03 - Basic 3D Modeling

Though we would expand our imaging techniques as we went along, our basic approach to producing for the dome was to create 3D assets (characters and sets), import them into Unity, and then navigate through the environment, animating a third person character or moving a first person camera. 

Since all of our graphic and media classes are based on the Mac platform, our first priority was finding an inexpensive and easy 3D modeling program to use. We were hesitant to start up with the industry standard Maya, as we were concerned about high licensing costs and a steep learning curve. Cheetah3D fit our requirements. We soon discovered that even the easiest programs for 3D require extended study and practice. This encouraged us to find other sources for 3D assets, both cheap and free, and to explore simplified environments and display techniques.

During our initial project start-up, several developments in entry-level 3D applications made our work easier. Pixologic, the makers of ZBrush, released a free sculpting program, Sculptris. Being able to sculpt a virtual ball of clay is a much more intuitive way to create 3D shapes than manipulating polygons. We found Sculptris very useful in introducing our students to 3D creation.