Simple Spinning Cube Animation

On February 23, 2008, in Tutorials, by Admin

Place a Cube in the center of space by pressing Space Bar – Add – Mesh – Cube. Next, move
your 3D Cursor off of center a bit by Left Clicking a short distance away from your cube. Next, we’re
going to place an empty here to rotate our cube around. Press Space Bar – Add – Empty.

Select both of your objects. Select your Empty last so that it is the active object. The active
object will be outlined by the lighter shade of pink. We’re going to parent our Cube to our Empty.
Press CTRL-P to parent our Cube to our Empty.

The dashed line between the two objects indicate that one is Parented to the other.

In another view port, switch to a view of the IPO Curve Editor. The vertical green line
indicates the current frame that we are working with. You can left click and drag the
green line back and forth to scroll forwards and backwards through frames.

Move the current frame indicator down to 1 so we can begin our animation at the first frame.

In the 3D view port, select only our empty. We’re going to start the rotation. Insert the first
key frame by pressing Space Bar – Object – Insert Key Frame.

Select Rot only at this time. (This stands for rotation). This will save the current rotation
of our empty at Frame #1.

Next, we’ll want to advance to another frame number. Pressing the Up Arrow twice will move
us 20 frames forward to frame #21 (10 frames for every time the up arrow is pushed).

Here we are at frame #21

At this point, we want to rotate our empty, which will inturn rotate our cube around the empty.
How much you rotate is up to you, I went with 90 degrees for now around the Z axis. (I’m still in
the overhead view)

Here, we’re ready to set the next key frame. Press Space Bar – Object – Insert Key Frame.

Again, select
only Rot to save the current rotation of the empty at this frame.

Here you can see the 3 rotation values that are saved with key frames. The X and Y rotation
values haven’t changed and their lines are actually overlapping each other on the graph. Since
we’ve changed our Z rotation, you can see where it’s blue line veers away from the others.
The numbers down the left hand side represent the degrees of rotation. You can see, at Frame #21,
my Z rotation value has been rotated by -90 degrees which is exactly how much I rotated it. The
names down the right hand side can be left clicked on to show only that value and hide the others.
The colored squares will remain there indicating which items have a value saved in key frames. Holding
SHFT while left clicking will allow you to selected multiple items listed to the right.

Right Click on the RotZ line to selected it. All of the dots representing Key frames will turn
white showing that it is selected.
Next, we’re going to “Extrapolate” this curve so that it will rotated constantly for as long as the
animation runs. Select Curve – Extend Mode – Extrapolation.

You can see here, that the RotZ curve has changed to a straight line. This means that now
the RotZ (our Rotation) will change constantly for as long as the animation runs. This means
our empty will rotate indefinitely.

We can easily adjust the speed of the rotation. With the RotZ line still selected, press TAB
to enter edit mode. Press A once or twice to select all of the control points.

With all of the control points selected, simply scale it in the X direction by pressing
S for scale and X to lock the scaling along the X axis. Moving the points closer together
will cause the Empty to rotate faster and moving the points farther apart will cause the
Empty to rotate slower.

With the Rotation now set up and running, we can go back and move our Empty around, which is
also our rotation center. Back in the 3D View port, select your Empty again.

In your IPO Curve Editor window, make sure your Green line (The current frame indicator) is set
back to Frame #1.

Next, we’ll set Key Frames for our Empty’s Location. In the 3D View port, press Space Bar – Object – Insert KeyFrame.

This time, select only the Loc option which stands for Location.

Once you do that, in the IPO window, you’ll notice now that the X,Y,Z location values
light up indicating that they have values stored in a Key Frame.

Let’s jump ahead again by 20 frames. I push the up arrow button twice. The current frame
indicator now sits at Frame #21.

Press G to grab your Empty and drag it to a new location.

Insert a new Key Frame to store the new location for Frame #21 as you did before.

Select Loc again to set the new Location.

I’ve jumped ahead, set a new location and added a new Key Frame a couple of more times up
to Frame #61.
You can sample your animation now by dragging the Vertical Green line back and forth in
your IPO window while watching the animation in the 3D View port. Or, you can move your
mouse back to the 3D View port and press ALT-A to start the animation. It will run through
the animation frames that you have set under the Render Settings. Scene (F10), under the
Anim tab – Start and End Values. I believe the default values are 1 – 250.
Good luck with your modeling.

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