Creating Spider Webs in Animation:Master '99
by
Jeff Paries

Those of you that have followed my writing for any period of time know that I have a passion for spiders. Recently, it occured to me that one of the new features available in Animation:Master '99 would be ideal for creating a great looking web with minimal effort. This feature is called Line Geometry, and it essentially allows you to draw a spline anywhere and any shape, and have it render as a line. Line geometry was added to the software to solve a problem caused by what is known as "temporal aliasing", or chatter.

While the process of creating a spider web with line geometry is simple, this tutorial will offer a guide that may lead to bigger and better ideas.


Figure 1

The first step is to connect to the internet and use a search engines to find an image of a spider web that you'd like to build, like the one shown in figure 1.

Next, begin AM and create a new model.

Right click the model name and select New/Rotoscope.

When the image list opens click the Browse button and locate the web image on your hard drive. Make the rotoscope non-selectable by unchecking the "Pickable" checkbox on the rotoscopes Properties Panel.


Figure 2

Begin adding splines over the template with Add Lock Mode, working around the outside first. When you've finished, it should look something like figure 2.


Figure 3

Add the support strands of the web from the outside in to the middle of the web. Do not attach these splines to the outside of the web so that no legal rendering patches are created. Figure 3 shows the model at this point.


Figure 4

All that is left now is to add the inner threads to the web. Try to follow the pattern on the template image you're using since just throwing a spiral spline in there wouldn't necessarily make the web as realistic as possible. The completed model looks similar to figure 4.


Figure 5

Use the Group tool to select the entire model and place a check in the "Render Group as Lines" checkbox on the Options tab of the Properties Panel. One the Lines tab, set the Width to .8, Transparency to 50%, and Amount of Randomness to 1. When rendered, the completed model looks similar to figure 5.

The benefits of line geometry include infinite resolution -- no matter how close you get to the web, it still looks good, it renders fast -- this particular web rendered in about 8 seconds, and it is small, about 60K. If you're into spider humor, crank the Randomness Amount up to 8, and you'll be looking at a spider who drank too much coffee. =)

Happy Spinning.



Jeff Paries
is employed at Hash and is author of The Animation:Master Handbook.


The Animation:Master Handbook
by Jeff Paries