types of 3d art

By juegoadmin | Art & Design | August 21st, 2023

Types of 3D Art Styles for Games

The game art adds to the visual appeal, making it a crucial factor to consider when designing a game. The first impression is the key to keeping your audience hooked and what can do it better than games graphics? This is where choosing the right type of game art becomes crucial.

The visual representation of the game is what engages the players. By selecting the right style and technique, the artist can bring the game world alive such that it captivates the players right from the beginning. But which is the suitable art style for your game? 

There are 2D and 3D art styles that can be used in game design. Each comes with its charms and advantages. For example, Ninja Arashi uses 2D game art to create the shadowy land which is perfectly in sync with the stealthiness required in the gameplay. Similarly, God of War is the epitome of perfecting 3D game art– fantasy realism to be exact.

To select the right art style, especially for 3D games, you must be familiar with the different types of 3D art. Read on to find out in detail all about it.

What Is 3D Game Art?

The 3D game art is created using polygonal meshes which are refined and transformed into the environment, characters, and props. Unlike 2D images, 3D versions can be viewed from all sides. The different types of 3D art are used to design games, as well as in films, websites, and more.

Digital 3D art has come a long way today and advanced software helps to create the most realistic characters and environment. Artists can unravel their imagination without any binding with 3D game art technologies available today. The 3D game art comprises rendering, modeling, animation, and texturing. All these together make the game elements come alive.

Different Approaches to 3D Game Art

The making of 3D game art is complex. Several basic techniques are combined to create any type of 3D art styles. The process is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort. Here are the techniques that artists use to create different 3D art you witness:

  • Modeling

3D modeling refers to creating a three-dimensional mesh that is shaped to represent the object. The artists must place every point, line, and polygon precisely to achieve an accurate 3D model of the object along with the texture, shape, and size. It is a crucial part of 3D art that is used to build an immersive experience in the game. The 3D model gets created concerning the concept arts, sketches, and photographs. Often it can be done without any reference point at all.

  • Animation

The art of using motion to bring 3D models alive is called 3D animation. This can get done to characters, props, vehicles, animals, and so on. There are different techniques for animating any model. Artists often use keyframes to do so. Another method is taking the help of live actors and their movements. The movement gets recorded using markers and then applied to the model to animate it.

  • Texturing

The process of adding colors and surface dimensions to make the 3D model realistic is called texturing. The artist must be a keen observer and even take photographs to understand similar textures in the real world. This helps to create a more realistic texture for the artist. The 3D artist can produce a realistic texture using the reference images or hand painted to add shade and highlights to the surface.

  • Rendering

The rendering comes after the 3D modeling, texturing, and animation are done. During this process, a 2D image is rendered from the 3D model. This in turn helps the artist to get the final look with proper lighting from a specific point of view.

Different Types of 3D Art Styles

There are various 3D art types and styles. It is crucial to apply them correctly so that your game is engaging. A player’s first impression is gathered from the aesthetics of the game. They are looking for a certain experience when they choose you to play your game. The graphics style plays a central role in enhancing that experience. This is why choosing a complementing 3D art style is essential. Here are the different types of 3D art to choose from based on the game genre:

  • Realism

AFL Evolution 2

Realism 3D art is used to replicate the real world as it appears around us. This is used in games to offer a more immersive experience. First-person shooters and certain RPG games use realism art to create the characters and environment. It makes the characters and the environment look almost identical to the real world. This art form is suitable for simulation gaming and generic games too. This does not need massive processing power though it uses realistic lighting and advanced physics to make the game appear realistic. Realism art is also used to create training software, films, and simulations too. 

Example: The Last of Us, As Dusk Falls

  • Photorealism


The foundation of photorealistic graphics is in realistic 3D art. The difference is photorealism takes realistic graphics to an extreme. At its finest, the graphics are almost indistinguishable from real photographs. Absolute photorealism still has a long way to go, in animation. However, certain AAA games are pushing toward that limit. Photorealism is used extensively in retail, architectural, and interior design too. At the moment, there is hardly any hardware that is powerful enough to support a full-fledged photorealistic game. However, as gaming platforms continue to push the limit, new games with significant photorealistic graphics are coming up.

Example: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Resident Evil 8: Village

  • Fantasy Realism

Fantasy Realism

These types of 3D art styles blend realism with fantasy elements to create a virtual world that is believable and yet imaginary. This 3D art form is used extensively to create AR/VR/MR, RPG, and MMO games that take place in alternate realities. The graphics and world created are intense and appear real but also have fictional elements like monsters, fairies, robots, imaginary and unusual terrain, and so on. In a way, this art form mirrors our idea of an alternate world that has similar elements of physics, colors, and structure to our reality but is also enhanced by our imagination. The art form aims to create an environment that feels real and yet allows the suspension of disbelief that we experience with fantasy fiction, art, or movies of any kind.

