11:47:00 PM

(0) Comments

Advanced 3ds Max Character Modeling


Article Focus:
Michael Hurwicz looks at Advanced 3ds Max Character Modeling, a training DVD by Kenny Cooper (demo artist and primary narrator) and Jim Lammers (project manager and some narration) of Trinity3D.

An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part ...

(Andrew Marvell. 1621–1678. "To His Coy Mistress")

Creating a detailed, realistic 3D character model using an application such as Autodesk 3ds Max has been compared to "knitting a house." In other words, in addition to being challenging, it's repetitive, nit-picky work, and incredibly time-consuming. This is particularly true if you are creating a model that has to deform properly when animated. For that reason, people creating character modeling tutorials usually try to simplify the process in some way, to speed things up for their students and themselves. One approach is to create a character without a lot of detail. (Think Pinocchio.) Or, if you are going to go for a lot of detail, perhaps you pick just one part of the body to focus on, such as the face or the hands. You can just not worry too much about how your character will animate; that makes everything a lot easier. Another possible expedient is not defining too precisely what you are aiming at, so that any decent result can be declared a success. Still another labor-saving device: make sure that your character is wearing huge quantities of clothing, preferably made out of metal. Masks, hats, helmets, shirts, pants, capes, suits of armor, boots and mittens are all a lot easier to model realistically than faces, heads, necks, arms, torsos, legs, feet and hands. Another possibility is to use bitmap materials based on photographs to represent some of the finer details, such as subtle shadings of musculature.

In the Advanced 3ds Max Character Modeling training DVD, Kenny Cooper and Jim Lammers take none of these easy ways out. They tackle the most challenging 3D character modeling task--an unclothed human model, designed for animation, and based on reference photographs--and they execute the job in its entirety, using no materials, to exacting standards, and not just shaping the body to show musculature, tendons and bone structure, but down to details such as fingernails and the little web of skin between the fingers, (To clarify the "unclothed": The model is not "anatomically correct," but the bikini worn by the real woman in the reference photographs is not modeled either.)

The result is a unique, and uniquely valuable, resource for the student who is truly committed to learning modeling in 3ds Max. You have to be committed, because the DVD shows every repetitive, nit-picking step of the process--16 hours worth. On the other hand, I found that seeing every step of the process gave me a better feel for how this work is actually done than anything else I have ever encountered.

So far, I have used this DVD more as an extended demo than as a step-by-step tutorial. I have by no means tried to duplicate every step of the process. I wanted to get an overview of the process first, and to some extent I think the DVD demands this, because the author doesn't provide much in the way of step-by-step overviews but basically just plunges into each phase of the project, commenting as he goes. There is a little booklet that provides a very brief summary of each video, such as "The toenails are added to the toes." But that doesn't tell you what the steps are for adding the toenails to the toes.

So, to me, the ideal way to use this DVD is to go through the whole thing quickly to get an overview of the whole character modeling process. Then go back to the first movie, go through it once quickly to get an overview of the task at hand, and then attempt the task yourself. This is particularly true because the videos often include mistakes, backtracking, and moments of pondering and even confusion. Not that mistakes or confusion predominate, but the modeling process by its nature is not a linear, precise science, but an iterative and to some extent intuitive art. That is, quite a lot of the time, you are looking at the model, making an educated guess as to what needs to be done next, trying something, looking at the results, and then making a decision about whether to leave it as is (at least for now), refine it, correct it, or completely undo it.

Since your efforts as a student will seldom need the same refinements or corrections as those on the DVD, you can't simply follow along with everything the author does. You have to figure out what he is trying to do, know the result you are trying to achieve, and make your own judgments about how to move in the right direction from wherever you have landed. The DVD does provide a starting .max file for every movie, so you can start each lesson at the same point that the author does. But it is not at all unusual for these movies to be 15 to 30 minutes long (a few approach 45 minutes), so you're frequently talking about a significant journey from the starting point to the end of the lesson. Because of the nature of the task, your journey is simply not going to be exactly the same as that of the author. So, again, in order to guide your own journey effectively, you need to have an overview and know where you are going.

