Five Ways Your Computer is Ruining Your 3D Models

When creating 3D models, your computer is obviously a vital tool. It allows you to create stunning environments and compelling characters that populate video games, commercials and movies. For all of its power and capabilities, your computer is hiding a dirty little secret. It's ruining your models!

Creating Extremely Sharp Edges

sharp_edges When you use the computer to create polygon models, facets will occur whenever the angle of an adjacent polygon face changes. Think about the edges of a table, gun or smartphone. If you look closely, they aren't perfectly sharp edges. The problem is edges in real life, even sharp edges, aren't that sharp. By default, your computer will make these edges appear extremely sharp. So your models end up looking fake because of edges that are too sharp. To fight this, you can bevel the edges. This will create a loop of faces that will catch the light. Or you can subdivide the model and set creasing values on those particular edges.

Making Perfectly Straight Lines

straight_lines Your computer is really good at taking the quickest path from point A to point B. That often means the models you build will be full of straight lines and flat planes. Again, this can be a problem because you usually want your models to have some sense of realism. Try breaking up long lines and planes with a little irregularity. Maybe the long wooden support beam can be varied a little along its length or a little lumpiness can be added to a floor or ceiling. As with any models you create, it's always good to take into account the material your model represents. Your wooden rocking chair model may need some irregularity, but the panels of your Italian sports car model probably don't.

Arranging Everything Perfectly

arranged_perfectly One of the great advantages of building models with a computer is the ability to reuse existing geometry. Many objects have repeated parts, and even sets will often have objects that need to be placed at specific intervals like street lights or trash cans. Computers are great at making these copies, but by default they're all perfectly the same and lined up a little unrealistically. It'll take more effort on your part to modify the transforms on these copies to create a more realistic look. This may involve randomizing the position of some duplicated rocks or manually moving, rotating and scaling books on a bookshelf.

Things Fit Too Well

fit_too_well In the same way that you can duplicate objects quickly, you can also easily reuse geometry to create fitted parts using the computer. Think about modeling a bed. You could start by building the mattress and then extract part of the mattress geometry for sheets, blankets, etc. If you do that though, you should be sure to mess up those blankets a bit. For instance, add some wrinkles, folds and other imperfections to make sure it's not vacuum-packed to the mattress geometry. Extracting geometry can be a great way to cut out unnecessary modeling, but be sure to spend some time tweaking the new geometry for a more realistic look.

Perfect Symmetry

symmetry Symmetry is another double-edged sword when working with a computer. It's a great time saver to build only one half of a model knowing you can duplicate the other side at the end. This works great for things like vehicles and even characters, but the work can't stop there. Once the features are done, especially on an organic character, spend some time adding a little asymmetry to better reflect real life. The next time you build a 3D model, keep in mind that although your computer's default behavior can take you a long way toward your end result, you shouldn't stop there. Spending some time putting in those little irregularities will go a long way in adding the last bit of finish to your models.