Morphing is a very powerful tool. It is mainly used for character facial animation but has extensive
capabilities which can be applied to all areas of animation and modeling inside 3dsmax.
In this tutorial i will cover what you need to set up an object for morphing and then explain how to use
the morph modifier to morph the object into many states during animation. This is the first installment
of a 2 part, easy to understand animation tutorial which covers morphing
which are essential tools for advanced character animation.
Setting Up The Base Object And It's Targets
What we will be doing in this tutorial is setting up a sphere to morph its shape in various directions
and controlling these morphs. Some general knowledge about 3d studio max should be known before attempting
Ok, to start with, create sphere with a radius of 50 and give it the name: "Base". As seen below.
Leave the segments to the default of 32 as this gives us plenty of vertexes to play with without using up too much memory.
Now convert this newly created sphere to editable poly. As seen below.
I am going to use edit poly as it has much more extensive tools and utilities. Although most wont be needed in this tutorial
it is a good habit to get into to use it.
Ok, we have the base model which will be used for the animating, now its time to create the morph targets.
Clone the base sphere 3 times accross the x axis and move them up, now clone these 3 down so that the overall
positioning of the objects is similar to the image below. We do this so that we can adjust each individual
target to its correct shape in proportion to the other targets being used. In this tutorial there are going to be
6 targets as you can see, each target will have its own unique shape which will be used when morphing.
To edit each clone we will be using soft selection. Soft selection is a very powerful tool and is very, very useful
when used for morphing and character animation. When you select a vertex when using the soft selection tool it selects
vertexes around it with varying degrees of intensity depending apon the values you state in its parameters. It displays
these intensities in the viewport by using different colours and the gradients between these colours. As you can see just below.
Red, is most intense, yellow, is semi intense and blue is not affected.
Select the first clone and choose vertex sub selection under Editable Poly.
Go down to Soft Selection rollout and enable "Use soft selection" checkbox and change
the Falloff to 60.
The falloff is the distance covered by the soft selection, its influence can be
seen in realtime on the object selected and can be seen as a graph, as you can be seen below.
Now select three vertices in the bottom left hand corner of the cloned sphere, as seen to the above.
Now drag this selection down and to the left, like the image below.
When using the morpher modifier it automaticly names your morph input as the name of the object used as morph target.
So the best thing to do, to keep your scene tidy and to save time later on is to name your clone now with a descriptive name
which describes the morph taking place.
Repeat this process with the rest of the clones, giving each its own unique look, style and name. I have decided to make
each clone as: Down to the left, Down center, Down to the right, Up to the left, Up center and Up to the right. You dont Have
to make yours the same but for the sake of the tutorial it would be best to do it that way.
Remember to leave the original "Base" mesh untouched as it is as its name indicates, the base mesh for animation.
Using the Morph Modifier
Select the "Base" mesh and apply a Morpher Modifier, scroll down and click "Load Multiple Targets" the when the new window pops up,
select "All", and click Load.
Under the Morpher Modifier, scroll up to "Global parameters" to theLimits and change the minimum setting to -50.0 and maximum to 150.0.
The reason for this is that during animation you can exagerate the shapes in the morph targets and let max calculate extended
So far you have set up the basics for the morphing. Now is a great time to test it.
Scroll down to the Targets and have a play with their values and take note of what happens:
Once you have finished playing around with the settings you will need to reset them. There are two ways to do this, slowly, one by one or
all at once by clicking "Zero Active Channel Values" as shown below.
To finish up there are a couple of last things to show.
Firstly, there is spinner increments. These control how the pace of change in can vary for morphing ( in percentage ).
To test this out, scroll down to advanced parameters and change the Spinner Increment to 5.0 as seen below.
Now, when you adjust the morphing the values for each target change on an increment of 5.
And then to animating. To animate these morphs all you need to do is turn on the "Animate" button and then change the morph target amounts
on the intended keyframes.
you can only morph objects with the same amount of vertices/polys and those vertices must be in the correct numbered order. (More on that in future tutorials)
This covers all the basics you need to know about morphing to get you started.
Good Luck, and Happy Morphing!