Of course, the difficulty with this approach is that it's time-consuming. It assumes that you will go through each video a minimum of three times. That's 48 hours of listening. One technique that I found useful was to use a player that has a fast forward mode that does not mute the audio. The QuickTime Player doesn't work for this. It allows you to scrub the video, so you can quickly run through the visual aspect of any movie. But it mutes the audio while you are scrubbing, so you can't hear the commentary. I used the Sony Vegas video editor as a player, which allowed me to speed the videos up by 30 percent or more and still understand the commentary. During slow, repetitive tasks, I didn't miss anything by doing this. And of course I could always go back and replay a section when things suddenly got interesting. The speed-up also turned the commentator variously into Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, a wheel bearing going out on an old Chevy, and a family of excited mice. I highly recommend it.

Speeding things up makes it easier, when the narrator goes into a repetitive vertex adjustment, to opt to just grasp the major steps and then go do your best in editing the mesh. If you aren't getting good results, you can return to the video and try to follow in a more step-by-step fashion. Some artists may skip over areas they can already handle well, especially after the first ten movies when there is some repetition of procedure. The saved scenes for the start and end of every movie allow you to "pop in" at any point in the project--if you just want to follow along with the section on creating the hands, for example.

I was able to watch the movies in Vegas, by the way, because the DVD is not a movie-type DVD, meaning you don't have to watch it in a DVD player. The video files are ordinary QuickTime (.mov) files that you can copy to your hard disk or watch straight from the DVD. I really appreciated this, since it made it easy to watch the videos in Vegas. It also means, incidentally, that the DVD does not auto-run. If you put it in your computer's DVD drive and boot up, nothing happens. You have to go to the "movies" folder on the DVD and access the video files there.

The painstaking, repetitive nature of modeling, while it can require extra doses of stimulants while going through the DVD (I used mostly chocolate-covered ginger), also means that you have the opportunity to watch the same basic tools and approaches applied to a variety of tasks, with a variety of challenges and solutions. By osmosis, more than by verbal explanation, you begin to get a feel for the process of roughing out and refining, how to make the subtle adjustments, why and how to maintain obtuse angles in the flow of your edges for gentle contours and smooth deformations, how the changes you make on your non-smoothed model will look when smoothed, when to change over and work with surface smoothing turned on, where to compromise (nobody's going to be looking too closely behind the ear), and when it really is worthwhile to put in another half-hour (on making the visible part of the ear look more like an ear, for instance). Also, when not to give up hope: Even though it looks terrible now, you may be seconds away from something really great. You learn the rules and where you can make an exception, or where you really want to make an exception. For instance, you see why quads (four-sided polys) are generally better than three or five-sided polys, because the mesh flows better and looks more organic and natural. You also see where you might want to use three-sided polys to attain a less flowing shape, such as in the tendons on the back of the hand.

Very little of this was totally new to me. But the whole experience is like learning a language by living in the country and hearing the language spoken by native speakers every day in a variety of situations, and then having plenty of opportunities to try it out yourself. There's no substitute for it, and no better way to really gain fluency. (In fast forward mode, it's more like the "Europe in 10 Days" bus tour. "It's Tuesday; this must be the arms.")

Some other areas I now have better facility with, thanks to this DVD:

  • Setting up reference art
  • Using transparency in the modeling process
  • Using a cloned reference so that you can see smoothed and unsmoothed versions of your model simultaneously
  • Maintaining smooth contours, and creating creases, bumps or ridges where you want them
  • Reorienting faces by scaling vertices onto a single plane
  • Refining geometry with cut and slice
  • Using shift-scale and shift-move to create new faces
  • Working quickly, efficiently, and flexibly with extrude and bevel

In addition, there is a wealth of information to be gleaned specific to modeling various parts of the body, such as the eyes, ears, hands and so on.

One other thing that I found inspiring about this DVD was the speed that the author is able to attain through the use of hot keys and (I assume) the middle mouse button/wheel. The sound track of the DVD is often a clatter of hot keys. It is not unusual for the author to go 5 or 10 minutes without ever clicking an icon or a menu. It made me realize that I was working much harder than I needed to and could double or triple my speed by consistently using hot keys for select-move-rotate-scale, the mouse wheel to zoom, and alt-middle mouse button to arc rotate the view.

