UV Mapping, Texturing and Shaders, Rigging and Animation in a 3D Production Pipeline

In this Blog post, I will be defining what UV Mapping, Texturing, and Shaders, Rigging and Animation are, I will also be showing visuals for each category.

UV Mapping (3rd stage in a 3D production pipeline)

UV Mapping is the process of creating explicit UVs for a surface mesh. It is a process whereby you create, edit, and arrange the UVs.

In order to fully understand what UV Mapping is, you need to know what the “UV” in UV Mapping is. Pronounced as U-VEEZ,  UVs are two-dimensional texture coordinates that reside with the vertex component information for polygonal and subdivision surface meshes. UVs provide the connection between the surface mesh and how the image texture gets mapped onto the surface mesh. They act as marker points that control which pixels on the texture map correspond to which vertices on the mesh.

In other words, it is the 3D modeling process of projecting a 2D image to a 3D model’s surface for texture mapping.

UVMapping-Ben-Tate.png Box UV Mapping: http://brokenverts.com/tutorial-uv-mapping/


Autodesk ( September 09, 2014) Introduction to UV mapping https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2015/ENU/Maya/files/UV-mapping-overview-Introduction-to-UV-mapping-htm.html

Texturing and Shaders (4th stage in a 3D production pipeline)


-Texturing in 3D modeling serves an important role for your 3D model because textures are 2D images that are designed to influence your 3D model’s appearance. In other words, Texture is two-dimensional images which are wrapped around the three-dimensional geometry which drives the calculations of the shader. Without texture on your 3D model, you’re just left with a clay looking sculpture of your model. Basically Texturing your 3D model will give it a more realistic look and will show it’s life-like texture or can also be called the “skin” of the model as they say.

ptex-teaser-big.pngTrinasaurus Rex Texture: http://www.3dvalley.com/tag/animation/


-Shaders are used in computer graphics to do shading on the appropriate production levels of light, darkness, and color within a 3D Model, an image, and also to produce special effects or do video post-processing. Shaders calculate rendering effects on graphics hardware with a high degree of flexibility.

The two main types of shaders that are commonly used are Vertex shader and the Pixel (or Fragment) shader. In a standard rendering pipeline, they are processed in this order:

pipeline.pngSource: https://nvoid.gitbooks.io/introduction-to-touchdesigner/content/GLSL/12-2-Types-of-Shaders-and-Rendering-Pipeline.html

There is also a geometry shader that can be applied between the Vertex and Pixel shaders for layered rendering and transform feedbacks, but that is rarely used.

Pixel/ Fragment Shaders

shader-fragmentBrick wall Pixel shader: https://bassemtodary.wordpress.com/tag/video/

– this shader computes color and other attributes of each fragment. In 3D graphics, a pixel shader alone is unable to produce very complex effects, because it operates only on a single fragment. They take care of how pixels between vertices look and are interpolated between the defined vertices following specific rules.

Vertex Shaders

shader-teapot_vertexTeapot Vertex shader: https://bassemtodary.wordpress.com/tag/video/

– this shader is the most commonly used kind of 3D shader. They run once for each vertex given to the graphics processor. Vertex shaders can manipulate properties such as position, color and texture coordinate, but cannot create new vertices. Basically, it manipulates the attributes of the vertices, which are the corner points of the polygons.


The Belgian VFX Guy ( January 03, 2012) VFX Back to Basics series: What is shading and texturing? http://www.thebelgianvfxguy.com/2012_03_01_archive.html

Rigging (5th stage in a 3D Production Pipeline)

– 3D rigging is the process of creating a skeleton structure for you 3D model. Most commonly used on characters so they can move. They are rigged before they are animated because if a character model does not have a rig, they can’t be deformed and move around. They will just be standing still in whichever pose you decide to put them in. Rigging consists of many features, below are the following:


– also, know as “bones”,  joints in rigging and joints in the human body basically work in the same way. They are the points of articulation you create to control the model.

Driven Keys

– allows you to use one control or object to drive multiple different objects and attributes.

Blend Shapes

– also known as “morph” allows you to change the shape of one object into the shape of another object. When rigging a 3D model, it is most commonly used to set up poses for facial animation.

Inverse Kinematics (IK)

– IK allows the animator to animate independently of the chains hierarchy. Because of this Inverse Kinematics is great when needing to have a character’s hand stay planted on something, like pushing against a wall or swinging on a bar.

Forward Kinematics (FK)

– FK allows you to animate the character rig and make it follow the hierarchal chain. This means more control over your chain, but also means you’d need to position each joint in your chain independently of each other. This obviously takes more time than IK, but it can give the animator much more control of the poses.

Control Curves

– a rig consists of many components that need to be manipulated to move the character in the desired pose, therefore control curves are created to assist the animator in manipulating joints within the rig.


– Constraints are very important in both the rigging and animation process. They limit an object’s position, rotation, and scale based off of the attributes of the parent object.


– is the process of taking the joints or bones of the rig and binding them to the actual 3D mesh. when the joints are bound to the 3D mesh it allows you to move the joints and the mesh will follow.

Weight Painting

– it is a vital step once the skeleton has been created. Basically, weight painting allows you to manually set how much influence a joint has on a particular area of the model and correct the deformation on the 3D Mesh.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Character Rigging: http://www.onlinedesignteacher.com/2014/09/basics-of-3d-animation_21.html  ATLAS Rigging: http://www.oliversimonnet3d.com/rigging_gallery.html


Pluralsight (January 14, 2014) Key 3D Rigging Terms to get you Moving https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/key-rigging-terms-get-moving

Animation (6th stage in a 3D production pipeline)

Image result for Dark Souls 2 GIf

Dark Souls II Cinematic Trailer: http://giphy.com/gifs/dark-souls-ii-2-MWL7evUUaBvzi

– Also referred to as 3D CGI, 3D animation is a type of animation that uses computer generated images to create animated scenes. Compared to 2D animation, or traditional animation, 3D animation has more depth, and it looks much more realistic.

– An animated scene starts with one picture, which is referred to a frame, the next frame is a picture that is slightly advance a few milliseconds in time. After hundreds or thousands of these frames are flashed on a screen in rapid succession, they give the illusion of a moving picture.

Image result for FOr Honor Viking gif

For Honor Samurai vs Knight fight scene: https://www.pinterest.com/Nerd_Network/for-honor/

– When a 3D computer animation scene is viewed in its entirety, it is quite likely that separate elements of a scene were animated and rendered individually, and then composited together to create the final animated sequence.


Wise Geek (2015) What is 3D Computer Animation?  http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-3d-computer-animation.htm 

Get Movin’ with a Career in 3D Animation (2014)  What is 3D Animation?http://www.theartcareerproject.com/get-movin-with-a-career-in-3d-animation/215/


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