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Character Model Necessary Blueprint? - Not Recommend Modeling Relies on Blueprints

Character Model Necessary Blueprint? - Not Recommend Modeling Relies on Blueprints

When creating a 3D model of a character, it is of course useful to have a blueprint.

The front, sides, and back are drawn as a whole, which naturally makes modeling easier.

However, I don't recommend that you create a 3D model that relies too much on blueprints.

There is a reason we do not recommend it.

  1. Blueprints of a Character is Sometimes None
  2. Blueprints of Character can be Inconsistent in 3D
  3. Blueprints of a Character don't Good Work well when Traced

In this article, I will write about why I do not recommend modeling that relies too heavily on blueprints, using various examples.

  • Do you need blueprints when making a character model?
  • I can't go on to modeling because it's too hard to draw a blueprint plan.
  • I'm tracing blueprints, but I can't make a pretty model...

If you have ever felt these questions or concerns, please read on.


Blueprints of a Character is Sometimes None


To begin with.

When creating 3D models of characters for work, blueprints are not always available.

In the past, TOHA has created 3D models from 2D illustrations of more than 70 characters in the course of our work, but rarely have we ever had materials prepared in the form of a precise "three-view" drawing.

Often there are documents available that are not "Blueprints" but "Three-view Imagery".

Or, there is a set pattern of "a little diagonal front view" and "a little diagonal back view".

Even without "Blueprints", it is possible to create a 3D model of the character, since the design of the character can be roughly grasped from these documents.

However, there are times when we do not have such materials, and we need to create a 3D model of the character from an existing card illustration or a standing picture of the character published by an official company.



If you're thinking, "I'd like to do a job creating 3D models of characters."

The ability to model a character without tight blueprints is necessary.


The ability to model without blueprint diagrams can be acquired by training, just like muscle training.

Or you can draw your own three-views from several character drawings.

If there are no actual side or back drawings as documentation, I may try to draw a rough drawing myself.
(Reference article: The quality of the model you create is determined by the collection of materials! It is a good idea to collect a lot of materials)


However, if you have the ability to create a perfect three-view plan from a single character drawing, wouldn't you already be able to do the modeling itself? I think so.


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Blueprints of Character can be Inconsistent in 3D


It is really difficult to draw a perfectly correct blueprint diagram.

It seems to me that those who can draw a perfect blueprint plan no longer have a complete 3D model in their minds.

If you have ever modeled a character based on a blueprint drawing that you drew yourself or that was prepared for you, you know what I mean.

  1. If you try to make the 3D model as shown in the blueprint plan, the 3D model will be unreasonable.
  2. Trying to make a good 3D model doesn't give you the look of a blueprint.

This kind of thing happens often.

It is rare that the blueprint of a character is perfectly correct in 3D, and it is more normal for there to be a discrepancy somewhere.

I believe that a blueprint is such a difficult thing to draw.

In particular, the blueprint of characters is often drawn by 2D artists and illustrators, where the emphasis is often on "looking good as an illustration".


I actually found this kind of thing on a blueprint that I had on the job.

Sample of blueprints with 3D inconsistencies

I am trying to make it easy to understand because it is an example, but there is a part that can never be reproduced in terms of the 3D model.
This is the skirt part.

Sample of blueprints with 3D inconsistenciess: Answer

As an illustration, it looks good and is cute from both the front and the side, but the raised and lowered parts of the skirt do not match on the front and the side, which is inconsistent.

When a customer gives me such a "3D inconsistent blueprint", I have a bit of trouble.

As for the drop-off point.

Alternative A: Ditch the curve of the skirt and make it straight.
Alternative B: Compromise on the appearance of the sides in favor of the frontal curvature.
Alternative C: Better side appearance while maintaining the frontal curvature.

I think it will be something like this.
Whatever you do, it is the one you should check with your customer to be sure.

This is just one example, but these things happen rather often. It is that difficult to draw a correct blueprint by imagination.


If you rely completely on three-views for modeling, you may suffer from unexpected discrepancies between 2D and 3D.

The blueprint is a useful document, but I think it is best to look at it with the mindset that it is normal to have some inconsistencies and make good use of it.