In terms of production values, the video is fantastic: 1024 x 768 and with no visible degradation of the image at all. It looks just like using 3ds Max live. The audio level is a little low in a few early movies, and much of the audio is a bit noisy, but not enough to be distracting or interfere with understanding the narration.


11:44:00 PM

(0) Comments

Stop Staring


Article Focus:
Author/Animator/Musician Michael Hurwicz examines ''Stop Staring'' by Jason Osipa, and finds that the author manages to make his detailed, in-the-trenches instruction fun. Highly recommended if you want to really get down into the details of lip sync and facial animation.

I had heard great things about Jason Osipa's book, Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right. It did not disappoint my high expectations.

Some highlights:

  • One hundred and thirty-eight pages of detailed how-to on lip sync, with several millimeter-by-millimeter examples.

  • Wonderful observations about how emotion, thought and intention are communicated through eyelid positions, tilting the head, blinking or eye movements like darting the eyes.

    More obvious things like smiles, frowns and eyebrow positions are covered, too. But I found it incredibly fun and enlightening to learn, for instance, that you can communicate threatening, glowering anger while maintaining a neutral expression, just by tilting the character's head forward a bit, while keeping the eyes looking forward. (Try it in the mirror.)

  • Several full-face rigs, with discussion of the limitations and advantages of each.

A couple of things you should know about this book:

  • The sample files are Maya files. Scripting is in MEL. There are QuickTime movies of finished animations, but no source files for other 3D apps like 3ds Max. The author did write with the intention of making the book useful for users of other 3D apps. Occasionally, he even "translates" Maya-speak into 3ds Max-speak. As a 3ds Max user, I found the book highly educational. I was able to immediately translate 80% to 90% of it into 3ds Max features.

  • You have to want to really get down into the details of lip sync and facial animation in order to benefit from the bulk of this book. If that's what you want, this is a great resource.

  • Both realistic and cartoon animation are covered. The focus is far more on the realistic. There are perhaps only a dozen pages in a 320+ page book explicitly talking about cartoon faces. That being said, often the basics are the same for realistic and toon styles. It's simply a matter of knowing what to exaggerate or eliminate for the toon.


11:39:00 PM

(0) Comments

Dell's new Precision M90 mobile workstation


Article Focus:
Author/Animator/Musician Michael Hurwicz gives us a first look at Dell's new Precision M90 mobile workstation, and finds that it's a significant step forward in technology. But should you wait for what's around the corner?

A new line of Dell Precision laptops was announced today (Wednesday, March 29, 2006), based on the new Intel® Centrino® Duo Mobile Technology. I have been waiting to get my hands on one of these, to see if they really are a vastly superior laptop machine for running 3ds max, as processor tests would suggest.

Processor tests have showed up to 60% better performance, with equal or lower power consumption, compared to previous processors. That should mean a significantly faster laptop and longer battery life. The main reason for the performance jump is the dual-core processor, basically two processors in one. The power consumption results from a variety of new and enhanced power management features.

I was particularly interested in how the new Dell laptops would run 3ds max, which tends to be a fairly CPU-intensive application. By promising Dell I would get a review up on Creative COW on the day of the announcement, I managed to get them to send me a review unit. The downside of this is that I only had about 24 hours to do my testing. Here are my first impressions:

The first thing that got my attention was the 17" wide aspect 1920x1200 pixel screen. That's significantly more real estate and resolution than the 15.4" 1680x1050 screen of the M70, the predecessor to the M90. At about 14.5" x 9", the M90 display is great for 3ds max, which can use the extra width for the command panel. In particular, by expanding the command panel to two columns (as shown on the right in the figure figure below), you can get at any rollout without scrolling. It gives you a better overview and saves time. The M90 lets you expand the command panel and still have plenty of room left over for the viewports.

The M90 I reviewed also had a new NVIDIA graphics card, the Quadro FX 2500M, which replaces the Go1400 used in the M70. I understand that the "standard" graphics card for the M90 will be the the Quadro FX 1500M, which is in the same category as the Go1400, though with some new features and better performance. The 2500M is for the wealthy and the power-mad.

Speaking of wealth, I didn't get prices for the line of new Precision laptops, so you'll have to go the the Dell site for that.

One thing I didn't notice: fan noise. I had to put my ear up to the unit to hear the tiny, high-pitched whine of the fans.

