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What is 3D character animation?

Nearly everyone has seen an animated movie. Disney churns out several each year, along with many animated series. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network do the same on TV. In the last two decades, however, there has been a ton of change in animation. 

Disney and their kin used to work solely in 2D animation. Now, 3D has taken the lead in many ways. Pixar is an excellent example of 3D animation work. Their characters live and breathe in three dimensions. They have depth and feel fully alive in an immersive world. To put it simply: 2D animation is like drawing or painting; 3D animation is like carving or sculpting. Each one is a form of visual art, but only the latter makes use of an extra plane of existence.

In a very simplistic sense, this is the difference between 2D and 3D animation: the addition of another dimension. But this “single” distinction holds within it much more. The third dimension adds another layer. It provides depth and life to what might otherwise seem to simply be a flat image. The many complexities of 3D animation elude the grasp most non-animators. How images come to life on screen and move around seems like the work of magicians. While 3D animation also requires a hefty amount of science, there is much truth to the claims of magic.

The ability to add texture and movement to objects is truly incredible. Animators can create flowing hair in a breeze, the shadow on a sidewalk cast from a building, or even the shape of a human eye or face. All this can be completed in either two or three dimensions, but 3D brings something else, a certain je ne sais quoi. This elusive unknown is precisely what makes brilliant 3D animators seem like wielders of magic wands.

But 3D character animation is not only used in TV and film. Video games are another obvious choice for 3D characters. Whether it’s characters playing football or basketball, a game based on war or another conflict, or even translating a board game onto the digital screen, 3D animation can do it all. In the early days of video gaming, there were only a few bits available to designers. Today, they have a whole other world at their disposal.

Additionally, 3D character animations work wonders in architectural fields. Interior design services constantly need the ability to show off their designs to clients and customers. When three-dimensional characters are added to the image, the presentation can genuinely come to life. The same is true in the many industrial and engineering fields. 

In these cases, tools and products need to be demonstrated both for potential clients and employees. Customers need to know what they’re buying. Workers need to know how to use the tools they’re given. In each case, a 3D character animator can bring a new perspective and transform any demo in which they are utilized.

How do animators actually create 3D animations?

That being said, how they work all this magic is another matter entirely. The software they use ranges widely as well, but it all works toward the same end goal. They are creating realistic three-dimensional character animations for use in film, TV, video games, architectural design, industrial, or other entertainment or commercial need.

3D character animators must possess equal amounts of artistry and technical skill. Before they appear on screen, 3D characters must be artfully crafted using modern animation software. To begin, animators must model the characters, giving them wireframes and a simple shape that will eventually transform each one into the full-blooded character seen on screen in the film, show, or presentation. Next, they position the characters in relation to the scenery and one another, animating them and their movements, from walking to talking and everything else. Last, after modeling, layout, and animation have all taken place, 3D character animators render the completed, finalized graphics.

3D character animators use highly sophisticated software to develop their work. Software such as 3ds Max, MotionBuilder, Blender, Cinema 4D, and Maya are in widespread use, although there are plenty of others. Some programs work only on Windows, others solely on Mac computers, while many operate on both. Some even function on tablets. Each one varies in cost, though many offer free options for those trying them out for the first time. Blender is completely free and works on both major platforms if someone is looking to give 3D animation a shot without breaking the bank. Student pricing is also available for some 3D animation software solutions.

One of the most widely used is 3ds Max, with 3D built right into the name itself. It is made by Autodesk, the leader in modern drafting and artistic software. According to their website, 3ds Max allows artists to easily draft 3D models and render graphics for high-end solutions, as well as animate their creations. At the same time, Autodesk applications work seamlessly with one another and even third-party programs. Animators can implement 3ds Max with Fusion 360, SketchUp, and a handful of others without any issues.

Who uses 3D character animation?

As mentioned, the fields in which 3D character animation prove useful are legion. More industries can benefit from such work than could not. When one considers the needs of fields beyond film and gaming, there are countless opportunities for the use of this medium.

For instance, the field of medicine incorporates 3D character animation quite regularly. Medical schools and hospitals must frequently employ the use of medical animations to showcase a new tool or operating procedure. The more realistic and lifelike the animation, the more likely it is that doctors and nurses will benefit from the video demonstration. The same goes for patients who need to understand how a procedure will work before going under the knife.

Likewise, consider forensic science. Police and other investigators, as well as lawyers at trial, need to recreate scenes for examination and evidence. 3D character animators can bring crime scenes to life in ways that drawings or descriptions can only suggest. The same is true for educational videos. Stories from the past — of history or science or art — can become fully living scenes from which students or museum patrons can enjoy and learn.

For a specific example, take the British Museum, located in London, England. Their curators have developed an interactive 3D animation that is viewable on their website. This allows any visitor or patron to view and virtually tour the tomb and chapel of Nebamun from ancient Egypt. Even though the location of the actual tomb has been lost to history, animators and historians worked together to bring this artifact to life. Other forms of media just couldn’t do justice to the fantastic animations they created. All this would not be possible without the magic and power of 3D rendering and animation. 

How Cad Crowd makes it all come together

Allowing Cad Crowd to be an integral part of your team gives you the ability to manage the needs of your business as you ordinarily would, without any extra headaches. What’s more, you get the additional peace of mind that can only come from having the very highest quality 3D character animators around the world bringing your company’s vision to life for presentation, sale, or demonstration.

Further, we make sure that only the absolute best 3D character animators have the chance to work on your project. Our tight-knit group of CAD design freelancers have years of experience and are highly qualified in their area. They have worked hand-in-hand with companies and leaders in every field. Whatever your 3D character animation needs may be, rest assured that the artists with Cad Crowd will create exactly what you have in mind. We can come up with a 3D character animation solution for every client, no matter how specific their needs may be.

Cad Crowd will help you by utilizing our huge network of established three-dimensional animators. We work with only the best of the best. Each artist uses the very latest technology, so everything will always be contemporary and modern. If there’s a particular software package that you need us to use for your work, just let us know which one it is, and we’ll locate the perfect 3D character animation artist for your project.

Our 3D character animators are always available to assist any organization with getting started from scratch or building upon previous work. Wherever you are in the process of 3D character animation, we can help you get to exactly where you need to be to amaze your clients and customers, while saving money along the way.

No other site around works with the same quality of artists and creators that we do here at Cad Crowd. There is absolutely no other place where you will find the same level of excellence, expertise, and efficiency on which we pride ourselves with every contract. Find out how it works and get started today.

Hire freelance 3D animators and designers today

When it comes to video game design or movie animation, Cad Crowd can connect you with the most qualified 3D animation freelancers on the market. They're experts in any program you may need. Contact Cad Crowd today for a quote.

Brands we've worked with

Yale University School of Medicine
Tiffany & Co.
CNOOC Limited
The Boston Consulting Group

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