Create an accurate CG animal: 10 pro tips

01. Conceptualise

This usually involves looking for inspiration and reference, while possibly sketching out rough ideas to think about.

02. Model

Once I have a direction in mind, I start by blocking out the subjects of the composition. I try to rough out the main subjects while still thinking about design, before I go too far into the detailing phase.

03. Topology

After I get my main shapes blocked out, I like to layout some simple edge flows. This allows me to easily adjust proportions and make larger adjustments. I will then continue fine-tuning the model, occasionally adjusting topology again if necessary. I always make sure to double check the mesh and clean it one last time before unwrapping and rigging.

04. UV/Texture

Once I get a model to a point I am happy with, I will UV map and texture the model. Sometimes I will do simple shading before I decide to UV the model, but I always make sure to unwrap it before I begin to properly paint. Once an object is unwrapped, I will usually jump between Photoshop and ZBrush to get the desired texture maps.

05. Pose/Rig

I choose to use the Transpose Master in ZBrush for posing models, but if the scene requires animation, a rig may need to be setup in another program. After I have posed the models, I may sometimes go back to sculpt and paint anything that needs to be cleaned up. Jumping between steps 02-05 is when I do the majority of the designing in 3D.

06. Animate

If I'm making an animation instead of a still image, I would setup the scene accordingly. Animations can require utilizing a skeletal system, blend shapes, cameras, lighting, etc. After I have things setup, I would then adjust the animations and simulations until they are complete.

07. Render

Making sure that I have everything ready to go, I then begin to set up the rendering phase. This stage can vary a lot depending on many factors including software, quality and output. Mainly I focus on lighting and materials to produce the layers I will use when compositing.

08. Composite

Once I have all my images to work with, I will take them into Photoshop, and begin to layer them accordingly. There is usually a specific way I plan on using the rendered layers I make, but I also like to take time and experiment with variations.

09. Finalise

All of the steps in my workflow are pretty much interchangeable. I do tend to move around between steps to keep things from feeling tedious and more fluid. I think that it can help to break up the process mentally and can also allow for unintended gains as well. After everything is accomplished, I consider any possible final touches.

10. Submit

Only after I have spent sufficient time in step 09 double checking and gaining approval for everything, will I complete a piece.

Words: Gordon Goane

See more of Gordon Goane's work in 3D World issue 183, on sale now. Order a copy here.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of seven full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Abi Le Guilcher, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.