In my opinion, It would be more spiritually restful for all people.


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Blueprints of a Character don't Good Work well when Traced

feeling sad


Suppose you have a perfect blueprint of a character, with no contradictions.

If the blueprints are perfectly correct, there should be no 3D inconsistencies if the blueprints are traced, and a perfect 3D model should be created simply by following the blueprints.

But in fact, tracing a perfect blueprint does not make a perfect 3D model.

There are 2 causes for this.

  1. 3D viewport angle of view issues
  2. When viewing 3D models from an angle issues

We will look at the 2 issues in turn.


3D viewport angle of view issues

When creating 3D models, we use 3DCG software such as Maya or Blender, and there is one window that we look at throughout the modeling process. That is the 3D viewport.

A 3D viewport sometimes called a perspective view, is in essence a window into a 3D space. The 3D space seen through the view has an "angle of view".

The angle of view can also be referred to as "perspective". Some software programs use the term "focal length" instead of "angle of view".


I would like to ask someone who is familiar with cameras to teach me about this area, but at the very least, this is all you need to know in order to do 3DCG.

  • Wide angle of view = wide angle lens = short focal length = tight perspective = objects appear distorted
  • Narrow angle of view = telephoto lens = long focal length = loose perspective = no distortion of object shape


How does the angle of view differ? It is easier to see the difference if you actually look at it.

Differences in the appearance of 3D models due to differences in the angle of view (focal length)


The same 3D model can look different from different angles of view.

The twin tails of this character are a distinctive feature, but depending on the angle of view and the zoom of the 3D model, the twin tails are seen in completely different ways.

Narrower angle of view = longer focal length" is less likely to change the view, but it does change it somewhat.

For character modeling, a longer focal length is recommended.
Reference article ↓
Getting started with Blender 2.8 (3) - Comfortable modeling with recommended initial settings


We now return to the topic of tracing three-view diagrams.

If you place a three-view view as a guide in the 3D viewport, the angle of view is also applied to the three-view view. And if you place a
The view of the 3D model depends on the angle of view setting and the zoom in/out distance.

Under these circumstances, accurately tracing a blueprint is a rather difficult task.


So, should we turn off the angle of view in the 3D view or trace in the "no angle of view" views such as the front and side views? This is not the case.

If there is no angle of view, the three-dimensional view can be traced accurately, but When the final 3D model is seen by the human eye, it "has an angle of view. In both games and VR, there are almost no images that are completely free of the angle of view.

What a character modeler should do is make the final character pretty/cool for people to see, never to accurately trace a blueprint.


When viewing 3D models from an angle issues

It is faster to look at this issue as well, so we will use a 3D model example.

Here are character models A and B. The two models are identical when viewed from the front and from the side.

But the two models are not the same when viewed from an oblique angle.

Differences when viewing a 3D model from an oblique angle


The problem with viewing a 3D model from an angle is exactly this.

Since the 3D model has a 360-degree three-dimensional volume, matching only the front and sides does not necessarily mean that it will look the same from an angle.

This is especially true for 3D models with organic lines, such as characters.


Actually, we don't often have the opportunity to look at character models from the front or side.


In most games, animations, and movies, the cut of the characters is from an oblique angle.

In particular, I think that characters depicted in 2D illustrations have a very strong impression of oblique faces.

When you try to picture your favorite anime or manga character in your mind, don't you usually picture their face at a slightly oblique angle?

In a 3D model of a character, the impression of the oblique face is extremely important.

And the oblique face lines cannot be traced from the blueprint.

In other words, this is a major reason why tracing a blueprint does not produce a good-looking 3D model.


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How to Develop Modeling Skills without Relying too much on Blueprint

I am saying a lot of things that sound like I know something, but in fact this is what I know.

Because once upon a time, Toha used to make 3D models of his characters by tracing blueprints!

And, I was doing that at work.

So I did it, and when I saw the resulting 3D model, I thought to myself.


I traced the blueprint but the character look doesn't look like the blueprint...And not pretty!


At that time, the tracing was done in front view, so "the model traced without the angle of view looks different when viewed with the angle of view", which is exactly what was happening.

