Model Making Resources
What This Page is About:
These are a selection of links relating to the process of making, skinning, and animating models specifically for 3D games. In the past, the focus has been on games created using the Quake III Arena game engine. While many tutorials are specific to Quake 3, most can be used by artists wanting to create new content for games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight 2, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Soldier of Fortune 2, and Star Trek Elite Forces.
Going forward, the site will be further expanded to cover more modern engines that can be modified by fans, students and game model-making hobbyists -- including Unreal and Half Life 2 and perhaps even Doom 3.
Links are broken into general groupings by task or game. Expect these to change as the needs of model makers change.
These links may NOT been verified recently. If you encounter a broken link, let me know. If you encounter a new tutorial or resource, drop me a letter with the info.
Except where noted, all links are to English language sites.
\??\ Means site is known to be down. We hope it comes back.
\DL-#K\ Means it is a direct download link to a file. For movies, you may want to right click and do a save as rather than try to download and play them. The "#KB" represents the size of the file, if known.
\FPDL-#K\ This is the same as noted above, except that the download comes from GameSpy's File Planet, which requires registration. If you are a model-making hobbyist, you NEED that File Planet account.
Model Making Tools
- MilkShape 3D: animator, modeler, game format converter. Type: Registerware. Cost: $
- Wings3D Modeling Program: Wings 3D is a subdivision modeler inspired by Nendo and Mirai from Izware.
- Blender: A free, professional quality modeling tool that with plugins can import and export models for games like Quake 3, Doom 3, Quake 4 and Neverwinter Nights.
- Silo: This is a low-cost (currently $109 USD) full-featured modeling tool. Silo imports 3ds, obj, fact, and dxf files and exports 3ds, obj, fact, dxf, rib, and pov files. Do not know if there are plug-ins to export to model formats used in popular game engines. Available for both Mac and PC.
- Maya Personal Learning Edition: A limited feature "educational" version of Maya. This is the software used to create models for the Unreal Tournament game engine. Plug-ins are available for this to export models to Unreal Tournament. Support not provided for Q3A engine games. Type: Freeware (full version $$$$).
- Z-Brush: The current tool of choice for high-poly normal map making artists. Relatively low cost for a high-end commercial tool ($489 USD).
- XSI v4.2 Foundation.: Freeware version of XSI Foundation for use with Half Life 2 and the Unreal engine. Commercial level modeling and animating program. This is the tool used to create the content in Half Life 2 (though other commercial tools like 3DS Max support the game engine as well). You can also download documentation and the mod tools from this site.
- \FPDL-268.6KB\UNRAPPER4: This is a freeware simulation of the highly touted model unwrapping tools in 3DS Max 5. It works in version 4.2 of 3DS Max (in .ZIP file format).
- \DL-88K\ Meshtools v2.5: Meshtools has been updated. This is a recent version. Learn more about this tool from the meshtools site. This 3DS Max r3 and r4 plug-in provides some "must" have tool features for mesh modeling. Site is currently under construction.
- \DL-88K\ Meshtools v3 plus PolyTools: Meshtools has been updated. This is the latest version. Learn more about this tool from the meshtools site. This 3DS Max 6 through 8 plug-in provides some "must" have tool features for mesh modeling. Site is currently under construction. This is one of my "must have" tools.
- gmax: gmax was AutoDesk's “lite” and free version of 3D Studio Max (based on Max 4). Usuable with a number of games. Autodesk no longer supports or distributes this product. Turbosquid hosts several gmax user community forums along with the tools and plug-ins for it.
- Gamespace: Full-featured commercial modeling program. Says it supports HalfLife, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament 2003, & more. The modeling portion was once known as "Truespace." (Cost: $299 USD).
- GameSpace Light: Freeware version of GameSpace. Full-featured, but major limitation is that it will only save models of 650 polygons or less -- RTS games anyone?
- Anim8or: Freeware modeling and animation program. Splines, paths and lathes to supplement MilkShape. Not certain if output is compatible with major game engines.
- OpenFX - free modeling tool: No word on whether this can output a q3data compatible file.
- QuakeMe : a.k.a. "QMe", this is a budgetware modeling program to create models for original Quake (a.k.a. Quake 1).
- Pakrat: An MD3 viewer for the Mac (only). Site was last updated in 001.
