Bryce Tutorial: Create a Simple Animation from Scratch

Bryce is a nice instrument to make animations.
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a simple animation from scratch. starting with moving a sphere from point A to B, then from point A to B over point C, adding a jump to it, making an object turn around it’s on axes and more.

I assume you have some knowledge of Bryce, this is not a complete beginners tutorial. Given that fact beginners can do this tutorial, I explain from start to finish, but they'll have to go steps back every now and then.

Bryce can be downloaded for free as a Personal Learning Edition (no limitations or watermarks):
- Bryce for Windows
- Bryce for Mac

I explained the basics of Bryce in this tutorial: Absolute Beginners Guide to Bryce, if you are new to Bryce you might want to check that tutorial first.

End result:
Create a Simple Animation from Scratch Final Image

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Practice tutorial


Step 1

Let’s first start with something simple: moving and object from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ as in the movie below.

To start with we make a document of 600×450, to do this click on file > new document and set the size to 600 width and 450 high. Click OK.

Step 2

After that go to file > animation settings and set the duration to 6 seconds. This is just a simple animation to learn how to move an object. Click OK

Step 3

At the bottom of your Bryce screen you see a small bar appear with a slider and in the back some options. Let me explain those first, they are essential for making an animation.

1: this indicates where your slider is in the timeline, in this case in time
2: the timeline and the slider, a visual representation from above. You can slide the slider by using the mouse.
3: here you have 6 options to save points at your timeline, very handy if you are doing a complex animation with a lot of things moving around.
4: play control: here you can let a preview of your animation run; go forward backward and so on. You can also jump to keyframes (explained under 5).
5. keyframes: with the keyframes you can make markers, meaning if you move an object you can set it here. I’ll explain this later on in more detail.

Step 4

We have a new document already so let’s add a simple sphere to our animation, do this by clicking on Create and then on the green sphere, a sphere appears in your workscreen.

Step 5

To make it easier for ourselves, click on the camera settings (see arrow) until we have a topview.

Step 6

The newly entered sphere is red, this means it is activated.

First let’s give this sphere some texture, to do so click on the M. A new screen opens the ‘Materials Lab’.

Step 7

To select a new material click on the small grey arrowlike button next to the image. Again a new window open.

Step 8

You can browse the materials on types by clicking on the small grey arrow, where for me Metals is. I want a red sphere on a black background in my animation, so I select a red color for this sphere. Click on OK, the windows closes and click on OK again. You’ll be at workscreen again.

Step 9

Now we do the same with the underground, click on the big square and repeat steps 6, 7 and 8 but select a black color this time.

Step 10

I’d like the sphere to be in the dark with some artificial light, to do so we need to turn the sun of. First click on Sky & Fog (1), then on the cloud symbol at the top (2).
We get a new window.

Step 11

To turn the sun of uncheck the Sun/Moon Shadows button. That takes care of the sun but we also still have the clouds, time to turn those of.

Step 12

In the same screen click on the small grey arrow next to the image.

Step 13

Select the backdrops and select black.

Sun gone, clouds gone the sphere is red and our bottom is black…
Now that’s kind of dark, so we need to add a light source.

Step 14

You’re back in the workscreen again; to add a lightsource click on Create and then on the yellow sphere on top. The yellow figures are all lightsources which have different characteristics. The sphere radiates light to all sides.

Step 15

In topview it looks like this after you added the lightsource. The lightsource and the spere are at the same place because they where created there.
Your lightsource is active, left click with your mouse on it and hold that button down, now you can position the light source. In this case on the left side of the camera.

Step 16

The sphere is a bit small (activate it by clicking on it), so click on one of the black squares which are in the corner and drag it a bit outwards. This will make the sphere a bit bigger.

Step 17

The centerpoint of the sphere stays at the same point when you enlarge it which means the sphere is also a bit underneath the underground. To solve this click on the small arrow pointing up, this will raise the sphere to be on top of the underground (if your sphere is to high there will be an arrow pointing down which will bring your sphere on top of the underground as well).

Step 18

Now let’s have a quick preview of how our sphere looks from the camera.
Click on the camera settings on top (1) until you get a small camera icon on the left side. Time to render the image. To do so click on the big green circle (2).

Step 19

Your image should look something like this.
The sphere is red, no sunshine, no clouds, black underground and background and the light is coming from the left! Got that all? If so you are on the right track if not you need to go some steps back to correct some things.

