Monster Mash: Casual 3D modeling and animation

Apr 22, 2021 at 03:29 pm by nemirc

A few days ago, Google AI Blog covered Monster Mash, a sketch-based tool for 3d modeling and animation. Monster Mash was actually presented in SIGGRAPH Asia 2020, and the source code, and more information, can be found on the project's website. The workflow in Monster Mash is very simple. You use your mouse (or Wacom) to create a drawing on the canvas, and then the software “inflates” the drawing into a mesh that can be animated in the same app.

The app “fills” the shape with a white color, meaning this is the shape that will be inflated when you click the Inflate button at the top. And, if you didn’t completely close the shape, the app will automatically draw a straight limit to join the two ends of the curve you drew, so it still ends up with a closed white area. As you see, you can even draw shapes on top of each other (as seen in the image above) without any issue.

The resulting 3D model can be animated using the Animate button. The first thing you do is create some control points by clicking on the surface. As the points are created, the model is “skinned” to them, so moving the points actually deforms the mesh.

To animate, you just need to click the Record button at the top, and then you start moving the points. There’s no timeline and no keyframing here; you just move the points. After you finish animating, you can just click the Record button again, and then you can play the animation. As you can see, the moved points display a trajectory line, so you can know how the points are moving.

You can also texture your objects. You can download a template for texturing. This is not a UV template, though, it’s the drawing you made. You can then import the painted texture, and it’s projected on top of your object (in other words, it’s like you were using “planar projection” on top of your mesh).

The 3D models you create can be downloaded as .OBJ files, and if you animate them, you can download the animated files as .GLB files.

Monster Mash is not an application you would use for high end modeling. However, it can produce some really nice looking models, so it can be an interesting application for introducing people into the world of 3D modeling and animation as it’s really easy to use. On top of that, since it’s a web application, you can even use it on your phone.

Monster Mash is the result of a collaboration between Google Research, Czech Technical University in Prague, ETH Zürich, and the University of Washington. Key contributors include Marek Dvorožňák, Daniel Sýkora, Cassidy Curtis, Brian Curless, Olga Sorkine-Hornung, and David Salesin.

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