Auto key tutorial, AKA: Easy animation

3D Studio Max | By Brian-W.O.G

This tutorial will teach you how to easily animate an object using the Auto Key animation technique, this technique lets you animate without bones or anything. Using this technique you set the initial and final stages in the animation and the program automatically creates all the stages in between them making you a smooth animation without a lot of pain. You could use vertices, faces, objects, or anything including any modifier that lets you alter the shape of a model to animate using this technique. This tutorial is targeted at mid-level 3DS MAX people who want to get into animation.

Open up 3DS MAX or reset it if you have already opened it. Create a plane in the same size as the one displayed below, the size does not have to be exact as you can use anything for this. You can adjust the size of the plane once you have already created it by changing the parameters in the modifier tab.

Click to enlarge
Red Outline : Modifier panel/Parameters.

Create a "Sphere" and place it near the edge of the plane you created. (You can create a sphere though "Create>Standard Primitive>Sphere".)

Click to enlarge
Red Outline: Sphere/What you click on to make the sphere

It is now time to start the animation part. I started off by rotating my viewport using the Rotate Arc button b. When you are ready select the Auto Key tool, it should turn red once you select it. Then move the animation scroll bar (the Time Slider) to frame 30 and then select the rotate tool to rotate the sphere by 180 degrees (You should see the value as you rotate the sphere). Finally move the sphere to the other end of the plane and press the Auto Key tool again to tell the program that have finished animating.

Click to enlarge
Red Outline: Auto Key button Yellow Outline: Rotate tool Blue Outline: Animation scroll ball/Frame 30

Now all that you have to do is to drag the "Time Slider" back to frame 0, press the "Play" button and there you have it! A rolling ball done with the Auto-key technique. To see the ball rolling more easily just apply a texture to the ball (a texture that isn't one solid color, but more like a checker texture).


Red Outline: Play button

This concludes our tutorial. Please keep in mind that I am using 3D Studio Max 7 for this tutorial, other versions might have the button at different locations than those displayed in our images. Have fun with the tutorial, here is a flash result of how the animation could look like after texturing.

- End of tutorial.