Example: Witcher 3, God of War

  • Cartoony Animation

Raids of Glory

This type of 3D art is created by blending low-poly and hand-painting techniques. The proportions are asymmetrical to induce a comical effect on the graphics. The scope of cartoon animation is vast and you will find a wide variety of graphics in games that can get classified as cartoony elements. Some of the distinct and common features in every form of the cartoon is vibrant colors and simpler drawing but with exaggerated features, and non-standard proportions. Every artist has a unique style and creative flexibility with cartoony graphics. There are sub-styles of cartoons that are widely recognized such as voxel style, plasticine style, and mixed style. Generally, this format is used to create games for kids though there are a few exceptions too.

  • Voxel refers to a 3D pixel style. Three-dimensional cubes of uniform color are used to create every element in the game.
  • Plasticine style is a form of animation that resembles classic cartoons like Pingu.
  • As the name suggests, mixed style uses several types of animation forms together at the same time.

Example: Overwatch, Fall Guys, Animal Crossing

  • Anime

Genshin Impact

Occasionally mistaken for cartoon, anime has similar features but has earned a separate place of its own. This art form originated in Japan and is witnessed extensively in various popular video games today. Anime is characterized by highly emotive facial expressions and exaggerated physical features. As the popularity of anime videos, TV series, and movies grows worldwide, so does the demand for video games featuring this art form.

Example: Genshin Impact, Dragonball FighterZ

  • Low Poly

Low Poly

A trendy option among various 3D art types is Low Poly. The most distinctive feature of this art form is the geometric and minimalist shapes, generally created with triangles or polygons. It is done such that every polygon is visible. The art form is labor-intensive and takes time and mathematical precision. But the results are enchanting yet simple visuals that have a relaxing and soothing effect on the players. 

Instead of texture, the polygons have unique colors that add dimension to the elements. Lighting plays a crucial role in low poly art forms. The art form is popular to create games that have a playful storyline and focuses more on the gameplay than the storyline. When done correctly, low poly is soothing to the eyes and very engaging. Puzzles, platformers, and simple action-adventure games often use this art form. It is also great for first-person shooter games with futuristic sci-fi settings.

Example: Superhot

  • Collage


A collage is a juxtaposition of different art techniques and styles. It is one of the versatile types of 3D art that can depict a wide spectrum of feelings. It is a highly creative method of creating 3D models for different game types. It entirely depends on the artists’ approach and the kind of emotion they wish to evoke. The artwork is essentially created using textures from different elements. As the art form is versatile, it is suitable for a wide variety of games ranging from action-adventure to kid’s puzzles and even MMORPG games.

Example: Tearaway

  • Stylization


Stylized art deviates significantly from realism and is a more imaginative take on 3D art. Low Poly is a form of stylized 3D art but the genre is not limited to this form alone. It is used in games where realism is not the primary goal. Rather, an imaginative world is created that is unique and provides a fresh appeal to the players. Usually, bright colors, simplified shapes, and unrealistic textures are used carefully to create a wholesome game world that is coherent yet very unique. Such art form is used in games that want to depict a humorous and light-hearted tone.

Example: Crash Bandicoot Series

  • Hand-Painted

Hand Painted

As the name suggests, hand-painted 3D art appears similar to the freehand drawing style. It mimics traditional painting styles and is highly detailed. The hand-painted textures are generally made by artists using a stylus and tablet to generate draw rather than using computer software to create them. The style is distinguished by the vibrant colors and bold brushstrokes. The art form is expressive and conveys expressions, landscapes, and atmosphere vividly. It also allows a wide range of artist interpretations and the scope to try out different art forms. The result is visually captivating and can create an immersive experience for all players.

Example: Cuphead, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

  • Retro-Inspired

Retro Inspired

Retro-inspired games are steadily getting popular because of their simplicity and the nostalgia they evoke. These are games that visually replicate the graphics of 80s and 90s 8-bit and 16-bit video games but have several game mechanics made possible by modern technology. Pixel art, restricted color palette, and block models are some elements that are found in retro-inspired 3D art. Individual pixels are deliberately used to design characters, environment, and other elements in the game to evoke the style of 90s 3D games like Doom or Bio Menace. The art form is particularly popular among indie game developers and gamers who want to experience the feel of classic games. They are equally appealing to players from the 90s who began gaming with 8-bit and 16-bit games.

Example: Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, Sonic Mania

  • Abstract


Last but not least is abstract 3D art for games. In this format, the shapes, colors, and patterns are emphasized to create visually appealing graphics. The primary focus of this type of 3D game art is to evoke curiosity and improve the players’ analytical and interpretive skills as they play.  The idea of abstract 3D art is to create a distinct visual language with abstract imagery. It is a versatile art form that can include surreal images or non-distinctive graphics where the players fill the gaps with their imagination. The unconventional style of art prompts the players to explore the game world closely. As a result, the players get more engaged and immersed in the gameplay.

Example: Shut In, Ethereal

Wrapping Up

The various types of 3D art let the artists better creative license as they determine the perfect art form for the game. When the right game art form gets selected, it will elevate the gamer’s experience manifold and make the game memorable. 

Understanding the different types of game art styles lets any game art outsourcing studio consistently come up with creative ideas that make the game believable. At Juego Studios, you can hire 3D artists who have the experience and skill required to deliver any type of game art you can ask for. Get a plethora of game art services related to the 3D game that is custom-made to suit your project.

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