If you have used before any other software for 3D graphics, then you should have no problems with assimilating Esquimo interface. It is based largely on solutions of applications already existing on the market. We did not want to invent the wheel, so wherever possible, we used the best practices. We wanted the study of Esquimo to be as short as possible.
Esquimo screen is divided into 3 panels: scene objects list, work area, edit panel.
At the top of the screen, there is also available the traditional menu, with access to the basic functions of the program. Depending on the needs, the area occupied by the various panels can be changed by dragging the line of division. If you like to use keyboard shortcuts (to which I strongly encourage you) you will certainly need a few keys to quickly switch the configuration of Eqsuimo screen:
- CTRL + L: Show/hide Scene objects list
- T: Switches Edit panel to fullscreen mode
- W: Work area - single view / 4 views
- E: Expert mode
Scene objects list
Each object placed in the scene or group of objects has a name under which it is also visible in the panel list of “Scene objects list”. While clicking on one of the item of the list, there will be chosen the appropriate object in the scene and parameters of selected object are displayed in the Editing panel (bottom of the screen). Double click brings up a window where you can change a name of the item. Groups are shown as expandable bars (read more about Groups). Each position on the list has the icon name visibility on the left side. By clicking on the symbol of eye, you enable/disable the display of the object in the editor. The period of its visibility in the output file is defined in the Timeline editor (see the chapter titled "Timeline editor"). The name of the currently selected object is displayed in bold and the object in the work area is surrounded by yellow wire-frame box. Clicking on the trash icon or pressing the Delete key will remove the object or group of objects from the scene.
From the level of this panel, you can only select an object, decide whether it will be shown in a scene, clone or delete it. Cloning options of object are associated with animation keys, therefore see the chapter of Timeline editor for more details about the cloning of objects. Most of the parameters of the object itself can be changed in the Edit panel.
This is an area with viewing windows where you can manipulate objects in the case of their: translation, rotation, scaling and pivot point. At the top, the active window has a simplified statistic toolbar of created scene. It contains information about how many triangles and vertices in total are included in the displayed scene, and the current frame number as well as the name of the active view. Below the viewing windows, there is a time axis, used for moving during your animation. On its left, there are the icons for changing the mode of creation of new animation keys. See chapter called “Animation” in order to learn more about keying of animation.
To manipulate the views of workspace and objects in the scene, there exist functions activated by icons, arranged in a row below work area or appropriate keyboard shortcuts. By holding your mouse over the icon, you will get a hint about the function of icon and key shortcut for this function.
The first group of icons applies to manipulation of objects in the scene. Manipulations of objects such as: change of position, rotation, or scaling of the object are recorded on the timeline and have an impact on the final shape of the animation. Change of pivot point is not subjected to the registration on the timeline. Some of the icons, including “move pivot point” have a contextual menu caused by right-click of the mouse. Below, you will learn more about the manipulation of objects and pivot point.
Icons of the other groups concern settings of the viewing window in the workspace. Changes in settings of the viewing windows are not recorded on the timeline and do not affect the appearance of the final animation. They are used only to facilitate the work in progress of animation.
In certain circumstances, you will make a use of more than one camera. To set a view of the camera in the viewing window, make a right-click on the camera icon and select one from the context menu.
Take a few moments to get to know keyboard shortcuts that will greatly accelerate the work in Esquimo.
Create and modify panel
The lower part of the screen is occupied by both, the creation and editing panel. It is divided into sections under the following tabs:
Geometry - After clicking on the “Geometry”, there appears a list
of available objects, thanks to which you will build the animation. After
clicking on one of them, the object is placed in the scene and editing
panel is filled by parameters about the object being created. These parameters
can be changed at any time.
On smaller monitors, there may be useful to collapse the containers with unused parameters, in order to save space on the screen.
While using the keyboard shortcuts you can expand / collapse all containers by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+A.
Camera - Scene does not need a camera in order to see its content
in the output file. In many cases, however, the use of camera is very convenient,
it is often necessary to achieve the intended purpose. In this section,
you will find everything that concerns the placement of cameras in the
scene and edition of their parameters. There are also special types of
camera for non-typical application. You can read more about them in "Cameras" chapter..
Light - As in the case of cameras, you do not need to add lights
to the scene in order to make the geometric object, which are placed in
the scene, visible in the output file. By default, in the scene, there
is placed one light. From the level of this section you will add lights
to the scene and change their basic parameters.
Timeline - It is the management centre of animation of: objects,
cameras and lights placed in the scene. Here is also a group of buttons,
which controls the playback of the scene. Obviously, to control the scene
you do not need to enter the timeline tab each time. All buttons of the
player of the scene have their own counterparts in the keyboard shortcuts.
The greater part of the screen in this section is a map of animation keys,
which describes chapter "Animation/Timeline editor" in detail.
