We all know how important 3D computer graphics are in the media industry today.  Cinema projects, animation videos, and computer games make full use of the possibilities of 3D design.

3D character modeling is a complex process with many stages. Such animations are now used everywhere: in cartoons, games, films, etc. This type of graphics has many important advantages over most legacy graphics. 3D graphics allow people to feel like they are in real life and diversify the everyday routine. Emotions that give effects can’t be replaced by any kind of graphics. 

3d modeling

Agree, the possibilities of modern three-dimensional graphics and animation are amazing! However, before the animator can breathe life into the characters, they will need to be imagined and implemented on paper and in the form of a computer model. Let’s dive into the world of 3D character development!

What are the Main Advantages of 3D Modeling? 

Of course, each type of animation is special in its way and has privileges, so they can’t be compared. Nevertheless, 3D modeling is widely used in the modern world and has many more advantages and benefits than other types of graphics. 

  1. Realistic Environment 

This is the most obvious 3D modeling feature. By playing games with such graphics and controlling high-quality characters, the player can feel like in virtual reality and get lots of positive emotions. The main feature of 3D modeling is that it has depth, which is the defining factor of realistic graphics. 

Game Developer
Red Dead Redemption 2 Rockstar Games
The Last of Us Part II Naughty Dog
Ghost of Tsushima Sucker Punch Productions
Horizon Zero Dawn Guerrilla Games
Cyberpunk 2077 CD Projekt Red
Death Stranding Kojima Productions

Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima are renowned for their incredibly detailed and lifelike 3D environments. The artists have masterfully captured the depth, lighting, textures, and atmospheric effects that make the virtual worlds feel truly realistic and immersive. Players can get lost exploring these breathtaking 3D landscapes and scenes.

  1. Easy Control of a 3D Character 

2D characters are created based on drawings and their every movement must first be illustrated. 3D modeling allows you to create an object and manage it as you like without extra effort. 

3d character control

Game Developer
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Ubisoft
God of War (2018) Sony Santa Monica Studio
Marvel’s Spider-Man Insomniac Games
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice FromSoftware
Control Remedy Entertainment
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Ninja Theory

Games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, God of War, and Marvel’s Spider-Man showcase the ease and fluidity of controlling detailed 3D character models. The animations and movements feel natural and responsive, allowing players to effortlessly navigate environments, perform complex actions, and experience the game world from the character’s perspective. 3D modeling enables developers to create intricate character rigs and motion capture data for lifelike animations and controls.

  1. Pleasant Visual Effects

Agree, only 3D animation can cause such a saturated environment and colorful characters. Three-dimensional types of graphics allow you to create a rich visual effect. People can be attracted by a high-quality and beautiful atmosphere. 

Game Developer
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Insomniac Games
Horizon Forbidden West Guerrilla Games
Gears 5 The Coalition
Final Fantasy XV Square Enix
Battlefield V DICE
Metro Exodus 4A Games

Games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gears 5 showcase the incredible visual effects made possible by 3D graphics. From stunning particle effects and realistic lighting to detailed textures and vibrant colors, these games create a visually captivating and immersive experience. Players can be wowed by the high-quality atmospheres, explosive action sequences, and overall eye-candy that 3D modeling and rendering techniques bring to life.

  1. Influence on the Player’s Reactions 

With the correct modeling of a scene in 3D, you can create the effect of disorienting the viewer in space: for instance, the effect of a dizzying race, falling, sudden overturning, etc. A person feels and becomes a part of it, perceiving it as reality. 

Game Developer
Resident Evil Village Capcom
Half-Life: Alyx Valve
Astro Bot Rescue Mission Sony Japan Studio
Tetris Effect Enhance Games
Superhot VR Superhot Team
DOOM Eternal id Software

Games like Resident Evil Village, Half-Life: Alyx, and Astro Bot Rescue Mission use 3D modeling to create intense and disorienting experiences that deeply influence the player’s reactions and emotions. The immersive 3D environments, combined with camera techniques and player interactions, can induce feelings of fear, vertigo, or adrenaline rushes. Players can feel like they are truly part of the action, whether it’s intense combat, dizzying heights, or mind-bending perspectives. 3D modeling allows developers to manipulate the player’s perception of space and reality for a more visceral and impactful gaming experience.

