Click logo to view BlueOwlRock main page.

Wayne Beeching's

Becoming an Animator
Adventure Guide

Mesh Modelling

A mesh is a set of points in 3D space called vertices (plural of vertex). We can connect any two vertices to build an edge. If three or four edges are joined as a loop, then the area inside of the loop might be set to create a face. The faces are what the audience sees in the video or game.

2D imaging software includes pencil and paint brush tools for drawing images. Building a mesh model is more like virtual sculpting than drawing. We can rotate the object and move the vertices along the x, y or z axis to change the mesh's shape.

Keyframing is the most common method for animating in both 2D and 3D. Animators working in 3D also use armatures (virtual skeletons) and shape keys. These skills allow us to move many vertices as a group. Armature animation is working with virtual puppets.

Unlike most 2D graphics where the position of the viewer or audience is fixed, a scene made from 3D mesh objects can be viewed from different angles. Mesh modelling software allows us to add a camera to the scene and moving the camera allows us to view our scene from any angle. We also add lights to the scene. Animating a 3D scene becomes virtual video directing to the point where we need to decide when to call out "lights, camera, ... and action!"

Key words and Key Concepts:
selecting objects, rt-click to select, light, camera, deselecting, navigaiton, tumbling, panning, zooming, view selected, move gizmo, manipulators, editing an object, G to move, rt-click to cancel, entre to accept, properties shelf, tool shelf, object mode, edit mode, vertices, edges, faces, selection modes, 3D cursor, snap menu, cursor to selected, pivot point, add object, delete object, extrude, loop cut, ctrl+r

To Pixel Graphics

A pixel is a dot on the screen. Computer monitor pixels are bigger than smart phone pixels while TV pixels are rectangular. Images are built from pixels, but the image pixels are rarely shown on the screen as one to one. Almost all images are scaled before they are displayed.

Keep It Simple

The tradition for learning mesh modelling is to start with a snowman. The snowman can be made from simple 3D shapes such as spheres, cylinders and cones that are provided by the software. The snow under the snowman was custom shaped by moving individale vertices.

Notice the shading and the shadows. Working in 2D shadows are challenging, with 3D mesh modelling we simply place the lights and the camera. The render engine sets the shading of each face based on how much virtual light would reach it.

Animation the snowman to wave requires the same skills for both 2D and 3D. We need to set key frames and rotate the arm. The example was rendered as a series of png images. We used 2D imaging software to save the images as frames in a gif animation.

key words and key concepts:
low poly, solo workflow, modeling, add object, extrude, G to move, select faces, scaling, restricting scale, edge select, fill, nGon, quads, triangles, vertex select, recalculate normals, unwrapping, seams, select edge loops, U to unwrap, UV image view, orthographic, numpads, project from view, select all, vertex snap, texture mapping, Photoshop, layers, png, merge layers, filter, generate normal map, cycles render, creating material, ambient occlusion, node editor, samples, GPU, graphics cards, CPU, bake, naming, exporting, fpx, import to Unity, Transform, Albedo, normal map

To Vector Grahpics

Some images can be represented by non-pixel data. Vector graphics is defined by paths, anchor points, handles, colours, gradients. Vector graphics and mesh modells can both be rendered to an image of any size from a relatively small file size.