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”


Stay. Busy.

Due to my current school schedule, and well, laziness, I haven’t been really working on projects lately. So last night I had free time and an idea, so I decided to get right to work on it. It’s a simple character, something I’ve done many times before. But as I progressed I realized just how many mistakes I was making. My topology was awful, I had done things out of order, and wasted time trying to find relativley basic commands and tools. The result looked nothing like I pictured it. I pretty much just said fuck it a restarted. I was so lost that I resorted to pulling out some old lesson PDFs from past semesters. I realized then that I hadn’t actually worked on a character for three months!

You cannot let yourself get rusty. As I said, I havent had a lot of time lately, and since I was out of practice I actually burned away two hours of my limited free time on a total boondoggle. I was messing up on simple stuff that I should not have had issues with.

I’ve decided that I need to start doing micro projects. Just like any skill, you have to keep practicing, keep those neurons strong. A micro project would be any simplistic task to help reinforce certain ideas. Make it a routine to do small, 20 minute excercises throughout the week to keep your skills sharp.

For example:

Today I created a standard cube in my 3D program, and started pushing and pulling verticies until I morphed the cube into a sphere. Then took the sphere and reversed the process to make a cube.

Little projects like that are quick and simple, but it keeps your mind active and reinforces skills, like topology manipulation in this instance. These seemingly inocuous tasks can do a lot for you, especially if you’re in a postion where you don’t have the time to constantly be working on big projects. Dont let yourself lag behind, Stay Busy.


-Jackson Carter

Welcome to Animation Fun Times

“HELP! I’ve dedicated my life to the most tedious thing I could think of!”

Animation is work, a LOT of work. When you spend 2 hours just trying to make a character walk two whole steps. When you dedicate your night to trying to figure why that characters arm decided to flail around for five frames. Or if you spend a whole week trying to create and finish just four seconds of animation. When you elect to do all of this and more, and you enjoy that? Yeah, you’re probably a bit of a masochist.

But thats just it isn’t it? It’s all worth it. You comit your time and energy into one of the most tedious activities in the entertainment industry. Through the twilight hours, you’re bashing your head against your desk, finalizing your project. When you finish, you’re left with the most rewarding feelings you’ve ever felt. That’s the magic of it all. Nothing about animation comes easy, so your victory is all the sweeter.

This blog is about sharing this passion, of making an inanimate group of pixels come to life. Here is a place where you can get tutoring, share ideas, and make things that cant be possible in real life. The world inside a computer or on a page of paper is yours to create, destroy, and breath life into. And I’m hear to help you, while you help me, and we all share our knowlege to achieve what we want and need to get through the arduous process of animation, and come out of it with something we can be proud of.

About me:

My names is Jackson Carter, I’m completing my 3rd year of animation education. I’m far from an expert but I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you get through the hurdles of this seven layer hell that is animation. From concept art, and script writing, to modelling, rigging, texturing, animation, and post-production. This is what I want to help you readers become aquainted with, and provide valuable tips and tools to make the journey just a bit easier.

Welcome to Animation Fun Times.

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

-Jackson Carter