3D modeling a character can be quite a simple or complicated process to understand and achieve depending upon the character being modeled, the software being used and the modelling techniques put into action to create the desired outcome. There are a variety of different modeling techniques that can be used in different scenarios to create a character. However you may find that some techniques are limited to certain software or may require additional tweaking beyond the initial creation of the model.
To make an effective model that works as required in the rigging and animation stages effective and accurate topology is needed. Topology basically consists of the placement of vertices on a model and subsequently its faces and edge-loops. The mesh of the model needs to be made up of primarily quads, that is four sided faces, as these are the kind of faces that are able to properly deform when animating the character. However in some cases Tri’s can be used but are not desirable. Ngons, shapes with more then 4 sides, cannot be used at all within a model as they will create issues in the animation stages.
Edge and face loops are also a large part of effective topology and are usually placed accurately representing muscle groups of real life anatomy. These edge loops usually follow very particular paths around a model and result in very particular placements of vertices with three or five pols as opposed to the usual four.
Box Modelling –
This is likely to be understood as one of the simplest and most common techniques for 3D modeling when using polygons although it does have its limits. Box modeling involves starting with a primitive cube and adding detail and vertices as you continue producing the model to achieve the desired outcome. The modeler must first ensure that they are able to capture the full form and volume of the character before adding complicated detail. To ensure this is done correctly the process is done in passes, first achieving the general shape of the model then adding more and more detail with such sequential pass until the model has enough detail to satisfy the design. However certain areas may be more difficult to model accurately and efficiently using this method, an example of this would be modeling the features on a human characters face such as around the eye. To to assist in this areas Edge Modeling is often used in conjunction with Box Modelling
Edge/Contour Modeling –
Edge/Contour Modeling is another polygon modelling technique that is often used in conjunction with box modeling. Edge modeling involves building a model up piece by piece by extruding faces from existing edges of models as well as creating new faces which are later attached. This process is usually undertaken by modeling particular parts of a model such as the nose, ears and mouth on a human face then stitching these pieces together. This process is often used when box modeling will not suffice or very particular topology is needed.
NURBS/Spline Modeling –
NURBS modelling is usually used for modelling in the automotive and industrial industry. Unlike polygonal modeling NURBs models do not have faces, edges or vertices. Instead they are made up of “smoothly interpreted surfaces, created by “lofting” a mesh between two or more Bezier curves (also known as splines.)” – NURBs surfaces are created in a manner similar to how to pen tool works within adobe Illustrated. Curves are placed along the most important contours of the model by drawing them in 3D space and altering them through Control Vertices. NURB’s surfaces can also be created by revolving a profile around a central axis.
Digital sculpting –
Digital sculpting is most easily explained by describing it like digitally modeling with clay. Digital sculpting largely ignores topology throughout its modeling stages making the process a lot more organic and with more spontaneous results possible. However for rigging and animation to be possible for a model topology is still required. For a model created through digital sculpting it is often the case that a mesh with accurate topology is created after the model its self, meaning the modeled surface will work similar to a bump map when it comes to the animation stages. However more recently software has began to be used in which a mesh is created real time to the sculpted model meaning the modeler has to involve themselves very little with the topology of the model.
Procedural modelling is most commonly used in when creating elements of a large environment such as trees or other foliage in a large Forrest which would be extremely tedious to model by hand. Procedural modeling creates these elements using a set of random characteristic values within a set range. This means that all the trees within an environment will not be identical and will have their own individual details.
3D Scanning –
3D scanning is another process used in character and environment modeling that differs quite a lot from other techniques using requiring less actual modelling. 3D scanning involves taking scans of real life objects or people and creating 3D versions from the scans. This process can achieve highly detailed photo-realistic results, this technique is used strongly in the film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
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