CGI Production: How 3D Artists Create New Worlds (part 1)

3 September 2018

Rapid innovations have made it possible to not only design and animate people but create entire fantastical universes from scratch. With advancing technologies and techniques, the only limitation to what CGI artists can create is imagination. The team at NDigitec took the idea of offering unlimited possibilities to heart. Our CGI professionals know how to turn any idea into computer-generated imagery that you can find in animated ads, posters, and brochures.

Only a couple of years ago, no one would have imagined that you can resurrect an iconic movie celebrity to star her in a commercial. In 2014 Framestore shook the world by recreating an identical model of Audrey Hepburn for the Dove/Galaxy chocolate TV advertisement. The ad surprised her countless fans and turned the animated appearance of a celebrity into a global discussion. All that would have been impossible without advanced CGI (computer-generated imagery), the purpose of which is creating the impossible.

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What is CGI about?

People often refer to CGI when they describe computer-generated 3D graphics. CGI can be used for many different reasons and mediums. It is a dynamic industry where the technologies have been continuously advancing ever since its first introduction in late 1970.

CGI Production: How 3D Artists Create New Worlds (part 1)

Architects use it to generate images of the future buildings, the movie industry uses CGI to create special effects, and animators use it to design and animate cartoons. With the increased accessibility of the software, companies have recently started using CGI production to create 3D images of their products and services for promotion.  

Rapid innovations have made it possible to not only design and animate people but create entire fantastical universes from scratch. With advancing technologies and techniques, the only limitation to what CGI artists can create is imagination. The team at NDigitec took the idea of offering unlimited possibilities to heart. Our CGI professionals know how to turn any idea into computer-generated imagery that you can find in animated ads, posters, and brochures.

Even though all of us have witnessed the progression of CGI graphics (from barely moving characters to realistic explosions), not many understand how it works. For regular viewers, the process is almost magical, but it is far from being true. It might not be simple, but it is possible to understand how it works, and what makes it so fascinating.  

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So, what does CGI production look like?

CGI production is an incredibly detail-oriented process with many small steps. To create a believable 3D image, it is important to follow a certain structure. It is not very different from the one used in regular animation. In fact, the most accurate way to describe CGI production would be “a blend of 2D animation and live-action”. To create believable models of objects and people, CGI artists generate images in software. Then, they give graphics realistic looks by adjusting, lighting, and painting them. The rules of the productions are not written in stone, but many artists follow a certain structure. It helps them ensure the quality of work and makes it easier to track its progression.

 

  • Designing

First of all, for an animator to create CGI animation they need to design the concept of the product. It is mostly a pre-production stage that involves a lot of research and development. Arguably, it is also one of the most important ones. If the artist does not properly develop the idea before modeling it, the product may end up being a mess. At this stage clients, directors, artists cooperate with each other to understand the requirements of a project. The CGI artists at NDigitec make sure to put in all the necessary time and effort into this stage. It helps to make sure that the end product is going to look exactly like what the client had in mind. This stage also involves sketching and concept-development, without which the further work with 3D graphics would have been impossible.

CGI Production: How 3D Artists Create New Worlds (part 1)

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  • Modeling

The modeling stage is when the CGI forms start to fall into place. During this stage, the CGI studio develops the three-dimensional object and gives it its shape. The graphic starts looking like what the designer had in mind.  It is when CGI artists start using the 3D software which is why many people associate this stage with the CGI production itself.

CGI Production: How 3D Artists Create New Worlds (part 1)

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  • Rigging

Next stage is the rigging. At this stage, the animator makes the animation of an object or a character possible. Think of it as defining the anatomy and physics of 3D graphics. The CGI artist establishes the structure of their bones and muscles to make their movements more dynamic. In a sense, rigging is what differentiates CGI animation from 2D animation. After those properties are defined, the artist gives a structure and texture to its skin and surface.  

 

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  • Animation

At this stage, CGI artists create animated videos or use its anatomy to stage 3D elements for still shots. What the designer is going to do with the CGI depends on the purpose of the project and its format. Here, the possibilities are nearly endless.

CGI Production: How 3D Artists Create New Worlds (part 1)

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  • Final touches

Before finishing the image or video, artists work on its retouching, rendering, and compositions. They make final touch-ups to ensure that the model looks its best. Without this stage, the 3D graphics are not going to look as polished, realistic, and appealing as they can. To the surprise of many, the final touches might take some time, but it always pays off.  If artists refine their work, the quality of images drastically increases. It is what differentiates professionals from amateurs.

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CGI Production: what else is there?  

We have touched only upon main stages of CGI production, but there is more to it than that. Different projects require different approaches, and thus tools. For that reason, there is a vast variety of CGI software on the market. To create 3D forms, artists use Maya, 3ds Max, or Cinema 4D. Afterward, animators might consider using Adobe Photoshop to paint the objects and create texture. They might also use After Effects to animate and assemble different elements. The kinds of software that designers use for CGI production is an interesting topic on its own that we will cover in the future.

The rapid growth in the development of software and its accessibility also allowed for more uses of the CGI graphics. CGI production and its applications in the world business environment have more to them than we have already presented. It is not surprising considering how layered and exciting the process is. Alongside understanding which software CGI animators use, in the next post, we will also look at how successful businesses use CGI graphics for commercial and promotional purposes.

At NDigitec we do it all — we create and develop CGI graphics with our clients that can be used and reused for multiple purposes. Our team of exceptional 3D artists creates detailed and elegant solutions that serve the needs of our clients. As you might have seen the process is not simple, but the professional team of CGI artists at NDigitec takes every project on as an exciting challenge that they will enjoy solving.

 

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