Texturing, rigging & animation

Last week, I briefly covered the Production phase of the 3D production pipeline – in particular the first THREE stages: Layout, R&D and 3D Modelling. This week I will be covering the next stages in the Production phase: Texturing, Rigging and Animation. Note that I am using the image that summarises the 3D Production Pipeline as a guideline for the listing of the stages – somehow this makes more sense to me.

  • Texturing: This is the stage where the surface of the 3D model is developed. Here the colour, reflectivity, and shininess of the 3D model can be changed as well as the material of the surface (to change the “feel” of the surface e.g. rough, smooth, bumpy). For a more complex surface a step called UV mapping can be implemented. The idea behind this step is to create or using a pre-existing 2D image for a desired surface a.k.a. texture map and then wrap it around the 3D model. A good analogy for this is wrapping a present with a pretty gift wrap! (see images below). However, the actual process of UV mapping involves stretching out the 3D model into flat 2D image and then applying the texture map to this. When the 3D model it flattened to 2D, a set of coordinates is created for each vertex of the 3D model polygon: (u, v). The axes used for coordinates in the 2D space are u & v due to the fact that x, y & z are already being used in the 3D space, hence the namesake of the step.

  • Rigging: Once the 3D model is created it can enter the rigging stage before, during or after the texturing stage. It is a process of creating a “skeleton” or control points (a.k.a rig) for the 3D model so that the animators can use it to control the movement of the 3D model. This includes creating joints, adding driven keys, blending shapes, adding deformers, and creating constraints. This can be extremely technical process – more complex the rig is, more smoother the movement of the model can be (check out the videos to see how complex it can actually get).


  • Animation: So it turns out animation step is just one out of so many steps involved in 3D production pipeline. In this stage, animators gather the prepared assets (3D Models that are rigged) required, assemble them and then animate the scene by creating a desired shot for a key frame (starting and ending positions for a movement) and saving them on a timeline. The concept behind animating in 3D is the same as 2D. This is the stage where the assets come to “life”.




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