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Chara design in 2022: Top software to design your own 3D character

Introduction

Character designers use 3D modeling software for animation, illustration, cinema, and video games. This kind of software is essential to create complex characters or creature designs for science-fiction movies, for example. Efficient software is required to create detailed and realistic designs. It can also be used for rendering and even for 3D printing. Indeed, some software dedicated to character design offers the possibility to get 3D models optimized for 3D printing. This way, you could 3D print your 3D character for professional or personal purposes. It is an excellent way to make miniatures to work on design and details.

In this blog post, we will see more precisely what is 3D character design and what is the best software to create 3D characters. Thanks to this top, you will find the software that will perfectly fit your needs and help you with your design projects.

3D modeling software and character design: The perfect match

Choosing the good 3D software

3D software is now an essential tool for creating character designs. Thanks to these efficient programs, the possibilities are becoming endless for concept artists or professional designers in charge of creating 3D characters for various projects. You must choose excellent software to get an optimized result to make the perfect figure.

3D modeling software allows working on many different aspects, such as sculpture, painting, or texture. Some are better for renderings. Others are more used for cinematographic purposes. There is also software specially made for 3D character creation, which will be more efficient in working on morphologies or expressions to create a unique character.

Character modeling is not for everybody

Chara design is not just for anyone. It requires much knowledge and practice to get impressive results and very complex characters. A real character designer knows how to create human-like models with fluid gestures and suitable body topologies.

Digital art designs are a real job. That is why some software tools are pretty complex. They are not made for art enthusiasts. Moreover, even if you are experienced with 3D modeling software, character modeling requires a lot of practice. Indeed, being creative is not enough. 3D artists have a lot of knowledge regarding 3D character creation: for example, the visual aspect of the 3D figures has to match the character’s personality and psychology. They have to consider the whole background, and it also has to check the project’s visual identity.

What is the best specialized 3D software to design 3D characters?

Some software tools are made especially for Chara design. We made a selection of the best software for amateurs and experienced users.

MakeHuman

MakeHuman is a free and open-source 3D modeling software. It can be used to create a 3D character for any application, from illustration to the cinema. This open-source software is perfect for beginners, it has an intuitive interface, and all the various parameters are easy to use. There are, for example, a lot of facial features. This design software offers 1170 morphings for effective parametric modeling, allowing work on body proportions, faces, eyes, etc. MakeHuman is showing a lot of possibilities, especially for amateurs, with no previous experience in 3D modeling. However, you will be unable to make realistic rendering with this open-source software.

Source: http://www.makehuman.org/mh100_sc_3.php Source: Makehuman

Daz Studio

Daz Studio is a free composition and rendering software. Thanks to this program, you will be able to modify characters so they can fit your needs. There are different platforms available inside Daz Studio:

  • Victoria 4 offers a high polycount and a large selection of morphs to apply to your 3D figure.  
  • Genesis will allow you to work on body morphs.
  • Genesis 2 & 3 are perfect to work on movements and articulation.
  • Genesis 8 will allow you to create realistic renderings and work on the expressions of your characters.

You can easily export your creation to the 3D modeling software, Maya, to create more detailed figures. Also, it is possible to create 3D models optimized for 3D printing.

https://www.daz3d.com/get_studio

Source: DAZ Studiio

iClone

iClone is a 3D software specially made for animation work and developed by Reallusion. Animators use it and filmmakers for animation, cinema, and even video games. It is designed software for professionals. iClone allows freeform body morphing to work on facial animation and body motion. This software offers a wide range of creation tools: among them, you can find Character Creator, a perfect solution to make fully-rigged figures for animation projects. It will allow you to generate unlimited human faces and bodies that you can modify as much as you want. You can also work on the way your character moves.

Reallusion made many video tutorials available to learn how to use the number of parameters offered by this software.

Mixamo

Mixamo is a straightforward software to use. It is a good program if you’re a beginner with 3D character design. It requires no previous experience in 3D animation, and you can create animated figures in no time. This is not a professional tool. You will be unable to make very detailed 3D characters and good renderings with this program. But it is still instrumental if you don’t want to use complex software.

Autodesk Character Generator

Autodesk developed web-based software for character design. It is a web-based program allowing you to get rigged models, especially for animation and video games. 3D characters can be created, customized, and downloaded with Character Generator. It is easy to use, and you don’t have to be an experienced user to make the most of this software, but it can also be used for a professional purpose as the quality of the 3D models can be excellent. You can create a 3D figure quite quickly with this 3D software.

Other modeling software that can be used for chara design

Some traditional modeling software allows the creation of unique 3D characters. Indeed, these software tools’ accuracy and efficiency are perfect for working on 3D character designs.

Maya

Maya is a 3D modeling software developed by Autodesk. This is an efficient tool that will help artists in their daily work. This software is not dedicated to 3D character design, but it is known to be used to work on animation for movies and video games. Indeed, the renderings and environments that you can make with this software are pretty impressive. Maya has an incredible toolset that will allow you to create figure drawings and models. It is possible to work on the clothes’ movements and the hair to make your 3D character as realistic as possible.

Here’s an example of character modeling with Maya:

Check this blog post to learn how to export a Maya file in a .obj file. It could be helpful for you, especially if you plan to 3D print your 3D model.

ZBrush

ZBrush is software developed by Pixologic. It is a unique and efficient program to work on modeling, painting, and texturing. It is addressed to professional designers and experienced users, as it has a lot of advanced software tools. ZBrush will allow you to work on character designs and much more. You will be able to make digital illustrations and digital paintings.

Pixologic recently published an exciting podcast with Léandre Lagrange, a concept artist working on the visual effects of movies such as Alien: Covenant or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. In this podcast, Léandre Lagrange talks about the work process on a movie when it comes to creature designs and textures, and more specifically, he talks about his work with ZBrush:

At Sculpteo, we recently made a partnership with ZBrush. A new option allows users to export their files directly to our online 3D printing service. More information here!

Blender

Blender is a free and open-source 3D software. This program is used for game creation so that you can create 3D figures with it. This 3D software is powerful and will allow you to create excellent 3D character designs. You can use it to make realistic characters for animations or game projects. Many tutorials are available on their website if you need a little help to get started with this 3D design software. For example, you will find good beginner guides to work on your character’s anatomy and expressions.

If you are interested in this software, we have a tutorial to help you use Blender for 3D printing.

Source:https://cgcookie.com/course/modeling-realistic-characters-with-blender

Source:https://cgcookie.com/course/modeling-realistic-characters-with-blender

3ds Max

3ds Max is software developed by Autodesk, mainly used by professionals to create worlds and environments in video games. It is a 3D tool for graphic design visualization and renderings. This software has advanced features allowing you to make impressive 3D designs from scratch for your characters.

See how to create a rigging character in 3ds Max in the following video:

You can also check our tutorial to make a 3D model with 3DS Max.

Which software do you choose?

As you can see, there are a lot of different programs to work on 3D character designs, and you don’t have to use modeling software dedicated to creating 3D characters. There are a lot of 3D modeling software tools on the market, but we hope that this top-of-the-best software for 3D character design jobs will help you choose the program that will fit your needs and projects.

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Credit for the primary picture: artstation.com

What does character design mean?

How do I start my character design?

What is the best chara design software?

What is character design in animation?

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