how to be good character modeler

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  12 December 2010
Originally Posted by bludragon88: I'll quote what someone from this forum has said before:

"People who cant draw make reasonable models.
People who draw reasonably make great models.
People who are great artist make awesome 3d."


Well it might be true in some cases but not evercase. There are alot of people that are actually awesome 3d artistss, who are not great 2d artists. While I agree that drawing can help you visualise ideas before you put them in 3d, it by no means means you are any less of a great artists of you can only visualise it in 3d.
 
  12 December 2010
Originally Posted by ajspurs: I was actually wondering something concerning character modeling. I'm currently going through the digital tutors character modeling with maya but have seen there is a character creation with zbrush tutorial as well using a base mesh made within zbrush and developing a character from that. Which one should I be doing?

...

I just want to know which tutorial I should be focusing on also.

Thanks for any insight.


Anatomy and traditional art practice aside; I'd say the best thing would be not to get too caught up in the workflows you find on the DVDs. Use the DVDs to learn the tools you have at your disposal, and then try to come up with your own process. There are many ways to achieve a successful model in 3D, experimenting and discovering your own techniques should help you get a better grasp on what goes in to creating an awesome final product, and give you a lot more confidence in your skill set.

Have the mindset: "All that matters is the final product, not the steps I take to achieve it." Obviously, this isn't always true in the workplace where your workflow needs to fit into the bigger picture, but once you have your own set of techniques, modifying them to accommodate the system shouldn't be a problem as you will have already developed the skills to approach a problem and find a solution on your own.

I find it really helpful to approach any sort of 3D task with this mindset, its too easy to get lost in tutorials and "what's the best way to do this or that". Just learn your tools, and learn what your final product should be(as far as edge loop topology and texture resolutions and such). Then try and find your own way from point A to point B.

edit:
I'm not trying to say that the techniques you find in the DVDs are useless. Watch them to get an overall picture of the general process and think how the techniques used can apply to your own process, rather than trying to follow them step by step.

Last edited by Jackmar : 12 December 2010 at 07:36 PM.
 
  12 December 2010
Originally Posted by Mittin: Well it might be true in some cases but not evercase. There are alot of people that are actually awesome 3d artistss, who are not great 2d artists. While I agree that drawing can help you visualise ideas before you put them in 3d, it by no means means you are any less of a great artists of you can only visualise it in 3d.


I didnt mean that being a not so decent 2d artist wont get you anywhere in 3d, I was just using that quote as an inspiration on this thread that I personally use after reading it.
 
  12 December 2010
Hi. IŽll say that you should put a lot of effort studying and drawing anatomy (human and animal too). You have to develope a very good eye for proportions (in general). And you must have some basic knowledge about design and composition.
Once in 3d you learn the tools of whatever 3d software.
And then,using those tools, you should learn how to model with GOOD TOPOLOGY (clean and that make sense) .

The topology part you can leave it for after scuplting in Zbrush, mudbox etc.....or you can do it before. But as a modeler, youŽll be asked to show wireframes of your models.

For me the keywords for you to keep in mind....and concepts to start learning/practicing are:

anatomy,
proportion,
design,
topology.

You could add UV layout, but that is an indirect task realted to the modeler...is not modeling/sculpting.
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  01 January 2011
First learn to draw a human in proportions. Then start learning 3d.
ThatŽs how I started. Drawing 10 years from early childhood then modeling another
10 years...
My first actual 3d models were only teacups or very basic models built from blocks and spheres
and using booleans.
I have to add I am not mainly a character modeler just 3d artist.
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Last edited by ahven : 01 January 2011 at 12:18 PM.
 
  01 January 2011
I'm pretty much working through some tutorials and building my reel myself, so up to you if you want to hear what I say.

Well drawing and traditional skills aside as many have pointed this out already and you don't have to be great at drawing to be able to model but it helps.

I suggest starting in a software you are comfortable with using, for me I start with a 3D software, maya in my case and I'm developing my skills there first before moving onto a sculpting software like Zbrush. Some may learn differently and start with Zbrush or if you're brilliant, learn both at the same time. To be modellers now, you must be able to model in a 3d software and sculpt in a sculpting software, Zbrush being more popular.

