How Long Does It Take to Model a 3D Character?

In the world of computer graphics and animation, 3D character modeling plays a crucial role in bringing virtual characters to life.

Creating a 3D character involves the intricate process of sculpting, texturing, and animating digital models to produce lifelike and engaging characters that can be used in various industries.

How Long Does It Take to Model a 3D Character

In this article, we will explore the importance of 3D character modeling in different industries, delve into the factors influencing the time required for this process, and highlight the significance of CG production with these characters.

As you plan your game development budget, it’s essential to consider the pricing of 3D character models and the quality offered by different 3D character design services in the market.

You can learn how to make 3D video game characters by understanding the technical requirements and art style of the game.

Briefly, 3D character modeling is the process of crafting digital representations of characters using computer software and techniques.

And in our work, we use CG characters which offer numerous advantages in various scenarios. Moreover, they offer you the convenience of easy customization, saving time and effort in production

how to make 3D video game characters

Understanding 3D Character Modeling

DEFINITION AND PROCESS

3D character modeling is the art of sculpting and designing characters in three-dimensional space using specialized software and techniques. If you are seeking a character designer or concept artist for your animation, understanding the role and skills of each can help you make an informed decision.

The process of 3D modeling character involves sculpting, texturing, rigging, and animating the character for the desired outcome:

  • 1

    Concept Art and References

    The first step in 3D character modeling is to gather concept art and references. Utilize character modeling references to ensure that the final 3D model aligns with the original concept and meets client expectations.

  • 2

    Character Design

    To make a 3D character, start by drawing characters before 3D modeling to refine the design and visual elements.

    This includes defining proportions, anatomy, and overall aesthetics. The design phase allows for exploration and adjustments before moving on to the actual 3D modeling.

  • 3

    3D Modeling

    The modeling process starts by creating a basic 3D mesh that represents the character’s form. A skilled artist can create 3D characters that come to life through meticulous character modeling.

  • 4

    Texturing

    Once the 3D model character is complete, textures are applied to the surface to give the character its colors, patterns, and materials.

  • 5

    Rigging

    It involves defining joints and setting up a system of controls that animators can use to pose the character realistically.

Exploring the difference between a 3D artist and a 3D modeler is crucial when assembling a well-rounded 3D character modeling art team.

3D character modeling

SOFTWARE AND TOOLS

When it comes to making 3D character models, several powerful software tools are widely used by professional artists in 3D modeling in the gaming industry. We actively utilize a variety of different tools such as Blender, Maya, ZBrush, and others, combining their features to achieve the best results.

With the right tools and techniques, you can create 3D characters that enhance the players’ experience of a video game.

As an outsourcing company specializing in 3D character modeling, we have found that different projects and clients have specific requirements. However, based on our experience, we recommend considering the following factors when choosing the right software: project complexity, industry standards, and budget.

making 3D character models tools

Artificial intelligence has also started making its mark in the world of 3D character modeling. For instance, we are already actively using a tool like Stable Diffusion. Yes, it presents certain challenges, but it is worth exploring its capabilities. Creating impressive 3D game character models involves combining artistic talent with technical expertise to deliver visually stunning characters.

TECHNICAL SKILLS AND EXPERTISE

There are various types of 3D modeling techniques available, such as polygonal modeling, sculpting, and procedural modeling, each serving specific purposes in the animation industry.

Efficient 3D game character modeling requires a combination of technical skills and expertise to bring digital characters to life convincingly. The process involves various stages, each demanding a specific set of skills to achieve optimal results.

  • 1

    Understanding Anatomy

    Making 3D characters requires attention to detail and a keen understanding of anatomy and proportions. Knowledge of anatomy ensures that the characters’ bodies and features appear realistic and believable.

    Proportions play a crucial role in creating aesthetically pleasing characters, while topology (the arrangement of polygons in model characters) affects how well the character deforms during animation.

  • 2

    Texturing and Shading

    Skillful texturing can breathe life into the character, making it visually appealing.