The M90 I tested had 2GB of physical memory, one dual-core T2600 processor running at 2.11GHz, and a system bus running at 667MHz. (A 533MHz model will also be available.)

I was impressed with the results of preliminary informal testing, which indicated that the M90 performed 3ds max renders about as fast as an HP xw6000 desktop tower unit with dual 2.8GHz Xeon processors, 1GB of physical memory, and a Quadro FX 2000 graphics card. Even though the xw6000 is a three-year-old machine, it's something to see a laptop with one (dual-core) 2.11GHz processor keeping up with a tower workstation with two 2.8GHz processors.

I also found some Viewperf tests for the M70 online and thought that might make an interesting comparison point. The table below shows the comparison between the M90 (my testing) and the M70 (existing tests) for the Viewperf 8.1 3DSMAX test.

M70 35.57
M90 49.46

In other words, nearly a 40% increase--right in the range suggested by the processor testing I mentioned earlier.

The M90 is designed as a desktop replacement, for the person who wants one machine to use at home and at work. So while portabilityis a requirement, weight is not the primary consideration. Starting at 8.4 lbs with a 9-cell battery and travel module, the M90 is not the lightest laptop around. With its magnesium alloy chassis, it does feel like a rock solid machine.

Naturally, there is always something better coming down the road. I am always torn between buying now and getting more computer for less money 6 to 12 months from now. In this case, the "something better" is Intel's Next Generation Micro Architecture (NGMA), which will be embodied in the Merom processor, expected in the second half of 2006. Check out this article for more on Merom.

Taking the M90 on its own merits, though, it represents a significant advance for those who want to run heavy-duty applications like 3ds Max on a laptop.


11:37:00 PM

(0) Comments

Animation Writing and Development: from Script Development to Pitch


Check out Jean Ann Wright's profile and you'll see the big reason why her book "Animation Writing and Development: from Script Development to Pitch" is worth reading. Wright just plain knows what she's talking about. Her insider status is highlighted throughout the book by the supporting materials she's able to muster: stills, bibles, storyboards and scripts from shows like Sony Pictures' Jackie Chan Adventures, Time Warner's Powerpuff Girls, and Paramount's The Wild Thornberrys,

In addition, Wright is a teacher; she knows how to communicate what she knows. In fact, much of the book reads like a very detailed outline for a course on animation writing. A lot of it consists of questions, checklists and exercises. You'll get as much out of these as you put into them. I found the questions, in particular, extremely useful in thinking through a completed -- but not perfected -- script. "What are your characters' goals in each scene? Which character is driving each scene? What are your characters' feelings in each scene?" There are literally hundreds of questions like these in the book to help you probe your work and yourself. You can become that friendly yet unforgiving critic that takes your script to that next level.

Wright reminds you of many of the basic types things you'd likely learn in any class on writing, like:

  • "The hero or heroine must be the most interesting character in the story. If he's not, then you might consider centering the story around the colorful character instead, making him the protagonist."

  • "... kids like characters they can identify with, characters that appear to be like them in one or more ways."

  • "... stories must have a beginning, middle and end."

So you can use the book to consider hundreds of ways to enhance your script or detect and correct basic weaknesses.

Wright offers tons of tips covering everything from giving your main a character a flaw to overcome (Shrek's misanthropy), knowing your audience ("Because male teens are the biggest buyers, many films center on the theme of childishness losing out to adulthood ...") to satisfying the network censors.

She also goes into the minutiae of what a treatment, project bible, storyboard or script should look like, how long it should be, what your goals should be as you're creating one.

She covers business aspects, too, like making sure you get a hired artist to sign a "Work for Hire" agreement before setting pen to paper, or the advisability of getting an entertainment lawyer to present your project, so that you don't have to sign a release which she likens to "signing away your firstborn." She talks about marketing, pitching, agents and finding work.

In fact, Wright doesn't miss much when it comes to advising the aspiring animation writer.

The book has a decent index, so you have a good chance of finding things when you need them. It also has a 13-page glossary, which can help you sound like you know what you're talking about. Come to think of it, you actually will know what you're talking about.

