🟠Learn how to acquire references for 3D modeling in this Maya class.
🟠Discover recommended software, explore popular websites, and master the art of using references for accurate and detailed modeling.
The most important thing for any artist whether that is 3D or 2D is gathering references to create a character, prop, or environment.
Gathering ideas and inspiration will help any artist create a new unique piece of art.
The best software to use to put all the references you find is PureRef.
It is a free software you can download from their website and you can also donate any amount you feel comfortable to support the developers.
If you’re not in the financial position to donate, that is alright and you can input a custom amount of 0 dollars and install the software for free.
Where to gather references from?
The most popular place to seek inspiration and reference is ArtStation.
It is a website where artists can post their works and create a portfolio.
Artists 3D and 2D alike post their work on this platform and many companies seek artists for hire from this very website.
It is a very professional website to use and you have a chance of companies indie and triple-A to notice your work.
One of the less-known websites where people gather references is Pinterest.
There are many different things that can be posted on this website and isn’t really art based and it is more of a post whatever you like kind of site.
Nevertheless, it has plenty of art posted on there that can also lead you to the original places where the artwork was posted.
Another well-known website to gather inspiration or post your own work on is the Rookies website.
Here is where a lot of junior artists post the progress of their work and experience in the industry.
This website hosts the yearly Rookies Competition called the Rookies Awards, where junior artists and artists without work experience more than a year in the field, get to compete in different competitions, ranging from animation to 3D sculpting, to Concept Art.
Going back to the PureRef.
When you open the software it will look like a blank gray box.
In there, you can drag and drop images directly from any website without having to download them and the quality will still be the same.
You can make a mood board inside PureRef with ease.
A mood board is a collage of pictures that will help guide you through making the idea for your next project.
Whether that be sculpting/drawing a character or making an entire environment.
Here are some examples of mood boards from artists that work in the industry.
In the first image, we can see how Bobby Ross, a level designer, gathers references to create a map or a level for a video game.
They have a clear idea of how the levels are going to look with the help of the references he has gathered.
In the second image is a mood board of blockout images of levels used for the Uncharted game.
The blockouts were made by Emilia Schartz, an artist that works Naughty Dog.
The third image is a mood board for a color palette of how the area could look with those specific colors.
There is an incorrect way to make a mood board.
A “bad” mood board is cluttered with all sorts of images with no clear point of what the person is trying to communicate.
A “good” mood board isn’t as cluttered and has notes depicting each idea and deciding on the final factor of where the direction of the idea will go.
When gathering references for creatures or characters it is best to have the full 4 views to help with sculpting.
Those 4 views or sides are the front, back, side, and ¾ view.
These are called Turn Tables or Turn Arounds.
It shows the character from all sides and it is easier to work with.
Some references can be in ¾ view like with the creature or character, made by our Concept Artist at M3DS Academy, Milijan Popovski.
The downside of having only 1 view is that you will have a harder time getting the shape and form down from the other sides that we have to fill in the gaps for.
It is a big bonus if the reference for the character has their accessories or weapons also included in the same drawing.
It helps out a lot when making those important details.
When gathering references for a prop you need to have all the elements from the prop inside the moodboard.
In this example, we have a gumball machine that is also a minigun.
There is a reference of the prop itself but also a couple of references of a normal gumball machine and a minigun.
Even though the prop is a fictional object that doesn’t exist, we still have to stick to the real aspect from it.
When making a prop that is an object that already exists, you need to gather references of that object from all angles and close-ups.
Environment References can get very busy since we have to think about the scaling and shape language in play.
Another big factor is the time period and the state of the environment.
The more angles and views you have from the environment the easier it will be to create.
When you decide on an environment to create the first thing you should do is create the blockout for the environment and the angle shot the environment is going to be displayed.
In the first image, there are only blocks and shapes scattered about with no detail at all.
This is a very crucial step because it sets the scaling and scene for the shot and the placement of objects and characters.
The second, third, and fourth images are the placement of the fully finished props inside the blockout with the build-up of detail being placed inside the scene as well as the finished character.