    Additionally, shading techniques, such as controlling specular highlights and reflections, contribute to the character’s material appearance, whether it’s skin, metal, or fabric.

  • 3

    Rigging

    Rigging artists must understand how to create efficient and flexible rigs that allow animators to pose the character smoothly. Rigging is especially important for characters that require complex movements and expressions.

Expertise in the mentioned technical skills ensures that the 3D character model is good-looking, functional, and ready for animation. Each skill complements the others, contributing to the overall quality of the character.

game character modeling technical skills and expertise

How much does a 3D character model cost on average? It’s a good question. The complexity of the character design plays a significant role in determining the time and cost required for 3D game character modeling.

Character design cost encompasses various elements, such as intricate details, accessories, and clothing, which directly impact the modeling process.

Complex character designs require more effort and time to bring to life in the 3D realm.

The level of detail in the design directly affects the intricacy of the 3D model.

Characters with unique and elaborate features demand meticulous sculpting, precise texturing, and careful consideration of proportions and anatomy. As a result, the modeling time for complex characters can be significantly longer compared to simpler designs.

simple 3D character design might involve a basic human or humanoid figure with standard proportions and minimal accessories. For example, a generic office worker with a standard business suit and a neutral facial expression would be considered a simple character design.

On the other hand, a complex character design could feature fantastical creatures, intricate armor, elaborate hairstyles, and facial expressions with a wide range of emotions.

Complexity of the simple 3D character

LEVEL OF DETAIL

Detail is what brings characters to life, making them visually appealing, emotive, and immersive. Whether it’s the subtle wrinkles on the skin, individual strands of hair, or intricate clothing textures, attention to detail elevates the quality of the character and enhances the overall storytelling experience.

When we make 3D characters, we often work with low-poly and high-poly models, each serving specific purposes and influencing the time required for the modeling process.

Low-poly models are quicker to create and require less time for texturing and rendering. They are quite good for mobile and casual/Online RPG games, as it holds better performance

However, due to their simplified geometry, low-poly models may lack fine details and may not be ideal for close-up shots.

High-poly models contain a higher density of polygons, allowing for intricate detailing and capturing realistic 3D characters.

Creating high-poly models is more time-consuming, as it involves sculpting fine details and generating high-resolution textures.

So make 3D character models by focusing on proper topology and efficient polygon management.

realistic 3D character level of detail
Zoom In
Zoom Out
Reset

CUSTOMIZATION REQUIREMENTS

Customized features in 3D character modeling, such as blendshapes, unique body proportions, distinct facial features, hairstyles, and personalized outfits, significantly impact the time needed to create the final 3D character. The level of customization required can vary from project to project, and each unique feature adds complexity to the 3D modeling for games.

However, the investment in customization often results in characters that stand out, evoke emotions, and align perfectly with the project’s vision and goals. Balancing the level of customization with project timelines and resources is essential to achieve the desired results efficiently.

make 3D character models customization requirements

ARTISTIC STYLE AND REALISM

Artistic style and realism significantly impact the required modeling time. When comparing stylized and realistic character modeling, the choice of artistic game style can significantly affect the complexity and intricacy of the modeling process.

Realistic video game character models aim to create highly detailed and lifelike representations of individuals or creatures. Artists strive to capture precise anatomical proportions, intricate textures, and lifelike expressions.

On the other hand, stylized character modeling involves simplifying and exaggerating certain features to create a 3D character’s distinctive and often more visually appealing appearance. Artists have the freedom to depart from strict realism, adopting various art styles, such as cartoonish, cel-shaded, or low-poly aesthetics.

video game character models artistic style and realism

PROJECT SCOPE AND REQUIREMENTS

Project scope and requirements are essential factors that significantly influence the time required for character modeling. 

Understanding the scope and meeting the specific requirements of the client are critical in delivering a successful project in time. Gathering character reference images for 3D modeling is crucial in achieving accurate and detailed character models.

The project scope defines the overall objectives, deliverables, and limitations of the character modeling endeavor. A larger and more complex scope, such as creating an entire cast of characters for a game, will naturally demand more time.

