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Professional 3D Character Modeling Explained For Beginners
How to make a great 3D model
Building models in a 3D environment is not as technical as one might think. Once you are familiar with the principles of 3D modeling, things will start to make sense. In the end you only need a few tools to complete your design! Here are the key elements to remember on your way to mastering 3D modeling.
The first step is that define your character
Don’t make your designs generic! Search any 3D forum and you’ll find tons of perfectly natural looking ones. Barely naked women holding swords, standing on mountains, surrounded by thunder and lightning as they fight an evil monster. You have the opportunity to create your own unique, strange, interesting or funny world full of characters that no one has ever seen. Observe your surroundings. I bet it’s full of characters of some sort.
When you have an interesting situation or character in mind, make a note of it and move on to the next step.
Design your character or scene
Your design reflects your character’s personality. Does it have hard edges or a rounded silhouette, is it large or small? What is unique about him and how does his unique personality emerge? Does he suffer from anything?
Draw or photograph your character from as many angles as you like. The front and side view are essential, as these are the reference images for your 3D model.
3D Modeling – Start with a cube!
When modeling in 3D, always start by building a rough version of your model. This step is called “blocking”. Start with a cube and model the silhouette from the front and side views. Try and keep it as simple as possible, then add details until your model is complete.
There is another approach to modeling, where you start with a small part of the body, detail and immediately finish it and move on to the next.
I personally do not recommend using the last approach! It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the big picture of your model. Plus it’s hard for beginners to figure out how to connect the various detailed parts. To keep it as easy as possible, build the foundation first, rather than adding the details! After your 3D model is complete, it is still gray. Now it’s time to add some color:
Add shaders and textures to your 3D model
A shader allows you to define surface attributes such as color, specularity, transparency, etc.
UV mapping unfolds the surface of your model into a square, two-dimensional image. Now you can paint textures in an image editing program and apply them to your model. Some 3D programs include tools to draw directly onto your model, which is great because it’s so much more intuitive!
You’ve learned by now that 3D modeling isn’t just about pressing buttons! It requires some planning and even drawing, photographing or building a clay model. Once you start building your 3D model, stay away from the details at first. “Lock in” the basic shape of the characters and only when you like the silhouette, start adding details to your model. To further refine the character, add color with a shader and wrap the surface with the UV map to apply textured images.
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