The visual presentation of video games has come a very long way in recent years. Even if there are still games that make use of the classic pixel art style, the vast majority of games that are launched by big developers these days are in the three-dimensional format. Since the debut of the very first 3D game, there has been a significant advancement in the design of video games. When creating new video games, it is common practice to make use of 3D models for video game modeling. This is because some game designers place a premium on realism in their creations.

A designer working on a game.

It should come as no surprise that 3D modeling for games has become such a commonplace practice in the creation of video games given the increasing prevalence of three-dimensional visuals in the industry. But exactly how have 3D models been utilized in the development of video games?

Continue reading to find out how 3D models can assist in video game modeling, as well as to learn more about the potential of 3D modeling:

Video game modeling

When it comes to designing video games, one of the most essential things that creators think about is how to create an immersive experience. After all, players are more inclined to complete games in which they have the sense that they are an integral part of the experience.

Two men working on a video game in a desktop computer.

Creating a fully immersive experience requires, among other things, making sure that the game’s design is interesting and accurate. This is where three-dimensional models used in video games might come in handy.

Common types of 3D models used in video games

The present gaming scene is incredibly diverse, with dozens of different genres and ways to play. Despite this, the general categories of 3D models that are utilized in games have remained quite consistent over the past decade. The vast majority of assets can be classified into one of the following categories:

Character 3D models

The creation of playable characters is a significant priority in virtually all game modeling formats and genres. The vast majority of contemporary video games have both playable characters and non-playable characters (NPCs), both of which are responsible for imparting vital information and advancing the story in a variety of different ways.

Because players focus so much attention on them, their models also happen to be the most intricate and detailed in the game. Because of this, character 3D modeling typically consumes more time than other types of modeling do.

Environment 3D models

A 3D environment can be as simple as a single object (such as a house or room) or as complicated as a whole game-level map, play area, or building complex. It can also take the form of anything in between. The creation of miles-wide 3D environment models for games may seem like a laborious nightmare at first, but in reality, the topography is sometimes quite easy or automatically generated, and the assets for natural objects (trees, rocks, etc.) are frequently reused.

Prop 3D models

A non-living component of a game is referred to as a “prop,” and it can be anything. As a result, they can either be something that a player character engages with or simply something that works as a background in an area.

Visualizing tiny details may be a priority when you are modeling 3D props for AAA games; however, the design process for individual props in the majority of other project types is typically shorter than that of characters or surroundings. However, keep in mind that very huge quantities of props are frequently required for the performance.

Cars & automobiles 3D models

The majority of automobiles use intricate machinery that consists of hundreds of components that are linked together. The good news is that when you are creating a 3D model of a car for a game, you do not need to duplicate all of these elements. This is because the majority of games will just represent the outside of vehicles or the area where the player sits.

However, this does not imply that the game modeling process itself is quick and straightforward; the distinctive geometry of cars and the various pieces (some of which are even visible from the outside) make the fabrication of vehicle designs a time-consuming endeavor for modelers.

Weapons 3D models

You could consider guns to be props if it weren’t for the fact that the game focuses significantly more attention on them than it does on the vast majority of its other objects and inventory. Players will expect the 3D design to be realistic to the physics and fighting standards of the game unless you are creating an entirely new type of weapon model. They have high aesthetic standards for their weapons, which means you will most likely 3D model guns for games that have a high polygon count.

Game modeling techniques

Because it is not reasonable to expect one person to complete all of the work, 3D modelers typically specialize in certain aspects of the modeling process. Some artists specialize in the environment, characters, and vehicles, among other specializations.

And within each of these categories, there are a variety of game modeling approaches to choose from, such as organic modeling, hard-surface modeling, and procedural modeling.

Level of Detail

The term “level of detail” refers to a modeling approach that can be utilized to make a game run more smoothly. It boils down to reducing the total amount of polygons that a model possesses to reflect its increasing distance from the camera.

When the player approaches an object that was previously rather far away, the degree of detail of that object will be upgraded to a higher level with more polygons as they get closer to it. This helps to improve the performance of the real-time rendering by allowing background elements to have a lesser level of detail than assets that the character is viewing up close.

Procedural Modeling

The term “procedural modeling” refers to a technique that generates data algorithmically, as opposed to manually, and makes use of manual assets as a foundation. If you want to have grass in your game, for instance, it does not make sense to model each blade of grass because doing so would take an absurd amount of time.

Instead, it would be more efficient to model an entire field of grass at once. Instead of modeling a single blade, you might model two or three distinct blades and then utilize procedural modeling to extrapolate it across a surface, which is similar to the process of constructing a matrix or array.


Sculpting is the primary method for organic game modeling, and it is used to build assets with a greater polygon count, primarily characters. Sculpting is also utilized in the creation of a variety of other 3D models. Heroes and monsters, such as ogres, horses, or even a player’s base anatomy, can fall into this category.