Clear and detailed requirements from the client help us understand the desired artistic style, level of realism, and any specific features or characteristics the character models must possess.

character reference images for 3D modeling

Along with the number of characters, the variations also required for each character can impact the modeling time. Variations may include different outfits, expressions, poses, or even different stages of character development (e.g., young and old versions). 

Proper planning, game art workflows, and effective communication are crucial in optimizing the time required for character modeling. By considering the number of characters, variations, and client feedback, the team can manage the project timeline effectively and deliver high-quality game character models that meet the client’s expectations.

Efficient Workflow and Time Optimization

PLANNING AND PRE-PRODUCTION

Planning and pre-production are essential stages in any creative project, laying the foundation for its success. A thorough approach to planning and pre-production ensures that the subsequent phases run smoothly and efficiently, minimizing potential roadblocks and maximizing creativity and productivity.

One crucial aspect of this process is creating a detailed brief and storyboard. The brief serves as a comprehensive outline that outlines the project’s goals, target audience, timelines, budget constraints, and overall vision. In this context, concept artists and character designers play a pivotal role.

Concept artists are responsible for visualizing abstract ideas and transforming them into tangible concepts. By creating cool visuals, they help stakeholders and team members better grasp the artistic direction of the project.

concept artists and character designers planning and pre-production

ITERATIVE MODELING PROCESS

The iterative modeling process is a dynamic approach used in various creative fields, including 3D modeling, animation, and digital sculpting. It involves cyclic repetition of specific stages to gradually refine and improve the final product. This iterative workflow offers several benefits, such as enhanced creativity, flexibility, and efficiency.

The process typically begins with blocking, where the basic and rough forms of the model are established.
It serves as a foundation for the subsequent stages and provides a clear direction for the project.

Next comes sculpting, where the model is refined with more intricate details and fine-tuning. This stage allows the artist to add depth, texture, and complexity to the model.

After sculpting, the model often requires retopology. During this stage, the artist optimizes the model’s topology, ensuring that it is clean, efficient, and suitable for game animation and other downstream processes.

The final stage is refinement, where the model undergoes polishing and fine adjustments. This phase focuses on perfecting the details, addressing any remaining imperfections, and preparing the model for its intended use, whether it’s for rendering, animation, or integration into a larger project. After completing the 3D render of the character, it can be further integrated into the game engine to become a playable character.

blocking sculpting retopology 3D render

UTILIZING ASSETS

In modern creative workflows, utilizing pre-built 3D models and assets has become a widespread practice across various industries. These assets offer significant advantages in terms of time-saving, cost-efficiency, and access to a vast array of high-quality resources.

Pre-built 3D models and assets refer to ready-made 3D objects, textures, animations, and other elements that artists can integrate into their projects. These assets cover a wide range of categories, including characters, environments, vehicles, furniture, and more. 

Marketplaces and online libraries are key sources for finding such assets. These platforms provide a vast selection of 3D models and resources created by various artists and designers worldwide. Some marketplaces even offer free assets, while others have premium content for purchase. Customization options also vary depending on the asset and the licensing terms. Some assets come with source files that artists can modify to suit their needs fully.

Pre-built 3D models and assets

AUTOMATION AND PROCEDURAL TECHNIQUES

Automation and procedural techniques play a crucial role in streamlining and expediting the 3D character modeling process. These methods leverage the power of computer algorithms and predefined rules to automate repetitive tasks and generate complex assets with efficiency and precision.

Scripts and plugins are common tools used in 3D character modeling to enable automation. They can automate tasks such as rigging, skinning, UV mapping, or applying specific materials. Procedural techniques, including procedural generation, involve using algorithms to create content automatically based on certain parameters or rules.

Let’s explore some examples to showcase the efficiency of automation in specific tasks:

  • 1

    Character Rigging

    With automation scripts, artists can speed up this process significantly by automatically generating basic rigs for characters.

  • 2

    Material Application

    Automation scripts and plugins can automate material assignments based on specific naming conventions or object properties, reducing the manual workload and ensuring consistency throughout the scene.

