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Curves are cool, 1-keyframe animation

There's modifiers for animations, too

The Blend.

Get better at beautiful low poly art in 5 minutes each week.

By Samuel Sullins

The Blend

The other day I found a great way to make a low poly rope.

I used a curve. DIdn’t think it would work at first, but it turned out fine.

If you’re wondering: Add a curve, set the bevel resolution as low as possible and you get a 4-sided low poly curve. I wrapped mine around a post to tie up my little boat.

(You can even select the curve points in Edit Mode and change the Tilt to “rotate” the shape.)

There’s nothing to tie it to on the boat, though, so I just flopped it in. It adds a lifelike touch to the scene, but it may be too small of a detail. Also there’s a good chance the boat will drift away…

I’ll animate the boat drifting gently about, which poses a slight problem: how will I animate the rope too? My goal is to keep it as easy as possible and avoid rigging…

We’ll see how it goes. Here’s how the boat’s animated so far:

1 Technique

Here’s how to add a subtle, random animation to any parameter (like X rotation or Y position.) With only 1 keyframe.

  1. Select the object. (In my case, the boat. I need it to drift back and forth a little bit, on the Y axis.)

  2. Use I to add a keyframe to the property you want to animate. (For me, that was the Y position.)

  3. Drag open a new Area, and switch it to the Graph Editor. This is where you can see all your animations as graphs.

  4. In the sidebar, select the property you animated.

  5. Open the N panel and switch to the little Modifiers tab. This is where you get a special set of modifiers that can be used on animations.

  6. Add a Noise modifier. Mess with the settings to make it super weak, like this:

Now you can add an easy noise animation to just about anything. A really useful way to add life to anything in your scene, especially background objects.

1 Low Poly Pick

This is another fantastic render by Mohamed Chahin.

Another awesome render by Mohamed Chahin

Really neat how he draws the eye toward the tents by pulling the trees back a bit, leaving a clearing there.



Interestingly, he also makes use of some tiny details (see the arrows leaning against the first teepee?)

My favorite part in this one is how he handles the FX, the smoke from the campfire. Since there’s no fire there, just the smoke, it feels like someone just put the fire out.

It’s creepy, really, since there’s no one in sight…

“What’s FX?”

FX stands for “effects.” In the world of 3D, FX is essentially anything that’s not a solid object. Rocks and trees and people aren’t FX.

Examples of FX:

- Fire

- Lightning

- Smoke from a campfire

- The Aurora Borealis

- Magic

It’s not always a hard and fast definition, though. “Mufasa’s head in the clouds” in The Lion King might count as FX. Or not. No idea.

As far as I can tell, the smoke is just an extremely simple 3D model, with a simple white/gray material.

Can't think what to blend?

Try something drifting in the ocean. A lost boat or like a piece of seaweed or something.

P.S. Want to get distracted with a quick bit of fiction? I wrote some for you here. (also subscribe over there; I have 3 more coming out over the next couple months…)

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