  1. Realistic Movement Process 

In 2D space, the displacement of objects does not have any additional advantages, but in 3D graphics, the picture completely changes – the object is turned at a different angle and you can see the environment and the location of other objects. 

Game Developer
Red Dead Redemption 2 Rockstar Games
The Last of Us Part II Naughty Dog
Death Stranding Kojima Productions
Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar Games
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Naughty Dog
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Insomniac Games

Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, The Last of Us Part II, and Death Stranding showcase the realistic movement process made possible by 3D graphics. As characters and objects move through the environment, players can see them turn, rotate, and shift from different angles, revealing new perspectives and spatial relationships with their surroundings. This dynamic camera movement and positioning of objects in 3D space create a sense of depth and immersion, making the movement feel more natural and lifelike. 3D modeling allows developers to capture the intricacies of motion and the way objects interact with their environment, resulting in a more convincing and engaging experience for players.

5 Stages of Creating a 3D Character

The environment and its objects play an important role in the human perception of the play. The appearance of the main character is also important, because in the process of gameplay the player becomes part of the character, feeling his desires and thoughts.

3d models

To create successful projects, you can think about all stages of creating a 3D character in advance to hire artists and other specialists. You can learn about the main steps of modeling a 3D character below.

Creation of an Idea and its Implementation in Sketches

Any project, famous or not, starts with an idea. The more interesting and unique the concept, the more successful the project. Then you need to translate your idea into a sketch and visualize it. Having a sketch makes it easier to understand how the 3D characters of the games will look, and to see what actions are required to translate them into practice.

The implementation of an idea is difficult not only because it is the first step, but also because the transition from words to visualization is quite a difficult and capacious process.  

After successfully introducing a new character into the world of animation, 3D artists finish painting all the important features of the character, as well as weapons, clothes, and other remarkable things that are suitable for the game genre and idea. 

Modeling: Creating 3D Objects

The next step involves the creation of 3D objects. For now, we are only sketching the shape of the body, eyes, and other limbs. There are many 3D modeling technologies: image-based, polygonal, box, sculpting, and NURBS. 

Among the 3D graphics types, polygons and NURBS are the most preferred. At the same time, polygonal modeling began to be used more often. The quality of rendering 3D characters is controlled by the number of polygons: the more of them, the better the quality of the object. There are low poly and high poly varieties.

Programs that are mainly used to create characters: 3D MAX, somewhat less often – Maya. Mudbox and ZBrush are mainly used for finishing. 

Program Key Features
3ds Max Polygonal modeling, animation, rendering, rigging, particle systems, popular for games and film/TV
Maya Polygonal modeling, animation, visual effects, rigging, NURBS modeling, widely used in film/TV
Blender Free and open-source, polygonal modeling, animation, rigging, sculpting, texturing, rendering
ZBrush Digital sculpting, high-resolution mesh creation, texturing, primarily used for organic models and character sculpting
Mudbox 3D sculpting and painting, texture creation, detailing high-resolution models, integrated with Maya and 3ds Max
Substance Painter Texturing and material authoring, physically-based rendering (PBR), used for game assets and film VFX

Texturing: Overlaying Textures and Materials on a 3D Model

This stage of creating a 3D model is no easier than the previous ones. Texturing provides an opportunity to give a character a realistic look by adding colors, shades, wrinkles, skin texture, and many other features. At this stage, the character takes on a human or fantastic appearance. Skin layers and different details appeared. 

Experts agree that this process is an act of true art. In cinematography, texturing is a task of a separate expert – the texture artist. However, when creating a 3D character, there is a need for preliminary preparation of UV-unfolding (texture unfolding). This method is used to create a perfect texture overlay on an object.

Then modeling specialists prepare a complete set of textures: bump, displacement, alpha, normal, specular maps. In this way, the creation of a 3D character can be finished. The next stages are suitable if you want to animate the character.