- www.maxplugins.de/: A site with free plugins for all versions of 3DS Max.
- 3dexe: 3dexe is a free utility from Gradiant Studios that converts a 3D Studio Max 3DS format file and a .tga file into a standalone Open-GL model viewer (for that model).
- ProgMesh v1.1: A freeware Polygon reduction tool that works with the 3DS Max .3DS formats (and others). Reduce polycount on very complex models.
- qview: A model viewer for Quake engine models (quake, Q2, Q3A)
- Noserider's Q3A model viewing config file: A .cfg file for viewing models inside the game.
- Scriptspot: A website dedicated to 3DS Max plug-in scripts.
- PolyChop: A polygon reduction utility for 3DS Max r2.5 and r3. Maintains UVW mapping.
- PolyChop for Max 4.2:
- Aztec 3D Modeller: Freeware (GPL), Open source 3D modeling tool. Most recent version released on July 1, 2002.
Melody Normal Map generator: by Nvidia. Used to generate normal maps from .3DS, .OBJ, and .PLY format files. Requires Windows 2000/XP and Direct X 9.
JPatch: Freeware. Spline based modeling program. Very limited Export capability.
File Format Import/Export Scripts or Utilities
Model Making Tutorials for 3DS Max & Gmax
Figures & Characters
- Modelling Joan of Arc: An exceptional, step by step tutorial modeling a female character. Requires moderate skill with Max. Tutorial by Michel Roger. Same tutorial in French language Joan D’Arc.
- Modeling a female figure from a cylinder: A good, step by step tutorial modeling a female character, though primarily focusing on the torso. Requires moderate skill with Max. Tutorial by Wiro. The artist's website had a much more complete set of tutorials, but the site has gone down.
- LowPoly Character Modeling: A early tutorial modeling a stylized male game character by Ben Mathis. Good, but perhaps too overview for the complexity of the project shown.
- Creating a humanoid mouth: David op De Beéck shows how to solve a problem around a mouth that many tutorials seem to miss.
- Modeling Sebulba's Head in subdivision modeling: Requires the Meshtools plugin.
- Yoda's Head: modeled in Mirai by Ken Brilliant. If you know 3DS Max, the procedures are generic enough to follow.
- \DL-2.39MB\Animé-style character model: Begins with splines in 3DS Max, ends with cartoon nudity.
- Making of the Shark: Nikola Drincic walks you through making a cartoony shark character in subdivision modeling.
- Hand modeling workshop: by Carl van Heezik. Light on specific instruction but some of the images show good subdivision. This looks to be a handout for a workshop ... not a stand alone tutorial.
- More Bay Raitt Time Lapse videos: Short .gif file animations of modeling several subjects in Mirai. Similar to box modeling.
- \DL\ Bay Raitt's Time Lapse Box Modeling movie: Bay Raitt shows box modeling in Mirai in this .avi (very similar to working in Max).
Objects & Environments
- Creating Asteroids: Modeling and mapping a very high-poly asteroid. Tutorial by Waylon Brinck.
- Start to Finish model tutorial: Dick Dastardly takes a simple cube model in Max and goes through all the steps of texturing and exporting it to Q3A. Simple model, but VERY complete. Good for learning a work flow for Quake 3 games. A good place for first time modelers to start!
- Modeling a Simple Spaceship: An beginner level 3DS Max tutorial by Max "Ghoul" Shelekhov. Includes unwrapping instructions.
- Polygon-modelling - A Fistweapon: A beginner level 3DS Max tutorial on making a simple hand gun model by Mariska Vos.
- Making of a Toaster : A beginner level 3DS Max tutorial on making a toaster by Guy BlueSummers-3DT.
- 3DS-Max Tutorial: Multi-page tutorial by Zeo-Cartin using 3DS Max. Low Poly. Animé style.
- Mesh Modeling All The Way: Mesh Modeling in 3DS Max by Claes Wikdahl, focusing on Mesh Smooth modifier. More a look at functions than anything.
- Low Polygon Modeling for 3D Computer Games: Modeling a Light Post with 3 Different Polygon Limits in 3D Studio MAX by Max Zeilke. Focus on Map_Object Model.
Model Making Tutorials for Milkshape 3D
Model Making Tutorials for Maya
- Modeling Female Figure: Pro modeler Adam Ward walks through creating a female heroine. Method looks applicable to other modeling programs. There's a 31KB downloadable PDF file of the tutorial available on the first tute page.
