animated and paint with project Dogwaffle

Amapi 4.15 tutorial
3D Text Animation
You've installed Amapi 4.15, and you're ready for 3D action. Let's  go. Let's build a 3D logo made of text, and animate and render it into a static image or AVI animation, for use in your Gif Animator or Flash authoring tool.

When you start Amapi the first time, it will ask for your name and company (we assume it's good company :-)  so don't sweat it if you don't know, and the password. That's the license key. You know, that 17-character string starting with '2'. Without it, Amapi remains in demo mode, you won't be able to save or export, oh well. You can still do almost all you need here.

After that initial anoyance, you'll be ready to model. Amapi offers two user interfaces, and you may have the standard floating palette up at first. If at all possible, change it to the workshop interface, also known by Amapi addicts as the natural way to model. It's much faster (when you get it), french artists really dig it, and well,... c'est tres chic.


To switch to the oh so awesome workshop interface, click Edit...Preferences...Workspace. (in Amapi 6 that's a separate menu in the menu bar, and it's called Interface, not Workspace).

Oh, while we're there: in the Edit... menu, you'll also notice the access to Shortcuts. The shortcuts editor is a neat way to make your life simple, by defining your own keystrokes for single- or multi-key shortcuts to whichever Amapi tools you want to use. 

You can define such actions as 'c' for Close-an-Object, 't' for Tesselate, 'w' for Workspace preferences, function key 'F1' for perspective/orthographic projection toggle, etc...

Using both hands makes 3D modeling twice as fast, and twice the fun. When you're not busy using shortcuts, keep your other hand (the one NOT using the mouse) resting over the arrow keys left/right/up/down that is, between the main and numeric key pad.

Make sure Numlock is enabled on the number keypad. There are some great shortcuts already defined there for view control and to orbit the workshop camera.


Back to the Workspace preference setings...

Click the 'Workshop' box - bingo!

You now have a bunch of icons alongside the right and upper corner area. There are 3 toolkits, for Construction, Modeling and Assembly. To switch between them, just whip your mouse to the right edge, and back in. 

It's like tipping the bottom of a lazy susan turn table, to turn it over to the other side. There's a slew of tools hanging from the toolkit, just grab one, use it, toss it away.

So much for the Amapi philosophy. Now let's get to work.


Ok, click the Test tool in the construction toolkit (or select it from the Tools... menu.)
Select the font, style and type the text. 

Because we're humble and simple people, we typed simply  '3D'. Oh goodie!

Click OK when done.

The extruded letters are now showing as wireframe model in the Amapi scene.

Use the '0' (zero) key on the numeric keypad to view all and center on it, then hit '2' (two) for front view.


Hit ENTER to make a rendering on-screen.

click when done to return, or swipe the cursor away to the right edge, to get back to the wireframe display


Although the  letters in a string may have different colors assigned randomly at first, they are all grouped in a single group. Let's use the Ungroup tool at the bottom of the control panel to ungroup them.
A bounding box appears which shows all groups in the scene.


Click the group - the items are now separated (although there could still be additional nested groups within).
We now want to add a camera in the scene, which will be used when rendering a still image or animation. 

Hit the SPACEBAR to toggle to the 4th toolkit, or select it in the upper-right corner by clicking the camera icon. 

You can also insert a new camera from the Render... menu.

With the 4th toolkit showing (it's called the render/animation toolkit), select a new camera.
A crosshair appears. You are asked to click somewhere to indicate where the camera needs to point at.

Use a top view: hit the '5' (five) key to look top down, or orbit your camera accordingly with the up/down cursor keys.

Then click around the center of the 3D text string.


A rubberband camera appears and follows your every moves of the mouse. Position it away and far enough so that the 3D text roughly fits in the camera's scope (rectangle at end or focal point).

If you need to zoom away in the workshop view, use the '3' (three) or '.' (point) keys in the numeric keypad to zoom in and out.

Click a asecond time to position the camera where desired.


Switch back to the main set of 3 toolkits (toggle with Spacebar for instance) and select the modeling toolkit (moving the cursor in and out the right edge of the screen).

Find the Stretch tool, and select it. We now will fine-tune the control points of the camera.

You can access the Stretch tool also through the Tools/Modeling menu.

And, if you find that you'll use this tool a lot, why not assign a shortcut for it through the shortcuts editor. Remember how?


When selecting the Stretch tool, which allows you to move individual points and vertices on an object, or the location and target point on a camera, you'll see the hot points on the camera. There's also one on the side of the code, allowing you to change the angle.

In fact you can also just double-click the object, in this case the camera, and it will show some properties.

Use the Stretch tool to better position and point the camera


However, when we hit ENTER again to make another rendering, it still uses the default orientation, i.e.e it doesn't render yet as seen by the camera. This requires that we configure the option in the Render settings.

Select the Render menu and Render Settings from there.

The default camera can be replaced with any camera that's in the scene. Select Camera0 for example.
Notice that the preview now shows the camera's view, and compare the other parameters. 

In preparation of future uses, make sure the  "Extended Editor" is checked in the Material editor group. 

