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3D animation

3D animation

3D animation


It is the process of generating three-dimensional moving images in a digital environment. Careful manipulation of 3D models or objects is carried out within 3D software for exporting picture sequences giving them the illusion of animation or movement. However, this is completely based on the technique used for manipulating the objects. The procedure of generating 3D is sequentially categorized into three main sections and these are modeling, layout and animation and rendering. Modeling is the phase that describes the procedure of generating 3D objects within a certain scene. Layout and animation phase describes the process followed for positioning and animating the objects within a certain scene. Lastly, rendering described the end result or output of completed computer graphics. The process of production is successfully completed with the careful combination of the sections mentioned above and also some other sub-sections. The market is filled with several software used for the creation of 3D Animation and these range from the professional high-end ones to the affordable low-end versions. Next, we will try and get through with the differences between the two animations.

What is the difference between 2d and 3d?

3D animation differs significantly from 2D، both in terms of the process used to create it but the end result as well. 3D animation produces a more realistic character that is represented in all three dimensions (height, width and depth).

The Process of 3D Animation

The process of a 3D animation pipeline is complex and can be a lot more complicated than any other forms of animation. Depending on what project and which 3D animation studio is involved, the number of steps may vary. In this lens, there are 11 most common steps involved in producing a 3D animation project.

They are namely:

  • Concept and Storyboards
  • 3D Modeling
  • Texturing
  • Rigging
  • Animation
  • Lighting
  • Camera Setting
  • Rendering
  • Compositing and Special VFX
  • Music and Foley
  • Editing and Final Output

3D Modeling

3D Modeling is not drawing

After the storyboards are finished and approved by the client, the task of building the props, environment and characters begin. The proper term is called ‘modeling.’

Modeling is the process of taking a shape and molding it into a completed 3D mesh. The most typical means of creating a 3D model is to take a simple object, called a primitive, and extend or “grow” it into a shape that can be refined and detailed. Primitives can be anything from a single point (called a vertex), a two-dimensional line (an edge), a curve (a spline), to three dimensional objects (faces or polygons). Using the specific features of your chosen 3D software, each one of these primitives can be manipulated to produce an object. When you create a model in 3D, you’ll usually learn one method to create your model, and go back to it time and again when you need to create new models. There are three basic methods you can use to create a 3D model, and 3D artists should understand how to create a model using each technique.

3D Modeling

2D Modeling Software

Professional CAD softwares

  • AutoCad
  • SolidWorks
  • Catia
  • Rhinoceros
  • Inventor
  • Alias
  • Onshape
  • Space Claim

3D modeling softwares

  • DS Max 3
  • Maya
  • ZBrush
  • Cinema 4D
  • Houdini
  • Lightwave
  • MODO

Free 3D design softwares

  • Sketchup
  • Blender
  • Sculptris
  • OpenSCAD
  • FreeCAD
  • Meshmixer

Free and easy to use 3D design apps

  • Tinkercad
  • Autodesk 123D Design
  • Autodesk 123D Sculpt
  • Autodesk 123D Creature
  • Autodesk 123D Catch


The art of giving clothes to the 3D models.

When a 3D model is created, 2D images can be overlaid on it to add colors, designs, and textures. This is called mapping, and often the entirety of a model’s color comes from this. These maps can be created in programs like Photoshop, and the illusions of textures can be brushed onto the models as easily as if you painted them yourself; some animators even use real photographs of the textures they’re trying to create, simply captured and then altered to make seamless repeatable patterns. This is how many illusions of hair are created; rather than model individual strands, instead grouped locks of hair are modeled, before a texture is overlaid with individual strands and detailing painted on.

Rigging and Skinning

We’ve got to put in those skeletons into a 3D character before he can move. Setting up a character to walk and talk is the last stage before the process of character animation can begin. This stage is called ‘rigging and skinning’ and is the underlying system that drives the movement of a character to bring it to life.

Rigging is the process to setting up a controllable skeleton for the character that is intended for animation. Depending on the subject matter, every rig is unique and so is the corresponding set of controls. Skinning is the process of attaching the 3D model (skin) to the rigged skeleton so that the 3D model can be manipulated by the controls of the rig.

