The use and development of 3D art and animation has grown to include a wide variety of industries, such as: advertisement (billboards, television adverts etc), games (cutscenes, environments and actual gameplay) and animation (feature length films or series’), music videos and CD covers.
With its growing popularity, there has also been an increase in the amount of 3D software, both professional and domestic, which include: “Cinema 4D” which has advanced render capabilities and many different tools to help with modelling. However, it is a professional software and is expensive, so it isn’t very accessible.
“Blender” has its own file type that is compatible with other versions of Blender and offers both professional support (the “Blender Network,”) as well as a very large and helpful online community ready to answer questions on it’s somewhat complicated interface. Though it is free and is improving in updates, Blender does not have “Global Illumination” so light simulation is not very realistic and might cause problems.
“Autodesk Maya” has its name deriving from the Hindu concept for illusion, and with its good reputation and the program offering many textures and materials, as well as supporting polygon, subdivision, NURBS and sculpting, it isn’t such a surprise that Maya is so population despite it being prone to crashes and errors.
|Features Of Graphic Images|
(Official poster for “The Last of Us.”)
This picture features main characters “Ellie” and “Joel.” The image was produced for the 2013/ 2014 game “The Last of Us,” operated on the PlayStation 3 and 4.
“The Last of Us” is another game based on a realistic zombie apocalypse situation (or Clickers/ Runners as they are referred to in game.) The world is in ruin as can be inferred from the abandoned, empty feel of the background of the image, with only the two protagonists being seen. The outlaw theme is implied with the visible weapons both character’s hold and their unkept appearance.
The use of light is also a juxtaposition (symbolism for hope,) and can only just be seen highlighting the character’s faces with the foreground notedly darker. This was probably created with “Global Illumination” which enabled the building just over Joel’s shoulder to make the shadow. I would also bet on “Spotlights” for the extra light on the character’s profiles.
3D modeling is a mathematical representation of a shape (cubes, spheres and cylinders etc). There are two main types in 3D modeling. NURBS and Polygon. NURBS are far more accurate and are often used for engineering, while Polygon is mostly for animation.
(A Polygon and NURBS Net.)
A Polygon is made up of Vertices (or vertex, singular) which are the point(s) of the shade. Edges are what join the vertices together and create Faces. 3D models are composed of many polygons that come together to create a mesh.
|The XYZ Values|
To shape 3D models, you commonly move the vertices as each vertex has its on coordinate information with XYZ values. With the edges a wire frame is created while the faces are used to fill in the space in-between, with these faces being usually three or four sided, which makes up the mesh.
One 3D model are made up of collective Polygons; called a “mesh.” The more Polygons there are to a mesh, the smoother and realistic the model is which would be important to avoid Rendered images looking clunky and stiff.
(A Mesh With Varying Numbers Of Polygons.)
With a Mesh there are varying tools that can be used to construct the shape and/ or image that is desired.
Inner Extrude will shrink the Polygons selected without outwardly moving them from their position. Using Inner Extrude will create new Polygon lines and for that reason, is very helpful especially when using an Object with flat surfaces.
(Extrude # 2.)
The Extrude Tool is one of the most useful tools are is, and one of the most used. Extrude is not only used to extend the selected Polygons outwards and also inwards, meaning that nearly all Mesh’s would be construction with some sort of Extrude having been used.
Matrix Extrude is somewhat harder to control then the others but could be incredibly useful for many creative purposes. With the selected Polygons, Matrix Extrude will pull them out like hair, often transforming them like a wave.
Smooth Sift will smooth the edges of the selected Polygons but if pulled out far enough it will extend the Faces from where they first lay, further creating a 3D affect if Rendered flat.
These Tools were to just name a few, but I go into more detail in “Graphics Creation” below.
|The Polycount and its Resolution.|
With the number of faces in a mesh being referred to as a “Polycount” and the polygon density known as “Resolution,” which is measured in pixels per inch (“PPI.”) The more pixels the high the resolution.
(Number of Polygons on a Single Model.)
With 3D modelling the three main constraints outside of ability and software difficulty are the Polycount, file size and rendering time.
(“Tomb Raider’s” Lara Croft through the ages.)
The first “Tomb Raider” in 1996 could only handle a Polycount of 230 with the technology at the time, and as the technology advanced the Polycount grew, with the 2008 “Tomb Raider: Underworld” having 32, 816 Polygons.
The larger the Polycount, the larger the file size which means more time for rendering which game creators are careful with because:
- Games need the minimum of 30 frames per second which means more work.
- If the Polycount is too high it can cause lag in actual gameplay.
(“Final Fantasy 13 Official Poster)
To create the Final Fantasy 13 Poster I would have started by:
- Using a basic object – most likely a Sphere – to work on
- Make it Editable.
- Rise the Polycount quite a bit by increasing the number of “Segments” on the image.
- Import a background image into one of the screens’ of the Quad-view for reference if I needed it.
- Then, since Final Fantasy’s art style goes more towards Photorealist in terms of character design then Cel-shaded, I would start using the Sculpting Tools.
- The “Mirror Tool” would ensure that both sides were symmetrical.
- “Subdivision” which will help smooth over the vertices and make the model look more life like.
- And Then I would play around with Textures and lighting to ensure that Lightning would look as human as possible, but with an anime feel.
|Perspective: View/ Quad-View|
While modelling being able to properly see what you are creating is very important in 3D modeling. Multiple viewing modes allow the user to see what they are creating at any angle. There is a “Perspective view” for smaller details, and a “Quad-View” that have four screens for a better overall view.
Outside of customising the mesh by adding or subtracting other shapes, or stretching, further detail can also be added with the “Sculpting tool” that allows for finer details to be added, such as scales or wrinkles.
I would have imagined that Perspective would have been used since the image is promotional, and most likely flat meaning the back would never been seen and therefore not created.
There are multiple options for lighting in 3D modeling, such as: “Spotlight.” This will emits light to a single point on the screen, where “Area Light” will cast light within a set area and going up from there, “Global Illumination” will create natural light, for environments.
In the poster its harder to tell what sort of lighting was used due to the “studio” feel of the image. Despite the imported background there are noticeable shadows with no point of origin, so I’d guess a series of Spotlights was used.
|Textures And Materials|
(Sphere with Textured added.)
(Sphere with Material added.)
“Textures” are flat images that get applied to a 3D model; its basically an illusion.Where “Materials” will define the visuals of the object on screen, like its colour and matt properties.
On the image I assume the artist used some sort of metal texture for Lightning’s armour and a material shine on her chest for added definition of her top. The background image might also be considered a texture since it is a pre-made picture, possibly one that was made in Photoshop.
(3D Image Rendered.)
Rendering an image in a 3D software is converting the wire frame models of the object into the final 2D image, while keeping the 3D photorealism. “OpenGL” and “Direct3D” are both application programming interface’s that will render 2D or 3D images.
I believe that the poster was rendered with “Ambient Occlusion” to add depth and shadow to an otherwise flat image.
CINEMA 4D Screenshot
Autodesk Maya Screenshot
The Last Of Us Poster
Polygon and NURBS Nets Photo
YXZ Values Photo
Polygon Resolution Photo
Tomb Raider Photo
Final Fantasy 13 Poster