Have you ever wondered why are computers so good at generating visual complexity? The answer is not that simple, but to put it shortly, it is a result of combining the ingredients of perception: color, texture, edges, depth, and motion. Of course, there is much more beyond that. So, let’s start with one of the most important components – Modeling and Texturing.

Modeling and texturing are ubiquitous, vital tools for creating realistic graphics and animation. Let’s start with the former.

How does the 3D modeling work?

Everything seen on the screen has to be modeled. A model is a geometric surface representation of an object. The 3D modeling process produces a digital object capable of being fully animated, making. It is an essential process for character animation and special effects.

Typically, a model is either created from scratch or is based on another form of digitization that’s cleaned up afterward. The process begins by generating some type of primitive like a cube, cone, pyramid, sphere, and etc. The primitive is just a starting point to begin modeling.

Modeling requires moving around an object, manipulating and correcting components of it, and working with various attributes and properties that the software provides. However, for the best of both worlds, some artists use a combination of 3D modeling followed by editing the 2D computer-rendered images from the 3D model.

What is texturing?

After creating a 3D model, it serves as the foundation for the next step in the production pipeline – Texturing. Texturing is applying the color and surface properties to the model. This process is similar to adding decoration details to a plain box. Texture artists use various techniques to complete this task. The artist may hand-paint the textures or piece photographs together with the texture in the software. Here is an example of a 2D model before and after texturing has been done.

Useful Terminology

If you are new to 3D, then you might encounter some terminology being tossed around that you might not fully understand. Such as

Polygonal modeling

Polygonal modeling is one of the most common types of modeling in the animation industry. 

Because modern computers are optimized to handle polygons, polygonal models are the easiest to render and visualize. It also allows designers to create more unique designs such as humans, animals, etc.)

Subdivision surface modeling

The main idea of a subdivision surface is that the user provides the outline of a model in the form of an input polygon mesh and then the computer smoothes the input mesh to create a much higher resolution mesh. This method serves many purposes, for example:

· Possibility to model complex smoothed surfaces

· Creating organic meshes of high resolution

· Smoothing out objects by adding details

UV mapping

UV mapping is the process of projecting a 2D image to a 3D model’s surface for texture mapping. This 2D representation is constructed from UV coordinates, which are commonly known as texture coordinates. The image below shows how a cube in 3D space is unwrapped into a texture in 2D space. (The U and V refer to the horizontal and vertical axes of the 2D space, as X, Y, and Z are already being used in the 3D space.) This technique allows polygons that make up a 3D object to be painted with color from an image.

Texture Mapping

To create a surface that resembles a real-life, artist needs to turn to texture mapping. This process is similar to adding decorative paper to a plain box. In 3D, texture mapping is the process of adding graphics to a polygon object. These graphics can be anything from photographs to original designs. Textures can give a project more appeal and realism.

Certainly, there is much more to modeling and texturing, however, we covered the most basic concepts that hopefully will be handy for the artists taking their first steps in the 3D world.