I find it more intuitive to start with Maya since I am going to start my models in Maya first then into Zbursh and back to Maya. Of course some start in Zbrush with a base mesh, then back into Maya for hard surfaces or simple geometry to import into Zbrush to sculpt, finally back in maya to texture the base mesh and render. Also note you may end up with a Hi-res sculpts in Zbrush but what most places want to see is a good clean base mesh with displacement maps from Zbrush. The main reason is currently animating Hi-res sculpts in 3D is not possible (correct me if I'm wrong lol) and also you need to consider your characters need to be imported back into a 3D software like maya. To make good base meshes is essential as it determines how it deforms when animating and how well the displacements works on your models. Also find some good reference for you models, simplest way is to base your character on a real person, maybe do a self portrait as you can get all the reference you need.

I also agree with jackmar, you can't learn everything from tutorials alone, as you can learn alot but you got to be able to use them on your own ideas.
 
  01 January 2011
lol super old thread. But imo, it's good to learn to draw 1st. ;o

After that, go into the 3d modeling stuff.
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  01 January 2011
So many opinions on a traditional art background. I don't think it hurts, for sure. But i also don't think it's necessary and i think that if you have no interest in traditional art that you should waste time learning to do it. Things might be harder for you, but why waste time doing something you don't like to do something you do?

3d is a new medium, much like painting, versus sculpting, or realism vs impressionism, etc. Being a good painter does NOT make you a sculptor. Being a master at impressionist art doesn't mean you can paint a realistic scene.

It's the same with 3d. There are some that prefer to sketch their ideas on paper and go and it works well for them and they feel this is the best way since it's the more traditional way. There are many others that have skipped that method and prefer to conceptionalize as they go and develop their idea in the medium they finish in. Either approach is ok, just be aware that some jobs seem to require traditional art backgrounds and you won't be up for those.

What it all comes down to in my mind is developing an eye for proportion, for design and composition. You can do this in ANY medium, you don't have to learn to draw on paper to do it on 3d. You can learn the same skill right in 3d. It's just about practice and study.

I don't feel either school of thought is wrong, but the traditionalists seem to be a bit more close minded and snobby in my opinion and can be almost dictatorial in their methods. Art is organic and fluid and there is no right or wrong way to do art. For god's sake there's people that put paint on boobs and smash them against a canvas and call that art, who am i to argue with their technique and form of expression? If your end product looks good and does what it's supposed to, who really cares if you can draw it on paper?
 
  01 January 2011
It really boils down differently. It's ahctually kinda of unfair to judge/ saying people and draw well can do great modeling. It's like comparing apple via orange. Based on the facts, both are fruits and both fruits has seeds.
People who can draw maybe just have an upper hands to do modeling because they have art background and it is easier to imagine. But doesn't mean those who cannot draw will not be a great modeler. A good modeler has to have very good visualization.
To be a great artist/ animator is never an easy route. Drawing is a fundamental skills for foundation. Even Rome wasn't build in a day. Besides , you need to practice to do drawing / sketching everyday. Slowly increasing your port folio.

I don't meant to be rude or anything. I'm just merely stating / voicing out my opinions.
 
  01 January 2011
@swampthing

I think is not a matter of drawing well or even to learn drawing. Is just that for human anatomy/proportions/lines of action etc, being able to study them by doing sketches and drawings is a HUGE plus for a modeler....not for showing to anybody. Is because is simplier, more direct and fast to visualize some things in paper (2d) that in a 3d app.
Not always the case, as example if you want to do an illustration of a city, could be faster just modeling some boxes in 3d here and there and use the 3d as a reference for the 2d, so you have the perspective and proportions ok without much effort or perspective knowledge.

Is not an absolute thing, and youŽre right some people are a little too biased for they 2d bg.

In some cases though,being able to draw (at least something decent enough) does let you do things that could be extremely difficult otherwise. Like design you own characters and blueprints (not a little aspect for a character modeler). Designing characters directly from 3d is just not the way to go, and modeling without blue prints ends eating lots of hours extra to achieve a not so good result most of the time.

