What we do
Creating 3D Characters is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of our job. Every character has it's own story to tell and part of that story "leaks out" from the first moment you lay eyes upon it. The body, face, clothing, hair all give the viewer some clues about the back story and the nature of the character.
Our role is to design and then visualize the concepts that our clients wish to see. Turning an idea and a set of characteristics to a complete 3D model that you can then animate or pose is what we do regularly. Each of the characters receives attributions like human traits, emotions, intentions, and movement usually designed by conceptual rules of the imaginary world they live in. Three-dimensional avatars are purposefully created not only for Video Games, Movies, Animation, and Documentaries but also in Marketing, Presentations and Commercials.
Types of 3D Characters
In general, characters are divided into two major categories based on their characteristics:
Fictional 3D Characters are entirely conceptual and are the brainchild of the artist's imagination and vision, while on the other hand, real-life 3D Characters need to be believable and look like a real human or animal. An example would be animals in the forest, birds in the sky or human characters ( or parts of characters ). The most substantial benefit of using 3D Characters is that they can be an artistic mix between the two categories.
Based on the initial idea, the artist can create almost endless combinations of characteristics and features to create unique variations of people, animals or creatures. They can be a combination of any category of subjects and objects. Types like Humans, Animals, Creatures, Monsters, Mechanical beings, Vehicles, Aircraft, Sci-fi, Aliens, etc. are just a small part of everything that is present in the known and imaginary worlds that are involved.
Character Rigging & Animation
When it comes to rigging characters you have to think about two things in general - the body and the face. The body rig is responsible for the realistic movement of the character while it interacts with other animated models. There we have proper bone placement, muscle systems and skinning. The facial rig can be very tricky, especially when your goal is to create very realistic expressions. In that regard, the cartoon characters have some advantage.
The cartoon expressions have to be realistic, no doubt but not necessarily anatomically correct. In addition to the rigging so far we have to add the hair ( if the character has any ). When long hair is present, it has to behave physically correct. Once we have the body, hair and facial rigs, then we need the clothing and equipment. Here is where we use cloth simulation or cloth rigging in order to have a fabric that is moving realistically with the body.
But what if you have a character that you simply want to pose differently or make a quick animation for a fly-by? In this case, you need a posing rig that can be created faster using an automated rigging system, like a biped for example. Such posing is very beneficial for architectural visualizations as well as single renders.
Now, when it comes to animation, the most important thing is to understand that you need a great rig in order to create a great looking animation. On the other hand, a great rig is useless in the hands of a poor animator. Even an idle character animation has its challenges if you want to achieve a very realistic movement. To be a great animator you need to be a great observer as well as understand how anatomy works and how the body moves.
We understand that different software have specifics in their rigging systems. This is why we constantly develop our skills in order to be proficient in the creation of native rigs for 3Ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, and others. With more and more models rigged every day, we are perfecting our workflow and capabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 3D Character ?
A 3D character model is any human, animal, being or an inanimate object, that has personality which is pictured in any digital art form. The processes of giving human or animal characteristics to any subject are called personification - anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. And a 3D representation of those characters is called a 3D Character model, which is created within a specialized 3D software.
How are 3D Characters made ?
There are a few different ways to create a 3D character. All of them include a 3D software, of course. In general, 3D characters are created using 3D modeling and sculpting techniques. 3D artists use them to create characters from references or from concept designs. A human character can also be 3D scanned using photogrammetry and a specialized camera rig.
Can you create action figures ?
Yes, we can create action figures that can be physically produced. We do this by first creating a 3D character usually using concept designs. Once the look of the character is completed we split it into parts if the arms, legs or head have to move. Then we make sure that all the elements are 3D print-ready. After the parts are 3D printed and/or painted the final product is assembled.
Can you turn me into a 3D Figure?
Yes, we can, and there are a few different ways to do that. We can do that by using photo references of the character ( you ) from different angles. We then use modeling and sculpting to recreate you into 3D. This process can be long and complicated, usually taking a few weeks.
Another much more accurate method is to use photogrammetry. We are currently at the research & development stage of the creation of our photogrammetry dome for scanning people. Stay tuned for more information as well as test and photos from the development of our rig.
How much time does it take to create a 3D Character?
It depends on a few factors like the amount of detail, such as clothing, gear, hair, face, etc. Another crucial factor is how the 3D character is going to be used. The specifications of the model itself are can vary a lot. A 3D character could be used in animations and movies ( high detailed ), in games, AR/VR as well as for 3D printing. The next factor in the equation is the starting point. Is the character a human or a creature of some kind? Are there any good references and/or concept art available? Is there any scanned data that can be used? These questions need to be answered before a production timetable could be set. In most general terms the production time for a 3D character could be anything from a few days to several weeks.
How to create 3D characters for games?
Creating 3D characters for games has evolved into an art form by itself. The process usually starts with concept art that is based on the overall theme and feel of the game. Once the concept art is developed and approved by the creative director the 3D production can start. A high detailed, high polygonal model is created ( usually sculpted ) and presented for another round of approval. At this stage, the design can still change a lot. After the details of the shapes, details and colors are sorted out the highly detailed character is finalized. Now, a version of the model needs to be created that is suitable for a game environment. That means that the geometry of the 3D character has to be reduced to a certain level, without losing any of the texture quality and details. This happens through a process called "baking" of the details from the high polygonal model to the low poly one.