Posts Tagged 'robots'

PowerPoint People – 3D Robots

banner

This is another post on adding characters to your presentations to help tell and sell your story. There’s an earlier series on simple cartoons (basic figures, characters and expressions) and one on using Lego people.

Since robots are not confined to a human shape, you can create a variety of characters and “occupations.” And, if you think robots can’t have personalities, remember Hal, Bender and WALL-E.

Here’s an example of a humanoid robot figure created in PowerPoint:

RANT: My posts on PowerPoint “3d” are exercises in using tools in ways for which they were never intended.  In addition, PowerPoint 3d is poorly integrated with other PowerPoint drawing features (e.g., shadows) and poorly documented (e.g., 3d rotations and lighting). So, expect serious limitations and disappointments if you venture here without guidance.

I created this robot using techniques I have used before making 3d blocks, buildings, vehicles and other things. Basically, it involves assembling separate objects, each with a “Parallel” rotation, to achieve a “3d” construction.

As usual, I started with front and side views of the robot. Only standard PowerPoint shapes are used; no freehand drawing required:

r2

Here are some notes:

  • For clarity, I used different outline colors for the body/head, the legs and the arms.
  • I strongly recommend using Snap to Grid with a rather  coarse grid setting (I used 0.05 in.) to make it easier to draw and align the shapes.
  • Drawing Guides are used to align the parts in the two views. If these alignments are wrong, it will be obvious when you try to assemble the 3d construction.
  • The “chest” is a Union of two Rectangles; I’ll try to make it clear why I used Union rather than Group later.
  • The”hand” is a Chord shape and two Rectangles.

Next, I made a temporary copy of the front view and rotated it 90 degrees. Using the side view, the rotated front view and drawing guides I drew several “cross sections” of the robot that will help align the parts in the 3d construction. Here’s how I drew the cross section at the top of the “hip” section (outlined in yellow); it includes the outline of the disc that connects the hip with the chest section.

r3.png

It’s easier to draw these sections one at a time than to draw an entire top view.

Here are the sections and where they will fit in the 3d construction:

r4.png

The sections that will locate the arms and legs are simply copied from the side view.

Here’s the process for the construction of the body and head:

  • The parts and yellow “sections” are rotated (Parallel/Isometric/Left Down and Right Up) and moved into position to form the outline of the head, chest and hip parts.
  • The circles are rotated and filled to form the discs that connect the parts. 3d Depth is added (72 points per inch).
  • The other parts are filled; Depth is added using the yellow sections as guides.
  • Using the yellow sections as guides, the discs and body parts are moved into position. For example, the first “neck” section is aligned with the head. Then the neck disk is aligned with the circle in the neck section. The section representing the top of the chest is then aligned with the neck disc, allowing the chest to be aligned next. Imagine that you are stacking the parts.
  • Keep the sections “in front” during this step; this keeps them visible and allows easy removal later.

The next step is adding the limbs:

The arm and leg parts are Unioned to form the arm and leg (more about this later). Depth is added to the arm and leg. The rotated yellow sections are aligned with the side of the body allowing the arm and leg to be positioned. The other side is completed using copies of the leg, arm and sections. Even though the “disc” parts are invisible in this view, they establish the relationship between the body parts.

To finish, remove the yellow section objects and color the body parts, adding details as needed:

RANT: For various reasons, the Material, Lighting and Lighting Angle tools are useless for this project. After considerable experimentation, I recommend the method documented here rather than endless fiddling with combinations that are ultimately faulty.

For the robot coloring, I want front surfaces to be darker and visible side surfaces to be lighter, as if light were coming from the robot’s left. Here’s my method:

  • Since the “lighting” can’t be turned off, I have picked a combination of settings that seem to minimize its effects: Flat material, Contrasting lighting and zero Lighting Angle.
  • To control the color of each component, select Fill and Outline colors to create dark and light surfaces. In particular, use dark gray fill and light gray outline on components that “face the front” and the opposite for components that face the side; here are the chest and an arm:

  • This is the reason that the limbs are Unions, not Groups – if they were Grouped, extraneous outlines would appear when the Outline color is added.

By the way, here are some ideas to give the robot expressions (you can also survey various toon robots for inspiration):

r10

You can “pose” the robot; here’s a walking version:

Here’s how the walking robot is constructed:

The limbs are constructed and positioned as before. If the orientation is not as shown, the 3d rotation will be incorrect.