  • 3

    Procedural Texturing

    Instead of manually hand-painting textures, procedural techniques allow artists to create complex textures procedurally using algorithms.

Automation and procedural techniques

Case Studies and Examples

In this showcase, we will present case studies from real-world projects in the Auto Battler Games genre to demonstrate the time required for character animation and rendering. 

Several factors influenced the project’s implementation timeline. One of the main factors was that our team created highly detailed male and female horror game characters, which were subsequently animated and fully prepared for integration into the game engine.

Case Studies and Examples Auto Battler Games

In the context of 3D character modeling for military games, understanding industry standards and benchmarks is essential to achieve high-quality results within reasonable timeframes.

For the ‘Guns and Battles’ project, our animation specialists were given all the necessary game assets and utilized Maya and 3ds Max software to bring them to life and also kept all detail levels. And for CG trailers, where visual fidelity is paramount, additional time is invested in ensuring characters reach the highest level of realism.

Characters for 3D Military Games

On our way of creating 3D character modelers for fantasy games, there are a lot of success stories. And we as professionals want to generously share our tips and techniques, providing insights into how we optimize modeling time and achieve remarkable results by using preferred tools, and effective strategies.

Just look at this red-haired, gloomy guy. Our team of concept artists and 3D modelers dedicated a lot of time and attention to creating this unique character. 

On average, working on such a character takes our team from 6 to 10 full working days. Want to add animation? Then the project can take up to 14 days on average, but the result will pleasantly surprise you.

3D Character for Fantasy Game

How we made a dwarf character

Over 10.6 days, our team worked hard to create a 3D model fantasy character.

Here’s how we did it:

  • 1.8 days we spent drawing the 2D Concept,
  • 4.5 days for sculpting the model’s intricate details,
  • 1.5 days for retopology and UV mapping,
  • 2.8 days for texturing to bring out the character’s lifelike features.
Dwarf Character 3D Model Sculpting Process

Then, we took 3.2 days for 3D Game Animation of the character, breaking it down into:

  • 1 day for rigging and skinning,
  • 0.5 days for an idle animation,
  • 0.7 days for a run sequence,
  • 1 day for an attacking movement.

We used Maya software for these animations. Finally, we made sure the character could work in both Unity and Unreal Engine for games, ready for exciting fights.

Dwarf 3D Warrior Character Cloak Helmet

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several key factors that influence the time required for 3D character modeling: project scope and requirements, number of characters and variations, artistic style and realism, and client involvement and revisions. And also now you know how long it takes to make a 3d model.

In the competitive world of 3D character modeling, dedication, adaptability, and creativity are key to success. By understanding the factors that influence modeling time and embracing efficient workflows, our 3D character modelers can embark on a rewarding journey in the world of digital art.

So, want to create captivating 3D models or modern RPG character portraits? Hiring our skilled concept artists and 3D modelers can help breathe life into your game’s characters.

FAQ

FAQ How to Model a 3D Character

The time required for modeling a 3D character varies depending on factors such as complexity, level of detail, artistic style, and project requirements. On average, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Popular software for creating 3D character models includes Blender, ZBrush, Maya, and 3ds Max.

Yes, pre-built 3D models and assets can be used to expedite the character modeling process. There are various marketplaces and resources available for obtaining 3D assets.

Planning is crucial in the 3D character modeling process as it helps define the project scope, establish a clear vision, and streamline the workflow. Game character models also should be optimized for performance while maintaining the visual quality required for the game.

While specific timeframes can vary, industry standards and benchmarks exist to provide a reference for estimating the time required. These benchmarks consider factors such as character complexity and detail levels.

Essential technical skills for 3D character modeling include knowledge of anatomy, proportions, topology, texturing, shading, and rigging.

Automation and procedural techniques, such as scripts, plugins, and procedural generation, can automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and enhance efficiency in the 3D character modeling process.

Collaboration with stakeholders, such as clients, art directors, or project managers, is essential for receiving feedback, ensuring alignment, and delivering a successful 3D character model that meets the project’s objectives.