Scene - In this tab, you can change the settings for rendering
the SWF output file and the main parameters of the whole animation, such
as: size, FPS, background, etc.
Last created/selected object - This is actually not a freestanding
tab, but a shortcut to the parameters of the currently selected object.
If you select an object in the scene (either by clicking or choosing from
the list) in the editing panel, you get fast access to the parameters of
Exception is the situation, when the timeline tab is active. Then, when you select an object, you will not be moved to a new tab "Last created/selected object”, because it would impede designing of animation. Choice is indicated by displaying only the name of the selected object in the lab area, not in yellow, but in grey color.
Basic operations on the selected objects have to be made by you in the work area, using the additional elements that appear on the site – manipulators. Manipulation of objects such as: change of position, rotation, or scaling of the object are recorded on the timeline and have an impact on the final shape of the animation. Change of pivot point is not subjected to the registration on the timeline.
In the move mode on the object, there appear additional arrows for each axis. While grabbing one of them, you can move an object, limiting yourself to only one coordinate. If you want to move an object limiting yourself to only one of three planes, hold the appropriate symbol - the square positioned between the arrows.
In the rotate mode the manipulators are 3 rings. . While grabbing one of them, you can rotate the object by sliding the mouse along a secondary line that appears in the time of selecting a foothold.
Scale mode allows you for stretching an object along a selected axis or along all axes, while keeping the proportions of scaled object.
The selected object can by removed with DELETE key or by click on the bin icon in Scene objects list.
Each geometric object has the center of transformation - pivot point – on the basis of which it is possible to perform the rotation and scaling. Location of the pivot point does not affect the moving of object.
In the case of the icon "move pivot point”, after clicking on it with the right mouse button, you can access the following options:
- Center pivot point - sets the pivot point of currently selected object in its geometric center.
- Select object as pivot point center - Moves the pivot point to the geometric center of the object, specified by clicking the left button of the mouse. It is quite useful function, in the situation, when you for example plan an animation where one object orbits another. Please note, that this function will only cause the movement of the pivot point in the center of another object, but does not binds them permanently. Let us suppose, that in the stage, there are located two objects a bit distant from each other - box and sphere. You want the box orbiting around the sphere while using "rotate" mode, so having the selected box you will use the function Select object as pivot point center indicating the sphere. Since now, the rotation of box takes place not on its own axis, but around the new center of rotation, which is established by the center of the sphere.
Motion spline display
You can display a preview of trajectory of the moving object as a spline with dots (turned on by default). Spline has a number of dots ( if enabled - Show frame dots checkbox ), each single dot corresponds to single frame. The range of displayed dots can be set in Motion lenght field.
In many situations, the manipulation of objects can be facilitated by the snap mode. In the snap mode (S key), the transformation values are rounded to the number of values specified in the settings: Tools -> Options. This is useful, for example in the case of deploying objects in equal distances, or full rotation angles.
Numerical object transforming
The precise values of the position, rotation or scale of object can be entered as numeric values from the keyboard ( Timeline -> Numerical object transform or F8 key ). It is also possible to enter the relative values after the selection of checkbox Offset values. Depending on the mode in which you are located, after pressing F8, there will be shown one of the following dialogs.
Orientation in space is facilitated by the auxiliary grid. Enabled by default, but can be necessarily turned off ( View -> Show grid or G key). Initially, the size of boxes in the grid is equal to one unit. The grid is thickened or enlarged, depending on the magnification of the current viewing window.
Wireframe viewport display mode
It comes very handy when some objetcts that you need an access to are obscured by others. For example a camera inside of torus with filled surface may be very unhandy to manipulate because the surface of the torus covers the icons of camera. You can toggle a display mode to wireframe (press SHIFT+W ) so that you can see throught all the objects in the scene.
Export hidden objects - output SWF displays objects which have
Visibility parametr unchecked. Normally they are not included in
Display-> Use scene background color - if unchecked a background of work area takes a light gray color. If you check this option editor's background color will be getting the color from Background color in Scenetab.
Default scene settings-> Background color - The value will be assigned to Background color parameter in Scenetab when you create new scene.
Esquimo has a preset set of keys, on which the following manual is based. They were selected on the basis of over-dozen-month work with the program, at the time of its creation. Obviously, you can also assign your own keyboard shortcuts for the selected functions. Invoke a table of keyboard shortcuts by the combination of the following buttons: CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+K, or from the main menu Tools-> Keyboard shortcuts.
If you want to assign a new shortcut, select the appropriate position
from the list, click on the text box –
Shortcut and key / key combinations, which you want to assign. If
the shortcut has been already taken, there will be displayed the appropriate
information, if it is free, just confirm its choice by
Assign shortcut button. Without approval, the shortcut will not
Reset all shortcuts button restores default set of the shortcuts.