Some of the early chapters failed to enthuse me. The chapter on the history of animation, for instance, is basically a who's-who. It's good information, but it could have been consigned to an appendix. I felt the same way about the early chapter on human development, designed to help you target material to kids of certain age ranges. Still, it does emphasize the fact that if you're writing for kids, you're expected to know this stuff.

The supporting materials take up a lot of space. One Jackie Chan script with storyboards takes over 50 pages in a book that's less than 350 pages long. That being said, I found these some of the most interesting and useful parts of the book, perhaps because I learn better by example than by instruction. I mention this mainly to point out that the part of the book actually written by the author would be a fairly slim volume. Partly, this is a result of the author's concise, punchy writing style.

Overall, I found this book inspiring, useful and informative. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in animation writing on a professional level.


11:26:00 PM

(0) Comments

Max Monster Pak


Buying digital 3D models for use in programs like Autodesk's 3ds max can become expensive. One detailed, realistic, textured model, whether it's human, animal, vehicular, architectural or botanic, typically costs from $50 to $100. A collection of half a dozen models -- even something relatively simple like a living room set -- may run several hundred dollars. It's easy to argue that it's money well spent, given the time it would take you to construct the models yourself. However, if you're spending even $100 a month on models, it may be worth considering buying larger collections of models, which give you models for a fraction of the individual price -- often less than a dollar per model.

Digimation's Max Monster Pak, released in August, 2006, takes this concept to a new level, offering more than 5,100 textured 3D models (more than 1700 distinct models, many in four versions from high to low resolution), for $1,700, not to mention 900 motion capture files. Together, these products would sell for more than $13,000. (There's also an impressive list of free bonus software for the first 50 customers.).

There are 15 categories of models, including 56 buildings in the Architectural category, 44 pieces of furniture, and 50 electrical devices. (Each model is offered at four levels of detail.) For a complete list of what you get in the Monster Pak, click here.

This is an impressive collection. It boggles the mind to think of the thousands and thousands of hours that must have gone into making these models. The models are not just highly realistic, but also highly specific: For instance, you do not get a collection of generic plants; you get acacia, albicia, bamboo, drosera capensis (that's the one on the left up above, that looks like it might bite).

That being said, the collection of 14 tropical plants actually does contain a Generic Plant. Here's a picture of it, in case you've ever wondered what one looks like:

Sometimes, the specificity makes the models less useful to me than they might be. For instance, most of the models in the "Public Works" category (containing road signs, railroad crossing signs, gas station equipment and the like) come from Spain. The gas station air/water pump on the right in the banner above is an example. Unless you happen to be doing a visualization of an office building by a Spanish freeway, you might never use them. You could "localize" them to some extent by creating new textures, but it turns out that for many of these types of models, the texture is most of the work.

The international flavor of models may extend to the naming of the objects in the 3ds max files. For instance, for the flamingo model shown near the end of this review, the material in the screen shot is named OJO, Spanish for "eye".

It's hard to predict how easily you'll be able to modify or animate parts of a model the way you'd like to. Take, for example, the WW II Spitfire pictured below. If you want to rotate the propeller, you're in good shape. It's a separate object (two separate objects, actually: the props and the central cone) with the pivot point logically located at the center. No problem at all changing the position of the propeller or animating it.

On the other hand, what if you want to open the cockpit, either as an animation or permanently to get the "open cockpit" look shown in the WW II picture below?

(The above public domain image comes from http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/gallery/19sqnspit640.jpg. For more information on this image, click here.)

Unfortunately in this case, the Spitfire cockpit in the model is a one-piece construction. In the picture below, for instance, the three blue pieces, though they look separate, are just one object in 3ds max. You'd have to divide it into three pieces at the sub-object level to open the cockpit properly. Not necessarily a big deal, but a bit of extra work.

Some cases are much more difficult than this. Take, for instance, the flamingo shown below. This model is a single mesh. Even at the sub-object level, the whole mesh is just one "element" in 3ds max.

