Five Tips for Creating Better 3D Models to Sell Online and Bring Your Customers Back
Creating 3D models to sell through sites like Turbosquid can be a great source of supplemental income, but if you want to build up a clientele, make sure you're creating high-quality models that can quickly be integrated into a variety of pipelines. Your customers should find your models easy to work with and customize.
If they can save time by using your models, they'll come back again and again. But if they have to stop to fix issues with the model or rework the geometry, they may think twice about buying from you next time. Why not make it as easy as possible for them to give you their money? Here are some tips to make sure your 3D models will keep them coming back for more.
When you create models, you have the ability to build them at any scale. So when customers begin combining models from different sources, having a size standard becomes very important. Unless you're working on microscopic creatures or city blocks, model your objects to real world scale.
When your customers load up your model, it will be more likely to match up with their existing scenes. This is an easy fix so make sure to check your model before publishing. If you didn't build to this scale initially, your 3D package will offer methods of measuring your model so you can then scale it appropriately.
All About the Quads
Build your geometry using mostly quads (4-sided polygons) with a few triangles if necessary. Sure, you can you make a model with some n-gons (5+ sides) if you want. Will it deform correctly? Sometimes. But why not make your model as clean and flexible as possible? Most of your customers will want quads that they know will subdivide and deform predictably.
So it's a good idea to give them what they want and save your super-custom n-gon workflow for personal work or for models that you'll be working with and rendering yourself. A few triangles are okay, especially if the model is explicitly created as a low resolution asset.
Poles or stars are vertices on the model where more or less than four edges connect. This is also refereed to as the vertices valence. A few poles are an inevitable result when creating models and these can't be eliminated. But try to make sure that a maximum of five edges converge at any one point, especially on a contoured surface where artifacts can be more apparent. Poles of six or more edges can be fixed by rerouting one or more of the offending edges to different areas of the model.
Setting Edge Hardness
Creasing edges when subdividing your models can be a great way to get the correct edge hardness while saving on extra geometry. But when selling your models, it's more important that they are portable. You want your customers to be able to bring your model into their 3D application and see exactly what you meant them to see when subdividing the geometry. So define the hardness of your subdivided edges by actually adding supporting edges in the cage.
These extra edges will tighten up your sub-d edges with the hardness determined by the distance between the edges. This increases your polygon count, but if your model is meant to be subdivided it will ensure that your customers get what they expect without having to worry about any creasing values, and the edge hardness is baked into the cage geometry itself.
Clean up Your Act
When someone buys your model and opens it up, they don't want to have to go through and name all the pieces or delete some bits of left-over construction history. It doesn't take long, so make sure to go through and rename all of your geometry and put it into a nice hierarchy. There is some flexibility in the exact naming convention, but at the very least make sure everything has a unique name, even if it is as simple as bolt_1 or panel_t. Get rid of any unused nodes, transform information or creation history.
Putting your model at the origin and either centering the pivot or putting it at the base of the object is good practice as well.
If you're working on your own projects or you're creating rendered scenes, you may be able to create great work using more forgiving methods. But when you're building models to be used by others, it's wise to remove as many obstacles as you can so that your customers are able to quickly integrate your work into their pipeline. They'll be happy and come back for more of your work, and everyone wins! If you have any questions or tips of your own share them in the comments below!