TIP: The orientation of a Union is determined by the first object selected. In these examples, the red-outlined object is selected first:

For the first Union operation the top rectangle (red) is selected first, followed by the other (blue) rectangles. The result has a vertical orientation (note the “rotation handle”); the 3d rotation works as expected. For the second Union the red rectangle is selected first; note that it has been rotated. The result of the Union has a rotated orientation and the 3d rotation is different.

Of course, robots don’t have to be humanoid and use legs for locomotion:

I used the same techniques as before; here are the construction details:

The “hand” is made by subtracting a rounded rectangle from the arm/hand object.

Once you’ve made a few of these, you can position the parts and add depth “by eye” and avoid some of the tedious steps, at least for fairly simple robots. That’s how I made this example:

  • The positioning and depth were created by eye without using yellow “sections” as guides.
  • The right arm is a copy of the left arm, Flipped twice.
  • The eye shapes have a smaller depth than the head; here’s a close up:

r16.png

TIP: Selecting an object within a group can be tricky, especially in 3d; the image above shows that the head is selected and the eye is selected within the group (faint outline). Use the Selection Pane if you have trouble.

Here are the details on constructing a robot with another form of locomotion:

r17

  • The arms are Line Arcs. You could draw a freehand line using the Curve tool if you’re comfortable with that.
  • The hands are Pie shapes.
  • I used a section (yellow) to help position the legs; the other parts are positioned by eye.
  • The rocket plume is a Triangle with a Gradient Fill.

If you need a villain in your story, try this one:

r18

  • Two parts are made from the outline drawing: the head/chest/shoulder unit and the whole body. Each is Unioned.
  • The two parts are rotated and Depth is added.
  • Material, Fill, Line and lighting are set as before but with darker colors.
  • The two parts and a copy of the smaller part are “stacked” as shown to complete the figure.

Robots are also modeled from nature; here’s an insectoid version:

r19.png

The robot is made using the techniques discussed above except that an additional X-Rotation has been added to the front and back legs. Here’s  what the 3D Rotation looks like for a couple of the legs:

r20.png

The middle leg has the preset Isometric Left Down rotations; the back leg has the X-rotation reduced by 10 degrees. WARNING: Do not use the rotation icons (circled in red) for this; mysterious, undocumented things happen when these are used.

RANT: I haven’t been able to find adequate documentation on rotations, materials, lighting, etc. If you know some sources, please let me know by adding a comment.

You can exercise your imagination by adding body segments, antennas, stingers, wings, etc., and other coloring. Why not consider other beasts as models for your robots?

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy Blog – 3d Robots

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, please like or follow this blog.

Robots and Droids in PowerPoint

The best presentations tell stories and need characters to participate in the story. And, of course, visual stories are the most engaging and memorable.

If you are very lucky, you can find appropriate stock images to illustrate your stories. If you are a photographer, you can create “scenes” to tell your story using photos or videos. Or, as a PowerPoint expert, you can use animated cartoon characters.

Cartoon characters have advantages for PowerPoint: they are simple, can be one dimensional and they are not subject to ordinary physics. Robots  are particularly useful as characters; they can be quite simple, have non-human powers (for example, they can fly) and various useful appendages. Also, robots are not necessarily expected to walk or move like a human or animal. So, it is possible to draw and animate “bots” and “droids” in PowerPoint without much difficulty. Of course, as is usual with PowerPoint, don’t expect too much.

In the following, I will show you how I used an animated “bot” in a project.

“PowerPoint Wars”

I wanted to create a series of short animations in a “Star Wars” style that presented “Death by PowerPoint” as an evil infestation. In one episode, bots search the galaxy for evil presentations and destroy them; this effort fails since bad PowerPoint seems unkillable.

In the excerpt I’m using here, a bot arrives and begins to destroy a typical, text heavy presentation:

The Bot

Here’s the bot character:

bot1

The bot is a “good guy” (trying to destroy bad PowerPoint, after all) and has a benign appearance. He’s constructed simply with ovals and an arc. Here are some details:

  • The body has a gradient fill to add dimensionality.
  • The heavy outlines are traditional in cartoons.
  • The eyes are inspired by South Park.
  • The second oval in the eyes is a highlight – the fill is white at the center and fades to transparency at the edge. You might be able to get this effect with a gradient fill of the eye but I find this technique easy.
  • The mouth arc has a white shadow.
  • Pay careful attention to the profile layout so that it is consistent with the face view.