This "one-piece construction" is fine for many purposes You can move or animate the head, neck, body and legs easily enough, for instance. (One common approach uses "bones" to manipulate various parts of the model.) However, suppose you want the beak to open and close. Even in the lowest-resolution version (shown above), which is the easiest to work with, you've got some work ahead of you, cutting an opening for the mouth at the sub-object level, creating new polygons for the inside of the mouth, and then perhaps using bones-based animation to open and close the beak. It's a lot of effort, since the model evidently was not designed with this in mind. The higher the resolution of the model, the more work. These kinds of problems are by no means unique to this collection. Any time you're using a model created without your specific application in mind, it's possible that the model may present you with significant challenges.


  • Low cost per model
  • Highly realistic, detailed, textured models in multiple resolutions
  • A rich, diverse collection


  • A substantial up front investment
  • Suitability issues that come with using models not specifically designed for your application

Bottom Line

Overall, this collection delivers solid value for the money. If you buy detailed, realistic 3D models with any frequency, check out the Monster Pak. It requires a hefty up-front investment, but it could save you money in the long run. Having "free" models easily available may also encourage you to enrich your scenes in ways you otherwise wouldn't if you had to download and pay for models one by one.


10:32:00 PM

(0) Comments

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 - Build a Website


This is the beginning of a continuous series of website building tutorials. This particular tutorial is a great beginner tutorial of what you can start to build with little to no experience with Adobe Dreamweaver and a graphics editing program like Adobe Fireworks or Adobe Photoshop. With these two programs under your belt you can create a wide array of websites to suite your particular tastes. I hope to make this first level tutorial easy enough for beginners to experiment with the program and implement my design into something they would like to make. From there you can make little changes and the next thing you know you will have a totally different looking website made for you by you. So with no further interruptions, let’s begin the tutorial.

The first thing you should do is open up the Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 program. You will see a screen that is similar to the one below.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Build a Website Image 1

Now we will start with the development of a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). CSS is a great language that helps you dynamically create the architecture of a website and integrate web programming like HTML, ASP, PHP, etc to make it complete. You will find that this language will make organization and changing the way your website looks much easier. I personally use it because I can go back into the code and easily see where I need to change things and where I made errors. Using tables and such made the webpage files cumbersome.

Adobe Dreamwaver CS3 Create a Website Image 2

After you select the CSS template you will see the default CSS screen.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Make your own Website Image 3

The first set of information within the CSS document is the configuration for the body of the webpage. The body is the same thing as the <> tag you see in all HTML web pages. In the following illustration, we will add the color, margin, padding, height, and background. The color reference actually refers to the color of the text. The margin is the distance of an area from the outside borders. The padding is the distance of content from the edge of the margin of an area. Padding is like the Styrofoam that is between the box and the package it holds. The background-image reference allows you to add a background of your choosing if you would like it. I choose to use just the default white background.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Internet Website Design Image 4

The next section goes over the header styles. The styles will control how your headers look and feel within your webpage. I have made my headers from H1 to H3. As you can see from the illustration below, I control the font, color, margin, and padding. Within the font you can control whether it is bold, italics, or underlined, the size by point or percentage and the type of font you want to use. The rest of it is just like any other reference for web programming.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Website Builder Image 5

If you look at the bottom of the illustration you will see that I added a reference for “p”. This is for the paragraph. I use this if I want to use a different text size than the body text is using. I wouldn’t suggest doing this but sometimes you will find it useful.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Website Development Image 6

Now we will start the previously hard task of making the Layout of your website. Instead we are using CSS and things will be much easier and organized. We will be using things called divisions. Divisions are used to reference the data in the CSS file and correlate it to the html file. This way the HTML file knows what to make on the webpage without having to write all that code on the HTML file. The first we will make is the header division. This will hold the graphic that will display the name of the website for all to see. The position: absolute tag lets the HTML know that this area cannot be manipulated. Top and left show you where you want your content to start from the edge of the higher level division which will be the body tag. The width and height are pretty self-explanatory. We already discussed the background-image tag.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a Free website image 7

The next division is the body reference tag. This will cover the rest of the area of the webpage below the header. We will have to add the 2 link references and the middle body reference. Those will all reside within the body reference. It can basically be summed up as a pyramid structure of accessibility. This is not totally needed but it helps me organize things better. The position is set to “position: relative”. This makes it adhere to the proportions of content that is written within it. This will come into play once we have a large amount of content in the website that goes below the screen. This works fine in absolute mode as well, but the difference is if you have a division tag that you want to stay at the bottom of the page you will have to make this relative if your webpage is larger than the size of your screen. With a relatively small website, I would try to keep everything at one size and just make extra pages, but had to use these with my expansive tutorials. Nobody wants to click a million links.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Make a Free Website Image 8

