This section helps you understand the planning it takes to work on even a fairly simple, one object scene. You will not learn to make any sort of certain checklist from this page. It only contains enough of a description of the planning process to make you aware of what is required.


Now you have a fair understanding of how 3d software work, but I’ll mention it once again though. The 3d Basics introduction is not even the tip of the proverbial 3D iceberg. Though It’s not difficult to imagine why 3d is so complex when you think about what the original developers set out to do. Trying to create digitally photo-realistic 3d requires careful simulation of natural phenomena such as light, gravity, form and texture. Just to paint a picture, let’s look at what it takes to create a CG photo-realistic blade of grass.

iStock Photo

– Not considering the dew drops, and just to create this little fellow alone would take:

  • A physically correct mesh model and posing
  • Correct light simulation to reproduce ambient sunlight
  • Shading of the grass, keepingin mind colour clouding and scattering
  • Various texture maps, including Colour map, bump map for small grains, displacement map for veins, specularity maps etc.
  • Sub-surface scattering to simulate translucency
  • Camera Optics, Depth of Field, Physical light bounces, little caustics effects…

And after all that, it’s still tweak baby tweak until you get it right. Which brings us to the importance of planning for 3d.


The reason 3d requires as much planning as it does is because of the effort involved and how all the processes are linked. If you goof up somewhere early on, it could affect your project during the final stages. For example, when you are building the mesh, it helps to pay close attention to how the ‘edges’ of the model flow. If these are arbitrary the mesh goes wonky when you try posing the mesh for final rendering.

3d Planning is easy when you understand that 3d terminology borrows from several different real world domains such as studio photography, theater, Engineering and architectural drafting… etc. Not only the terminology, but also the work process itself borrows heavily from real world methods. If you know these real world process, then it’s simple to apply those learnings.

I’ve listed the plan that it took to create these leather bags. (Created and rendered in Blender)

Leather bags by Anish



  • Photographic references and blueprints
  • Hi-resolution textures
  • HDRI images for lighting information


  • Mesh with adequate detail. To show off seams, folds, undulations of soft leather. The more polygons, the more detailed the surface.
  • Well placed loops so that UVunwrapping or even animating later is easy. It’s like peeling off a shrink-wrapper, painting it and putting it back onto the object.
  • Strategically placed chrome objects to catch light.
  • Enough detail to (clay) sculpt some depressions on the bag


  • Plan out material characteristics such as specularity, translucency, a colour ramp Etc,
  • A laid out texture map that wraps neatly and for all channels (Diffuse, bump,specularity etc.)


  • Plan out studio lighting (Rim lights, key lights, fill lights) and Lighting intensity, fall off, etc.
  • An environment for lights to bounce off of.


  • The final output size, colour depth and actual application
  • Rendering in layers (Ambient occlusion, colour layer, alpha layer, z-depth layer etc.)
  • Planning for special rendering techniques such as Radiosity rendering to simulate realistic light scattering.
  • Post processing requirements.

In summary the process listed above went through 3 main phases:

  1. Building the object (Uses terminology from architectural and engineering drafting and drawing, fine art and geometry)
  2. Painting the object (Uses terminology from clothing, textile, fashion industries)
  3. Setting up and Photographing the scene (Uses terminology from Photography studios, art and optics fields)

If you didn’t know about the real world process, then it’s just natural that the 3d equivalent is a mystery as well. And if you do know about these fields then just follow your real world process. If you’re missing a process equivalent in the 3d workflow then look really hard, because 9 times out of 10… digital 3d already has an equivalent of what you do in the real world. It’s happened to me before.

So, in signing out of this section you can see, even a fairly routine image such as the bag has a lot of detail to be planned for. Of course, I’m not trying to scare you off. Even though you may not implement everything that is in the list above, planning for and incorporating these steps makes for much better images. Much much better. 🙂


  1. 1 Case Packers

    Case Packers…

    I wish I was able to do the same…

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