Furthermore, when you are tracing a three-sided drawing, your entire attention is focused on "tracing the lines of the picture. This has become "tracing the lines of the picture.

I was just looking to see if there is any discrepancy with the picture in the guide image. I didn't look that "Is the character model cute from the human eye?"


After realizing this, Toha stopped placing guide images in the viewport when modeling characters. Because when you put a guide, you can't help but follow the lines of the guide image.

I don't place a guide image! That's the rule I have imposed on myself!

What happens then is that you will look insanely closely at the material at hand and the reference images on the sub-display.

I really have to look at it closely because I don't know how to model it.

How big is the head? How long are their arms and legs? What is the position of the hips? How thick is the body? How voluminous is the hair?

When you look at materials like this very carefully, you gradually gain [the power of the eyes to see].


And this is synonymous with developing [modeling skills that do not rely too much on three-dimensional drawings].


Is it possible to train the power of the eye to see so quickly? You may think, "But it can't be done right away.

Just as muscle training does not immediately make your muscles muscular, the power of the eye to see is not immediately developed.

However, if you don't try to train your eyes, you will never develop the ability to see.



It is difficult to create a model of a character without a guide image from the beginning out of the blue.

So I don't think you have to try to do it perfectly all of a sudden.

You can try to make a blueprint tracing at first. But, when you look at the model you made in this way and think that it doesn't similar to the model...

When you do, please remember [the power of the eyes to see].

Please look carefully and carefully at the reference illustrations of not only the blueprint but also the oblique faces, and try to modify them to make the created character cute.


If you look at the illustration carefully and modify it to make it look cute and cool, and do this repeatedly, you will gradually and naturally develop your [ability to see]. At the same time, you will also develop your modeling skills.

If you keep at it, you will slowly but surely gain strength, and that is what 3DCG is all about.


In modeling, Toha believes that the most important thing is [the power of] the eyes to see, the power of observation.


This is an extreme theory, but if you observe the object to be created very carefully and thoroughly and have a perfect grasp of its shape, you can create a 3D model with a very high reproduction rate simply by creating it as you observed it.

Especially in cases where a 3D model is created from a 2D illustration of a character, it is absolutely necessary for the model to resemble the 2D illustration in every way.

Resemblance to a 2D illustration can only be achieved by first closely observing that 2D illustration.

I believe that the best way to show my skill as a character modeler is to create a model that resembles a 2D illustration, but also looks cute, cool, and presentable when viewed as a 3D model.


*If you are modeling without guide images in the viewport, this software is very useful.


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Example of a 3D Model that is Easier to Create by tracing a Blueprint


Now, I have said that I do not recommend tracing blueprints, but this is only in modeling characters.

Some items are easier to make and more reproducible if they are made by tracing a blueprint.

For example, weapons such as swords and guns.

Unlike organic objects such as characters, artificial objects such as weapons have definite length and thickness. When creating these 3D models, it is faster and cleaner to trace a blueprint if one is available.

Other furniture such as wardrobes and desks, for example, and musical instruments such as guitars may also be faster and cleaner to trace.

The point is that the form is clear.

Even though we say that we should not rely too much on blueprints, they are still useful documents. We should make convenient use of any available documents.

If you think it is better to make a blueprint tracing, please do your best to trace it.


Summary: Blueprint is a useful and convenient document, but it is dangerous to rely on it too much


Blueprints are a very good document for modeling. It is a good thing to have them.

But if you ask me if it is essential, I don't think it is.

I don't recommend creating 3D models that rely too heavily on blueprints for the following 3 reasons.

  1. Blueprints of a Character is Sometimes None
  2. Blueprints of Character can be Inconsistent in 3D
  3. Blueprints of a Character don't Good Work well when Traced


In the first place, sometimes there are no blueprints, and even if there are, they may be inconsistent in 3D, and tracing perfect blueprints does not make a good character model.

It is not at all a bad idea to look at blueprints. If there is one, you should look at it very much.

It means that unconditional reliance on blueprints for modeling may be a bit dangerous.

Creating a 3D model of a character, especially by tracing a blueprint, often does not result in a good-looking 3D model due to view angle and oblique viewing problems.