This division section is the main body reference. This will be the middle of your content that will hold all the data that you want to add to the webpage. For instance, you could do it like my website and add tutorials and written content. This position tag must also be set to relative because it will be under the division tag that will have the content going past the traditional page size.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create Your Own Website Image 9

Now we can see our first division tag for links, which is the navigation reference. This position is absolute because it will be a predefined area that will not reach farther than the main body reference. Within this section you will be adding links that will enable it to navigate through your website.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Build a free website Image 10

The next division tag is the second links division tag, which is the advertisement reference. This section will hold all your ads just like mine holds stuff for Google and programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Illustrator, Indesign, and Photoshop. Maybe in this tutorial I should have added advertisements for build a website, create a website, make your own website, or internet website design. That would help you find this information easier. Oh look, I just did it!

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3  Build your own website for free Image 11

The last division tag is the information reference. This is the one reason why we had to make the division tag for the body reference and make the position set to relative for the content sections. It is just a little strip that goes at the bottom of the screen that helps you know who owns the website and when it was developed. Also you can add links to the bottom so when you have a long webpage the user can easily navigate to another page without scrolling up.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Build an easy website image 12

Now we will go to the top of the screen and select (File/New).

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 build free business website image 13

Then will navigate and select HTML. On the right you will see that they have happily added layouts predefined for you in Adobe Dreamweaver CS3. These are the old ways of added layouts to your web pages that made them bulky and hard to navigate through. Our new way is clean and thorough. Plus you will learn what is really happening in a website!

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a free website image 14

Now you can see the new HTML webpage with the default tags already in place for you.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create your own website image 15

This page of Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 allows you to see a split between code and design. As you can see from the illustration below, I have used the title tag to make a name for my website. This name will be displayed on the top part of the web browser I am using. For this website, I have chosen the name “My Website” since this is a tutorial for my visitors.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create your own free website 16

Now we will input the code we will use to call the CSS document that controls the layout.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a free personal website image 17

Now we will make our first division visible within the HTML. It is quite easy to do. In the illustration below you can see how easy it is to add them. The first one that is added is the header division.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a free business website image 18

Below, you can see how we originally made the CSS to display the format in the HTML. We will also use the “background-image” tag to select our header image.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create business website image 19

When we go back to the HTML page we can see what the header image looks like when it is being structured by CSS credentials.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create person website image 20

Now we can add the body division. You will remember that this division will have lower levels below it. So you will want to do it like you would other coding programs.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 21

Now we will add the division tag for the navigation reference within the division tag for the body reference. This will make the credentials for the navigation reference only work within the boundaries of the body reference.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 22

Now we will add the “background-image” to this portion of the webpage using the CSS document. This is done just like the header.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 23

In the illustration below, you can see that Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 shows only the top part of the navigation image. This is because there is no data cover the other area image. When you put a background image in using CSS it will have the tendency to not show in the HTML if there is not some kind of data covering the amount of area the background uses.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 24

If you put a few break tags <> within the division tag content area you will notice that more of the image becomes viewable.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 25

Now we will add the division tag for the main body reference. This is also within the division tag for the body reference.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 26

You can now proceed to put the background image in the main body reference tag.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 27

You can see that the main body reference is the doing the same thing the navigation reference was doing before you added some content or paragraph structure within it.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 28

When we add a few break tags <> within the content area of the main body reference, we can see that it become more visible as well. You can do your spacing for writing your content on the page by adjusting it like this as well.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 29

You can add the division tag for the advertisements reference within division tag for the body reference now.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 30

You can add the image for the advertisements reference just like the others now.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 31

We have added a few <> tags just to even things off across the board. Of course we can’t just keep it looking like this though. We will have to make some adjustments later.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 32

Now we will add the last division tag for the information reference. This tag can be a pain in the butt for Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 because there is not enough room in the screen to show all the data and that it can only go as far as the data within the body reference. That means it will be floating on the screen until you add some data that takes it below the bottom of your images in the body reference.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 33

