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 Preparing oneself to be a 3d Modeller 
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:51 am
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Post Preparing oneself to be a 3d Modeller

Some companies might need you to do both organic and non organic modeling. But there are some which require you to specialise. (But for Singapore, its rare) The dpt will break down into organic and non organic modeling. (Hard surface modeling)

Don't worry about the software part first. If you have a good reel. The company might consider you as long as long as you can convince them that you can switch from one software to another very fast.

First you need to ask yourself whether you can draw well. And I mean very well. Life drawing etc. Do you have strong portfolio on drawings. If you do, then you can start with organic modeling. If not, you can yourself started with non organic (Hard surafce) modeling first. At the same time, practice life drawings, study and understand about human anatomy. So that you can move on to organic modelling later.

For non organic (Hard surface) modeling, pay a lot of attention to details. Details are what the employers are looking for.

To start with, I suggest you buy a plastic model. Those that requires you to glue the parts together. And it comes with a blue print. This helps you to analyse the parts and model them bit by bit.

Hard surface modeling is a test of precision modeling, patience and accuracy.

Try not to model new sports car. Too many people doing it. I would suggest something old. Old planes, tanks, bikes, cars, steam engine etc. Anything that expose the details (engine or machine) will be nice. Do 2 to 3 models.

Model everything. Screw, nuts etc. Don't use bump or displacement maps. Focus in modeling. Don't worry about texture or lightings at this stage. (unless you want to be a texture or lighting artist)

For showreel, it is not about how many models you have in your showreel. Its all about showing the details. 2 to 3 high detailed models will be good enough for your showreel. Start with something simple. Then move on to something more difficult and with more details as you get better.

You can also go for something like... machinery in steamboy movie, matrix etc. (Strongly encourage) Something unusual.

Make sure your PC and graphic card are strong enough to handle the amount of polygons.

I presume you have mastered some basic modeling techniques in either of the software at this stage.

David Kwok
Singapore Animators Connection

Last edited by moderator on Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:10 am
Site Admin

Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:51 am
Posts: 305
Post Re: Preparing oneself to be a 3d Modeller

Some tips for character modeling training / showreel


(If you have a strong traditional art background, then skip part a)

a) Human Anatomy / Proportion
Before you go into character modeling, having a strong understanding of the human anatomy/proportion is very important.

Life Drawing or Sculpting helps one to pay more attention to the details of the human anatomy/proportion. The whole idea is to help you to observe and understand the details in human anatomy / proportion. Not just for the sick of learning how to draw or sculpt.

From time to time, we see students drawing objects e.g fruits, cup etc or drawing without understanding the real reason behind these learnings. Then it will be a complete waste of time. There is a reason why a modeller should learn life drawings and one must know how to apply it.

If you have other ways to master these fundamentals, then you don't have to learn how to draw or sculpt. Don't learn blindly. Learn with an objective in mind.

b) Topology

Learning Topology or the way how the mesh is cut to optimise for deformation during animation is important. Many beginners start jumping into modeling a beautiful woman or handsome man without mastering both
the fundamentals in Human Anatomy / Proportion and Topology. And ended up wasting a lot of time.

Our suggestion is study the correct topology of a typical human first. Pay attention to areas where it deforms. Focus especially areas around the joints. Then learn some basic rigging/skinning. (Don't go in depth)
Just learn how to use the bones to deform the mesh.

Model areas that need to be deformed part by part. Mouth area, fingers then palms, then arm, leg etc (No need to model the whole character at one go) Then rig part by part. In this way, it will help you to understand what goes wrong when it is deformed.

A model with a good topology is important in a showreel. That is why artists in the forum always asked the trainnees to show wire. A beautiful model that cannot be rigged is no good for animation production.

Once you have mastered it, then you can put the knowledge together modeling a standard / perfect human. (This will help you to learn and understand better)


For Character Modeling Showreel, its the quality that counts. Not quantity. So don't rush into finishing a model during the above training stage (a & b). Its not about finishing up the model. Rather what do you learn
from the exercises. Learning how to model is not difficult. Learning how to model a character that looks appealing and with a good topology is not that straight forward. Once you master it, it will be easy.

Its ok to start with Polygonal modeling technique for all your exercises. Don't worry too much on mastering all the modeling techniques at one go. Once you master the fundamentals, you can easily pick up the rest of the techniques.

For your reel, if you don't have time, focus on modeling 2 characters with loads of details. That will should be enough. No need to model so many characters.

The reel can be displayed as turntable or stills at different angles. Zoom in to different parts of the body to show the details. Make sure you present these details slowly. Don't rush else your employers cannot see what they are looking for in your skillsets.

Don't work on another naked standard human. (Something like those in posers) Tonnes of people doing that.

That should only be your first model for practice and study. Try to make your showreel stand out. Working with a good character designer will be helps you in your learning.


You can buy a toy that has a lot of details for reference. Like those from Mac Farlane will be useful.

First Model:
I suggest modeling a character with un-conventional look. A character with loads of details. Wrinkles, scars, muscles etc. Or a character with costume that has loads of details. Like amour etc.

Second Model:
As for the second one, try a creature. (Like those in LOTR) With loads of details. Scars etc. Practice your skill in displacement maps.

Go to VFS website. This should give you more ideas. ... =11&page=1


For small local companies, sometimes they would prefer one who can master at least 2 skills. So this is our suggestions to bring up your market value.

If you are a more technical person, besides modeling, you can also demonstrate your basic skill sets in character rigging.

If you are a more artistic person, besides modeling, you can also demonstrate your basic skill sets in texturing.

i) Modeling and Rigging go hand in hand in a production pipeline. It helps you to understand the work flow better and pay attention to the dos and don'ts in both field.

ii) Modeling / Texturing is the same as above.

We are not asking you to be an expert in both Modeling / Rigging or Modeling / Texturing. Your focus should be modeling. But learning one more area will give you more market value in an industry still at its infant stage.

All you need is to master the basic. Meaning you don't have to be an expert like a character TD or hardcore texture painter.

For those who want to be a game modeler. Don't just learn how to model low poly characters. The industry has changed and there are companies using normal maps nowadays. And they require showreel to demonstrate high poly modeling as well.

Hope you find the points useful.

David Kwok
Singapore Animators Connection

Last edited by moderator on Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:13 am
Site Admin

Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:51 am
Posts: 305
Post Re: Preparing oneself to be a 3d Modeller

This is taken from LucasFilm website. You can use this as a general guide for preparing yourself to be a modeller. Employers will need to know the following. Does your reel demonstrate the followings?


• Demonstrated knowledge of modeling using spline-based, high-end packages (Alias, Softimage) and to a lesser extent, polygonal modeling.
• Examples of models showing artist’s interest (hard surface vs. organic)
• Show the progress of the piece: Final renders, turntables, plastic shaded and wire frame versions of models. These should be at a high-level of finish and should rely on detailing from the modeling as much as possible (rather than bump or displacement maps).
• Additional traditional artwork (sketches, photos of sculptures, etc.) relating to targeted area (hardsurface or organic modeling).

Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:17 am
Site Admin

Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:51 am
Posts: 305
Post Re: Preparing oneself to be a 3d Modeller

Human References

Important Notes on Character Modelling

Tutorials on Texturing the Human Head

Principles in Lightings

Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:21 am
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