In the excerpt, the bot has a couple of appendages: the feet and a gun; here’s a foot:

bot2

  • The foot is constructed of rectangles and trapezoids. The side view is constructed of a rectangle and several ovals.
  • Heavy outlines and gradient fills are used.
  • The blue circle is used to establish the pivot point when the foot is animated; it is invisible (has no line color) in the final version.
  • Again, the side view is carefully constructed to be consistent with the front view.

Here’s the gun:

bot3

The gun is constructed of a rectangle and a number of trapezoids filled and outlined. The blue circle is used in the animation (the gun swivels in the complete video; this is not shown in the excerpt).

Animation

The animation occurs over three slides. This is not strictly necessary – the animation could be done in a single slide. However, I find it simpler to spread the animation over a few slides so that I can keep track of the objects and animation steps.

The sound effects (wav files from Soundrangers) are Inserted as Sound from file (start Automatically); they appear in the animation sequences so that they can be coordinated with the animation effects. The sound effect duration is not explicitly shown in the animation pane.

The first slide layout and animation:

slide1

anim1

The slide image shows the elements of the slide, the motion path and sound icons. The icons can be hidden but I find it useful to place them “off the slide.” Here are notes on the animation:

  • The bot enters with a Zoom/In along with a custom Motion Path. The motion path is delayed to a point about halfway through the zoom. The sound effect (“flyingsaucer_whoosh04”) starts at about half way through the motion path. The bot ends up over the two feet in position for their deployment.
  • The feet Appear and then Spin to deploy. The sound (“servo_switch03”) starts at the same time.

On the second slide, the bot “walks” towards the slide and deploys the gun:

slide2

anim2

  • As a result of the slide transition (no transition effect) the bot appears to have (somewhat quickly) turned towards the offending slide. It is very difficult to do a more realistic transition in PowerPoint – this simple approach seems to work in this world.
  • Simultaneous motion paths carry the bot and the foot to a closer position. At the same time,a repeated Teeter effect adds a “walking” effect to the foot.  Again, this is a simple animation that seems effective.  The sound effect (“scanner_type03”)  is simultaneous with the movement.
  • The gun deployment occurs in two steps. First, the “dome” Appears and takes a motion path. The “servo” sound effect is simultaneous with the motion. The gun itself is similarly animated.

The third and final slide contains the firing of the gun and the destruction of the title block on the slide.

Slide 3 must be constructed carefully so that the gun is located exactly where it was deployed in the previous slide. Drawing guides help with this.

slide3

anim3

  • The gun flash (a gradient-filled oval) enters with a quick Wipe/From left and Disappears, simultaneous with the sound effect (“laser_gun_short_blast_07a lt”).
  • After a very short pause, the slide title object Peeks Out/To Bottom. This effect causes to object to appear to slip downward out of view. This effect is combined with a downward motion path to the floor.
  • Immediately after the title disappears, the debris pile quickly Dissolves In, with a “bounce” (a short up then down motion path). The “landslide02” sound effect occurs while the debris pile appears and bounces.

The animation sequence is quite satisfying (especially the destruction sequence).  I am frankly a little surprised that this can be done in PowerPoint.

More On Sound Effects

I haven’t discussed sound in PowerPoint in this blog so here are a few more notes on the sound effects used in this clip.

  • Visit SoundRangers or some other royalty free sound and music source and check out the broad variety of sounds available. Look in particular categories for sounds that might fit your needs; the sounds in the bot clip are in the “Sci-Fi, Electronic, Fantasy” category.
  • Purchase “.wav” files for PowerPoint. The sound effects cost only a few dollars.  Longer music clips usually cost more.
  • Once downloaded, use Insert/Sound/from File to add the sound to a slide.  Select Automatically in the dialog box.
  • The sound will appear as an event in the Custom Animation pane. You can schedule the sound just like any animation effect except for the duration (see examples above).  For example, you can schedule the sound effect With an animation.
  • It would be handy if the duration were displayed as it is for other effects but this is not the case. You can see the duration by clicking on Effect Options.. and the Sound Settings tab.
  • You don’t need to change any of the other effect options for this kind of application.  The Sound volume option (which might be useful) doesn’t seem to work.

——————–

You can see the entire “PowerPoint Wars” episode here.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the PowerPoint file from which the video was made, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – bots and droids

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Follow powerpointy on WordPress.com