Animating Text in 3ds Max - Using Modifiers

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  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • 2012
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
11 min

Animating Text in 3ds Max - Using Modifiers

In this tutorial, you are introduced to several modifiers used for animating text. If you are in Motion Graphics, you will find these techniques useful as animating text is an integral part of Motion Graphics. you will start by exploring simple keyframing methods and animating transforms and modifier parameters.

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2012
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2012 or higher.
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In this movie,we'll take a look at some simple keyframing techniques to animate text in 3ds Max.

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Animating text is an important part of Motion Graphics as you often see in TV ads and movie credits.

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The scene you will work on contains simple 3D elements; three planes mapped with different textures,

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A sphere representing planet earth and three different cameras.

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The Animation length is set to 300 frames.

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You will use three lines of text, one for each background, and animate them to fit their environment.

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You'll start with the snow environment. Switch the Perspective view to display Camera001 using the "C" hotkey.

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Next you create a line of text that you "melt", using a modifier.

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In the Front view, zoom in on the area you're working on.

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From the Create panel, under Shapes, use the Text tool.

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Change the text to read something befitting the scene, for example: ICE MELT in capital letters.

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Click a point near the camera target in the front view, the text appears, although it is quite big.

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Adjust the size of the text; something around 16 units should work well here.

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You can of course change the font to something you like. Let's try "Bauhaus 93" for this example.

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At this time, the text is a simple 2D shape. You need to give it depth to render its volume.

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Add an Extrude modifier with an extrude value of about 10 units.

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Zoom in on the text in both the front and top views.

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If you need to, adjust the position so that the text is right above the ground plane.

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Notice the text resolution. There's a certain amount of sub-divisions seen in the top view but not much in the front view.

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You can even add to the resolution of the extrusion itself but not to the front-facing polygons of the text itself.

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However, an alternative method to adding detail is to use the Quadrify Mesh modifier.

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A Quadrify % value of 3 should be adequate for this example.

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To animate the text melting, simply add a Melt modifier.

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You need of course to use it in the correct axis, in this case Y.

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You can also adjust the "shape" of the melt by modifying the Solidity value,

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either by using one of the defaults or by choosing a custom value.

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If you get a distorted look as polygons collapse, simply move the text slightly below the ground.

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If you want, you can apply the already available "Snow" material to the text,

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although you'd also need to apply a UVW Map modifier for that to work well.

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Simply set it to Box mode with Length/Width/Height values of 50 units.

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Also ,make sure the UVW Map modifier is set before the Melt modifier, so that it is evaluated first.

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Finally, using Auto Key, animate the Melt Amount value to melt the text, say between frames 20 and 260.

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That was easy, the next example is equally easy and will use the Noise modifier to randomly animate text motion.

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Switch the camera view to Camera002. After dealing with ice, you'll now deal with fire.

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Zoom in the top and front views to the appropriate areas.

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Like you did earlier, create a line of text in the Front view that reads: THE HEAT IS ON.

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Place it slightly above the flames in the image.

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Notice that the last line of text used still appears as a default, and so do other properties such as font and size.

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This time, use the Comic Sans MS font. A size of 16 should also work well for this example.

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Extrude the text by a value of 2 or 3 units only. Also set the segments to 2 or 3 for added detail.

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If you want, add a UVW Map modifier and assign a gradient-based material to the text, one that works well with the flames.

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Finally, add a Noise modifier.

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Set it to work in fractal mode, and adjust the X and Y strength values.

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In this case, you don't need to deform the text in Z (depth-wise) as you're only looking for a horizontal/vertical displacement.

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Finally, enable the Animate Noise option.

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Playback the animation and adjust the Frequency value to get an effect you like. A value of 0.1 should work fine here.

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If your graphics card can handle it, replace the background flame image by the flame movie file and test the animation again.

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At any time and given the nature of the Modifier stack, you can go back and change the text. All other parameters are preserved.

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Finally, switch the camera view to Camera003.

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Here, you will animate text to rotate and unbend around the planet.

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Like you did earlier, zoom in on the area of work in both the top and front views.

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Create a line of text that reads: AROUND THE WORLD

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and set it to the Bank Gothic Medium BT font type.

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This time, instead of extruding the text, you'll use the Bevel modifier.

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The bevel modifier enables you to create cut corners that catch highlights nicely.

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In the top view, move the text to be just in front of the sphere.

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You'll need to go back to the text level and adjust its size to fit the camera view.

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Keep it simple on the material front, simply apply a default standard material, but make it quite shiny.

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Now apply a Bend modifier at the top of the stack and set it in the X-axis.

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Adjust the Bend angle so that the text bends nicely around the sphere.

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You will get to animate the bend in a second but first, you need to animate the text to rotate around the earth.

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In the Top view, create a point helper.

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Set it to box mode and align it Center to Center to the sphere.

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Set its size to be big enough to make it easy to select.

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Link the text to the point helper.

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As you rotate the helper now, the text rotates accordingly.

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To animate the rotation of the helper, you'll use Set Key.

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Click the Key Filters button and make sure only Rotation is active. That's all you need here.

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Enable Set Key mode and go to frame 260. At this moment in time, this is the orientation you want your helper to be in.

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Click the Set Keys button to create a keyframe. Alternatively, you can press the "K" hotkey.

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Go to fame 0 and rotate the helper around the Z-axis so that the text is mostly behind the planet.

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If you want, rotate the helper in screen view as well and create a key.

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You may need additional keyframes, at least one halfway at around frame 130.

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You will almost certainly need to adjust the curves in the Curve Editor to smooth the motion.

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Exit Set Key mode when done.

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Select the text and go to frame 260.

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This time, use Auto Key mode to animate the Bend angle to go from the value you set initially to 0.

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If you feel the text is unbending too fast, you can slide the keyframe at 0 to start only at frame 60, thus delaying the effect.

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And so in this movie, you have dabbled with simple keyframing and modifiers with built-in animation features.

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You've created a melting effect, a random-based animation jiggle effect using the Noise modifier,

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and last you animated text to rotate and unbend as it goes around another object.

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Check out other tutorials on animated text where you learn more advanced techniques.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • 2012
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