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This wireframe mesh shows the points that define Joy’s shape. The mesh is most dense where Joy’s features are complex, such as her nose and mouth.

Digital sculpting creates virtual 3D models

What is a model?

The digital model is a virtual wireframe of points and the edges that connect them. It defines the shape of a character. The wireframe model of Lotso below is a visual representation of what a digital model might look like.

What does a digital modeler do?

Character design starts with artists who create sketches and clay sculptures, called maquettes, to get each character just right. Then a digital modeler creates a virtual 3D model of the character, sometimes digitally scanning the maquette to use as a reference. Digital Modelers have to understand anatomy, as knowing where the bones and muscles sit affects the surface shape.

Modelers create a virtual 3D shape as a wireframe (on the right) based on the concept art (the sketches of Lotso from Toy Story 3 (2010) on the left).

Modelers create a virtual 3D shape as a wireframe (on the right) based on the concept art (the sketches of Lotso from Toy Story 3 on the left).

Videos and Activities

Pixar’s Modeling Challenge

Smoothing surfaces with math

Pixar’s Modeling Challenge

Tanja Krampfert

Character Modeler and Rigger

 Tanja Krampfert

Virtual Modeling Workstation

Create a model from virtual building blocks

Create a virtual 3D model of a toy person from simple 3D shapes (cube, cone, cylinder, and sphere). Use customized software to create, rotate, move, and scale your shapes to make a complex virtual 3D model.

Resources

Pixar in a Box

Continue to explore using Pixar in a Box, a set of lessons developed by Pixar and Khan Academy. Follow the link for a lesson on Character Modeling.

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