Step 20

Let’s get it animated and move the sphere from point A to point B!

Go back to the top view and move the sphere to the right side of the camera. This will be our starting point.

Step 21

Now you need to lock this position in the timeline. To do so make sure the slider on the timeline is at the beginning. Now click on the + in the keyframe bar. This will lock the position of the sphere.

Step 22

With the first position locked we need the 2nd position of the sphere:
1: click on the last button of the timeline menu, this brings you to the final frame of the animation.
2: move the sphere to the position you want it to move to.
3: again you have to lock this position, click again on the + in the keyframe bar.

If all went well you’ll see a line appear going from point A to point B.
Congrats you made the sphere move. That simple you say? Yes!

Step 23

Now you have to change your view again by going to the camera view. Be sure the little camera is showing.

Step 24

Time to render the animation.
Go to file > Render Animation and a new screen opens.
In this case we want the whole animation so we select Entire Duration.
As a output format I choose AVI in Xvid mode (use format and Edit buttons).
Now set where you want the animation to be stored by clicking on the Set button.

When all is set click on the OK button and Bryce will start to render your animation. When it’s done it will start playing automatically in your select default program for AVI files.

In the meantime: make yourself some coffee or get a book, the rendering may take 5-10 minutes depending on your system.
O well, you did good so far: you deserve a short break.

Step 25

This is how my movie looks like after rendering it. If yours looks about the same: welcome to the world which is called animation!

OK it is very basic animation but you just made the first step. Let’s take this idea a step further and let the sphere make a curve.

Step 26

Let’s go back to the top view again.

Step 27

Let’s drag the slider at the bottom to the middle of the timeline. You’ll see the sphere move and position itself at the place where it is at the timeline.

Step 28

Now select the sphere again and drag it a bit to the bottom then click at the + again at the keyframe bar. You notice that the straight line between point A and B is now a curve, this is because you added a key between position A and B by going to the middle of the timeline.

Step 29

Go back to the camera view again, check if the slider on the timeline is at the beginning and render this animation again. Here you see my final result of this render.

Step 30

So far we’ve had the sphere moving at the floor, time to let it bounce a bit.
Therefor we need to select a sideview, at the camera view click twice until you get the above view.

Step 31

In the Play Control bar there’s 2 buttons (see arrows 1) which you can use to jump to different kind of keyframes. Use those until your slider is at the latest added point at the timeline (the middle one which caused the curve).

Step 32

Now drag the sphere a bit up and click on the + button again at the keyframes. This overrides the old position since you are at the exact spot in the timeline where the old keyframe was, if you are at one frame before or after that keyframe it will make a new one and leaves the old one intact. If you’ll render it like that the sphere will make a weird jump in your animation between those 2 keyframes.

BUT: you’ve been careful and used the right keyframe to override.

Time to set the timeline again to the beginning (if you do not do this Bryce will start rendering from the point where the slider is at the timeline), choose the right camera view again and start rendering again.

Step 33

The sphere is flying in the middle part, you see it coming down at the end.

Step 34

Good what have we done so far?
1. we made a sphere go from point A to B
2. we had that sphere made a small detour via point C
3. we had the sphere flying through the air.
So far so good, right?

Now I have a confession to make:
there’s a reason why I used a uni-color sphere up until now… if you look at the animations we made it looks like the sphere is rolling from point A to point B but is it?
No! it is sliding and not rolling. Let me show you in the next step what I mean.

Step 35

I changed the material on the sphere as if it is a beachball and what do you see? The sphere is sliding and not turning around.

Got you fooled, didn’t I?

Step 36

OK so let’s make this sphere rotate as it should be. I’m going to be annoying now…

Remember school, mathematics and Pi? Pi being something like 3.14 you probably remembered but do you still remember what it is used for?
Suppose you have a wheel and you want to know the circumference of that wheel, what you do is measure the distance from the center point of the wheel to the outside and multiply that with Pi. Let’s say the distance between the center point and the outside is 2 meter, multiplying that with Pi (3.14) makes a circumference of 6.28 meter. Knowing this we can calculate that this wheel will rotate 4,8 times (30/6.28).

(image: wikipedia)

We need to find out how many times the sphere rotates coming from point A to point B. for this we need the radius of our sphere, now that is pretty easy: Bryce will help you!

Step 37

The below fits my situation but yours most likely will give other numbers!

