3D Character Animation is the creation of moving models or images of characters. Depending on the type of graphics used, the animation can be in 2D or 3D format.
Animation of three-dimensional characters differs significantly from 2D animation – “flat” cartoons, where the volume was achieved with the help of perspective and correct painting of characters and environments.
Today, technology allows you to immediately create a three-dimensional model and show its shape by lighting.
2D animation is creating an illusion of movement or changing the shape of objects using techniques.
3D animation is an automatic movement or transformation of objects in space and time.
Simply put, before it was necessary to frame the movement of each character frame by frame. Now it is enough to create a three-dimensional model of the character, after which it can be moved in space without additional efforts and drawing.
However, it only sounds simple, but in fact – the animation of the 3D model of characters is quite a difficult process.
To make the figure move, it is not enough to have access to a computer and smart programs. It is also necessary to imagine how the hero can move, what forces affect him at the same time (not higher forces, but, for example, gravity, friction, and resistance).
With the help of an animation, the virtual hero “comes to life” and gets the opportunity to move, move and perform any actions.
To name examples of where animated characters are most often used is easy enough. Each of us remembers at least 2-3 films produced by Disney Studios.
In them, we saw different cartoon characters that conveyed emotions, created the atmosphere, told a certain story.
With the help of an animation, you can quite effectively build the necessary relationships with your target audience, bring the desired message to it.
As an example, you can make regular use of the largest brands of cartoon characters, comics, and fairy tales to promote their products among the target audience – children and adolescents.
Take, for example, advertising campaigns such as McDonald’s and Minions, as well as Butterfinger (a product of Nestle) and The Simpsons.
The examples mentioned above combine both the wide recognition of the brand by the customers and the incredible popularity of the cartoon or video games the characters of which they use.
However, not every company can afford to purchase the right to use such well-known brands in advertising.
Therefore, creating a character animation individually for your brand can be a great solution. It will be much cheaper since you only need to pay for designer services.
Another advantage of character development from scratch is flexibility. In the appearance of the hero, you can lay the features you need, such as kindness, strength, attractiveness, self-confidence, and others. With their help, your brand can cause an appropriate reaction from the audience, create certain associations.
Each of us has our own unique character. And this character, feelings, the mood is reflected on our face, on how we move, go, in our eyes and gestures.
This all makes us one of a kind, not like the rest.
- But what about the characters on the screen doing this?
- How do they turn out to be personalities with funny habits, their own inimitable looks (remember the look of the Garfield cat) and all the things that animate them?
The answer is simple – our characters come to life with the help of 3D animation: magic, which gives life to cartoons. With this animation, the characters get as close as possible to the real person.
There are two character models of 3D animation – it is realistic and stylized models.
Computer animation of characters is an indispensable tool for creating special effects, no matter where they are shown. Currently, the developers of this process have become so skillfully and portray, for example, dinosaurs and others like them so precisely, that they look like they are alive and perfectly fit into the environment with human actors.
It is much more creative and fun to create prototypes of the world around us – here the artist has more room for creativity. Of course, computer animation allows you to accurately reproduce reality, but the best examples of it are, as a rule, far from everyday life. People accept the world as it was created by the artist animator.
Creating characters in commercials and games is quite a serious and surprising thing – the most difficult part of the work of 3D artists.
In order that a character has an individuality, is endowed with features unique to him, a careful study of this action is needed.
Each specifically taken character is created under a certain scenario.
3D characters are always effective. This is clearly seen when the animated hero is combined with a traditional video image.
Usually, it is the animated character that is remembered, and people only transmit cues. This technique is actively used in advertising products for young children, the character may not be an animated object: the box will suddenly speak to you, the bottle will dance the disco, they will have eyes, mouth, arms, legs … everything that is necessary.
And the heroes will move with the rhythm you need. Animation of characters in 3D can be endowed with a superpower, act outside of time and the laws of nature, because there are no barriers and realities.
Anything is possible. An animated character always works for you without fatigue and weekends, vacations and illnesses. He lives according to the laws that you yourself invented to him, he can always have a great mood and cheerful spirit, he pleases and attracts everyone without exception!
Features of 3D Character Animation
As modern wisdom says: nothing is a zombie, except a zombie. And if your hero is not him, then the character’s animation should be “alive”, or, as they say, today, variable. The viewer must believe that the hero really walks, looks, curls or smiles, interacts with the environment.
Creating and animating a 3D character is creating a story that is told not by words on paper (or screen), but by movement. For example, the hero’s mimic can say a lot about the character. But for this, he should have enough “quality” face to make the muscles move.
When the question is approached without due diligence or at half strength, as a rule, something turns out to be at least unnatural, and sometimes even frightening.
So let’s take an ideal model as a point of reference, and see what can be done with it:
- Animate by keyframes;
- Animate the trajectory;
- Create animation in a dynamic environment;
- Animate using motion capture.
You can animate everything in a three-dimensional scene – from light sources and cameras to any objects and effects.
There are several methods for character 3D animation. In general, this is a very creative process, where the artist animator can manifest himself in full measure, use the maximum imagination and imaginative thinking.
Each of the ways is easiest to explain, considering not only the technology but also examples.
Keyframe animation: from point A to point B
Creating keyframes is one of the most common ways to create 3D character animations. The essence of the method is as follows: on the time scale, several main points are set at which the position or shape of an object changes.
