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Byte-size animation.

Remember the paper fastener animals and people we made with our students? Well, they are now a good foundation for the idea of articulated or jointed structures in computer animation using Ray Dream Studio 5.5.

With the paper fastener characters, students cut out the shapes that create their animal or person. They overlap the parts and connect them with paper fasteners. Using the same animal or person, students create an articulated structure in computer animation by creating and aligning the structures, moving the hot points, linking the structures, adding link properties, and adding the behavior.

Using primitives, mesh-form modeler, or free-form modeler, students create the structures or objects. Once created, they align objects using the Alignment Objects Menu or by moving them using the Working Box.

Linking is the physical connection between objects, much like the connections between the parts of a wooden mannequin. The same way that the two pieces of oak tag must overlap to get the paper fastener through them both, students align the two parts of the actor in 3-D space, overlapping each other. There is a hot point for each object that can be used as the pivot point of that object. The hot point is the equivalent of the paper fastener and usually goes in the area where the two objects overlap. Linking also creates a relationship of a "parent" and "child." If you change the position of the "parent," the "child" goes with it (if you move the ankle, the foot goes with it). However, you can move the "child" independent of the "parent" (the foot can rotate without moving the ankle).

Link properties are the way the "child" moves relative to the "parent." In Ray Dream Studio 5.5, there are eight link types available. Usually, students use a ball joint that allows for 360 [degrees] rotation.

Students use Inverse Kinematics the most because the movement can go up from the "child" to the "parent." So if you move the "child," in this case the foot, the "parent" goes with it, in this case the ankle.

Therefore, the following instructions start the process of creating an articulated leg:

1. Align the foot and overlap the ankle--the hot point of the foot is in that overlapped area; align the ankle and overlap the calf--the hot point of the ankle is in that overlapped area; etc., up to the leg.

2. In the Time Line window, drag the foot over the top of the ankle, creating the link or "parent" and "child" relationship; drag the ankle over the calf; etc., up to the leg. Add the linking property to the foot, the ankle, the calf, etc.

3. Add the linking property to the foot, the ankle, the calf, etc.

4. Add the behavior to the foot, the ankle, the calf, etc.

Encourage students to save a copy of their work after each of these steps, saving time if adjustments are needed.

When the whole articulated actor is complete, students use it to create movement and an animated actor that can walk, jump, or ride a skateboard.


Paper Fastener Horse, Perspective of Linking, and Hierarchy of Linking, Mari Suon, grade twelve.


Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks.


Mariana Palmer is an art teacher at Haverford High School in Havertown. Pennsylvania.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Palmer, Mariana
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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