3D models have become an incredibly important part of the entertainment we consume. Whether it’s an AR asset on Hololoot, something in a video game or even CGI in the movies we watch, 3D artists are the ones behind the scenes making these experiences immersive and fun.
At Hololoot, we have several extremely talented 3D artists on the team, as well as a network of freelancers we call on from time to time. These digital sculptors take 2D images, other 3D assets or even just ideas and transform them into something that seems tangible in AR.
While it might seem like magic to most of us, what goes on is something more impressive. These artists aren’t wizards: they’re dedicated and talented, and through hard work have learned to carve models on a virtual plane.
Today, we take a look behind the curtain at what is involved in making a 3D asset. Join us as we journey beyond our computer or phone screens in the strange and exciting realm…
… of Blender 😲
Making the Pixelogram 🗿
If you’ve spent some time on our Discord or in our TG community, you’ll have probably seen Daniel Bressoud. He’s our CM and has been here supporting Hololoot from just about the very beginning. Other than being a verified people-person, Daniel is also a hobby 3D artist who kindly agreed to take us on a tour of his workflow.
Today, we’re making the Pixelogram.
It’s quite difficult to picture a 3D object in your mind, which is why artists usually always use a reference. For this model, Daniel used an image of a similar crystal grouping.
With the reference set, it’s time to get modeling.
The first step is simple, says Daniel. “I started with the classic cube on Blender.”
Looking at this simple cube one recalls the words of the great Michelangelo, who believed sculpture was the pinnacle of the arts. A painter simply makes marks on a canvas, painting how they feel. The sculptor, instead, must find the masterpiece that already exists in the material.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
The same is true with blender blocks. Daniel begins the process of discovery and finds that crystal was calling to him from within the cube.
Michelangelo would likely be blown away by what 3D modellers can do. In addition to carving their virtual blocks, they’re also usually responsible for painting and texturing them too.
Here Daniel selects everything: from the plastic-looking, opaque texture to the color of the crystal. This process also determines the way light looks when it hits the surface of the model, and what happens when light tries to pass through it.
With the texture set, it’s now time to see how it actually looks under the spotlight.
Daniel selects a light source and begins to play around with the scene.
Once he’s happy, he duplicates the crystals and assembles them into the cluster we see in the final render.
But the job isn’t done yet. A bunch of crystals just sitting around isn’t very exciting — it’s way better if they spin.
This animation process produces a series of individual frames, each showing a slight progression of the crystal as it spins.
Yep, you could click through all these individual images really quickly, but it would be much better if you just combined them and rendered a video.
Export the video, and you’re done. You now have an animated, spinning Pixelogram!
From Blender to the Metaverse ✨
If you’re only looking to make a 3D model, the journey ends here. But if you’re interested in experiencing 3D assets in augmented reality, there are a few more steps to bring what was once a humble cube in Blender into AR. We’ll explore this very process in another article, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for updates 👀