3D Modeling Techniques for Games

3D Modeling Techniques for Games

To create video games, you have to go through a suitable 3D modeling process that involves the use of certain techniques. Due to their complex nature combining the necessary 3D techniques can be very expensive. The good thing is that 3D modeling software comes with a number of tools that when put to use will give you the results you desire.

If you plan to work on creating video games, the following are some of the techniques you will have to use:

  1. Edge/Contour Modeling

This basically a polygonal technique that involves the building of models piece by piece until you have the final shape. It does not require you to start with a basic object. Rather you will place loops of polygonal shapes on the prominent contours and filling in the gaps in between.

Edge or contour modeling is used to create irregular meshes such as that of the human face. You have to stringently follow the topology and edge flow techniques to create a proper face. For this purpose, only contour modeling has the required precision. Say you intend to produce a realistic eye socket. Instead of using a solid cube, you may want to get the outline of the eye and then do the rest of the creation from that point on.

  1. Box/Subdivision Modeling

In this technique, the artist starts out with a primitive geometric shape such as a cylinder, cube, sphere, and so on. The shape is then refined until the artist achieves the desired shape.

Using this technique, the 3D modeling process starts with a primitive mesh which is then refined and subdivided to smoothen the edges and include greater detail.The subdivision and refining process is done repeatedly until the mesh is detailed enough to convey the concept as intended.

Box modeling could be used on its own or in conjunction with the edge modeling techniques for greater effect.

  1. Digital Sculpting

This is basically a state-of-the-art technique that takes away the necessity for step-by-step edge flow and topology. In this case, the process of creating 3D models is similar to what you would do to sculpt digital clay.

Digital sculpting involves the organic creation of models using a tablet. Although digital, the artist shapes and molds the shape the same way a sculptor does with clay. If you want to create characters and creatures fast enough, digital modeling is what you need. This method allows you to create high-resolution meshes that contain millions of meshes.

  1. NURBS/Spline Modeling

This technique is most preferred in industrial and automotive modeling. The meshes used in this technique are not like those done in polygonal geometry, given that they have zero vertices, edges, and faces. NURBS models are mostly created when a mesh is lofted between at least two splines or Bezier curves.

The tools in NURBS are similar to the pen tool you will find in Adobe Illustrator or MS paint. After drawing the curve in 3D space, you will edit it by moving the control vertices. An artist starts out by placing curves along the prominent contours only for the software to interpolate the intervening space.

  1. Image-Based Modeling

This technique involves the use of the algorithmic derivation of transformable 3D objects from two-dimensional images. When constrained of time and money, image-based modeling is the best possible technique. You wouldn’t have to manually create your 3D assets.

In making the popular film The Matrix, the crew neither had the time nor resources required for complete 3D model sets. Using 360-degree camera arrangements, they filmed the action sequences and then interpreted them with an algorithm that allowed for 3D camera movements in the virtual space.

  1. Procedural Modeling

In computer graphics, when something is generated through algorithms, then it is known as procedural. This technique hardly involves the use of the manual skills of an artist. Rather, the artist defines the parameters and rules which are then used to create scenes and objects.

Procedural modeling is widely used in environment creation packages such as Terragen, Bryce, and Vue. To generate entire landscapes, all you need to do is modify environmental parameters such as elevation and foliage density. You could also you could choose the environment you want such as coastal, alpine, desert, and so on.

  1. 3D Scanning

If what you need is the highest level of photo-realism, then you could digitize real-world objects through 3D Scanning. Real-world objects including actors are scanned, analyzed, and the raw data used to create an accurate NURBS or polygonal mesh. In the film industry, 3D scanning is used to create digital forms of real-world actors.

But 3D scanners aren’t going to replace traditional modelers anytime soon. After all, many of the 3D models used in games and movies have no relationship with anything in the real world. 3D modeling reigns supreme when it comes to the creation of cartoon characters, aliens and spaceships.