Creating Flash Animations with Swift 3D
Early versions of Swift 3D had one clear focus in life—creating quick and easy 3D vector animation content for Flash. However, as the application’s breadth grew, it included a second rendering engine providing the ability to output photorealistic raster output (see Figure 1). Taking into account its price, power, and easy integration with Flash, it’s easy to understand why it has such a devoted following.
Figure 1 Examples of Swift 3D work from Electric Rain’s Web site
Swift 3D’s toolset and interface enable anyone to quickly create 3D Flash content while also providing a full set of more advanced tools. With both vector and video export capabilities, Swift 3D provides a full-featured 3D solution supporting a wide range of both vector and raster image formats (see Table 1).
Table 1. Output Formats Supported by Swift 3D
Supported Vector Formats
Supported Raster Formats
SWF (per-frame cropping)
EPS (single or sequential)
AI (Adobe Illustrator)
SWFT (Swift 3D Layer format)
AVI, QuickTime, FLV (Flash Video)
Despite a user’s diversity of goals, purposes, and intended outcome, all Swift 3D projects involve the progression through the same four steps:
- Building 3D models
- Creating 3D scenes
- Rendering 3D output
- Integrating 3D content
Let’s quickly review each of these steps.
Building 3D Models
Creating 3D objects is at the core of any 3D application. There are a variety of ways to create objects, but most Swift 3D work begins with simple primitive objects such as cubes, spheres, or cones. These 3D primitives serve as the fundamental building blocks for modeling (see Figure 2). If you’re looking for 3D text, Swift 3D converts any TrueType or Post-Script font installed on your computer into a 3D model.
Figure 2 The primitive objects in the Swift 3D interface, with a polyhedron visible in the front and top viewports
Importing Existing Artwork and Models
Many graphic designers have already spent time creating 2D vector artwork, so one of the Swift 3D most convenient tools is the AI/EPS importer that can convert vector artwork into a 3D object. You can also import most existing 3DS or DXF format models into Swift 3D.
Pulling from Internal Galleries
Swift 3D includes a model gallery (see Figure 3)as well as a Bezier path gallery that comes populated with prebuilt artwork to expedite your modeling tasks. You can also save your own creations into these galleries as well as gather resources from other members of the Swift 3D community. So after something has been modeled, you never really need to create it from scratch again.
Figure 3 3D tab of the swift 3D model gallery
Drawing 2D Shapes to Create 3D Objects
Users handy with a Bezier pen can use two modeling tools to convert basic paths into more complex 3D objects. The Lathe and Extrusion Editors offer more sophisticated methods for quickly creating advanced model shapes by simply extruding or rotating a 2D shape around its center point. Use the Extrusion Editor (see Figure 4) to give your 2D paths both depth and bevels. Use the Lathe Editor to convert your paths into radial 3D surfaces.
Figure 4 A simple object drawn in the Extrusion Editor
The Swift 3D Advanced Modeler is less a modeling tool and more an entire modeling environment, giving you complete power and control over a 3D model (see Figure 5). The Advanced Modeler introduces Swift 3D users to the same power found in high-end modeling applications but without the difficult learning curve. This tool takes over where your drawn shapes or imported models are no longer adequate to the task at hand. In this interface, you have full editing control over the polygonal structure of your models as well as the ability to apply detailed textures to their surfaces through a UV texture coordinate system.
Figure 5 Advanced Modeler
The Advanced Modeler resides within its own tabbed area and works seamlessly with the Swift 3D's other editors, enabling you to apply more modeling power to objects created within the Scene, Extrusion, and Lathe Editors.