If you want to develop your modeling ability not to rely too much on blueprints, you need to look at the materials carefully when creating 3D models and develop your [power of the eye to see].

The more you train your eye to see and the more modeling you do, the stronger your modeling ability will become.

If you read this article and have an idea, or if you want to strengthen your modeling ability in the future, please try to improve your [power of the eye to see] little by little.


I also write about other useful things for modeling in "3D Model Creation". Please have a look:)


Extra: About the Blueprint of the Explanatory Character Model

Here is a blueprint of the explanatory character model (named Seschan) used in this article.

Explanation Setcchan Blueprint

This blueprint is the perfect blueprint for a 3D.

The reason why is because it is a blueprint drawn by tracing a previously created 3D model.


Then, did you make Setschan's model without looking at anything? No, I drew a rough blueprint and made the model based on it.

rough blueprint

This rough sketch is very appropriate, as it is something that only Toha should be able to understand.

Comparing the traced blueprint with the rough drawing, there are many differences.

The image of the 2D illustration and the 3D model is not exactly the same. This is the result of prioritizing the appearance of the 3D model while keeping it as close to the 2D image as possible.

Rough blueprint, the ribbon is behind the neck, but when I made it, it wasn't good enough, so I changed it behind the waist.


The process of creating Secchan's model is described in Character Modeling from Scratch! - How to Make 3D Models.


Please take a look!

List of comments

  1. SC1815 says:

    Greetings, I have recently started 3D modeling as a hobby and found this very helpful.
    I thought, "If I have a three-sided drawing, I can just trace the rest," but no matter how many bodies I made, "something" was not right! I felt that "something" was wrong no matter how many bodies I made, and I was unable to move forward.
    If you have time, I would love to read any tips on modeling from a single picture.

    • Toha トハ says:

      SC1815, nice to meet you and thank you for your comments.
      I'm glad that Toha's article was of some help~!

      You mean tips on modeling from a single picture! I see - it would certainly be nice if you could explain such things in a way that is easy to understand!
      It will be a long time before I can summarize the contents in an article, but I hope to be able to write about it someday.
      SC1815, please come back and read the article when you do~!
      Thank you very much for your request!

  2. ピクシー says:

    Nice to meet you. Good evening.

    I was looking around for Blender for the first time.
    I tried to do it, but since I was not very good at manipulating the three-view map, I had to do some weird things to make sure the three-view map was lined up correctly, and I pretty much stopped there.
    I feel so much better now that I know that it's okay to think that way even as a beginner.

    It was also very easy to read the separate articles, "This operation is detailed here," which helped me to gradually move forward with a task that had been standing still for a long time.
    Thank you!

    • Toha トハ says:

      Thanks for your comment, Pixie~!

      I am so glad that this article has helped you, Pixie!
      It would be a waste to go through the trouble of preparing a three-sided drawing and not be able to proceed, and I hope that Pixie can find a way that is easy for her to do from now on and move forward.

      And thanks for the compliment about the article--I'm glad!
      I update my blog at a leisurely pace, so please visit my blog anytime if you like.

  3. ミッフィー says:

    Thank you for the article.

    Do you actually use three-sided charts in your work?
    I didn't use that stuff in the field once. I've seen people say that anyone who uses it has no taste.
    On other sites, I don't recommend relying too much on three-view drawings, but they are useful if you have them. Many people said that it is especially useful for mechanical systems.
    I came to this site when I was wondering if one of them was true and was doing some research.
    If you have worked in the field or elsewhere, could you please let us know?

    Well, the guy was a little weird, so maybe he was just lying.

    • Toha トハ says:

      Thank you for your comment, Miffy~!
      Regarding your question, TOHA uses three-view drawings as the main document if they are available for documentation at work.

      In the case of character modeling, I do not trace a three-view plan, but I always display the model in a visible place and check it as I make the model. As mentioned in the article, I sometimes trace a three-view plan for weapons and other models.
      I think it depends on what you make and who you are rather than which is right - I think it depends on what you make and who you are.
      In modeling work, there may or may not be three-view drawings, so we are doing things flexibly from time to time. (This is just a story about my personal way of doing business.)


Please feel free to comment~!

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