Adding a photo to a 3-D character makes it easier for viewers to identify with the character.
Several programs provide tools for creating and animating 3-D characters. You make characters in some programs by assembling polygons or other simple shapes into a humanoid figure. Other programs provide more intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces for assembling a character. For example, to change a character’s shirt from white to blue, you drag a blue color from a tool palette onto the shirt. The cost for this convenient feature is generally high, and programs offering it may not allow detailed shaping of a character. Regardless of the program used, adding a recognizable image to a cartoon character makes it easier for those viewing your animations to vicariously experience what the character experiences.
1. Get a digitized photo of the front view of a woman’s face, which you’ll map onto a 3-D cartoon character.
2. Open a program with 3-D modeling tools and click its “Create” menu, followed by its “Sphere” object. Your program’s menu for creating objects might be called “Draw” or a similar name. Search the program’s help file for “Creating objects” to find the specific name of this menu.
3. Click and drag in the drawing window to define the sphere, which represents the cartoon character’s pelvis. Create another sphere the same size as the pelvis, then click the toolbar’s “Move” tool. Drag the second sphere atop the pelvis to form the torso.
4. Create another sphere, but click the “Scale” tool this time. Drag just one of the three axes on the sphere to stretch it into an almond shape, which will represent the character’s arms. Click the “Move” tool, then click and drag the arm to join it with the upper left portion of the torso. Create the right arm the same way, but position it on the right side of the torso.
5. Form both legs using the instructions for forming the arms. However, make the legs roughly twice the size of the arms for greater plausibility. Click the “Move” tool and drag the legs to join with the lower portion of the pelvis’ sphere.
6. Make a sphere slightly smaller than the torso’s sphere to make the head. Click the “Move” tool and drag the head to rest directly atop the torso.
7. Click your program’s tool for creating and editing textures and materials, then click the “Bitmap” button.
8. Load, in the dialog box for loading bitmap images, the woman’s photo from step 1. Your program will store this image in a particular slot.
9. Drag the slot containing the bitmap image onto your character’s head sphere. The sphere will now display the woman’s image.
10. Click the tool for making a keyframe, which will take a snapshot–i.e., frame–of the current view of your character. Your program will compute, from several keyframes you define, additional frames to complete the animation.
11. Drag the time slider, which specifies the current animation frame, right by 100 frames.
12. Click and drag a rectangular region around your complete character, to select all its parts. Click the “Move” tool, then drag on any of the parts to move the character in any direction. Create another keyframe, then drag the time slider right by another 100 frames.
13. Repeat the previous step between five and 10 more times to make the remaining keyframes for your animation.
14. Click the “Play” button to show the completed animation of the character.