lever toolEach lever has 5 active points to perform different tasks, which are: translate, rotate, squash and stretch, rotate in neutral and scale.

select-neck-pointsDefine the neck and head by selecting these 2 rings of points

squash neckand squashing them in

and translate up a little.

Now the torso wants to be translated up a

02:01point to extrude for
To extrude the arms we want only this point selected. Because it with a number of other points are selected we want to first unselect the points which can be done by clicking on the 3d window while holding down the shift key.

only one point
        selectedNow we can select this point by clicking it and click extrude extrude button.

extruded arms
Increase the distance, increase the insertions to 3 and tick the spiderWebCenter check box.

point to extrude
          for legs Extruding the legs is much the same, click this point, click extrude extrude button,

extruded legs
increase the distance, increase the insertions to 3 and tick the spiderWebCenter check box.

Drag with the right mouse button held down to change the view orientation.

It's important to keep looking at our model from different view orientations while we work on it, so that we properly understand what we're doing in all 3 dimensions.

For our default pose we want our legs going straight down, vertically, so we need to rotate the leg points.

drag blue pivot
          pointTo do this first select the leg points and drag the pivot point up to the hip

rotate-leg-points-downand then drag the rotation point on the lever.

rotate-arm-pointsWe want our arms to go out straight horizontally. If we can't select all of the points inside one rectangle, toggle accumulate-selection-mode-off-button into accumulate selection mode accumulate-selection-mode-on-button, which allows us to select additional points without loosing the point's we've already selected.

We can drag the arms down a little by dragging any one of the selected points. When moving points this way we're free to drag the points in any direction where as when translating the points using the lever, the selected points can only be moved in the direction of the lever.

We want to move the 2 inner lines in the legs a little so lets select them and move them closer to each other. Oops the points in the arm remain selected
because we are still in accumulate selection mode so we need to toggle out of that mode first. Now we can select the leg points and squash them in.

Our feet are going through the floor so lets drag our model up some.
To avoid accidentally straying to the left or right like this,

translate-character-upuse the lever's translation point or drag one of the selected centre points.

squash-character-shorterIf we want to shorten our character by squashing it, drag the pivot point to the ground level first so that we squash towards it's feet which will prevent the feet from rising up. And when squashing to make our character thinner, have the point centre of left and right.

I want a rounder head.

The upper lines of points in the arms should be more evenly spaced from the middle lines. Zooming in can help us work when points are close to each other like this. If the operation we want to perform looks a bit awkward, it's often worth trying a different  view orientation.

With this side on view we can improve the neck and the shape of the head.
A stretch and now a translate forward looks good.
Dragging a few points individually is all we need to do here.

Stretching the legs from this view rounds our legs nicely.

To flatten a ring of selected points, squash the lever down towards the pivot point.

I find keeping the points neatly positioned helps me understand how the model is structured.

Looking at how thick the arms are in relation to the legs, I want the arms a little thinner.

To insert a line of points, click the insert control line insert line button button.

preview-line Now when our cursor hovers over a control line, a preview line appears to show where the insertion will be made. When the preview is showing where we want
it, click to hold and then click done.

insert-line-before-elbowInserting rings just before our knees and elbows will improve how our limbs look when animated.

We're now ready to add the skeleton. To add the bones we must be in skeleton edit
mode: skeleton edit mode

move-point-to-pelvis This red point is the pivot point of the bone that already exists in our model. We'll make this bone the pelvis, so lets drag it to an expropriate location for the pelvis.

To add more bones click add bone mode.
Each time we click we add a bone with its pivot
point at the location of where we clicked.

arm-branch-pointAfter adding all the bones for the spine we want to click this point so that the arm bones branch out from here in the spine.

Now we want to add the bones for the legs. Opps! we forgot to select the pelvis.

To delete a bone, click delete bone button. Now with the pelvis selected, we can add the bones for the legs.

If we click on a bone already added, we can drag it. We can drag like this drag-with-descendents-o where all the descendent bones move along with the bone we are dragging, or in this drag-with-descendents-off mode, we can drag it without any descendants moving with it

In the scene tree scene
          tree window we can see our bones represented by these part part node nodes.
part nodes in scene
          treeHere we can write in the names for the bones.


For the right arm and leg bones, name them beginning with r_ so that the left bones are automatically given the same name except the
r_ is replaced with a l_

To specify which control points in the nurbs cage are owned by a bone, click paint colour coded control points mode
to go into paint colour coded control points mode.

select points for
Use the rectangle selection tool to select the points for ownership of the selected bone.

Click  to go into animation mode.

We want to make our animation last 2 seconds by clicking add second button to add a second to the time line.


drag anim lever
To do a simple animation, all we need to do is drag the anim slider anim
          slider to where we want to pose our model, click on a bone, drag the lever and click play.

If we want our arm to wave down at the end of the wave, drag the shoulder's lever with the slider positioned at the end of the wave.

copy poseIf we want to copy the exact pose from this point in time to another, click the anim bar 's copy copy button button, drag the slider anim slider, click paste paste button and then click ok.

If we want the animation to keep repeating, click the loop anim loop button falseanim loop true button button.

From our wave we can go on to make a star jump. We want the right arm animated the same as the left.

08:21drag pelvis
          point upTo move our character up in the air, drag the pelvis' pivot point.

starWe want the legs to rotate out.

We want the left arm down the same as the right at the start of the jump, now lets copy the start pose and paste it at the end of the time line.

We can improve our jump if we also pose it from a side view side view.
lean forwardLet's lean the whole character forward and bend the legs.

select right hip.pngTo select the right hip, we must first change the view, otherwise we would select the left hip because the left hip is the closest to our viewpoint.
drag hip side view

Now our feet are off the ground at the start of our jump so lets drag the pelvis down.

09:08bend arms side viewNow lets pose the shoulders and elbows with a side view.

Now that we have posed all these joints to our liking for the start of the jump cycle,
lets copy the pose and paste it to the end of the cycle.

09:21straighten at peakNow lets straighten out the limbs at the peak of the jump. Orientate the view so that we don't end up needing to untwist the limbs. With practice this will feel much more intuitive to get right.

arch backBending each joint in the spine back a little to arch the back should make our character look a lot less wooden. If we are unsure which bone is which from a given view, change the view before selecting the bone.

That looks a lot better, especially from a tilted viewpoint.

We can still improve our jump significantly with very little effort, by making our character slow down as it reaches the peak of the jump. To do this all we need to do is move the slider to a position somewhat close to the peak and drag the pelvis up so that it is just a little less in height than what it is at the peak.
Do the same for when the character is just starting to fall back down.

rise slow down &
10:30nice shotThere that makes it feel much more like gravity is acting on our character to bring it back down to earth.

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