3D Modelling Pipeline – Week 1 (Pre-production + Modelling) – MDU 115

The first of a series of four posts outlining the production of a 3D model (or scene) from pre-production to final rendering.

There are likely as many pathways to creating a finished 3D scene as there are modellers (or animators, or riggers, etc) but for the most part they all follow the same basic pathway.


Pre-production, or the concept art stage is the starting point of the whole modelling process. It is, of course, possible to start modeling without first working on some concept art, but having it can streamline the whole process and save a great deal of time down the track. Pre-production may be as simple as the modeller working off a photo, or as complex as creating a terrain map out of clay.

When modelling a character one generally sees a model sheet comprising of a turn around, indicating what the character looks like from several angles (frequently with closeups to show important details) and then several action poses to show how the character should move, which can help with the rigging stage.

Examples –

Concept art of a Dandelion Sprite from the game Babi Glo – from pixelatedcrown.tumblr.com

Plasticine mockup of a level design from the game Babi Glo – from Pixelated Crown – pixelatedcrown.tumblr.com


Once the artist(s) have progressed past the concept art stage, it’s time to begin the modelling process. Using a 3D Modelling program (Industry standards include 3Ds Max or Maya from Autodesk, or, if the desired end result is something more sculptural, ZBrush or Mudbox), the modeller can either choose to start from scratch, or use existing elements from the project being worked on, which can allow for saving time (if the existing elements are to be re-used – eg, architectural elements in a city scene) or determining the scale the new element is to be modelled to.

One of the most common ways to create a 3D model is to start with a basic polygonal shape and then through the use of various tools, like the loop or extrude tool, add more shapes and faces until the model is complete. Below is a video illustrating this basic principle – as well as part of the next stages of the 3D process.


Pixelated Crown, C. (2015, January 27). Concept art of a Dandelion Sprite from the game Babi Glo [Concept Art]. Retrieved from http://pixelatedcrown.tumblr.com/post/109256907934/im-gonna-paste-some-tweets-i-made-earlier

Pixelated Crown, C. (2015, February 19). Plasticine mockup of a level design from the game Babi Glo [Concept Art]. Retrieved from http://pixelatedcrown.tumblr.com/post/111505957599/i-didnt-like-the-level-geometry-id-originally

Pixelated Crown, C. (2015, March 8). livestream timelapse – simple character model/rig/animate (maya 2014) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTDnWp2FfFw


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