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3D Model Making A rough outline and overview on how to approach the 3D model production process.

There are many aspects to consider during any 3D model build process regardless of its intended mesh resolution. Attention to detail is clearly the first check on any 3D model. Are all the elements in the right place and at the right size!

Careful consideration is paid to the ‘under the hood’ aspects of the 3D model, this applies especially, to how efficient the geometry of the model is.

3D Models

A few questions to ask yourself throughout the modelling process:

How easy is the model to edit or revise at a later stage?
Are there areas of the model with too many polygons?
Have I allowed for correct use of polygon ring loops?
Is there sufficient geometry allowance for any deformations required further along the production pipeline?

Other areas easily missed include axis alignment, will it rotate or move around the correct centre point. Are all the normals facing in the right direction and have the vertices been optimised. These are some aspects of the 3D model creation process that I consider ‘best practise‘.

Depending on the type of 3D model created, different approaches can be utilised, the starting point I prefer is zBrush. The freedom this application offers in either hard surface modelling or organic is, in my opinion, the most fluid process across the range of softwares packages I’ve experienced. I will also bounce between Zbrush, Maya or Cinema 4D via the GoZ function a few times during the initial lo-res cage construction process.

Materials and Textures These are the methods I employ on a day to day bases

UV Edited Channel Blending

If the 3D assets requires UV’s, they are created and individual channels setup via Photoshop or Polypaint and applied back onto the model via the channel based blending structure within Cinema 4D final result. When using this method there is usually a need to rely heavily on object buffers, specular masks and alphas to isolate different surface types across the model, such as skin, fabric, metal or glass.

A low resolution 3D asset of the MacBook Pro Touch 15-inch, full UV edit utilising sub-surface displacement to tessellate the keyboard and other details.
A model with procedural shading reflecting its environment.

Procedural Shading

Another method employed to texture 3D assets is procedural shading. Individual parts of the model or selections are given unique and independent materials for metals or glass or plastics. These are projected onto the 3D assets to create the surface finish. This process is more common when I know a model will not be moved between applications.

3D Asset Rigging Applying user controls to a model to give greater flexibility and versatility

Xpresso plays a strong part in the production of many RenFitch 3D models, many objects created are customisable, for instance, fully adjustable windows whereby adjustments  can be made to width, height, depth, the number of sashes or mullions, the list goes on and is a powerful tool in the RenFitch arsenal. This allows for the reuse of the window 3D asset time and again without having to re-build a new window every time.

In the example to the right a fully adjustable Apple Watch 3D asset was developed which allows the watch to fit any security device it is to be placed on. Due to the large number of permutations the watch can be displayed in the 3D watch asset also has the ability to change the strap colour, strap material and style plus the watch housing itself has options for screen display and casing material.

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The above sequence shows the functionality applied to the Apple Watch 3D asset model and how it can be fitted to a security device.

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