High Climb Animation by Amanda McGuinness


This presentation will cover the process of creating High Climb's 3d model before moving on the animation. We will go over the process to making the character model, the different surfaces used, textures, and lighting.

Chapter 1: Concept


Follow the short adventure of Binks, Vicky, and Tiny as these kittens take on a humongous tree and see who can climb to the top. Which one will win?


(Left Image) image from: http://clipartpng.com/?1103,realistic-pine-tree-png-clip-art

The story is set in a pine forest. Inspired by the Flora around my childhood home in Eatontown, NJ. The main setting will be the tree and will be broken into segments when animation comes into play. Also the objects that are going to be used are set as both set pieces (pine cones) and the overall goal in the story ( robin's nest).


This story is based on a childhood incident when I was young. My sister (Vicky) decided to climb a huge pine tree in the backyard and I decided as the oldest sister to try to get her down.

What started as a small rescue mission turned into a race to the top cause we were naïve little kids and wanted to turn anything into a game. Let’s say that the end result involved me falling from the tree and getting a bit messed up. But we look back on it now with a bit of humor.

Charcter Reference: "BINKS" MODEL

The characters are going to be in a cartoon style. So they are not going to be realistic. The characters will also be bipedal with expressive faces.

"Binks" Character Model Sketch

Chaper 2: 3D Mesh

Poly Extrusion

For the creating the "Binks" character model I had to use a basic polygon shape using the polygon shape tool and to extrude the shape to create the model. In the beginning I was using different shapes to create the model, not realizing that you can pull and extrude the polygon shape to create the model it's self. Below it showcases my first attempt creating the model from different shapes (Left) and the second image (right) shows what your model should look when you are properly extruding the shape.

First Attempt (Left); Second Attempt (Right)

When I have a basic shape down next was to refine the edges of the model. Changing between object mode to faces or vertices helped to refine the shape of the mesh and adding edge loops to where the character would bend. Since the character is round in the sketch I had created I chose to use a sphere shape to create the mesh.

What I have learned from this process was when choosing your shape can be difficult if you are not working with a standard cube shape. The sphere has many faces and if one is not careful you may end up extruding more then you need or not enough. There is also the issue of placing your mesh on the Y and X axis. If you do not properly place your mesh near the center your 3d mesh may not properly line up when you duplicate the other half and join the vertices. This was the issue for my final character mesh.

Chapter 3: NURBS

NURBS Surfaces

For the objects that I will be using for scene I used NURBS surfaces to create different parts for the scene, parts for the character and props. Using surfaces for props proved to be a challenge since at the time of creation I was thinking about the various set pieces or character parts that I needed to create even though I felt at the time I had so little.

I later learned that is not the case with NURBS and that I can create a variety of thinks since the surfaces tended to be easier to manipulate. For this I created a bird's nest using the revolve and extrude, a prototype of a tree using the cone surface and detaching parts of the cone and the "Binks" model's tail by using the bend and Lattice deformers .

As I reflect on this process, I learned the various ways you can use surfaces by revolving a line to bending and flaring a shape. There are many different ways you can create objects and environments.

Chapter 4: Building Scene

High Climb, the story takes place in the forest. So my main creation for this part of the project was to create at least two different 3D objects but I wanted my main focus was to create a proper pine tree that I would later spread around the space for that give the idea of a forest.

For creating this I needed to create two planes that I can place my reference images on as tracing backgrounds in order to get the shape correct.

Once I have planes aligned I then used a polygon square to start shaping my tree. Going into my front view as I start to extrude and pull my square as start to get a basic shape.

After I get my shape I then get to moving the vertex points till I have a what looks like to be a very spiky tree. Note that also my outliner has started to add groupings for my tree reference images.

Tree Render

Chapter 5: Textures


We move on to textures and shaders. When it came to creating different textures I had to open the Hypershade window and create different surfaces or textures by creating a surface and linking the texture to the surface. This was not as difficult as I originally and I was able to really have fun with using textures.

This allowed me to create my own textures and applying them to my different shapes. I really used this time to think about the type of style that I wanted to show as the final style for the scene. I also mess around with the bumping to create a different texture on my shape.

Chapter 6: Lighting

For the next final step in creation of this scene is the lighting. For the final touches I used the a three-point lighting system using a point light, directional light, and the area light. After trying to the various different light settings I learned that different lights are used for different effects: like a volume light is used for shapes and surfaces and the directional is used for the direction of the light.


After creating the scene I realize that there is a lot that goes into developing a scene, especially in a 3D environment. What I learned about the this process is that it requires a lot of planning and a time to create that you have to set aside if you want the best results. Though it was difficult I found that my strength was using the different shaders and textures and I really enjoyed creating different textures for any style I wanted for my story. It also was surprisingly simple to use.

If I had done things differently I would put more time and effort into creating the basic models of my characters and other objects. I found that creating a basic model for your character to being extremely difficult if you do not plan properly. So I plan to take to the time to enhance my character model in the future for my future animation.


Created with images by catburston - "Forest" • RondellMelling - "pine forest branch" • Artvision-So - "foam nature forest" • regan76 - "Robin's Nest and Eggs (#0453)" • MrHaus - "pine cones wood seed"

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