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TUTORIAL VI

Deform Tool Animation


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Introducing the Deform Tool

The deform tool is very similar to bones when using it for animation. With Bones you create a skeleton for your object. When the bones are moved or rotated the associated object's triangles move and rotate in the same way. The deform tool will allow the manipulation of an object in the same way. With the deform tool rather than being a skeleton for the object is forms a cage encompassing the object. This cage influences the object in a similar, albeit less precise, manner as with bones. The advantage of the deform tool is there a no bones to be set up. This is extremely useful when animating complex objects such as faces.

The essential fact to bear in mind is that if a object occupies the same space as a deform tool cage in the stage editor then the object will be influenced by it!

Two tutorials are detailed below. These are intended to provide a insight into how the deform tool can be used to manipulate an object during an animation.


TUTORIAL VI - Part A

Squidging a Sphere

Step 1a - Creating the Object to Animate

In the detail editor add the default deform tool be selecting Deform Tool from New in the Object Menu. Click on OK to accept the default values. Select the deform tool in object select mode and select Pick Points mode. Using the Marquee Selection Tool pick the four points that form a square in the center of the deform tool cage in the TOP view. This is shown below in Figure 1. Press "s" to interactively scale these points to 0.4. The cage should now look like the one shown in Figure 2. If so select it in object select mode and save it as deform.iob. Do not delete it just yet.

Now add a primitive sphere with the properties Radius=50, Circle Sections=48 and Vertical Sections=48. Leave the Stagger Point check box checked. Select the sphere in object select mode and bring up the object attributes dialog box. Change the Specular Color to 255,255,255 and the Spec. Hardness to 200. Apply the checks2.itx texture with a check size of 16. Select the checks testure and click on Xform Axis. Select Rotate and type in 90,0,0 for X,Y,Z. Save the object as sphere.iob. To see how the deform tool affects the sphere, select the sphere in object select mode. Then pick Deform tool from the functions menu. When the Select Deform Tool Dialog box is diplayed select the folder labelled DFORM_3_3_3 and click on OK. The deformed sphere, once rendered, should look like the one shown in Figure 3 below.

Figures for Step 1a
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Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3


Step 2a - Setting the Stage

Go to the Stage Editor by selecting Stage Editor from the Editor menu. Create a new project by selecting New from the Project menu. Type in 16 for the Frame Count and leave the Looping Animation check box unchecked. Select the Camera in Object Select mode and bring up the Object Transformation dialog box. Set the Alignment to 0,0,0 and the position to 0,-400,0. Next add a light source by selecting Light Source from Add in the Object menu. Accept the default properties by clicking on OK. Select the light source in Object Select mode and bring up the Object Transformation dialog box. Set the Position to 0,-400,0. To add the deform tool select Load from the Object menu and pick deform.iob. Accept all the default properties by clicking on OK for both dialog box. Next add the sphere (sphere.iob) in an indentical manner.

Select the sphere in object select mode and bring up the Object Transformation dialog box. Set the Position to -120,0,0. Now go to the last frame by select Last from the Frame menu. Select the sphere again and sets its position to 120,0,0 using the Object Transformation dialog box. To update the object's timeline, keep the sphere selected and pick Position Bar from the Object menu. The stage is now set so save the scene as squidge.ist. To get an idea of how the animation will run set the Perspective view to Wireframe and go to the first frame. To advance through the frames hold down the "Alt" key and press "f" followed by "n". Notice that as the sphere moves into the deform tool cage the sphere is deformed in the same way as in applying it does the detail editor.

Finally to render the animation select Render from the Project menu. Click on Add to include all 16 frames in the animation. Select which parameters you want to use, i.e. resolution, rendering type, antialiasing, etc. Pick which type of AVI file to generate and away you go. For this tutorial I saved each frame individually and created an animated gif. This is shown below in Figure 4.

