Making 3D models the easy way (Video tutorial)

Ever since the beginning of the 90’s I’ve been fascinated with them. Then, more of a proof-of-concept, now they’re everywhere and not likely to go away any time soon. Turn on your TV or your game system, it’s all the same: 3D models have changed art as we know it.
I understand that a lot of “old school” artists may not have wanted to dive in to this strange and virtualized new world, but trust me – it isn’t as difficult as you may think. In fact, it can be about as easy as sculpting a clay model. Which is a perfect segue to topic at hand: Sculptris, the free 3D modeling application that starts you off with a ball of clay and all the tools you’ll want to use on it. Veteran 3D artists might look down their noses at it, but honestly I have personally used assets created in Sculptris numerous times in games I’ve worked on, and as long as you keep your triangle count down you’ll be fine.

Some other tools you may be interested in, for those who really want to dig in:
• Meshlab – a free application that can intelligently reduce your triangle counts, and do so even if you’ve already UV mapped your object.
• 3D-Coat – costs a bit of money but is in my opinion the best stand alone UV mapping software (try out the 30 day demo if you wish).

As for the term UV mapping (also called texture mapping), it refers to cutting creases into your model so you can save a 3D object paint job as a 2D image file. I plan to go over painting in a future video, but for now see what you can create using Sculptris!

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Matt Smith is an art teacher currently living in Michigan.

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