Starting Cartoon Characters

I’m looking to do a simple cartoon with some 3d animals. What is the best format to model my characters? Meshes? Nurbs? Also, in my 2.0 manual, they talk about s-meshes (which look pretty cool). Yet I don’t see 'em on my 2.23 version. Is there an equivalent in 2.23 or am I missing it somewhere? What do you guys use for simple modeling?


S-meshes have been replaced by Sub-D’s which are much cooler imo. press on the subD button (where the Smesh button used to be) and control the subdivisions the same way.
In blender SubD meshes for high poly and regular meshes for low/realtime are probably the best way to go for character stuff.
yer welcome


Thanks guys. I like the tutorials- but I have one more quick question. I’ve been looking into the radiosity recently (and am fairly overwhelmed). The blender 2.0 guide is weak in this area and I’m just curious if it’s worth my time to learn. Do you guys use this method to light animations, or am I correct in that this method is mostly for making nice looking stills only? It seems that the render time would be too long for real cartoons as opposed to a still or a moving-camera-only animation. Is this a correct assumption, or is radiosity used all the time by everyone for everything?



Using radiosity for animation would likely be way too slow for rendering plus a hassle to set up. Try using a global illumination setup and carefully placed lights (to fake radiosity) instead for results that look just as good.

Radiosity is really for realistic setups. Ever watched Fight Club? All the CG in that was done using radiosity renders. Looks great, but takes an immense amount of time to render out.

Cartoons usually don’t require such detail. I don’t think even Pixar and the Dreamworks CG group (PDI?) use radiosity in their movies. The point of radiosity is to fool the eye into believing an object is actually there – all objects reflect at least a minute amount of light and color, affecting the objects around them. The mouse in your hand is actually a different color than it would be by itself under the same light. Toon shaders go the opposite direction – they remove color detail, usually producing smooth banding.

If you want real backgrounds, tho, you could do a single radiosity render of a set and then composite characters over top. Kills off creative camerawork, though.

Thank you for the radiosity info. If I don’t use radiosity though, will I be able to get reflective effects, such as the reflection of cartoon feet against a really smooth linoleum floor? Do these type of reflective effects work only with radiosity lighting, or are the two completely separate & have nothing to do with one another? They are mentioned right after one another and are part of the same tutorial in the 2.0 guide is the reason I’m asking.


Radiosity doesn’t do reflections at all anyway.

Thank you for your reply, but I was naturally talking about environmental mapping. Let me rephrase. Is radiosity required in any way for environmental mapping- or are they mutally exclusive concepts within Blender.
Again thank you.

I think they can work separately. All the tutes I’ve walked through don’t use radiosity, although you do need a full scene surrounding the object to create the env maps (unless you like to cheat, like myself ^.^).