Jul 2023
Nikita Mazikov
Freelance Writer

3D Modeling: How to Catch Fire and Not Fade Away

Everyone comes to 3D in different ways. Some were inspired by games in childhood and aspired to enter the gaming industry. Others started with motion-design and 3D animation and then added modeling to their skills list. Some folks just made models “for the soul”. Sometimes the study of 3D is encouraged by the creation of modifications. For example, a beginning modeler realizes that the model he needs is nowhere to be found, but to make it himself.

Whichever way the artist came to 3D graphics, he will have to master unfamiliar tools - this is not easy even for specialists in related disciplines. The way out is to get acquainted with the technical part gradually. Once the basic set of tools has been learned, the artist faces the following question: how to develop further. The answer is quite simple - start doing modeling professionally.

Each modeler is assigned to some position sooner or later. It can be the role of an eternal outsourcer or a person who can draw quickly and beautifully. This process is an essential stage in a career, but at a certain point, it should be abandoned. Constant migration from project to project does not allow the skills of a 3D artist to “stagnate”. In one company, he can model interiors. In another, he can create characters, and in the third one work out realistic fabrics.

The horizons are expanding, but gradually the modeler may still get the impression that he is doing the same thing. To get out of this state, it is essential to realize that 3D modeling can also be creative.

How to Start Creating

A modeler who simply mechanically masters the creation of three-dimensional models can reach the limit relatively quickly. It comes when the artist can complete any order rapidly and efficiently. But to develop further, the artist needs an internal fuse to move him forward and not let his self-development craving fade away. After all, if you enjoy drawing giant battle robots, then why not learn how to model them to perfection?

Even when the artist is faced with a simple task - for example, to draw a table - it can be a great occasion to show your creativity. Give free rein to the internal designer, experiment with the countertop's shape and the number of legs. Or even better: immediately imagine the whole room where this table is placed, and only then start drawing it - as an element of the composition, not as a separate object.

Ideas come when an artist comes across something new. A modeler may be offered to work in a unique style for him, and a character artist may be asked to draw an unusual interior. Unfortunately, providing yourself with a creative approach is not always impossible, so 3D artists often face routine work.

Escaping the Routine

Any dull objects in 3D modeling that do not give the artist room for imagination but are still necessary for development are often called "boxes". It can be, literally, boxes, stones, and so on. Work fatigue appears if you work on such tasks constantly - a chronic condition that is difficult to get rid of. But there are still several ways for a tired artist to overcome them:

  1. Avoid blockbuster projects. Art directors and senior artists define the look of AAA games while their subordinates carry out the tasks they are given. The larger the project, the more you dissolve into it, and the more the value of your work is lost. For example, you won’t be making the whole soldier, but only one straps on his uniform. And all this is wildly lost against the background of all the rest of the work because thousands of people work on such games. The creative process in such conditions is reduced to zero.
  2. Start working on small indie projects. These games can quickly help a 3D modeler fill his hand and prove himself as an artist. Such projects rarely have large departments responsible for creating 3D graphics - as a rule, everything is limited to a few people. And this means that each has many more opportunities to show their unique style.

Tips to Not Get Bored of the Monotony

Even if a 3D artist has had to deal with more "conveyor" production, he still has a few tricks in store. One of them is kitbashing. In the 3D modeling world, taking ready-made models is often viewed as something inappropriate, but this is standard practice. After all, if you need to make ten models, each with a sticking-out nail, then it’s not shameful to make one nail and distribute it among ten models. You can also take a nail from your old work or download a ready-made one and slightly redo it.

This method also works when you need to create, for example, a layout of a location in which a person with a gun is standing. If your task is to show a specific character, you need to draw a unique person with an unusual weapon. But if the goal is to show the location, you can get by with a pre-prepared model to not waste time and effort.

Another trick: you can approach a familiar issue or a boring model with a new tool. It can be an unfamiliar soft, an unmastered engine, or sometimes just a new brush found in an already-learned interface. All 3D programs are very similar - when you know a lot of programs, you begin to understand all of them. You can set yourself a goal: to model a glass and a pencil in all the programs you can find. After this, it will immediately become clear which software you like more.

It is always important to be open to new things and not be limited to one thoroughly studied toolkit. But here, too, there is a danger, this time of a purely technical nature.

How Not to Get Confused by the Tools

Some 3D artists, in search of something new, begin to study all the programs they can get their hands on. Roughly speaking, they enter the query "top professional software for 3D modeling" into the search bar and try to learn everything.

The problem is that it is useless to memorize what certain buttons do without understanding what exactly they can be helpful for now. This can even have a negative impact because there is a risk of getting stuck in this for a long time and stopping developing. In addition, the customer will not be pleased with a thorough knowledge of the capabilities of a particular program - he needs you to simply quickly and efficiently complete the work in a familiar environment.

In addition, all companies use different tools, and engines differ from each other. Therefore, a 3D artist will still have to perform tasks using unfamiliar tools. Although, sometimes it is useful to get used to an unfamiliar environment - if there is time and desire. It would be great for an anatomy artist to watch the lessons on creating vegetation, and for an interior artist, on the contrary, to experiment with the human body. The main thing is always to remember the creative side of modeling.

Wrapping Up

A professional approach is not to master everything at once but to gradually solve a specific problem at a time. For example, at work, you will need to adhere to an everyday workflow and, therefore, tools. After all, the more unique your approach will be, the more expensive you will cost the studio.

Remember that modeling something is not a task. But to create, for example, a Dyson sphere, a zombie duck, a comic book store, a favorite character, or a favorite character’s weapon are excellent tasks. Want even more exciting assignments? Why not - go and tell a story with your picture, scare your friends with a creepy frame or recreate a movie scene. All of these are fantastic exercises with the help of which it is pretty easy to learn buttons.

After all, art is a way of non-verbal communication, and 3D is one of its languages. Learning words, letters, and rules is boring and difficult. But communicating in this language with others and simultaneously understanding the process is much more enjoyable!

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