- Head made in poly subdivision method: This tutorial is a walk through making an "orcish" head. While Maya specific, it may work with 3DS Max in combo with the Meshtools plugin. Also see the animations and models elsewhere on the site.
- Modeling a female figure in Maya NURBS:
Model Making Tutorials for Other Tools
Model Making Tutorials: Non-Tool Specific
GMAX Specific Tools and Tutorials
UVW Skin Mapping & Unwrapping Tools
- MAX: Texporter: A 3Ds Max (r3 & r4) plugin that converts and exports model mapping coordinates into a bit map.
- MAX: Chilliskinner: This is a UVW making tool for use with 3DS Max r2.5 through r4. Recent updated to version 3.0.1.
- LithUnWrap: LithUnwrap is a free Windows tool for mapping and editing the UV coordinates of low poly models. Works with the file formats of many modeling programs. Tutorials on the site. This is now a commercial product. Used with MilkShape for texture mapping Serious Sam models.
- Ultimate Unwrap: Ultimate Unwrap 3D is a specialty Windows tool for unwrapping 3D models. It includes an easy-to-use UV coordinate editor, a standard set of UV mapping projections such as planar, box, cylindrical, and spherical, as well as advanced UV mapping projections such as face mapping, camera mapping, and unwrap faces for those difficult to map areas on a model.
UVW Skin Mapping & Unwrapping Tutorials
Quake 3 MD3 Exporting Tutorials
Quake 4 MD5 Exporting Tutorials
- \FPDL-5.6K\Q3 Dopesheet: A spreadsheet form for those working on animation configs for Quake3 models.
- \FPDL-2.9MB\Animation Master from Hash: This lower cost modeling and animating program can export DXF model formats and BVH animation files ... which should be able to be converted through other low cost programs.
- Bipeds for all Q3A original models: Steed's original character studio biped animations.
Skin Making Tools
- Team Arena Character Skin Meshes: This is a direct link to a download containing the James and Janet, and the pi and fritzkrieg skin layouts and the layouts for the 11 TA head models.
- The Gimp: Photoshop-like software, there's a Windows Version.
- Java MD3 Model Viewer
- SeeMD3 md3 model viewer: It is noted that this tool is not compatible with all Graphics cards.
- Pakmover: A Pak file managing utility.
- Q3ASE: The Q3A shader Editor. For making SFX happen on your skins.
- Eternal Arena Mod: This mod is great for making model screenshots. Mod is no longer active ... this link goes to a FilePlanet download page.
- Intoduction to modeling using Milkshape 3D part 3: Animation: Ben Moss teaches animating in Milkshape 3D.
- Texsynth: From Bert Peers, the guy who gave you Q3ASE, a utility that manipulates any texture into a tiling texture. Results will vary from texture to texture.
- Color Schemer: An on-line (or downloadable) color-coordinating tool. Enter the RGB values of a color and it suggests coordinating colors.
- qview: A model viewer for Quake engine models (quake, Q2, Q3A)
Skin Making Tutorials
- Skin Your Knees: An outstanding and extremely thorough approach to painting a character model skin by Dave King. He refers to the texture bendeti.jpg as a resource in his tutorial.
- Team Skins ... making the files work: Chemical Burn explains how to make team skin files work in Q3A v1.29h and up.
- Quake 3 Voodoo - A Beginners Guide to Shaders: Harlequin walks the beginner through creating the scripts that are the core of Q3A's special effects department.
- baneforge: Chemical Burn has tutes on Pakfile making, skin making, and creating an alpha channel.
- Harelequin's qbranch: Harlequin shows how to set up a skin layout, create several texture effects, has one of the best shader tutorials, and has an avi of his work in action on painting a head model.
- skintutor: Slaine focuses primarily on Q1 and Q2 model skin painting. Still, some good painting techniques here.
- PC Resources for Photoshop: interesting photoshop tutorials and a lot of links.
- Painting Hair: Bladekiller shows how she does hair.
- Painting Armor: The king of Daveness shows how he paints body armor.
- Bug Limb Tutorial: Dave King shows some texture unwrap techniques and goes into material creation (something not entirely applicable to Q3A modeling).
