abcabcabc » So you want to be a game developer! The basic 3d modeling workflow.

So you want to be a game developer! The basic 3d modeling workflow.

Posted on 2/5/2014 by with 0 comments

So you want to be a game developer!

I keep getting questions about what I use to model and how I put this all together. This isn’t the easiest question to answer, because different job require different programs. So I decided to put a basic workflow together to try to clear some of these questions up.

I will not be going into full detail here because each section is another set of tools to learn, but I might continue this as the column progresses.


The first thing is the idea or concept to what you will make. Sometime you come up with this or someone will give you an idea, it doesn’t matter which way the first thing I do is go find pictures on line to have something to work with.

This is really the research stage. Some of you might be lucky enough to work with some artist that can give you sketches, which will give you even more ideas.

Programs used: web browser, photoshop, gimp.

Blocking it out

Now we have all the pictures and research done, it’s time to jump into a 3d program and get our basic shape blocked out. For me this is the fun part of the whole process.

After blocking out your shapes, you will now want optimize your model, by removing any unnecessary geometry and extra polygons. This decrease load times in whatever application you will use your model in. Games=lower polygon models.

Programs used: Silo3d, Maya, 3dsmax, etc.

UV Mapping

Once the model is done the next step is laying out the UV maps for texturing. I can’t stress this enough UV mapping is one of the most import if not the most important part of 3d modeling. A lot of people hate UV mapping but it is a necessary evil in 3d modeling.

UV unwrapping is an art, as you learn more you will get much better at it. Most will find this difficult to understand in the beginning, but please don’t give up.

Just so you know: when you model you use the XYZ coordinates, to complete a UV map you will use U and V coordinates to lay out the 2d textures that will lay on top of them. I just added that because some will want to know what UV stands for.

Program used: silo, maya, 3dsmax, there are a lot of 3rd party UV mapping/unwrapping tools if you do a search.


Once your UV maps are done you can move the UV’s into a program like photoshop or gimp so you can paint the texture maps. Another way to go about texturing your model is to use a program like 3d coat, which lets you paint directly on your model in real time.

These are up to your personal preferences. I can’t really which I use more, but I do use both methods depending on what the model needs.

Programs used: photoshop, gimp, mudbox, 3dcoat, once again there are lots of program you could use here.


Bump map and light mapping can be a little difficult for the beginner to grasp but with experience you will want to add detail though bump mapping and add lighting effects to your models.

Once again this is a subject that I will cover later on here. I will show you some of method to hand paint bump and specular lighting for models in an upcoming tutorial.

Programs used: photoshop, gimp, mudbox, 3dcoat, once again there are lots of program you could use here.


This is something I don’t do very often, but a lot of people like to showcase there models with a HD rendering. Since I normally work with game models I am more concerned with how they look in a game engine, but will try to show some of this technique later as well.

Programs used: 3dsmax, maya, etc.


Hopefully this open yours eye to the process that I normally follow. Next issue I promise to get back to the Fire Hydrant Project.

So you want to be a game developer! Is a weekly web series devoted to answering all the questions and everything about becoming a game developer.

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