Rigging and Skinning


Animation is the process of taking a 3D object and getting it to move. Animation comes in a few different flavors. There’s keyframe animation, where the animator manipulates the objects on a frame-by-frame basis, similar to old hand-drawn cartoons. Other methods of animation include placing objects on splines and setting them to follow the path of the curve, or importing motion capture data and applying it to a character rig. Yet another way to animate is to use your 3D application’s built-in physics engines, such as when your scene requires that objects fall.


Lighting in a 3D world is just as essential as it is in real life. Lighting, (in combination with textures, camera angle etc.) is where a scene has the potential to come alive. Used improperly, light can wash out a scene, make objects appear hard or flat, and destroy all the hard work. But skillfully applied, lighting can makea scene convincing, or if realism is the aim, create (in combination with materials and geometry), a scene that is virtually indistinguishable from real life.

In 3D, lights don’t actually exist as they do in the real world. Lights in 3D are objects that are designed to simulate how lighting works in real life, but in order to obtain the results you’re after, you have to apply a number of settings, not only to the lights, but to the materials.


Camera Angles and Techniques

Good camera angles and techniques make the difference between good cinematography and bad ones. The camera is an amazing tool. In 3D, unlike the real world, physical limitations don’t exist. You can create a scene where the camera takes you on a journey inside the blood vessels of a human body, or to be an eye-in-the-sky in your scenes, it can be used to create impossible perspectives, to zoom and pan and so much more. It’s beyond the scope of this article to tell you everything about cameras, but here are some basics to get you started.

First, it’s useful to look at some of the differences between 3D cameras and real life cameras. In 3D, unlike in real life, there is no need for a lens, focusing controls, film, aperture, etc. All of these functions are controlled via software. Where things are similar is how the camera is used. In 3D, you can create one or more cameras, position them exactly as desired in 3D space and use settings to mimic focal length, depth of field, etc. Other options for moving a 3D camera are similar to those in movie making, including truck, dolly, motion blur, orbit and pan.

In addition, software cameras have no size or weight restrictions. You can move a camera to any location and even inside the tiniest objects. You can also animate cameras so that several operations take place at once, such as a zooming into a scene while changing the depth of field. Once you create a camera in 3D, you can pick a view and assign the view in that view to the camera, meaning that you will see the scene from the perspective of the camera.


Rendering an image is typically the last step in the 3D production pipeline (but not the last step in the overall production pipeline), and is perhaps the most important part. It is a step often overlooked or glossed over by beginners, who are more focused on creating models and animating them. There are many aspects to creating a good final render of a scene, including attention to camera placement, lighting choices which may affect mood and shadows, reflections and transparency, and the handling of special effects, like fluids or gasses.

Compositing and Special FX

This is where the final renders are brought into compositing programs to edit, touch-up and add on special effects. Compositing includes everything from what you're probably normally think of as special effects, where things explode, evaporate, morph, etc. It also includes stage extensions (making the scene stage larger digitally in post-production), to environment creation (anything from buildings to complete worlds).


A music composer will create music soundtracks and accompaniment music to set the mood for the animation.

Editing and final output

This is where it all ends! This is where the composited renders, and music are compiled and edited to ensure that everything is in synchronization. Once satisfied, the compiled product is exported as one of the many formats suitable for broadcasting standards and delivered to the client.


Autodesk Maya

Maya is the industry standard 3D software, used in most studios. Maya, Softimage (which was discontinued) and 3D Max all belong to Autodesk and work quite similarly. Choosing one is a matter of personal preference.

Autodesk 3DS Max

From Autodesk: 3DS Max provides a comprehensive 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and compositing solution for games, film, and motion graphics artists. Create massive worlds and stunning scenes more quickly and efficiently with some of the most robust animation and rendering tools in the industry.

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a motion graphics artist’s best friend. It is a 3D program for the After Effects user. Very intuitive, and after a the release of Cineware it works directly with After Effects without the need to render first. This would not be my first choice for serious 3D film production, since it is designed from the ground up with motion graphics in mind, but it is an amazing and quite versatile program.


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