How to Create 3D Animation

by braniac

3D animations are cool! The best part is, it isn't brain surgery - you can create 3D animations yourself, with a bit of effort and the help of some great freeware programs. I'll teach you how in a few quick steps.

Keep in mind that there are many tools and methods available - I'm just demonstrating one. You will need to explore your own talents and time, and also consider your budget when selecting which program is ultimately best for you.

Okay, so here's where we start....

Download Anim8tor. It's free. We will be using Anim8or to create 3D models and animations. ANIM8OR: http://www.anim8or.com/main/index.html Install the program, and download the help manual for future reference.

Open Anim8tor and create a model. For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll be making a simple cube. Of course, you will be able to make more complex models with practice, but let's start small. Select the "Add Cube" button. This is a button on the left side panel, towards the bottom, and looks like a Rubik cube. It will say "add cube" if you hover over it with your mouse. Once you've pressed the button, click on the blue field, and drag the mouse to create a shape.

Open materials. Click on the cube to select it. It should be highlighted in yellow. Next, you will apply "materials" (ie, add color and texture). Do this by clicking the materials button (top of the screen, it looks like 4 balls, and will say materials if you hover over it with the mouse). A side bar will pop up, and the top box will say "new." Double click on it. You'll see a new menu with a colorful hexagon. There are a lot of options you can adjust for different results, but for now, just select a color by dragging the marker ion the hexagon. Click OK.

Color the model. You will see a colored ball under materials. Select the material, select the cube, and click "apply" (the button above the color ball). You made your model!

Go to scene mode. Go to the MODE tab at the top of the screen, and select SCENE.

Add the object. Select the BUILD tab at the top of the screen, and select ADD OBJECT. Select the object, and click okay. You will see your object on the screen.

Go to camera view. Select the VIEW tab > CAMERA. Next, select the SETTINGS tab > ENVIRONMENT. Unclick the box that says "Ground Grid."

Move your model around. To move the model, you must select the "move"tool. It is a button on the left panel, and looks like a cross with arrows in all four directions. Click it. Then, select your model, and drag it around. To rotate the object, use the "rotate" tool. This looks like a circle with arrows. Click it. Then, select your model, and rotate it around.

Start the animation. At the bottom of your screen, you will see a timeline. You are on frame 0. You can drag the time line to different frames. Each frame is a stage in the animation. In Anim8or, the inbetween frames will be filled in for you if you make animations at different points. Start at frame 0. Click the key at on the left panel. This sets the animation for that frame. Now, drag the time line at the bottom of the screen to the last frame. Rotate and/or move the object. Now click the key again.

Watch the animation. To watch the animation you've created, click the play button. Cool, right???

Render the animation. To save the animation as an avi (animated movie), choose the RENDER tab, and select RENDER MOVIE. Name your file and click OK. Once saved, you can view it as much as you'd like. Note, you can also save each frame as a bmp image, and convert these into a gif for use on a webpage or anywhere. Happy rendering!

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Anim8or