If you have the sphere activated click on the A button beside it, it will open a window with the spheres attributes. At the bottom you find it’s size; in this case 37.231.
37,231 X 3.14 = 116,90534
Here we have the circumference of the sphere!

Up to the next problem… the distance between point A and B.
Now there’s a problem because Bryce will not tell you. Does that mean though we can not find out how many times it rotates?
Uhm yes and no… No the exact amount with 2 digits behind the comma is going to be a problem but we can make an intelligence guess.

Step 38

Knowing that 116,90534 is the distance our sphere covers while turning one full circle we can use this knowledge.
In the step 37 I showed you how to see the size of our sphere, we can turn this knowledge around and create a new sphere which has the diameter of the circumference. Since we have a flat top view we can put the new sphere over the path our original sphere has to travel. So create a new sphere, open the menu pressing the A button beside it and change the size to 116,90534. Now we have a sphere which fits my situation.

Placing the new sphere over the path to follow (and copying the new sphere with ctrl-d) you can determine how many rotations your original sphere will make.
I’m lucky! There’s 2.5 big spheres fitting on the path meaning 2.5 rotations from A to B.
BUT: there’s another problem… we also have point C in the path. Lucky for me it is half way, meaning point A to C is 1.25 rotations and C to B is also 1.25 rotations. Now e have the rotations we can calculate the amount of degrees by simply multiplying 1.25 by 360 which makes 450 degrees in total. (This is an educated guess so I will be off by some degrees but still I have an idea to work on with).

Step 39

So now select the middle point on the path (point C which we added later on) using the Play Control bar then on top select Edit.
What we do know is going to add the rotation to the sphere; we know it is 450 degrees from point A to C. On top of the menu there’s a ball with 3 circles around it, hover over it and you see them light up and a small X, Y or Z appears. We need to rotate over the Z axes (sorry there’s your math again). If you click on the circle which turns over the Z axes you see at the bottom an amount of degrees showing, that amount now still 0 we need to turn into -450.
Press the Z circle and hold your mouse button down so you can drag. Now start moving to the right until you have a -450 below.
Now at the keyframes bar click the + again hold it and a new popup appears here go to rotation and your rotation is saved.
Now do the same with point B (the end of the path).

That should cover the rotation of the sphere.

Step 40

Here you see my video and you see the sphere is rotation pretty nice.

Step 41

I showed you so far:
- how to move a single object from point A to B
- how to move it over point C
- how to make it go through the air
- how to make a rotation

But how about having multiple objects in your animation?
This basically very simple if you understand what I explained so far, but I'l do it any way.

Let's start with a group of objects.

Step 42

Let's start again with the black background and make a shape like in this image, add textures to the individual shapes (I made them with stripes so you'll see the rotation).

Step 43

When you have all the shapes lined up select them all (by pulling a square around them all). In the small menu beside them you see a 'G', this 'G' means grouping. Clicking it makes all the objects behave as a group and that's what we want, so click that 'G'.

Step 44

Now we change the view again until we have the top view. Here we set point A and point B again.
At point B we also set the rotation again. (see before if you do not remember anymore how to do this).

Step 45

Here's how my final rendered animation looks like

Step 46

You can do this also with multiple objects moving in different direction, following their own path.

To do this you basically have to do the same as above just with multiple objects. But let me show you anyway.

Again start with the black background and add different shapes. Give the shapes individual paths to move on (select each shape individual and make the path as before).

Step 47

When rendered my animation looks like this:

Step 48

Besides moving objects around you can also move the camera and light sources the same way.

To finish this tutorial let's make a billiard scene, 2 white ball and 1 red, interacting which each other, having the camera around as well.

So lets create a scene again, 3 balls, and a billiards table.
If you look at the image I added some light sources and got the balls and camera moving around.

Step 49

To make the movement more clear in this animation I made a custom background for the table with some white line in it with Photoshop.

Step 50

I first rendered this animation from the top view to show you how the movement in this set up is.

You can watch this here

Step 51

Finally a render with the camera following in the action from the camera view, note that the camera is moving around.

Watch the video here:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned how to make an animation in Bryce. On purpose I kept the animations simple and short so rendering will not take to much time. It is up to you to make longer movies with more difficult objects moving around.

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no avatar
mac says:

Great for me. Thanks!

(5 years and 983 days ago)
no avatar
j says:

At the bottom right of the screen, the pxleyes logo makes difficult to follow the instructions. Other than that, great tutorial. Thanks.

(5 years and 959 days ago)

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