I have a cartoon character (a lion) that is part of my business logo that I want to put into Blender and animate it somehow. Is there any way I can take a flat picture (JPEG) and transform it into a 3D image and then animate it in Blender?
OKAY I'M KIDDING :), NOW SERIOUSLY:
There's no such way to do it fast. If you manage to invent a tool that may do such thing automatically you'll be probably a millionaire :). While there's a very simple way to transform 3d model into 2D image (using e.g. shapekeys), reverse process is impossible (at least right now :)).
As @Shubol3D said there are no shortcuts. You'll have to master a lot of skills to create your lion model. It's very time consuming process, so if you like to save it I suggest you to go to Blenderartists.org forum and make a paid job offer there. There are a lot of super talented people, who may do it for you.
But if you still want to do it by yourself...
Here are some ultra basic 3d model production steps:
First of all get familiar with this topic: Resources for Blender It's super useful for the blender beginners.
You should start from setting up the reference images for modelling:
- How do I set a background image while I am editing?
- How do I scale my reference images correctly within Blender and is there an easier way?
- Modeling with reference image
First add a cube. Use Toggle Quad View option (Ctrl+Alt+Q) to split the screen into quarters and set separate background images for each one. Adjust their positions, so they fit the cube position in Top, Front and Right 3D views.
To make the modeling workflow faster use a Mirror Modifier:
Divide the cube into two identical parts with Ctrl+R and delete one half of it (X). Add a Mirror Modifier to it. Now you may model just one half of the mesh and the other one'll behave symmetrical.
Enter Edit Mode and start modeling basing on the background images you set:
There are few buttons which are very helpful in modeling: G- for grabing/translating vertices, edges and faces, S- for scaling them, R- for rotating, E for extruding and F for filling the holes. You may also subdivde the desired faces using Ctrl+R shortcut.
Finally you may add a Subsurf Modifier to make your model smooth. Go to the Modifiers header, activate it, set the desired subdivision levels and smooth it even more with Smooth shading option in Edit panel of the Tool Shelf.
I think that in your case this tutorial may be a good start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mlGT6T9bfQ It shows how to create a 3D animal model based on the 2D images.
UNWRAPPING AND TEXTURING
To unwrap your model properly you may need to make seams for it:
Now you want to put the texture on your model. Though there are many methods to do it, I prefer the texture painting with Stencil method:
Select your model, set up the shading type to Texture and go to Texture Paint mode. Add a new Paint Slot-->Diffuse Color in a Tools bookmark of a Tool Shelf (T). Add a new texture in the Texture panel on the left, then go to the Texture header on the right, select Brush and open a texture, which will be used as a stencil for painting. Paint the texture and save it.
Now add a material to the object and assign a newly created image texture/textures to it:
- Add an image to an object (Blender Internal Render)
- How are texture maps imported into Blender? (Cycles Render)
IN BLENDER INTERNAL: Go to Texture header to assign a texture to it. Add a new texture, set its type to Image or Movie. In Influence panel check the Color checkbox. Set the viewport shading to Texture to display it on model.
Basic tutorial showing how to UV unwrap an animal model and apply a texture to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ngVoGIj1Q
RIGGING AND ANIMATION
Now you have to construct the rig (skeleton) and parent it with your model:
When your skeleton is ready you may you may parent your mesh with it. In Object Mode select your model, then your armature and press Ctrl+P-->With Automatic Weights. It'll automatically create specific vertex groups for the specific bones.
Finally you can animate your bones:
Select a bone in Pose Mode, translate it using R,G or S and press I to keyframe it. Go to the next frame on the Timeline, translate it again and keyframe again. Press Alt+A to play the animation. Adjust your keyframes spacing in Dope Sheet Editor. Control every aspect of your animation using curves in Graph Editor.
Very, very basic tutorial showing how to make the skeleton for your animal and how to animate it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr6-_NT_olo
Use Photoscan,and if it didn't turn out like you wanted then you can use the shapes to make it,but I reccomend using MakeHuman or the Manuel Bastioni Laboratory. I'm making a FNaF fan game with human characters,and when I finally found out about this,I used the sliders to make the character exactly like I wanted to. This is your answer. But if it's a lion you're talking about,I highly recommend that you use reference images to sculpt the anatomy of the lion without mane first,then you model it using the sculpture as a base,then use the Subdivision.
The Subdivision Surface modifier will increase the polygon number,I also recommend you to use image textures from the internet to trace the shape and for symmetry,use a mirror modifier for one side,then when you apply it,swap the weights with their opposites. Then you can detach a limb,one by one and parent it to the armature set with Automatic Weights. Then add mane using hair particles and go to the Blender Guru's site to learn how to make realistic fur.