Definition of Pre-production and 3D Modelling in a 3D Production pipeline

In this Blog post, I will be Defining what Pre-production and 3D Modelling is. I will be giving a definition for each of them and will show visual examples as well.  I will also be talking about my personal experience on my week 1 in our Foundation of 3D Graphics class.

Pre-production (1st phase in a 3D Production pipeline)

Pre-production is basically the story of the Animation, it is the period before any real animating takes place,  Like all great projects the success is always in the planning process.  This post will give an overview of different steps involved in the Pre-production process and how each step helps to develop a ‘road map’ on which to base the further production stages.

Pre-production starts off with your story/idea and other procedures that should be done before the production is initiated. The progress of the story/idea would be thinking of a concept design, to storyboard, animatic etc. After every step is done then the production can take place.


A Storyboard is a sequence of drawings that is used to help visualize the animation to communicate ideas clearly. It details key events and scene changes in the animation, often accompanied by text notes describing what is occurring in the scene such as camera movements. It is often the first opportunity for others to experience a real impression of the animation before it enters the production stage. Often storyboards include notes to describe the frame in more detail such as mood and lighting as well as camera movements.

The Storyboard helps to finalize the development and the story line and is an essential stage of the animation process. It is a visual reminder of the plan and can be referred back to throughout the production stage.


Here is a link where you can see more examples of storyboards from more great films like this one


4Talent: MOVE IT Animation Tutorial 

Character Design

Kratos from God of War 4:

Character Design involves developing the appearance and features of characters in an animation. Model sheets and Expression Sheets are produced to help animators be consistent with the appearance of characters. The more complex the character the harder it is to repeat over and over. Expression Sheets are developed as a guide to character facial expressions, such as, smiling, laughing, sad, angry, shocked, startled, sleepy, alert, bored, concerned and more.

4155d0cb21ca2270d5b4ad24b3740560Maria Jang Expressions:

What is the Purpose of Character Design?

Style comes into play dependent upon which format the character is needed for. The range of the character design hierarchy can go from extremely graphic (like Steven Universe) to very photo-realistic (as with CG animated characters like  Gollum from Lord of the Rings series). The basis of creating a character design is still first and foremost dependent on drawing ability. Whether it is with pencil and paper, or drawing digitally on a tablet or Wacom Cintiq, computers or programs are not at the heart of this beginning phase of the process. The character that will be designed should be created that best fits the needs of the story at hand. Once finished, the concept artwork of the character can then go on to be modeled into a 3D version that can then be used in video games or CG animation.

Model Sheets

Model Sheets, also known as a character board are an essential reference tool to enable the animator to appreciate characters from all angles. On large-scale animation productions, model sheets help multiple animators to accurately maintain character detail, it is a document used to help standardize the appearance, poses, and gestures of a character, it also depicts the characters in their front view, side view, back view and even when characters have different clothing/costumes.  Model sheets are also used for reference in 3D modeling. It is usually used as reference material so as to allow proper proportions.

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Artorias Character armor and Equipment from the game DarkSouls:

ian-mcintosh-04Cobra’s Vigil,  New Warlock Trials of Osiris Set, Male Variant.  From the Destiny Game


Beatle’s Vigil, New Titan Trials of Osiris Set, Male Variant. From the Destiny Game

ian-mcintosh-02.jpgNanomania- New hunter raid armor set in the Rise of Iron DLC. From the Destiny Game

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Steven Universe characters gestures and expressions:


Tom Bancroft (2013-2016) What is Character Design? 


3D Modelling (2nd phase in a 3D Production pipeline)

In 3D computer graphics, 3D Modelling is the process of creating a 3D representation of any surface or object by manipulating polygons, edges, and vertices in a simulated 3D space. 3D Modelling is used in a wide range of fields including engineering, entertainment design, field, visual effects, game development, and commercial advertising.

There are certain types/techniques of modeling 3D objects/surfaces:

  • Polygonal Modelling

    –  is where objects are modeled by representing or approximating their surfaces using polygons.


  • Primitive Modelling

– primitive models are the basic objects such as Cubes, Sphere, Cones, Box, and Pyramid and more. There are two divisions of primitives: Standard and Extended Primitives.


  1. Box
  2. Cylinder
  3. Torus
  4. Teapot
  5. Cone
  6. Sphere
  7. Tube
  8. Pyramid
  9. Plane
  10. Geosphere


  1. Hedra
  2. Chamfer Box
  3. Oil Tank
  4. Gengon
  5. Prism
  6. Torus Knot
  7. Chamfer Cylinder
  8. Capsule
  9. L-Ext
  10. C-Ext
  11. Hose
  12. RingWave
  13. Spindle


  • Box Modelling

– is a technique in 3D modeling where a primitive shape is used to make the basic shape of the final model. This basic shape is then used to sculpt out the final model.


  • Extrusion Modelling

– this is a common technique that is also sometimes referred to as Inflation Modelling. in this method, you will create a 2D shape which traces the outline of a photograph or a drawing. This is mostly done using the line tool. You then use a second image of the object from a different angle and extrude the 2D shape into a 3D shape by following the shape’s outline.



Whatis (April 2016 last update) Definition 3D                   Modelling                                                            Justin Slick (October 20, 2016) What is 3D Modelling?                                                                                                                                                                      ADMEC Multimedia (April 29, 2016)

Personal Observation

I really enjoyed my 1st week in class, especially when our lecturer started teaching us how to use 3ds Max, It gets really complicated throughout the mechanics, but once you practice you’ll get the hang of it, It’s like what they say “Practice makes Perfect”. I’ve realized that I have a long way to go and that I should always keep going Forward. At the start of our class Rashid introduced himself, and explained to us how and where to download the 3Ds Max application, he then proceeded to show us an overview about 3D Graphics and showed us some 3D artists and examples of their works. He also told us when our Assesment was due and what we needed to do for that 1st assessment. An hour before the class ended, he gave us a quick objective right after he thought us the basics of 3ds max. He asked us to make 4 types of beds and gave us around 45 minutes to finish them. This was my work:


Obviously, it needs a lot more work, especially on the detail,  but I was contented with this and Rashid also approved it. After the exercise, He gave us an Assignment, we were to make a room containing all the objects using Standard Primitives.


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