How I make 3D Animations

Are you interested in how such 3D animations are made? An explanation using screenshots to get an idea of what needs to be done and why it takes so long.

I make my animations in Blender and merge everything together in Da Vinci Resolve

Study the topic

First and foremost, I’m trying to bring my own opinion and remain as unaffected by others as possible. Of course, I need the facts to do that. Wikipedia is a good source of information, but often not very accurate. It’s a good starting point, but I prefer more credible sources from reputable historians and specialists.

3D Modeling

To keep it simple, 3D modelling is creating object shapes in a three-dimensional virtual world. this is polygonal modelling, where the model is defined by points – vertices. They are connected by edges and filled by polygons, or faces.

3D modeling

Unwrapping

Have you ever glued paper models? This is the reverse procedure. It is like peeling an orange. Decomposing the 3D model into 2D shapes called UW coordinates or UV Maps. These maps determine how the texture will be displayed on the 3D model surface.

You can see the UV map on the left side of the image.

Unwrapping

Shading

From “create shaders”. Often incorrectly called texturing. Shading is the process of creating virtual materials and applying them to 3D models. Usually need four or more texture maps to achieve the desired outcome. In some cases, however, it’s better to use procedurally generated materials using nodes and multiple shaders. You can see simple procedural iron material in the image below.

Shading

Texture baking

Procedural materials are defined by nodes. Sometimes hundreds of them. Each node has its own function and each must be recalculated millions of times during rendering. I need tens of thousands of images for each animation. Therefore, it makes sense to bake such material into texture maps. So GPUs don’t need to recalculate everything again and again.

Texture baking is highly used in the game industry for baking details from high poly mesh to low poly using a normal map.

Most used texture maps:

  • albedo map – pure colors regardless of the lighting settings
  • specullar map – determines where the object should be glossy and where should be diffuse
  • roughness map – determines where object should be shiny like a mirror and where should be matt like a rubber. It works together with specullar map.
  • normal map – adds small details to materials without increasing the number of vertices.

These four texture maps are most used. There are more useful texture maps and ways how to make materials look better. Very depend.

You can see exploded 3D model on the image. This is so that the individual parts do not interact each other.

Texture Baking

Rigging

When the model and all materials are done, it’s time for animations. The first step is rigging. Basically, you need to create a skeleton and tie the right vertices to the right bones. Which allows easy bending and animating of the 3D model.

Rigging

Animating

Using previously created bones to make base poses and animations for later use in the project.

Animating

Lightning

Setup all lights in the scene for render. Last fine tuning.

Lighting

Rendering

There are multiple ways how to render images. I’m using a physically-based path tracer called E-Cycles. It is an improved default Blender Cycles render engine. Rendering is actually a simplified simulation of light in a virtual space. It is very slow compared to game engines renderers, but it gives better results and more possibilities for later compositing.

Rendering

Compositing

Compositing is the process of merging layers of previously rendered images and applying effects to enhance visual quality.

Compositing

Video editing

Nothing interesting to tell here. Just merging everything together. It goes hand in hand with compositing.

Video Editing

Final touches and export

Last fine-tuning and exporting final video ready for publication.

Final Touches

Conclusion

These are very briefly described basic steps. If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of each step, do not hesitate to let me know. There are many ways how to contact me.

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