With this tutorial, we will take a software-independent look at some of the vital 3D terminology required to build a solid foundation for learning computer graphics. The purpose of these standalone lessons is not to learn how to use any specific software, but rather to focus on learning fundamental terminology. It is recommended that you are familiar with all of the terminology that is discussed throughout these tutorials before learning any 3D or computer graphics program. Software required: none.
Introduction and Project Overview In this lesson, we will learn about the 3D graphics pipeline. A pipeline is simply the series of steps that must be completed in a particular order to create the final product. Getting assets to this pipeline usually involves a number of artists in different disciplines using a variety of software packages. Because of the complexity involved, coordinating all of the aspects of the pipeline is important in creating an efficient workflow. The pipeline may look different for different projects and it will also depend on the particular studio but let's take a look at a basic example. To create an animated sequence, we'll first go through the pre-production process of creating artwork to illustrate the look of the characters and sets. We'll also create storyboards to give us a roadmap to follow when creating those shots. From here, we can begin creating all of the models that we'll need for our animation. This will involve modeling the objects, and adding materials and textures. Once the characters are built, rigs can be added to allow for the control of their movement. Animators can then use these rigs to animate the characters within the scene based on the storyboards which were done earlier. Finally, the shots will have lighting added and can be rendered out in the appropriate format. There can be many additional disciplines involved in a pipeline, from layout to compositing. Depending on the size of the pipeline, many different artists will contribute to the assets before handing them off to others. This makes it even more important to make sure things are done correctly so that the flow of work through the pipeline is not interrupted. Every project will have different needs and each pipeline is unique. The key is understanding your role within the particular pipeline and moving assets along so that your project is completed on time and on budget.