3D modelling is a highly technical skill that we are lucky to be able to utilise at Stada Media. A 3D model used for animation or visualisation can create an incredibly immersive experience of a product that is otherwise difficult to represent appealingly to customers.
Read our blog post on how using 3D animation can greatly improve your marketing here.
In this post we’ll take you through the basics of 3D modelling and the usual process when creating a 3D model for a client.
When thinking about the process of 3D modelling, we’ll first quickly talk about what 3D modelling is and what types are out there.
What is 3D modelling?
3D modelling is the process of developing a mathematical representation of a 3D surface or object using specialised software.
(3D models can also be physically created through 3D printing, but this post will primarily focus on 3D modelling for use in video.)
Types of 3D modelling
There are two main types of 3D modelling: CAD modelling and 3D modelling.
CAD modelling is used in engineering and its end use is physical products. (This is where 3D printing would feature.)
Check out this infographic for all the key terms you need to know in 3D modelling:
Solid 3D model = A 3D model that defines the volume of the object it represents. More realistic, but harder to build.
Shell or Boundary 3D model = A ‘hollow’ 3D model that represents the surface of the object, not the volume.
CGI = Computer Generated Imagery
Axis = X, Y, Z coordinates of the 3D space
Point = A one-dimensional point in the 3D space
Polygon = A 2D shape with 3 sides or more
Grey render = A preview render without textures
Mesh = The surface (geometry) of a 3D model
NURBS/Spline = A 2D curve or path
Texture = An image applied to the 3D model
Lighting = Placing lights in the scene
Rendering = Converting the 3D data into an image
Rigging = Setting a character up in order to animate it
Wireframe = A way of viewing the model as lines, outlining the mesh
Subdivide/subdivision = Dividing the polygons within a mesh
3D model with material and geometry.
Just as there are different types of 3D models, there are also different ways to create a 3D model.
Hard surface 3D modelling methods
NURBS modelling: NURBS modelling is using splines (as defined in the infographic above) to create the geometry of an object. It’s most suited to curved surfaces.
Sculpting: Sculpting is used to create highly detailed, organic (natural) models such as trees, rocks, etc. It’s much more time consuming than hard surface model processes, and is relatively specialised.
Texturing and lighting
At this stage, it becomes clear why a 3D model is able to look so similar to its real-world counterpart.
First, to achieve texture, various mapping techniques are used. After that you need to add lighting.
Mapping techniques to create texture
Projection mapping: Projection mapping projects the 2D image of the texture onto the 3D object from a virtual camera.
Point lights emit rays from a single point.
Directional lights emit rays in a parallel or linear direction to the whole scene.
As explained in the above infographic, rendering is the process of converting the 3D data into an image.
Rendering mainly works via a process known as ray tracing, which is often used in conjunction with Global Illumination (GI).
The process of creating a 3D model
2. You receive the client brief along with any assets you may need – usually CAD models or drawings. Then check these over to ensure they can be opened and used.
3. Next, you create the first draft of the 3D model based on the brief.
4. You send the model to your client as a grey render to check the model’s geometry is correct.
5. You receive the first round of amends for the model and action these amends.
6. You then render the animation out again as a grey render and send to your client for approval.
7. Next, you apply your textures to the model. Stills of it are then sent to the client.
8. Hopefully, you will now be able to start the final animation, or full-resolution renders of stills.
In this post we’ve given you a full look into how we create 3D animations and visualisations for clients.
If you want more insight into video production, check out our other blog posts right here!