3D Character Animation

The golden standard of character based moving image.

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3D Character Animation

3D Character Animation

An enormous advantage of 3D animation for this kind of work is that, once created, the character can be treated much like a real actor or object. This style of animation also allows for complex, beautiful characters and worlds to be custom made to your requirements – with lifelike movements, textures and colours. Dragonfly have a great history of producing awe-inspiring 3D character animation.

Want to know more about 3D Character Animation?

We don’t blame you. It’s one of the most exciting styles of animation out there.

Think Disney Pixar. Toy Story.

Here’s just a little taster of what people at the top end of 3D character animation are doing right now:

Toy Story 4 | Official Trailer – Copyright: (C) Disney•Pixar

Character animation in 3D is usually more challenging than other types of 3D animation. This is because moving characters in a realistic and believable way is incredibly detailed and time-consuming for animators – meaning the price-tag generally steps up too.

Characters will be built by a 3D artist, who will model all elements of the figure in digital software – much like manipulating clay. This model will then be passed onto an animator, who will use the model like a puppet, using rigging and keyframes to bring them to life. Working in this way means that the 3D objects can be treated much like actors – fluid movement, emotion and intricacies can be moulded into the animation.

If you’re unsure about the difference between 3D character animation and 2D character animation, try to imagine the difference between a drawing and a sculpture. 2D character animation takes place in the 2-dimensional world; the characters will have been drawn on a flat surface, and will often offer only one perspective, barren of the subtle and soft shadows that we see in real life. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does mean that characters are bound to look a little more cartoony and a lot less realistic. The benefit of 3D character animation is that characters have the ability to look as realistic or as cartoony as you like – and the correct blend of these effects can be simply stunning.

The process:

The process of 3D character animation is exhaustive and intricate. Characters need to modelled in 3D software – where an artist will shape and mould the form in a 3D mesh. Next, an artist will texture the 3D model, overlaying designs, patterns and textures to the blank shape. This is called mapping, and is where elements like strands of hair, freckles and even the texture of a character’s jeans will be added.

The next step of the process is called rigging and skinning. This is the last stage of the design process before a character can begin to be animated. In order to make the character move in the intended way, a skeleton of bones will essentially be added to the model, acting as a series of control points. Creating this skeleton is called rigging – and every rig is unique, depending on the subject matter. Adding the skin of the model to this rigged skeleton is (appropriately) called skinning.

Once the character is modelled, textured, rigged and skinned, it is ready for animation. An animator will take the puppet and manipulate it in computer software. There are multiple ways to make a character move – from using keyframes (similar to a 2D character animation), to setting curved paths for elements to follow, to motion tracking (using a real-life actor to control the puppet – like Andy Serkis and Golumn in The Lord of the Rings).

Once all of the movement is done, it’s time for lighting. Lighting 3D characters adds the all essential atmosphere and mood of the final animation. This is where a scene has the real potential to come to life.


3D Character Animations

``When you work with Dragonfly, you get a creative ally, helping you rise above the rest.``

Eddie King – Creative Director