So in order to be a good and flexible character modeler, being able to quickly visualize and design things in paper is a very relevant skill. We canŽt say...well you can model well without drawing at all. That can work for 1 of 10 people.

A character modeler can say...well, or they give me the designs and blue prints or i donŽt work...and have work if is good. But why go for less and cut your growing as profesional if you already are picking just an area to be a specialist, and not even the more dificult to handle.
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  02 February 2011
Originally Posted by mitcoz: Well it might be true in some cases but not evercase. There are alot of people that are actually awesome 3d artistss, who are not great 2d artists. While I agree that drawing can help you visualise ideas before you put them in 3d, it by no means means you are any less of a great artists of you can only visualise it in 3d.


I actually concur. I've never been a master draftsmen but even young I had skills for sculpture after winning a local contest. I find that drawing and sculpture use a slightly different part of the brain maybe. Regardless, there is one thing I'm pretty certain. Clay sculpture is a much more close sister to character modeling than drawing. Therefore, I'd suggest traditional clay sculpture classes far before figure drawing personally. Here in Indy, you can find a nice 1 or 2 week course for a couple hundred bucks at the local art center (a community college class is probably equally effective and cheap) and it's soooo worth it. I had been out of practice because of teaching fundamentals and mostly focusing mainly on hard surface modeling techniques in the classes over the years. So I took a couple sculpture classes at this local art place and man did it make a difference for me. I felt my skills were four times sharper for it. We focused heavily on proportion, anatomy, the feeling of weight, and 3D (we moved positions every 5 minutes to see a new perspective of the live actor).

P. S. I did eventually take a figure drawing course as well. Just in case. I still think it helped only a fraction in comparison to clay sculpture though. I think it's greatest merit is the focus you can put into a drawing. It's almost meditative.

P.S.S I can't believe nobody suggested traditional sculpture for character modeling this far into the thread. Yikes.
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Last edited by MrPositive : 02 February 2011 at 10:55 AM.
 
  02 February 2011
@MrPositive That makes sense! i never thought of sculpture as way to learn 3d modeling, but is obvious that it has a lot more in common than drawing. IŽm not specializing in modeling but now reading your post now i think in a future iŽll take some clases.

Can you tell, in your experience, (and mostly for character modeling), if you ever (as well as artist you know) do sketches to visualize some things that can be just faster to see in 2d than sculpting or modeling?
I have the impression than learning to draw a little, and, to sculpt may assist the modeler in diferent ways...and not that one replace the other ( i know you didnŽt say so).


Cheers.
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  02 February 2011
Originally Posted by JM-art: @MrPositive That makes sense! i never thought of sculpture as way to learn 3d modeling, but is obvious that it has a lot more in common than drawing. IŽm not specializing in modeling but now reading your post now i think in a future iŽll take some clases.

Can you tell, in your experience, (and mostly for character modeling), if you ever (as well as artist you know) do sketches to visualize some things that can be just faster to see in 2d than sculpting or modeling?
I have the impression than learning to draw a little, and, to sculpt may assist the modeler in diferent ways...and not that one replace the other ( i know you didnŽt say so).


Cheers.


