Total noob questions about workflow.

Hello there, I’m a noob. Who barely has a grasp on 3d modeling, has a basic understanding of sculpting, has only seen rigging twice, and knows the basic of animation. I very confused about the workflow into animation.

  1. I understand modeling is better with object with hard shapes, and sculpting is for object with unique shapes. I also heard that it’s harder to animate something that is sculpted compare to something that is modeled. If I model it first, then sculpt it (like I see a lot of people do) will it still be hard to animate, or would that make it easier?

  2. If sculpting is where most of the details are, does the model really have to be that precise? Can I get the general shape of the model, then go crazy with details on the sculpting?

  3. Can someone explain why it’s harder to animate something that is completing sculpted. What if you doing the absolute most simplest animation, then would it be easier?

  4. I’m also confused about color and texture. The skins that we see on human character in video games, are those human skin texture there using? Or are they simply painting on the skin and letting the light do most of the work? (Sorry I know this question doesn’t fit in with the forum.)

I’m interested in making simple, animations, characters(and creatures) for games. I want to make unique models, but I want to put some (even the slightest) movement into them; It’s kind of creepy having a model just sit there and stare into your soul. I hope this knowledge makes my question easier to answer.

  1. Sculpting can be used for both hard surface and organic shaped surfaces, the sculpting workflow is preferred for complex models since you can shape the object without having to mind topology. Sculpted objects can have up to a million polygons easily and they will not deform properly, that’s why it’s a must to retopologize the mesh if you are going to animate it.

  2. You can model a basic shape and then jump directly go into sculpting, any small details you want to add to lower poly model can be baked as textures.

  3. Sculpted objects don’t deform properly and you will also have a lot of problems trying to add a texture to them due to the extremely messy mesh.

  4. Yep, they are textures. Google “normal maps” and “bump maps”, they can also fake the reflection values and roughness values with other map types.

1, 2 and 3.

In general, it’s about topology. Blender has two sculpting systems, dynamic topology (Dyntopo) and multiresolution. Dyntopo tesselates the geometry to make the brush detail happen on the surface, and multiresolution uses the same subdivision algorithm as subdivision surface (catmull-clark) which is non-destructive and keeps the structure flows that you started with.

When a workflow starts with sculpting, it’s to concentrate on the forms and proportions. After that, a sculpted mesh usually is too dense for the end use or pushing it through the pipeline, and the structure flows don’t correspond the new forms and rigging/animation requirements. A retopology pass is required to get that structure, and is built on top of the sculpted forms so one can concentrate on the structure instead of the forms and proportions, which are already done.

With a clean and efficient structure it’s possible to do additional sculpting, perhaps using multiresolution.

There are many ways to make deformations, but armature deform and shape keys (joints, expressions) moves the vertices in the control cage to describe all of the forms that are required. When building those deformations and have them be predictable, there’s a big difference between having 10 000 triangles to manage when creating a new form for which you need special tools, as opposed to having a readable structure and a dozen vertices for which you could use the move tool, one vertex at a time if needed.

Apart from being very inefficient to move millions of vertices in an animation, especially in a realtime environment such as game engine that needs many optimizations to be realtime, it’s also a control issue in the pipeline.