This is the process of creating a virtual skeleton, a set of bones, and joints for the subsequent animation of the character. The rig is a virtual skeleton that is created by modelers. Skeletal animation, for which rigging is used, is so convenient because it allows you to manipulate a large number of composite elements of the animated figure.

3d animation

Then modelers provide skinning. It is a process of binding the character model to the skeleton. The 3D mesh is supported by joints that control the movement of the character.


Animation of the 3D character is a broad topic. We have already talked about 3D animations in the other article. You can see the short information about this specific process below. 

It may seem to you that the animation process is simple and you only should use a special program. However, it really takes a lot of effort to create the most realistic animation possible. All animation designers try to achieve naturalness in character movements. 

There are several types of animation: keyframes, motion path, and motion capture. The first one is the most common way to create 3D character animation.

The Best Tools for Creating 3D Character 

Character modeling software is also called digital sculpting software. It is the process of creating models that simulate the process of sculpting. Special programs give unlimited possibilities and developers can create any effect using them. There is a list of the most famous software below.


ZBrush from Pixologic is a powerful professional tool for creating and editing 3D graphics. The point of this program is that it allows the user to feel the sculpting process with a brush. The artist can not only sculpt the character but also paint him at the same time. It is very easy to create the effect of a real picture by creating highlights and shadows.  


  • Intuitive sculpting tools that feel like real sculpting
  • Can sculpt and paint models simultaneously
  • Great for creating realistic textures and effects.


  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited animation tools compared to other programs.


Many beginners try their hand at 3D modeling using the Blender application. It is free and provides many useful tools. The program also has a sculpting mode, allows you to create skeletal animation, and has a function for creating games. “Sintel” or “Big Buck Bunny” are the projects created in Blender.


  • Completely free and open-source
  • Has tools for modeling, sculpting, animation, rendering, etc.
  • Active community with lots of learning resources.


  • Steep learning curve for beginners
  • User interface can be confusing.


3Ds Max

It is a program only for experienced 3D specialists because beginners can’t cope with such amounts of tools. Of course, 3Ds Max is not a cheap application due to its large list of possibilities. It is the most popular tool for 3D modeling all around the world. 


  • Industry-standard for 3D modeling and animation
  • Integrated rendering and simulation tools
  • Huge community and learning resources.


  • Expensive, especially for personal/hobby use
  • Steeper learning curve than some other options.


Like the previous app, Maya is a part of Autodesk. It is less popular, but it is also often used. The main feature of this program is that it can be used not only to create 3D characters but also to set up the environment among other objects. This means that you can create anything with this program.


  • Powerful animation and rigging tools
  • Great for creating immersive 3D environments
  • Widely used in film, TV, and game industries.


  • Very expensive licensing costs
  • Interface can be overwhelming for new users.

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D has a simple interface and at the same time supports high-quality animation and rendering. The MOCCA package is specially designed for working with characters and includes a set of tools that allow you to create animation and convey the dynamics of soft and hard bodies. The program has a special module for working with realistic hair. 


  • Relatively affordable compared to Maya/3DS Max
  • Highly capable motion graphics and VFX tools
  • Good for freelance/indie 3D artists.


  • Not as widely used as Maya/Max in major studios
  • Limited character rigging capabilities out of the box.

3D Character Art Styles

In the world of digital art, 3D character art has gained significant popularity. Artists and designers are constantly exploring various art styles to bring their characters to life. Each art style has its own unique characteristics, allowing artists to express their creativity in different ways. In this article, we will take a visual journey through some of the most popular 3D character art styles, providing insights into their features and applications.

Realistic Character Art Style

3d character

One of the most sought-after 3D character art styles is realism. This style aims to create characters that closely resemble real-life individuals. The artists pay great attention to detail, meticulously sculpting the facial features, skin textures, and even the smallest imperfections. Realistic character art is often used in video games, movies, and advertisements where the goal is to create immersive and believable experiences. The level of realism achieved depends on the artist’s skill and the technology used.

Cartoon Character Art Style

Cartoon character art style, also known as toon shading, is a popular choice for creating characters with a playful and exaggerated appearance. This style simplifies the shapes and forms of characters, using bold outlines and vibrant colors. Cartoon characters often have exaggerated facial features, large eyes, and expressive gestures. The cartoon art style is widely used in animated movies, children’s books, and video games. It allows artists to create visually appealing and easily recognizable characters that resonate with a wide range of audiences.

