How to animate rigged character in 3D Studio Max for 3D games?

3D Studio Max has multiple features of modeling and animating objects and 3D Characters. The timeline technique is labeled as a manual technique for animating any character while adding .bip files to the bones of the cast is a more natural and effective means of creating realistic movements.

The three-dimensional model is a mathematical representation of the real three-dimensional object. Modeling is the first step in making animation. It includes making of different parametric or organic objects with the help of polygons, splines, vertices, and edges. Articulation of minute details is a necessary element of modeling.

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Creatively texture and mapping operations are applied for giving exceptional looks to the modeled object. The artist shapes the objects using a modeling tool depending upon the type of the game.  Procedural animation is created to produce illusionary movements. The animation is the temporal description of the modeled object, which means how the object will move or will deform itself over a specific period.

The procedure for animating the character is shown in Fig.1.


                                               Fig.1: The flowchart for animating a 3D character

1. 3D Modelling of character

The modeling of nature begins with the basic shape of a sphere that is available in 3D Studio Max, the software chosen for the game. The modifiers are applied to change its way into a character into the desired outlook. Its face, eyes, and lips are modeled along with the editing of the basic shape. It is given hands and feet out of the body. This overall structure is the mesh (skin) of the character. The significant features are taken into account while modeling character for the game is: hands, feet, eyes with aggression, mouth, and facial expressions.

Application of color is another feature in the modeling step for enhancing the character model. In this part, the compatibility of design with the theme of the game is kept focused. It is mapped to colors.

2. Adding bones to the enemy character

Bones are inserted in the mesh (skin) of the character. The biped i-e the skeleton is utilized from the software. The biped and the surface are joined together using the “Physique” modifier. Fig.2 is representing the biped (frame) that has been applied to the enemy character of the game.


                                                                  Fig.2: Skeleton in 3D Studio Max

3. Visibility of bones adjusted in the enemy character

The first step in creating animation is to highlight the bones and make them visible inside the mesh (skin). This part is achieved when by choosing the wire-frame viewport. The outer portion is the mesh of the character that is to be modeled for the game in 3D Studio Max.

4. Adding .bip file

The next step is to add the .bip file to the visible bones. This goes as choose the “Motion panel” in the tools, inside it, there is a biped tab which has an option of adding .bip files with an “open” button. Click that “open” button and choose from the .bip a file that goes best with the character animation e-g run, jump, walk, hit or die. Fig. 3 is describing the process of applying the .bip file to the bones made visible in the first step.

                                                                  Fig.3: Adding .bip file

5. Animation

The last step is to play the animation on the timeline that has been made using .bip file earlier. This is the easiest way to create an animation of a kind that is best for the character movements. The animation is played in the software by clicking on the play button that is present on the timeline bar at the bottom of the screen. That bar contains the frame information and when the animation is played the frame by frame movement indicates the flow of the movement. If there are flaws in the sequence, the player animation is paused, and the movement is edited on the particular frame.

6. Rendering of the sequence of animation

Rendering means exporting the final format of animation in any extension i-e Avi, mp4, MPEG, etc. The animation using .bip files is rendered in the .avi format as to have a closer look at the enemy character and its movements. Rendering is performed using the Rendering menu available in 3D Studio Max.

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