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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!