Modding and Modeling – Keeping My 3D Skills Sharp With a Hobby

I miss 3D. We haven’t had a 3D project in a little while (besides some quick re-renders of an older project,) and it’s easy to get rusty when you’re not practicing. I recently picked up a discounted copy of Lightwave 3D through my former school’s store, so I have been able to work a bit on my own stuff in my downtime.

For me, the best way to challenge myself in 3D modeling is to try and create elements for a video game. This forces you to do the most efficient modeling possible – you need to have good seams between polygons, no unnecessary vertices (to prevent texture tearing), and most importantly you need to keep the polygon count as low as humanly possible. Poly count is based on the game you’re modeling for – an older game can support less polys and less detailed textures than some of the next-gen titles.

Also, you always need to keep in mind the use of the model in the game. If it is a character, you need to make sure it can be efficiently rigged for animation. If it is an object, it will need to interact properly with the player and the environment. And if it is a part of the environment, it will need to be as detailed as it can be without being too polygon heavy – a good thing to ask yourself when modeling environments is “How close to this can the player get? Is there any part of it that they will not be able to see?” You can save major polygon real estate by removing the back polygons of a model that a person will never be able to get behind.

I’ve been modding  games in my spare time for years, but only for personal use. Most recently I’ve been making new swords and items for The Elder Scrolls IV, a PC game that is around two years old. I want to get into creatures and armor, too, but I have yet to work on those for this game. I’ll be sure to post some renders when I get to them!