High level workflow guidelines to produce meshes for 3D printing and/or animation

Blender being a phenomenally full featured application I’m not quite sure what the best way is to approach my first “serious” (as in not just drawing random shapes to try and understand the application) effort in Blender.

I want to sculpt a figure which will be used to print in 3D but which I will also use to make some basic animations, think animated gif rather than Avatar. It’s quite possible I’ll do one or the the other, but for the purpose of this question I’d like to know how to produce something which can be used for either.

It will be sculpting rather than modelling, assuming I have the difference right, as I’m coming to Blender from (hobbyist level) clay sculpting.

It seems to me that the basic sequence is.

  • Sculpt
  • Pose
  • Print
  • Either take a copy or be sure I don’t want to print again.
  • Retopo (although this could be earlier, it’s just not strictly necessary until I’m looking at animation).
  • Do things I don’t understand about baking and UVUnwrapping and a bunch of other things.
  • Animate.
  • Render.

The sorts of things I want to get my head around are:

For 3D printing things are reasonably straightforward to a point.

  • I can’t use texture maps etc, any detail has to be in the mesh.
  • Can I rig the mesh to make it easier to pose the figure?
    Given that I wnat to head toward animation I assume that rigging it to pose puts me a step ahead later on.
    But perhaps posing by rigging isn’t the best approach.
  • Should I pose it by, not sure of the correct term, “manually” manipulating the mesh?
  • Having rigged it, can I then continue to sculpt?
    I’ve come across conflicting information about this.

It’s when it comes to animation I’m more confused
I know I need to retopologise the sculpted figure to set it up to be animated.
After that there seem to be too many options for there to be one clear course.

Mostly what I’m worried about is doing something early on that prevents me from being able to do what I need to later in the process.

What is the best way to go about this?

If there are resources that lay out how things should be done point me at them and if I should post this elsewhere let me know.