OK, playing eternal catchup, let’s do part 2 of the pipeline.

UV Mapping/ Unwrapping

Eternal bane of the 3D modeling artist is creating the map which the textures will follow over their model. To do this the model is broken down to a 2D plane, referred coordinated as U and V in countenance to X and Y, which can be painted onto. The aim in this step should be to create the simplest UV map for the model with the overall map reading easily for each ‘island’ to be textured. The process generally takes a while, and though some modern 3D programs will offer an auto-mapper, it’s generally recommended that the process be completed manually, so as to ensure the previously stated goals of keeping it simple and easy to read.

Below is an example from my own classwork of a completed UV unwrap layed out on its corresponding model, ready for texturing.


Texturing and Shaders

Once the UV maps for a model have been established, we can move onto the FUN part. At this stage images can be painted onto the UV map in order to create the image that will be overlayed as the ‘texture’ to the model, much like applying wallpaper. Shader maps can also be applied to add reflectivity, light absorption, transparency etc. to give the textured model specific visual surface properties.


This stage refers to preparing the completed 3D model for movement. To achieve this end a digital skeleton is bound to the model through a series of joints and bones, with handles attached to dictate movement. Generally these will follow as they would in reality, eg. human skeletal structure, door hinges etc., unless the subject is being rigged for cartoon animation and the like, in which case certain areas will have parameters added to them for ‘squash and stretch’, so that distortion of the bones can be achieved.


Once a model has been rigged it’s ready to be animated. The process for animating with 3D graphics is in essence the same as with traditional 2D animation techniques. Generally 3D follows ‘frame-to-frame’ animation, with the animator designating the key-frames of movement and the software automatically rendering in-betweens for that animation. If the animation is being done in a cartoon style, the previously mentioned stretching and squashing of 3D models may also be applied to give a wider range of expression in movement.

Attached below is an example of animating a rigged model in Autodesk Maya.

That was a joke.


Boudon, G. (2013). How Does a 3D Production Pipeline Work. Digital-Tutors Blog. Retrieved 19 February 2015, from http://blog.digitaltutors.com/understanding-a-3d-production-pipeline-learning-the-basics/

Braggio, G. (2015). animation tutorial part. 1 AKA “the secret of animation”. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/67501143

Knowledge.autodesk.com,. (2015). Using Unwrap UVW to Map the Left Wing | 3ds Max | Autodesk Knowledge Network. Retrieved 9 March 2015, from http://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/3ds-max/getting-started/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2015/ENU/3DSMax-Tutorial/files/GUID-E9E0A683-AEB1-4A0C-807D-F18F321C026C-htm.html

Slick, J. (2015). An Introduction to the 6 Phases of 3D Production. About.com Tech. Retrieved 19 February 2015, from http://3d.about.com/od/3d-101-The-Basics/tp/Introducing-The-Computer-Graphics-Pipeline.htm

Slick, J. (2015). How Are 3D Models Prepared for Animation?. About.com Tech. Retrieved 9 March 2015, from http://3d.about.com/od/Creating-3D-The-CG-Pipeline/a/What-Is-Rigging.htm