Types of 3D Animation

By juegoadmin | Art & Design | September 12th, 2023

Types of 3D Animation

At present, 3D animation is dominating the world of games and entertainment. Whether it is Rocket Racoon from Guardians of the Galaxy or Geralt in The Witcher video games- the advent of 3D animation is everywhere. Compared to 2D art, the scope of 3D art is immense. When rightly done, it can blur the lines between animation and reality, courtesy of the latest technological advancements in present times.

Different types of 3D animations get classified based on their execution, as well as the software being used. It can also be classified based on the artistic style of 3D animation. Read on to learn about the different styles of 3D animations and their application.

What Is 3D Animation and Its Importance?

The process of creating moving three-dimensional objects. It creates an illusion that these three-dimensional objects move through 3D space created digitally. This can be done using different software as well as hardware like motion caption devices. The artists create 3D models with digital meshes which are manipulated into different shapes. To animate the object, a series of keyframes are taken. The software automatically generates the next steps that lead to the transition from one keyframe to the next. The process is called “tweening”.

There are several advantages of 3D animation over traditional animation techniques. The primary advantage of 3D animation is the realism. There is a greater sense of depth and scale generated by 3D animation. This form of animation is important when you are trying to create realistic animation.

Different Types of 3D Animation Art

It is crucial to choose the type of animation for your video game carefully to get the right effect out of it. One must have a basic understanding of the different types of 3D animation art forms to determine the most suitable choice. Here we have listed the most popular types of 3D animation forms.

1. Digital 3D

This is the most popular form of 3D animation and is known as CGI or computer-generated image. The form of 3D animation is used by game art outsourcing studios primarily for in-game cut scenes. The animation created through digital 3D format is not interactive, that is, gamers cannot interact with the digital environment created this way. The format is mostly used to create animated characters in movies and for cut scenes in games. This is gaining popularity by the day as game developers can easily show the progress of the storyline through such game scenes.

Usually, software like Maya, SketchUp, and Cinema4D are used to create digital 3D animation for video games and movies. The concept artist visualizes the entire environment, characters, and scenario. Based on that the sketches are made and 3D modelers develop the 3D models. Next, the animators render the 360-degree model. The entire process is highly time-consuming. This is another reason why it is used less in video games though games with prolonged cut-scenes building the storyline are getting popular by the day.

A classic example of the use of digital 3D animation is Toy Story. In video games, short-cut scenes are often created using this method.

2. Interactive 3D

As the name suggests, the user can move the 3D environment and characters with the help of their mouse or keyboard. Interactive animation is an intricate part of video game development. The players can interact thoroughly with the game environment and explore the world from every angle. Specialized software is used to create interactive 3D animation. It is a versatile method that allows endless possibilities in the 3D environment. The only limitation that game developers face with interactive 3D animation is integrating it with the different game engines.

However, an expert 3D animator and game developer from a game art outsourcing studio can help overcome this obstacle easily.

The digital environment must be created such that it is highly customizable as players should be able to view the environment from every angle. Animators have to meticulously implement the dynamics of the 3D animated environment to implement seamless form changes at the right moment.

3. Virtual Reality 3D

Virtual Reality 3D

The virtual reality 3D animation is extremely complex to create. For games that include VR 3D animation, players need specialized VR 3D headsets to view them accurately. As a result, the renderings of the environment and characters must be realistic. This way players can experience complete immersion during the gameplay. 

Creating virtual reality 3D animation is a difficult and time-consuming task. As the players would be completely immersed in the 3D environment, it has to be flawless and appear authentic. Software like Blender and Autodesk Maya are used to create virtual reality 3D animation. 