Figure for Step 2a
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Figure 4

TUTORIAL VI - Part B

Manipulating a Cylinder

Step 1b - Creating the Objects

In the detail editor add a Deform Tool by picking Deform Tool from New in the Object Menu. Accept the default properties by clicking on OK. Next add a primitive tube. Change the Circle Sections to 32 and the Vertical Sections to 32 and click on OK. Select the tube in object select mode and bring up the Object Transformation dialog box. Check the Translate check box and type in 0,0,-50 for X,Y,Z. With the tube still selected bring up the Object Attributes dialog box. Set the Specular Color to 255,255,255 and the Spec. Hardness to 200. Go to the Maps tab and add the checks2.itx texture, set the check size to 16. Click on the Xform Axis for the texture and Rotate it using 90,0,0 for X,Y,Z.

In Object Select mode pick the deform tool, then multi-pick the tube and pick Group from the States menu. Pick Group Select mode and pick the deform tool, notice that both objects are highlighted. Now pick Create from States in the States menu, the New State dialog box is then displayed. Check only the Shape and Object Props. Data Type check boxes and click on OK. This creates the initial "DEFAULT" state. Repeat these actions but this time type in "START" for the state name. We have now created a starting state for the deform tool.

To ensure that the checks2 texture is tacked to the tube throughout the animation select just the tube in Object Select mode. Bring up the Object Attributes dialog box. Select Properties for the Checks2 texture and click on Browse for the Tacking State under the General tab. Select the "DEFAULT" state.

Now select the deform tool in Object Select mode then select Pick Points mode. Using the Marque Selection tool select the middle two rows of points in the FRONT view. This is shown below in Figure 5. Press "s" to interactively scale these points then press "z" to disable scaling in the Z axis. Scale these points to 1.7 as shown below in Figure 6. Select the deform tool in Group Select mode then pick Create from States in the States menu. Again check only the Shape and Object Props. Data Type check boxes and type in "END" for the State Name. To check the states have been set up correctly pick Set To from States in the States menu. Pick the "START" state and notice that the deform tool cage goes to its default shape. Repeat these actions but this time select the "END" state and notice that the deform tool cage bulges out. If very thing is OK select the deform tool in Group Select mode save it as deform1.iob.

To see what the tube looks like when deformed in the "END" state, pick the "END" state, using the method described above. Then pick the tube in Object Select mode. Pick Deform Tool from the functions menu then select DFORM_3_3_3. The tube when rendered should look like the one shown below in Figure 7. Notice that because we tacked the checks2 texture to the initial, un-deformed state, the checks have bulged with the object.

Figures for Step 1b
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Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7


Step 2b - Setting the Stage

Go to the Stage editor and load the squidge.ist stage. Select and delete both the sphere and the deform tool. Pick Load from the Object menu and select deform1.iob. Click on OK when the Actor Info dialog box is displayed. When the Object File Info dialog box is displayed set the End Frame to 1. Next click on Browse for the State Name and pick the "START" state. Select Save as from the Project menu and save the scene as bulge.ist.

Select Acion Dialog from the Editor Menu. Go to the DFORM_3_3_3 actor and drag out an actor timeline from frame 2 to frame 8. Pick deform1.iob as the object and when the Object File Dialog box is displayed select the State Name as "END". Repeat this process to create an actor timeline from frame 9 to frame 16 but this time select a State Name of "START". Click on OK to accept these changes to the Action Dialog.

Finally, to render the animation select Render from the Project menu. Click on Add to include all 16 frames in the animation. Select which parameters you want to use, i.e. resolution, rendering type, antialiasing, etc. Pick which type of AVI file to generate and away you go. For this tutorial I saved each frame individually and created an animated gif. This is shown below in Figure 8.

Figure for Step 2b
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Figure 8


And Finally.....

The squidge animation is not perfect. If you look at it you will notice that the checks do not deform at all. This is because I would of had to create a state and tack the texture to it. I thought that this might confuse anyone reading this tutorial into thinking that states are required to make the deform tool work in the stage editor. There are not, remember any object will deform if it enters the same space of any deform tool cage in the stage editor.


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© Richard Jennings 1997, 1998