You will see that the information reference doesn’t have anything special too it. It is just a skinny division tag at the bottom of your website that will hold a variety of information for the user. The only bad part about using this kind of tag is that it must be at the bottom of the page at all times. This has caused me many headaches on web pages that don’t have much information. To remedy that I would move the division tag for information below the division tag for body reference. You can see how this looks if you go to one of my web pages called ( Contact Us.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 34

Here you can see what the information reference will look like if you don’t move the division tag outside of the division tag for the body reference. Of course that is remedied if you add some content to your webpage that goes beyond the border. If you move the information division tag and then push your content beyond the border your information bar will remain in that spot till you move it back into the division tag for the body reference.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 35

Here is a view of the website in a web browser.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 36

Now we will add a nice paragraph of information with the division tag for the main body reference. Now you will how if an image is not big enough it will be repeated over and over again. Of course there is a remedy for this problem. You only write enough information to fill the image or you could change the image so below the actual image there is empty space.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 37

Now we will add a bunch of links to the division tag for the navigation reference. Now isn’t this starting to look cool.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 38

Now we will add some advertisements to the right side of the webpage within the division tag for the advertisements reference. I have used some captions of the Adobe Creative Suite products.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 39

If you want to see what the rest of the screen looks like after you have made a large amount of empty space below your images that are within the division tag for the body reference, please look at the illustration below. You can see that it is nice and smooth and the text within the main body reference has been centered by using the <> tag, which is a very useful feature.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 40

Here is a screenshot of the web browser showing the website with these changes. Now you can see unlike in the Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 program that the information reference image is now at the bottom of the webpage because of the amount of content that is in the main body reference. These additions were done by adding
tags but you can use any kind of content to accomplish this feat.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 41

Now we will copy that one piece of text over and over again to show you just how that would look in real life. This is easily done in the HTML as you can see from the illustration below.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 42

Now you can see that the webpage is now stretched outside of its boundaries and the information reference image is still at the bottom of the webpage.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 43

Now we can go back into Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 and add some information to the information reference. I basically just did what was already on my website. It is always good to have the year that the company started and then make a text link to your homepage. The user will always be angry if they have to scroll all the way back up to the top of the page to reach the links. In thought of that, I have added the entire navigation link section to the information reference on my website. You can add things to the information bar however you wish.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 44

Now you can see how the website is done after we have added some simple things to it. As for the link images on the left and right, you can show the rest of those by adding more information to them in the form of text or paragraph structure tags like

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Create a new website image 45

During this tutorial, you were shown how to use CSS to your advantage to decrease the amount of coding necessary within HTML. You were also shown how to implement some of the many features that CSS has available for web development. I hope that this has given you a brief review that will help you begin or continue to grow in your website development. I have kept this tutorial short to not make any of you fall asleep for too long. Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 is a very good application to use if you take the time to learn the ins and outs. All of the Adobe products have usefulness to them in some kind of situation.

I will be updating this tutorial to better suit my audience over time. Your replies are appreciated and will help me better implement my tutorials. In a short period of time I will begin working on an even more thorough explanation of using CSS and HTML. I will begin to add the uses of Javascript and Flash into the tutorial as well. This will be provided for free as always. Stay tuned for updates on the homepage. I will announce the completion of this project when it is complete.

Some of you may be looking for even further guidance or special programs that will help you through every step of the process. I would love to be there standing behind you pointing to everything you need to do, but that is just not feasible….. yet! Below, you can find a couple programs that I highly recommended. I believe even a couple of them may be using Adobe Indesign to supplement their training videos. I know your question already. If I had to pick one to teach me from step A to step Z, which one would I choose? That choice would be “Total Training”. They are the certified partner of Adobe and have solid training for Adobe. If you want to go from a beginner to an Adobe expert this would be the software. However, if you would just like to get a good hold on Adobe Software then the others would do just fine. Have fun learning as I always have!

Dreamweaver CS3 Online Training from Total Training

Total Training provides customers with a Video Training Series that is promoted by a Partnership with Adobe Systems (Worldwide). You can't go wrong with the incredible series of DVD software that this company provides. Total Training provides a one of a kind offer to let you try all of their online products for 2 days with a special guest pass. You will be on your way to being an Adobe expert in no time!