4. Stop Motion

Stop-motion animation is another popular format used to create video games. The frames are physically manipulated in small steps. It takes into account individually photographed pictures that are changed in small increments. In short, numerous photographs are placed in succession to create the illusion of movement. The process is particularly complex as one incorrectly captured frame means the entire sequence must be recreated. It is a very distinct art style that is comparable to CGI animation though it takes much more time to create. There are several sub-genres of stop-motion animation which are as follows:

    • Claymation: Models made from clay and plasticines are animated in this animation format. Example- Clay Jam, ClayFighter
    • Cutout: All the characters, environment, and props are cut out from paper, fabric, or cardboard. Example- Paper Mario
    • Silhouette: As the name suggests, the environment, characters, and props are shown as black silhouettes. Example- Limbo
    • Lego: This format of animation uses legos and action figures that move around. Example- Lego Island, Lego Harry Potter
    • Puppets: The format of animation uses puppets and dolls for the action in the video game. Example- Yoshi’s Wooly World
    • Pixilation: The entire gamescape appears pixilated including the characters, props, and the environment. Example- Shovel Knight

Irrespective of the subset of animation style, one factor is common- photography from a straight-on point-of-view. The animator must be very careful while taking the pictures as the entire composition has to be recreated if there is an error.

5. Cel Shading

Cel-shading is also known as toon shading where a non-photorealistic rendering technique is used such that the computer-generated graphics looks like it is hand painted. This animation format is often used to mimic the comic book appearance. This type of 3D animation is done in such a manner that it appears like 2D animation. The primary characteristics of the cel-shading technique are rigid shadow, limits, ink outline effects, and softer color palettes. The goal of the animation is to make the volume appear flat in real time. It is a rather tricky format of animation, especially when applied to in-motion objects. Video games like Afro Samurai, Astral Chain, and Dragonball FighterZ feature these types of 3D animation styles.

6. Motion Capture

Motion Capture is also known as mo-cap and is a type of 3D animation that is used by game art outsourcing studios primarily for AAA video games, mobile games, and film developers. The characters appear most realistic with the help of this animation technique. The movements and actions of the real actors are recorded and then translated into animation.

Special sensors are placed all over the actors to record the movements which are then rendered into final animation. Motion capturing of movements in animals like horses and dogs is also recorded. There are several advantages of using motion capture techniques for 3D animation. The primary benefit of this technique is the ability to capture complex movements and physical interactions can be recreated very easily using this specific technology. The method is cost-effective and produces significant animation renderings compared to traditional animation methods. The most classic example of a video game using motion capture animation format is God of War: Ragnarok.

7. Motion Graphics

Motion Graphics

Among the different types of 3D animation, motion graphics include 2D and 3D directions. There are wide range of applications for this animation method in various arenas including video games. Keyframing and tweening are primary components of motion graphics design techniques. However, character animation is generally excluded in this method as it is rather tricky to incorporate the movement. This method of animation is applied to various projects such as advertisements, logos, sports events, and so on.

Different Types of 3D Animation Techniques

The types of 3D animation can also be classified based on the animation technique used in the project. The following are the popular 3D animation methods used to provide 3D animation services:

  • Skeletal Animation

Skeletal animation is also known as 3D rigging. Through this method, the 3D figure is animated using comparatively fewer controls. This creates the skeletal or puppet-like figure that is developed further to create the characters. The bones are attached following the anatomical laws such that when one bone moves, the other attached vertices show subsequent movements. The method of animation simplifies the animators’ job as they only have to establish the position and rotation of the vertices and not all the components. The skeleton is called a rig and the surface representation is called mesh.

  • Inverse Kinematics

This animation method creates a collection of joint configurations. It helps to create and deliver the smoothest, and highly precise movements at the precise points. The animation technique is used to determine the hand and leg movements. It is used to model the characters and objects which are built using skeletal animation. The movement of the last bone or vertice is established in this technique, based on which the other vertices and their movements get automatically positioned in the correct location.

  • Fluid Simulations

This animation technique is used to animate fluids such as water, lava, and even smoke. It helps to imitate the movement of the fluids accurately. The fluid simulation technique perfectly simulates and creates storms and similar environments in video games. This method is also used to depict the behavior of clouds, fire, and other large-scale atmospheric impacts.

Wrapping Up

Any reputed company providing 3D animation services can help you choose between the different types of 3D animations. Choosing the right animation style greatly impacts the quality of the video game. The above-mentioned are some of the most popular types of 3D animation methods that you will come across for gaming projects.

Juego Studios has over a decade of experience in providing a wide range of video game development services. This also includes 3D animation services of all kinds. Get all-around game development solutions including 3D animation that makes your gaming projects more enjoyable and realistic.

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