The animator sets the required model parameters in the specified frames, and the program calculates the “intermediate” states automatically.
Example: For simplicity, take a rubber ball that hits the ground and bounces up. To display one such “leap”, the process needs to be divided into three stages: the ball at the top point – the ball on the ground – the ball again at the top point. In an amicable way, one should set more keyframes, consider a bunch of small things.
Like the fact that when falling the rubber case is stretched, and upon impact – it is flattened. If to correctly deform the object at each fixed point in time, the 3D animation will be as natural as possible.
Not always 3D character models are people or animals. Our hero can be any object, for example, a flying camera or a UFO (in general, all that is enough for imagination). In this case, the blinking of light bulbs and rotation along the axis will not be enough – not interesting.
But to make the object fly along the trajectory, and yes even “send” the camera to follow the movement, approaching and moving away in time… The animation along the trajectory and skillful handling of the focus (which is exactly what the 3d animation studio should be able to do) will turn the simple circling of an object in space into an almost fascinating blockbuster.
The essence of the method is to:
- set the starting point (the beginning of the object’s path);
- mark the path (the path that makes the object);
- specify the endpoint (where the model should stop).
After the character/object is “tied” to the trajectory, the program itself calculates and creates movement. If we add an animation of the object itself (flapping wings, opening gates, extending the chassis) and playing with the camera, you can achieve very interesting effects.
Animation in a dynamic environment
Our hero is not in a vacuum. Any character is surrounded by some kind of reality, in which gravitation is necessary (if it is not in space), the movement of air masses and other types of vibrations. All this should be taken into account so that the character’s animation is realistic enough.
What does the result of such an animation look like and where can it be observed? In details. When a character walks around the city, and the cape flutters under gusts of wind, or when underwater the hair sticks to the face – all this is achieved thanks to the animation taking into account environmental factors.
Strictly speaking, animation in a dynamic environment is rather computational work with a deep immersion in the physical characteristics of objects. But without all this, even the most detailed 3d modeling with the elaboration of textures will not make the character more alive.
Motion capture: turning a movie into a cartoon
The technology of motion capture is young but very popular. Today, motion-capture is used in almost all science fiction films. The essence of this method is:
- sensors are fastened;
- while the actor is moving, the cameras fix the positions of the sensors;
- their offset is processed by the program and creates a moving “skeleton” with a set of keyframes;
- The received information package is “wrapped up” by the shell – for this, 3D modeling of characters is used.
As a result, the actions of the hero are realistic, convincing, and the animators do not have to contend with physics and remember where it bends.
Step by step creation of 3D character animation
Creating a voluminous character for a logo or commercial is only half the battle. As soon as the appearance of your hero is ready, agreed and approved, the most interesting begins – the creation of 3D animation. This is a laborious and incredibly interesting process, which allows you to “revive” any idea as a result.
For example, to teach a character to talk with a client, to be sad and happy, to ponder and move, “plunge” into adventures and show on your fingers how to apply your product.
The work of 3d animators is a colossal work, allowing you to create not just a moving picture, but also a completely reliable reality around.
Each order received for the development of character animation is a set of rules and individual client requirements that must be observed. For this reason, we approach the process with all responsibility, doing everything according to the established algorithm so as not to miss a single detail.
- Creating an idea
At this stage, you need to sit down and think: what we are doing, how we show it, and why it is needed. Sometimes the customer offers his own versions of how the plot should be built and on which it will be based. All offers are searched, the best ones are selected from them.
- Script Writing
This is a kind of plan, according to which character animation will be created, it describes the sequence of actions of all the characters.
They can be presented in digital or paper form, their task is to demonstrate in principle what the main character will be. At this stage, the maximum number of parts should be clarified.
- Development of a 3D model
Using the information obtained using the sketch, our designers are working on a three-dimensional model. As a result of this work, a character is obtained without movement – it only has to be “revive”.
- Animation of a 3D model
Experts working with animation, bring the model to a state of readiness, giving it the opportunity to move. Animation based on the previously written script.
- Creating an environment
Stage involves the development of a sound environment for a three-dimensional model, the selection of the background and other decorative elements. It adapts to the script of the video and tasks facing it.
Since there are no restrictions on what can be animated and how it will look, the cost of a 3D animation of varying complexity will also vary.
It is difficult to name the exact figures showing the price of our work without an understanding of what is required. Therefore, we describe the main factors on which it depends on how much you can order a character animation in our studio.
If you want to get a live character with character – it is important to turn to animators who are aware of all the subtleties and are willing to work out every detail fanatically. Not only walking, but also facial expressions, and the movement of hairs, and the slip of the fabric (if the hero, of course, wears clothes).
Why choose ArtLand Design Studio?
Today it is easy to find programs designed for 3D modeling and animation of characters. But, alas, it is not enough just to download free software or to buy a licensed copy of cool specialized software.
Transforming three-dimensional drill rounds into a living creature is hard work requiring skills and practice. Although a variety of tutorials on the creation of three-dimensional animation are laid out online, often turning to experts saves time, nerves and money.
ArtLand Design Studio provides a full range of services related to design and modeling. Our company has been on the market for more than 17 years.
We worked with different projects and we know how cool, intriguing and informative 3D animation should look like. If you have an idea to create your own video with an animated character, please contact ArtLand. We will be happy to discuss your project and bring it to life.