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February 11, 2013

I am a final year computer animation student, in the process of creating a showreel to hopefully get me employment. I am modeling and animating a transformer in another blog as the centre piece of my showreel. And in this blog, my task is to create supporting assets to add to my showreel, and to research into industry requirements.

My main piece of work, will be my attempt to copy the animation of a transformers/chevrolet superbowl advert, using a realistic Lamborghini I have already modeled. The supporting assets (this project) will include high quality turntable and wireframe renders of all my best 3D models. I will also create a rigged and textured, realistic 3D character as I feel I am strong at character modeling. It will be a celebrity as all my previous models have just been random faces, and I want to do someone famous, recognisable; I have never tried to create a face that can be judged for accuracy. I feel that a comparison of my model to a real life counterpart should demonstrate my observational abilities. Time permitting, I will also be creating a rigged and textured creature or animal, as that is one area of modeling in which I have not dabbled. I have no definite plans as to what it will be, but I am leaning towards something without hair/fur, and something real so that there is plenty of reference material for creating textures.

I will do some key frame animation work; animating of the character and also animating the Lamborghini doing a doughnut with some particle effects. My other project will include the complex car-to-robot animation and I would like to have some story correlation between the pieces of animation in my showreel.

Transformers clip:

test3 Transformer Characters

I have already done some visualisation to see how I want my scene to be styled, completely changed the materials, lighting and setting of my previously created car to make it more realistic. I am not doing a conventional sequence with a story for this project really, as my showreel is all about modeling. I will be using this time to produce beautiful 3D models and advertise them as such. I have, however, storyboarded the animation I will undertaking for this task.

Storyboard2 Storyboard1

My inspiration has been watching the transformers films and being impressed with the visual effects. I also like the idea of creating hyper realistic 3D models and felt like the use of software such as ZBrush has helped me to embrace the artistic side of 3D modeling.

TortoiseWIP5 shark-image-BW-2

I have also been encouraged by work of a student at my university last year, who went straight into a job with a first class honours after graduating. Her showreel was composed of high quality, realistic models on turntables. The following photo is taken from her website,


I have some excellent hard surface assets and some ok sculpted characters, but would like to have a really good human model with realistic hair and clothing. A finished character of the above quality is my aim. As I have said it will be a recognised face, and I am thinking of Willem Dafoe as I think he has an interesting face with distinctive features. I have already started sculpting his face in ZBrush and doing some early texturing tests.

image Willem Dafoe Dafoe

3D character modeling and animation is workflow with which I am comfortable, and I have achieved high firsts for modules employing these disciplines. However there are areas for improvement, such as rigging and texturing. The best way to get better at these things is to watch tutorials and practice so I will be testing everything as early as possible.

I have been researching industry requirements of me also, I have found over my time at university that I can produce good work in all areas of the animation industry, my concept and post effects work is good. However, I feel that my 3D modeling and animation skills are stronger, I enjoy modeling and would  like to specialise in the area. This also requires that I am proficient at all aspects of the 3D model workflow – retopology, rigging, texturing, animation. Hence my choices for this project. Ideally I would like to work for a London based film effects studio.

There is also great demand for 3D modeling in other industries, including gaming, architecture, publishing, advertising & marketing, geology & science ( A lot of these professions will require further qualifications and experience, and my interest is really in creating assets for films/advertising/games. But it is still good to know that these options are there.

Requirements of a 3D modeler: aside from demonstrating ability and good accuracy of modeling; good topology and appropriate poly counts – knowledge of industry standard techniques – box modeling, edge loop modeling, NURBS/spline modeling, digital sculpting, prodecural modeling, image based modeling etc. “Character Modelers produce organic and mechanical models including high quality, stylized and photorealistic models of creatures, humans, robots and cartoony characters.  Artists build the models from scratch and see them through the modeling pipeline from start to finish.” A lot of companies prefer applicants with strong traditional art skills and observational skills. Software experience requirements vary, but employers tend to want a skill base in Autodesk Maya/3DS Max, Adobe Photoshop and often Pixologic ZBrush.

It makes sense to me to pursue a career as a 3D modeler, I have the skills required of me by employers; I was a traditional artist before I started learning 3D, from the first 3D character I modeled, I received feedback from tutors that my work was excellent and on par with far more experienced students. My first attempt at hard surface modeling was praised as some of the best work ever produced in that module. I am proficient at all the stages in the modeling pipeline. I have some really high quality pieces of work and am in the process of making more. I have a keen eye for detail and have no trouble solving my own problems. I am very comfortable using industry standard software packages and am tailoring my showreel to the requirements of companies offering jobs. I feel ready to start producing work at a professional level and that I would quickly excel in industry.

Below is an example of my retopology/normal mapping work.


Showreel is most important tool in gaining employment, important to play to my strengths and show off my best work. I am a strong modeler and animator, my retopology, rigging, uv mapping and texturing is good.

Showreel criteria – companies only want to see work you are truly proud of, quality over quantity. Ideally less than 2 minutes long with best work at the start, good quality animation and modeling, 360 turntables showing wireframe, UV layouts and maps. Include breakdowns and passes of shots. Presentation and flow of showreel is important. “If you are a recent graduate, make sure that you put a snappy montage of your best bits of work on there, please don’t just send in your final year project.”


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