Although I was trained at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Kansas City Art Institute to create art with traditional materials and techniques, I have always enjoyed exploring new media and am now at the point where all of my work is created with digital tools.
Here’s a simplified description of the 3D digital process:
The figure is modeled in the computer using a 3D mesh, as if it is being sculpted out of clay. A skeleton is built for the figure so that it can be posed. Clothing, furniture, backgrounds and other props are also created as 3D meshes. Textures, both handpainted and photographic, are painstakingly applied to the 3D meshes. All of the elements are positioned and lighting is set up as if they were on a movie set. Camera angles are chosen and and image is rendered. Frequently more than one image of a scene is rendered, composited with others, retouched, and sometimes manipulated to add special effects in a digital paint program to create the final image. The final image can be saved in a variety of formats depending upon the medium in which it will be used, whether it be in print or on the Internet.
In the case of animation another layer of complexity is added. Movement must be specified for the figure, camera, lights, and anything else in the scene that moves during the length of the animation. For every second of animation 24 or more images must be created, so despite the fact that the computer speeds up the process, it still tends to be very time-consuming work.
Several software programs are used for the different stages in this process, for 3D modeling, texturing, posing, animating, and post-production. Often commercially available 3D meshes and textures can be utilized and modified for specific projects to streamline production.