Creating a 3D UI: How to even start???

You know them; you love them. Whether it’s control screens from Tony Stark’s workshop, a FPS HUD, or a ‘holographic’ geo-projection that tells you where some Ancient star-striding race has buried their cat, 3D user interfaces with glowing transparent screens, floating lines and scrolling cryptic symbols are the rage in SF movies.

I’m a n00b and I’d like to make one.

I figure there are two approaches: design panels in a 2D application, UV map them to a plane or shape in Blender and composite the bejeezus out of it, or design the UI completely in Blender… and composite the bejeezus out of it.

I know my way around Illustrator and Photoshop, so the first approach looks easiest… But is it? Obviously it comes down to how zippy-zappy the animation should appear… But when I look at some of the alien interfaces I’ve seen in Halo (for instance), I am in awe of how these things are created. They’re like games in of themselves!

Imagine the Blender 2.7 (T)ool palette. But instead of the palette just suddenly appearing on the left, hitting ‘T’ slides the tool palette from the left. In terms of creating this UI effect in Blender, what’s the easiest way to go about this? If using actual Blender objects, how is the scene prepped? How are objects hidden until they slide out?

… Should I just learn After Effects? :confused:

Some reference:


they look like a few layers of three or four 2d GUIs

Are you thinking for a game or an animation?

I would try setting up 3 or 4 semi-transparent planes / spheres with some textures on and see how that goes…

HI Casio,

I’m going for a 5s line-art map animation, like an old-school grid map where the map rolls and tracks from a target to a destination.

I have a big map image I’d like to scroll around on a plane. What’s the best way to do this: somehow move this big image on a small plane, or create a big plane with the map, and somehow mask it out?

I’d appreciate any help, or even referneces to tutorial vids using 2.7 :slight_smile:

Sounds like a job for freestyle

You could map the grid as a texture then animate the offset values to scroll it left right and up down.

Hi 3point,

This is exactly the path I chose :slight_smile: But now the hard part: creating a fade-out on a plane.

This is what I’m trying to replicate, from Halo 3’s ‘Cold Storage’ map:

Forget the background walls, lights, pillars and floors and look at the display. I break it down into 3 planes: 2 flanking planes at an angle, and a central static plane with the main graphic.

I’ve created a seamless, streaked PNG that I’ll map to the flanking planes. If you look closely you’ll see that the flanking planes are angled in a shallow V-formation, center edges closer to camera. Offsetting the texture along the planes: no problem.

The problem is the transparent fade. The streaks disappear as they move to the center.

Any suggestions on how to achieve this? Ideally this effect would apply directly to the flanking planes, as I would like to move around the display.

I dont understand what the issue is, you have a fade in the middle. Isn’t that what you aimed for?

The issue MIGHT be that the example I’ve provided is not my work. To be more clear, that’s a movie screen capture of a terminal from the multiplayer map ‘Cold Storage’ from the XBOX game Halo 3 :slight_smile:

After a few more questions, the solve might be to add a second texture, ‘Blend’, on top of the streaks texture to affect alpha. I’ve done this, and it works!.. for a still. I haven’t been able to animate this effect as I’m suddenly incurring an error – “Error setting option flags2 to value fastpskip”, whatever that means.

I’ve asked what this error means in the Tech. Support forum.

Never heard of this class of error. Could it be a buggy addon? Does the console window add any detail? Are you creating the texture parameters in nodes or the traditional panels?

Hi again 3point,

Error is not solved, but it’s easily worked around. After a little digging, it turns out the problem’s with Blender’s Quicktime FFMpeg implementation.

Sometime WAY back I was experimenting with different codecs - seeing if I could get a format that will port straight into my editing program without having to re-encode the format. (In fact there are several containers that just don’t work and crash Blender for me. I don’t know if it’s a Blender thing or if there are some fossilized/corrupted libs in my system, but there is definitely a problem with the Quicktime container, and a problem with how Blender is tapping into certain non-Quicktime codecs.)

You can do good avid dnxhd now.

I’m sure, but MP4 should do fine.

Here’s a prototype. There’s a lot of compositing left to do, but you can probably see my next challenge.

I have red lines around the map-like PNG. The moving textures are also identically-formatted PNGs, but I don’t have red lines. Have you encountered this problem before?

No screenies no blend file no idea sorry.

Hi again 3Point,

You’ll love this: not only did I save the blend file for you to look at, I also created a screencap of me going thru the file… and found the problem :slight_smile: Even better, it wasn’t my fault.

It’s yet another format/codec problem. I was exporting cliips to AVI/H.264, which is a perfectly valid combination. But it appears to make Blender sulk a little over horizontal/vertical lines where there are sharp borders between transparency and colored pixels.

I guess a little more testing is in order for movie exports. Suffice to say, it’s all good in the hood again. Thanks for your attention to this problem. While you might not have contributed much to the solution, it’s good to have a sounding board now and then to keep focus. Cheers :slight_smile:

It looks like a cool solution. If you manage to get a finished result I’d like to see it.

I had some delays, but here’s the solution I’m going with. This flicks between the original background plate and the new screen composite. The video overlay was done in a separate video program.

Cool result. Can i suggest adding some parallax to the scrolling effect, makes it look more dimensional.

Hey 3point,

I have no idea how to do that :slight_smile: It’s just a large image on a flat plane.

On closer examination, the floating Y-shaped static image on the original terminal is somehow… extruded, or ‘holographic’. It’s a 3D-image on a 2D plane. I guess it’s done with a bump map. Is this what you mean by parallax?

Parallax just means the effect of distance, by way of the foreground moving faster than the back ground. You can fake it with a plane closer (even just a little closer) moving faster than the plane behind.