The Making of a 3D Picture

Ok, lately I have felt that I need to explain about the process of making a 3D picture.

Typically, 3D art is part of something bigger… the art is made in an animation programme (movie making software). The art you see in my portfolio is like a ‘still’. Not every artist builds their 3D picture with a view to animating, but I thought I would let you know of the software’s capabilities.

Firstly, 3D software is not easy to learn. Its like a big stage on your computer, props, figures, lighting and cameras can be added, just like a movie set. Everything can move around where ever you want it to. The characters can talk if you have the right software. I am not going into the animation side of things, just the still picture.

Many people can contribute to a 3D picture….

the modeller
the morpher
the texture artist
the lighting expert

and naturally …

the artist who brings the above to life…

so its just like a photoshoot or a movie set.

Lets start with the modeller…

A modeller makes the mesh… the bones of the character or prop. A modeller makes a 3D object usings special software, not always the software the picture is created in.

They make a mesh which looks a bit like a wireframe hollow object. It can take months to make a perfect mesh. Some people do this exclusively for a living.

the morpher….

Morph experts create movement for the meshes. Morphs are injected into the mesh so the artist who purchases the mesh can bend, move stretch and alter the mesh any way they like for an individual look. Typically a modeller can also make some pretty decent morphs.

the texture artist…

Most 3d artists can texture themselves to some extent, but many use premade textures. Texture artists make a living from painting or putting together textures and selling them in a market place, just like the modellers and the morphers. Textures are usually made from photorealistic pictures, prepurchased from photographers at the various photo selling sites around the world or taken by the texture artist themselves. It may surprise you to know that most of the ‘skin’ you see on the 3D characters is actually photos of human skin, ‘sewn’ together in a paint programme and wrapped seamlessly around a mesh.

Every modeller, texture artist, morpher and photographer will hold some sort of proof of ownership for their work, which they pass on to the purchasers.

One can even purchase premade poses, lighting and sets for their pictures… these are used mainly by beginners until they find their way.

Sometimes these artists team up and offer a complete package, sometimes they dont and its up to the artist to find something they like to complete their picture. It is rare to find a modeller, morpher, texture artist and picture artist in the one person.

There are also animators, who take all the above work and make it walk and talk, a step on from the rest of it but that isnt what we are discussing here.

A lot of 3d artists ‘postwork’ their pictures in a programme to enhance it… photoshop, paintshop pro etc.

Just as a painter purchases paint or a canvas, so does a 3d artist purchase their tools. They start with a blank stage (canvas) and build it up.

At some point all artists use other peoples tools… canvas, camera equipment, pc, paint programme, animation programme, real live people (we would call them characters or figures), lighting etc.

Hopefully this will give insight into what makes a 3D picture.

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