Almost every game makes use of it, and it may even be used to create characters with a cartoonish appearance if the right settings are used. Elden Ring is a good illustration of a game that makes extensive use of sculpting.

Hard-Surface Modeling

To create smooth surfaces, an advanced modeling technique called hard-surface modeling employs loops, NURBS planes, and other modeling tools of a similar nature. Its primary function is the modeling of mechs, including weaponry, portals, and vehicles among other things. It is widely used in science fiction video games like Overwatch and Half-Life: Alyx.

Voxel Modeling

The graphical technique known as voxel modeling can be found in games such as Crossy Road and even Minecraft (although blocks in Minecraft are bigger than usual for voxel games). It’s pixel art in three dimensions.

When you want to create a 3D shape, you “sculpt” it by removing and adding individual voxels in a manner that is like carving, and you add colors as you go along. It helps you save time and gives you a different style, and it’s very common in cyberpunk and independent video game genres.

How to create 3D models for games?

How to build 3D models for games?  If they follow the standard procedure, an experienced modeler should be able to enter into a project fast and start developing 3D content for game modeling with minimal delay. This is because the following steps make up the standard procedure:

1. Collecting references

The majority of the time, 3D models are based on preexisting assets or real-world items; therefore, it is beneficial to gather pertinent references and keep them close at hand. You can build 3D content, for instance, by basing it on a reference image, photo, sketch, video, gaming component, or even real people and places. Even in situations in which the modeler’s imagination should serve as the sole source of inspiration for the design of the object, it is helpful to jot down or sketch the general appearance of the thing to maintain coherence as the process progresses.

2. Choosing a modeling method and planning

After you have developed the basic idea for the model, the next step is to decide on some of its aspects, such as the level of detail that it will have. As you may already be aware, the addition of details also results in a rise in the poly count and the amount of game modeling time required, not to mention an increase in the pressure placed on the player’s hardware.

3D designers working in an office.

You can always add more features by texturing the model, but some 3D objects are better suited to being rendered in a low-poly format. In addition, there is a broad variety of different approaches to 3D modeling for games, and you can select one of these approaches based on the model’s intended use.

3. Modeling

When you start constructing a polygon mesh in a 3D design application (such as 3DS Max, Maya, or ZBrush), you have begun the modeling process in its most accurate form. It is sometimes necessary, to begin with, a fundamental three-dimensional box shape and then further modify it by splitting it, tugging it, and adding polygons.

Scans in three dimensions (3D), photogrammetry, computer-aided design (CAD), and algorithms are all tools that can be used in certain circumstances to expedite the process. These fast-track methods are particularly widespread in the design of buildings and environments.

4. Render

This stage is completely optional and serves the purpose of displaying the finished model. After being photographed in its natural setting, the model is then rendered into a still image, which can afterward be used for marketing purposes or to illustrate the game’s visual quality. The 3D model can still be utilized for other purposes and incorporated into the software, even after a render has been made for it.

How do you integrate a 3D model into a game?

How do you integrate a 3D model into a game? It is essential to have a firm grasp of the fact that 3D models are not finished products; they are missing elements such as color, texture, lighting, and other components that are necessary to make them playable in a video game. Consequently, texturing is the very next stage following game modeling, although it is occasionally done in tandem with it.

You can give the object color and other visual aspects by making a 2D map (texture), which is then pulled over the 3D model to make its features look as though they are complete. This occurs while the shape of the thing is already finished. In most cases, shading and lighting are applied as well for a deeper sense of realism.

A man stretching while in front of his computer.

If the 3D item is intended to do something in the game other than simply sit in a specific location, then experts will also create animation for it. Rigging is used on characters as well as other living entities to determine how they move about in space. As a result of the developers integrating the assets into the software and writing code for these behaviors, some of these more complicated entities are also scripted to behave in a certain way by player behavior.

It should come as no surprise that a significant number of video games have begun making use of the ever-increasing popularity of 3D visuals for video game modeling given how far video games have progressed in recent years. Although it is difficult, it is also an excellent approach to continue the industry’s trend of growth and innovation. In game production, 3D models are currently some of the most popular options; yet, what the future holds is anyone’s guess.

Making games of high quality requires a significant investment of both time and perseverance. You can make a fantastic video game if you have the necessary tools and a good eye for design, even though the development of video games can be extremely complicated. If you are seeking a firm that can assist you in developing high-quality games, Lunar Sky Games can assist you by implementing best-in-class game concepts, features, and game loops to assist you in your endeavor.

At Lunar Sky Games, we are a team of gaming product consultants with over 10 years of expertise in the industry. We work in partnership with web3 companies to help them build and grow their products. We help turn your vision into a reality. Contact us now for a consultation.

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