For addede realism, and if you add spot lights which can cast shadows, you might also want to check the 'Shadow' box.

A new rendering now shows indeed what the camera sees.
We need to further fine tune the camera, because the right edge cuts into the 'D'. 

Wouldn't it be nice to see dynamically what the camera sees while we interactively use the Stretch tool and adjust the camera?

Well, let's do it. Select a Free View from the New View in the View... menu.


You will see a popup window, floating over the Amapi workspace. You can move it to a second screen if you have one. 

This one is for inspection only, no modeling.

Under the Cameras menu of that floating view, select the desired camera

The shaded view now shows what the camera sees. Note that it still also contains the workbench.
If the workbench bothers you, use the Hide tool from the control panel at bottom-center to hide it.
The left-bottom tippi-toe of the ghost is the cursor's hot spot. Use it to hide the workbench, and the background grid too if you don't mind it.
Now, when you use the Stretch tool to adjust the camera's position and target point you'll immedidately see what's happening.

Ain't it sweet to have decent OpenGL graphics cards these days :-)


Hit Enter, and see the new rendering.

Good snapshot!

We now want to apply a bevel (filet) to one of the letters. Amapi has a very powerful beveling  tool for that.

Click to select the 'D' object and use a top-down view. 

Click the right mouse button, and use the spindle to place a selection area. Select all vertices on the front side of the object. 

This is what Amapi calls 'throwing the lasso selection tool'. If you live in Texas you're now allowed to smile - Yeeeha!

The selected vertices will appear in red. If you missed some, keep using the tool. If you have some you didn't want, selected it again to effectively deselect it.

Now, with the vertices (and hence edges) selected, select  the Filet tool from the modeling toolkit.

You can see a preview of the filet on part of the object. It varies depending on where you look from.

Use the plus/minus (+/-) keys to change the radius

Click the object to preview the current filet all over the selection.
In the lower-left corner, the numeric input window shows the radius and range (subdivision count). Use TAB to enter numeric values if you want to. 

Or, use SPACEBAR to toggle between changing the radius or the range through +/- keys.


Voila, here we have a nice bevel completed. 

Hit Enter to see the specular highlights upon rendering.


It's time to fiddle with the colors and shaders of the objects. Click the letter '3' from the '3D' string, to make it the current object. Then  access the shader through the Picasso-painting palette in the lower-right on the control panel.
If you did enable extended editor in the Render settings as shown earlier, you'll see a bunch of sliders and tons of options around a preview window. Otherwise select 'More parameters' to see more options than the basic set.

Below the preview, you can add a 3D procedural (algorithmic) texture. Click the button to add such a texture to the layers.


At right of the preview, the texture can be Wood, Marble etc... select the Noise texture.

By default it's on color, but we can make it affect the bump chaneel as well.


Below the preview, make the Operand affect the bump channel.
click me for large view
click image to enlarge and read the details...
Here's a snapshot of the parameters. 

Change the density, Proportion and Perturbation until you see the desired bumps.

In the lower left, set the amount of Reflection.

In the middle below the preview, set the Operation from Replace to Mix and use the Balance slider.

This gives just a brief idea of what's possible. You can add many more layers and have image textures mapped as well, into the various channels like bump, reflection, transparency etc...

Here's the resulting render - notice the reflection of the blue 'D' on the side of the '3'. Also notice that the reflection is scattered and bumpy, because of the noise in the bump channel.
Select the 'D' object and use the material shader again, to apply some kind of marble or wood grain.

Or map your own JPeg image over it.


It's time for animation action.

Go to the animation-render toolkit and access the keyframer.


The current object is automatically shown in keyframe #1  (frame number 0).

Every 5 frames there's a placeholder for a keyframe.

Swipe the tool away to exit the keyframer.

Use the Stretch tool like before to move the camera point and/or target position.

The preview window, if still attached to the camera, will be very helpful here too.


Return back to the keyframer.

In order to save the current (new) camera orientation, click an empty placeholder, such as at frame 5 or 10. Note that you don't have to fill them all, you can skip #5 and save it in frame #10.

Click frame 10 to add the keyframe there.

Repeat this for another keyframe - use the Stretch tool to reposition, then save in frame 20 as another keyframe.
Now, we can preview the animation  - click the Play animation  icon (open eyes).
Under the animation settings from the Animation menu, you can set the size.
use the animation settings to set a size of 160x120.

Set the frame rate at 15 (fps)

Ready to render and save the animation? Select "Save to File..." from the Animation menu.
Amapi will ask you to name the target AVI file where you want to save the resulting rendered animation.

You will then see the preview change step by step and the rendered frames appear frame by frame as it takes you through the animation. 

The faster your system the sooner you'll be done here. This is raytracing, no OpenGL acceleration here (except for the free floating preview, but that's minimal compared to the rendred view.)

When Amapi is done, you can open the finished AVI file and play it with your favorite media player.

Click this image to see the animation (194 kB AVI)
or right-click to save the animation.

The finished Amapi file is here. (right-click to save as...)

<<<animated GIF
You can open this AVI file in your preferred Gif Animator and convert it to animated GIF, and to Flash.