Anime Character Art Style

Originating from Japan, anime character art style has gained a massive following worldwide. Anime characters are characterized by their distinct facial features, such as large eyes, colorful hair, and expressive expressions. This art style often combines realistic proportions with exaggerated features to create visually captivating characters. Anime character art style is prevalent in Japanese animation, manga, and cosplay culture. It allows artists to convey emotions and tell compelling stories through their characters.

Stylized Character Art Style

3d characters

Stylized character art style offers artists the freedom to create characters with a unique and artistic flair. This style takes inspiration from various sources, such as art movements, mythology, and cultural references. Stylized characters often have exaggerated proportions, unconventional colors, and intricate designs. Artists use this art style to create visually striking characters that stand out from the crowd. Stylized character art is commonly seen in concept art, character design, and independent games.

Surreal Character Art Style

Surreal character art style pushes the boundaries of reality, creating characters that exist in dreamlike or fantastical worlds. This art style often combines elements from different genres, such as fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Surreal characters may have unusual body proportions, surrealistic features, and intricate details. Artists use this style to evoke emotions, challenge perceptions, and create visually captivating characters. Surreal character art can be found in fine art, digital paintings, and experimental animations.

Gothic Character Art Style

Gothic character art style is characterized by its dark and mysterious aesthetic. Inspired by Gothic literature and architecture, this style often features characters with pale skin, dramatic facial expressions, and elaborate costumes. Gothic characters are often associated with themes of horror, romance, and melancholy. Artists use this art style to create atmospheric and visually captivating characters. Gothic character art is commonly seen in video games, graphic novels, and fashion illustrations.

Steampunk Character Art Style

Steampunk character art style combines elements of Victorian-era fashion and industrial machinery. This style often features characters wearing intricate gears, goggles, and retro-futuristic attire. Steampunk characters are associated with a sense of adventure, exploration, and technological innovation. Artists use this art style to create visually stunning characters that blend the past and the future. Steampunk character art is popular in cosplay, concept art, and indie game development.

Pop Art Character Art Style

Pop art character art style draws inspiration from popular culture, mass media, and advertising. This style often features characters with bold, vibrant colors, and graphic patterns. Pop art characters are known for their larger-than-life appearances and exaggerated features. Artists use this art style to create visually captivating and iconic characters that reflect the spirit of popular culture. Pop art character art can be found in illustrations, comic books, and advertising campaigns.

Where to hire 3D artists?

The choice of a specialist determines the success of your project and the time spent. A good professional knows how to satisfy the desires of clients and create an object of art from ordinary words and concepts. Below you can find several ideas for finding a 3D character artist:

  • Freelancers 

The advantage of freelancers is that you can always quickly find them and shift your tasks. There are a lot of quality portfolios now, so there is plenty to choose from. Freelancers charge no less than $ 25 per hour. 

  • Work Sites

If specialists are needed constantly, it is better to search for them through work sites. But you also should not rely on a large influx of people, at least, high-level specialists. Moreover, the search for specialists through such services is often very difficult and time-consuming, since there are many resumes of people who can’t find a job for a long time. 

  • Agency

Large companies often use recruiting agencies. Agencies usually have a large base of specialists, but at the same time, their services are not cheap, on average 1 monthly rate of the required specialist. 

  • Outsourcing services 

We consider this path to be the most successful for projects. You can immediately transfer all the necessary tasks to the company, which is already ready to perform the work. Of course, the price of outsourcing services is higher, but the quality of the work received will be also better. 


As you can see, the process of 3D character modeling is labor- and time-consuming. Each stage of 3D character development is special in its way, but it takes a lot of time and effort. New technologies and programs provide 3D character artists with a huge list of possibilities. However, all the 3D characters you meet in games and movies have been created over the years by teams of top-notch professionals. 

We hope that you will not only use your new knowledge to create a world-famous 3D character but also share information with other people. Learn more about game development with EJaw!