This is probably a better question served for Lunatique, RebeccaK, or Leigh but I'll give it a go. Honestly, I'd say I'm much more proficient as a 'technical' artist. Meaning I have become pretty astute at reflection from a photo or conceptual art to the 3D model. This is the same for my drawings. Depending on if I'm taking courses and practicing, I have become decent at figures and environments that I actually see. You on the other hand are talking more along the lines of 'creative' art. Meaning, you can extract a non realistic-esque image from your mind and then draw it out on paper proficiently. Myself, I have not worked nearly hard enough to get to this level unfortunately. With my professorship, I just haven't found the time and maybe I'm not even talented enough to do so (though there is a famous deviant art thread that shows differently...AND I CAN'T FIND IT! :( Regardless, it's probably going to take a few years of grinding out thousands of drawings to get really good at creative art if you are not already doing so I believe. Technical art however is how most 3D work is done in the industry for better or worse.....Rarely are you drawing out the concepts (most places have a 2D conceptual team for that purpose) and then modeling your own design. Usually you are taking somebody else's 2D drawing or design and creating it in 3D.
Saying all that, drawing well, technically or creatively, certainly isn't going to hurt you in the slightest in 3D. It's definitely going to help with creative freedom and overall future potential, we just aren't sure how much or if it's even quantifiable because there are so many professionals that cannot draw a stick figure and others that are just ridiculously amazing creative draftsmen. I can see drawing creatively being extremely helpful in smaller houses where you wear more hats and have more creative freedom than large film or game houses where everything is usually extreme specialization. Lastly, I'll say what Leigh said once and that's about this site and online 3D art in general. Yes, a lot of the amazing 3D art on this site that gets CG Choice awards is using that 2D conceptual creative process of drawing out your design first, but this is not really a good reflection of how the industry works, where usually (not always though) professional draftsmen do that portion instead of yourself. Therefore, the work you see showcased on the site is actually a poor representation of the quality of work needed to get hired. Just off the top of my head of the 3 major positions accrued by students from here in the past year: Pixar, Firaxis, and Zoic studios. None of those students could even come remotely close to creating anything in the CG Choice Gallery. This in no way means it's easy to get a job, in fact it isn't...at all. Just that there are more factors involved than just quality of work: such as your personality and overall intelligence, your speed and efficiency, your connections, your appearance, how well you work with people, and can you get the job done and on time, every time. Regardless, of the frustration and roadblocks.
P.S. Oh and I forgot ambition to actually find a position. And I don't mean just sending out the same portfolio to 50 places. I mean actually reading the job description and sending something slightly adjusted for that respective position. I still find of the students we graduate, about 1 in 5 actually work at really finding a job. I know, I can't believe it either. Then they complain about not having a job. It's a nice circle jerk of ineptitude that feeds low self esteem.
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Last edited by MrPositive : 02 February 2011 at 04:53 PM.
 
  02 February 2011
Originally Posted by MrPositive: None of those students could even come remotely close to creating anything in the CG Choice Gallery. This in no way means it's easy to get a job, in fact it isn't...at all. Just that there are more factors involved than just quality of work: such as your personality and overall intelligence, your speed and efficiency, your connections, your appearance, how well you work with people, and can you get the job done and on time, every time. Regardless, of the frustration and roadblocks.


That kind of input is great. Thanks for the detailed and very interesting reply, it gave me another perspective of some things that i may have to take in count for personal/profesional development.

Cheers!
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  02 February 2011
There are two kinds of modelers IMHO... at least on larger scale productions in mid to big sized studios.

One gets very detailed concepts, both 2D and 3D even, and has to build a precise, organized, animation ready version. The larger the studio is, the less room is left for creativity and the more emphasis is placed on technical details.
However in smaller studios it's very common to get a single drawing, in a 3/4 view, with no frint/side views or anything, and it is left to the modeler to solve a lot of artistic issues.

The other kind of modeler is the one designing the 3D concepts.
Nowadays a lot of studios prefer to get very well developed 3D concepts, Zbrush sculpts for characters and working prototypes for hard surface stuff. They are usually able to ignore most technical issues and are expected to concentrate on simply making stuff look good.
Naturally it requires a far, far better developed set of traditional art skills, the ability to draw and paint and so on. Good examples of this kind of "modeler" are guys like Ben Procter, Neville Page, Zack Petroc, James Hawkins, Josh Nizzi (just to name a few without any hope of mentioning everyone).

So what you should decide about learning and developing traditional art skills is which kind of position you'd like to see yourself 5-10 years into the future. I believe that no matter how far our computer hardware and software develops, the above mentioned separation will continue to exist for a long time. However, the trend is to minimize and automatize as much of the technical part as possible, so people with good art skills and talents have a better outlook on the long term. They also get paid better as far as I'd guess, because they're still rare to come by and are very important in the process.
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