Use a Reference!

Today I’m talking modelling, specifically, getting it started. It may seem obvious, but the most important thing when you start to model is to KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO MAKE. I always do this, I have an idea in my head of something I want to make. I start modelling, then completely lose focus on what it’s supposed to look like and end up with an incomplete mess of a mesh.


Having some concept art to look at will make your life a LOT easier. This allows you to draw out the idea and figure out what works and what doesn’t. After wards, you can keep referring to it as you go along to keep your self on track.

I’ll be using one of my works in progress as examples as we go along.

Here’s my concept drawing:


As you can see, It doesn’t have to be a work of art. Just sketch something out so you can have a general idea of what your end result should look like. Preferably, have a digital copy you can color it in a paint program like Photoshop or Clip Studio. This will be helpful when you’re texturing, so you can try out different color schemes before actually making the textures.


When making the rough model, it’s useful to have orthographic images that you load into whatever program you’re using. This will help you keep things proportional and save you a lot of trial and error.

I went ahead and just downloaded a general anatomical character sheet of a man and cut it up to put on image planes.


Put the images on panes, and in an orthographic view, position them so they’re lined up, but out of the way. I use 3Ds Max for the majority of my models.

Then model away, keeping the model lined up with the images.

But remember that you’re just using these image planes as guides. Don’t worry to much about making your model 1:1 with the reference.

There, you now have your basic model, and from then on, you can work on refining and detailing. Using reference’s keeps you moving without having to readjust NEARLY as much as if you were just freely working.

Here is the final result of my BASIC model:



After that, continue looking at your CONCEPT ART as reference to help guide you as you make the details and other aspects of the model. As I said, my model is a work in progress, but here are a few images to help you get an idea of it.

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I hope this helps you guys in your future projects, as this has been invaluable advice for me and my projects.

And remember: “The computer fucking hates you. SAVE OFTEN”


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