A look at 3d Modeling Software

If you are new to the world of Video game design you might not have a good grasp on the concept of 3d modeling and 3d models. The term evokes a picture of women walking on runways "modeling" the latest fashions in clothes.
While there is a little bit of truth to this when it comes to making video games 3d modeling is actually a whole lot more.

What is 3d Modeling?

It is the the art of making three dimensional objects for video games. These objects could be anything from women to tables, lamps, plants, trees, cars, buildings and well you get the idea! The important thing is that they are three dimensional (3d). This way they can be viewed from any angle, all sides, top and bottom. What would happen if you placed a 2d table in a room? You wouldn't see it from the side because it has only two dimensions. It would make a nice straight on image but it is not good for modern video games where we actually walk around worlds in all three dimensions.

The thumbnail image you see here is of a 3d model for Daz3d Studio. That is a 3d modeling program. The model is fully 3d and is viewable in all three dimemsions and can be animated to have motions like a regular person, or a superperson if you so desire.

So, How is this 3d modeling done?

Well, it is a time consuming process (somewhat) because it is done by building a wireframe with a skeleton inside it and a skin around it. The wire frame (in red) tells us where all the skin goes. And the skeleton (yellow) tells us how the figure will move. The blue circles are joints. They tell us where the points of motion are.



You can see that if you want to make models it takes a bit of work. The red dwarf image above shows you that. And the more realistic the model the more work you have to do. But when it comes to 3d modeling you can get a lot of help. There are thouands of models already done for you. The model Victoria in the picture above is a good example of that. You can actually download model files and use them or modify them any way you like. So, while 3d modeling is very labor intensive it only has to be if you want your stuff to be absolutely unique. You can get basic models of just about everything including humans, dwarves, elves, dragons etc. and then modify them to what you want or need.

OK, So you want to make models and video games so which program should you get?

That can be a little bit of a tricky question to answer because there are a lot of variables like what computer skills do you have, what artistic skills you have and how much money you are willing to spend (if any). And are you seriously considering doing this as a profession?

A note before I give you the list - All of these programs can do amazing things. You can create amazing 3d models and animate them and they will look fantastic but that is a matter of time and effort. You really have to commit if you want to get good at this stuff. But if it is your dream to get involved in game making then make the commitment!

Here is my list of 3d modeling software. This is a guide that will help you make a good decision on where to start. I have arranged them by cost and power. The simpler (and free) programs are first and we work our way up to the top of the line professional program that costs thousands.

  • 3d Blender - This is pretty good 3d modeling software and it is open source which means it is totally free. This is a good place to start if you know nothing about 3d modeling and have no money to spend. Their website with download is here: 3dBlender
  • Milkshape - I have a tutorial on how to use this program and the dwarf illustration above is from that tutorial. This is a nice beginners program that has a 30 day free trial period. After that you have to buy it. But this is a nice place to start. Their website is here: Milkshape
  • TrueSpace - This is modeling software that is better than the previous two (imho). It used to be for sale and now it is free for download. I have never used it but it looks pretty powerful. You can get it for a free download and they have some nice tutorials and videos. I believe they are going to stop developing truespace and that is why it is now free. Looks like a great way to get some powerful modeling software for free. Their website is here
  • DAZ Studio 3 - This is a more professional program and definitely a step above the previous two programs . The Victoria model at the top of this page is for this program. They have a free version and a professional version that you can buy. Here is the website: Daz3d Go take a look and you will definitely be impressed by this software. One nice thing about this program is that you can start out with the free version and gain some skills then you can make an easy transition to the paid professional version. It's a great idea if you are serious about model design.
  • Poser - This is a great program at a reasonable price. This isn't free software, it has abilities and is often used by professionals. There are several versions including Poser debut which is a lower priced version with a lot of power. Poser Debut is a great way to start out in the modeling and animation world. From there you can upgrade to Poser 8, or their latest version Poser 2010. I like this software because you can start out reasonably priced and stay within the family getting more power as you get better. This is a good option if you are serious about modeling. Check out their website here: Poser You are going to be impressed by the model making on the site.
  • 3DS MAX - This is an industry standard modeling software suite. If you want the best then this one is for you. Hollywood, professional game makers, and many industries use this software. It isn't for beginners though. Their website This software is very expensive, I mean very expensive! But they do have some possibilities for students. If model design for video games is absolutely the career path you will pursue then this is the software to get.



Smith Micro Software Poser Debut

The Easiest Way to Design with 3D Figures. We've all watched 3D movies or played 3D games, and most of us have dreamed about making our own 3D art and animation. You probably thought that 3D software is too hard to learn, or too challenging to be fun. Now, there's Poser Debut. Finally there's an easy way to learn 3D and be creative, even if you can't draw or have never taken an art class. Poser Debut is a 3D playground. Create scenes, add 3D characters, pose them, animate them and make cool images or videos. It's easy. It's fun. It's Poser Debut.


Poser Pro 2010

Poser Pro 2010 is the fastest way for professional artists and production teams to add pre-rigged, fully-textured, possible, and animatable 3D characters to their 3ds Max, Maya, CINEMA 4D and Lightwave projects. With COLLADA import/export, you can integrate Poser content within game engines, content management systems and other tools. Save time and production resources with 32/64-bit and multi-core system optimization and the Network Rendering Queue. As a standalone character animation system, or as a component in your production pipeline, Poser Pro 2010 is the most efficient way for content creation professionals to include 3D characters in any project.




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