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Modern video games, be they multi- or single-player entertainment, are almost impossible without animated characters. The ones who look more natural, smoothly move, and interact better, attract players more than others. 3D character design can help designers create game heroes that are more realistic and close to customers, increasing their level of engagement and raising interest in a digital product.
The 3D market is constantly growing and is going to increase by 20% by 2026. The need for skilled designers is as significant as never before. Specialists of various profiles work on developing 3D characters. They make sketches and gradually transform them into complex animated objects to provide an excellent user experience.
This article is dedicated to 3D character design, its main stages, and the necessity of an expert approach.
3D Character Modeling and Its Benefits
Designing a three-dimensional figure is a complex process requiring special software, tools, and technical skills. Usually, the main result of an artist’s work is a person, animal, or fantasy creature that a player can control or communicate with as an NPC while gaming. The development starts from drawing primitive forms, like geometrical figures, and then shaping and animating them into the final object.
Two main ways a 3D model can be created are with splines or polygons. The first type represents numerous curves and points which are connected, forming an object. Its parameters are set by math formulas. And one of the method’s disadvantages is an inability to change a separate line without violating other parts of the model. Due to this challenge, spline modeling is not very widespread among 3D artists.
Instead, most designers use polygons that help to build a character like a three-dimensional puzzle. Each poly can be edited and animated separately, which makes this method easy and flexible.
The most outstanding advantages of 3D modeling are as follows:
- Realism. Objects created in 3D dimensions can be designed with a high level of detailing, which makes them look natural.
- Prettiness. Due to their volume, depth, variety of colors, shadows, and additional effects, like gloss, 3D pictures look more attractive than 2D examples. Moreover, they can be rotated and visible from different angles.
- Animation. Once artists have created a character in three-dimensional space, they don’t have to redraw it again. Every movement can be performed with a single model.
- Easy updates. All the character modernization can be quickly done thanks to innovative software functionality.
Why Is Outsourcing 3D Character Design Worth an Effort?
Many gaming companies delegate the task of creating 3D characters to third-party art developers, like Stepico, who has more skills, tools, and experience. Outsourcing can be more cost-effective and productive than hiring a team of artists and designers on an ongoing basis. Among the benefits of finding expert assistance for 3D modeling are the next ones:
- Providing high-quality, unique content. A professional team can make the full scope of art-creating work, from getting a general idea of game characters to bringing them to life. Regardless of the genre, game artists can develop any complex object and even create a new out-of-the-box shape that will set you apart from other competitors.
- Accelerating the development process. In the highly crowded market, it’s crucial for gaming companies to introduce new products faster and be the first to attract a target audience. Expert teams can easily take care of this issue by following the latest standards and delivering high-quality results.
- Making games more creative. Gaming companies release thousands of products and sometimes require fresh ideas to increase retention. An outsourcing firm will help to apply innovative approaches and diversify the visual performance of games, wakening consumers’ interest in new digital arrivals.
- Improving users’ trust. Partnership with a well-known niche expert will raise a player’s trust. You can ensure your games have advanced performance and visual attractiveness, which creates emotional attachment and helps to keep customers playing.
How 3D Character Is Created
To understand the development of a three-dimensional object better, it would be useful to learn the essential stages of the process. A finished character should match the whole game theme and surroundings. So, as with any project, it starts with deep planning. Here are the main steps art creators perform.
At the first stage, artists should analyze what details in the character’s appearance, behavior, and movements will better highlight their role in the game. Are they a bad character or a positive one? What feelings should they awaken in players? Depending on the answers, game artists make first sketches, highlighting the object silhouette, cloth details, etc.
When experts have a full understanding of what the future character must look like and his entire story, they begin proper modeling. The process is divided into several parts:
- Blocking. The whole character is created from simple blocks at this step. Thus, a body can be formed by connecting several cubes, cylinders, etc.
- Sculpting. At this stage, the character receives characteristic features. Preliminary pieces are shaped into natural forms. Cylinders become fingers, and spheres are transferred into eyes, and so on.
- Topology. Here artists use polygons to make figure details and small parts, which can be easily animated.
- Unwrapping and baking for further texturing.
Rigging and Skinning
This is a process of building a character skeleton. Artists make it possible to animate separate parts of the person/creature in the future and create realistic movements.
It is the final stage of 3D modeling where the game heroes become alive. Now they can move, and get facial expressions and gestures. Expert work here is especially important because the more natural a character can perform emotions, the higher a player’s engagement will be.
As we see, developing a 3D character is a highly accurate process, which requires expert skills, specialized software, and years of experience. That’s why outsourcing art development to professionals will help to receive quick and qualitative results.