- Skinning Visor: Rorshach discusses how to best work with the Visor model and mesh (from the original Q3Test).
- Dark_Horizon video tutorial #1,
- tutorial #2,
- tutorial #3,
- tutorial #4,
- tutorial #5 : These five downloadable .avi files [not streaming video" TARGET="_blank"> show Dark_Horizon working on the face of his cacodemon skin. The files total about 130+ meg and the vids run about 9-10 minutes long. You will need the
- Techsmith's Camtasia Player codec to make the videos run.
- Redlemons’ Paint Shop Pro tutorials: This is a nifty collection of how-to’s for painting Q3A appropriate game content using Paint Shop Pro v6.
- Digital Painting: Darrel Pattenden shows how to creating an organized arrangement of layers for painting skin
- Skin Prep & Mapping: HyPer covers a bunch of related topics on skin set up and skin mapping.
- Painting skin tones: Soul shows how he sets up a swatch paletted for painting a caucasian skin.
General Painting Tutorials
- BotStudio: GUI front end program for bot creation. Not updated for use with Team Arena.
- Cricel's Quake 3 Bot Designer: A Q3A bot creation tool
- Metapad: A freeware text editor with line numbering. Good for finding errors in bot chat.
- Bot Boom: Bot Creating tool. Download works, but may be out of date.
Q3A Bot Tutorials and Resources
Miscellaneous Tools & Utilities
- VoxFeminae: Caryn "Hellchick" Law's site on making voices and sounds for games ... several tutorials on various subjects.
Quake III Model & Skin Sources
Jedi Knight 2 Tutorials, Tools and Resources
Return to Castle Wolfenstein Tutorials and Resources
- Modeling for RTCW in Milkshape TUTORIAL
- The MDC File: This site contain explanations of MDC and MDS formats and some specialized tools for viewing models and examining model files for RTCW. This looks like it’s worth a visit by the serious RTCW modeler or mapper.
- \DL-13.5K\ TiCal’s MDC Exporter: 3DS Max 4.x Plug-in. Exports an MDC format model.
- MDS importer for Gmax: Chris Cookson’s Gmax Resource site contains a number of import and export plug-ins for 3DS Max and Gmax.
Quake 2 Tutorials and Resources
With the Quake 2 Engine being made available under a Gnu Public License, there's a renewed interest in Quake 2 modeling.
- Converting Half-Life to Quake 2: This tutorial instructs how to turn a Half-Life .mdl format into a Quake 2 .md2 format.
- QTip:: MD2 Exporter for 3D Studio MAX. This is a commercial product.
Useful Links & Reference Resources
Modern Ruins: Utterly fantastic black and white photo essays of ruins from the modern era. Mostly abandoned places.
Abandoned Places: An equally stunning site with more photos of urban abandonment.
3dTotal Free Texture Library: Nice selection of small color (photo) and bump maps.
GameDev.Net forum thread on modeling tools: Link to forum listing of 2D and 3D software at GameDev.net. Ranked by price!!
Fineart.sk: Phenomenal Photo reference page for the human body and many head photos. Subscription required for full benefit.
Skull Exhibit: Several pages of images of creature skulls. You can find hi-res photographs of nearly every skull imaginable. a great resource.
Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy Art: Over 1100 artists and galleries … pro, fan & pro wannabe.
Reference Image Thread: Bearkub's ongoing polycount reference image thread. Many good reference sources.
Clothes: Krow’s Skindom article about creating believable fabric and clothes.
3DLinks: Super Useful general resource for 3D modeling. Tutorials, Plug-ins and links to downloadable textures can be found here.
Security Arms: A reference link for photos of many modern firearms.
Polycount's Q3A Tools Link Page: Links to many excellent modeling, animating, and skinning tools.
Harlequin's Links page
Turbosquid: A place to download textures and free or inexpensive model meshes.
Q3A Shader Manual on-line at id FTP site: This is a download link only.
Q3A Shader Manual on-line at qeradiant.com
Photo Vault: This is a stock photo service. The images aren't for reuse, but they are a good source of ideas for models and textures.
gfxzone: Site with a focus on per-pixel demoscene graphics.
dhabih: Artist's site with focus on traditional art style computer graphics.
Kirin's articles page: Some tips on skin making and texturing.
gordon.zip: An animated Milkshape mesh
Example of QC compiling code: This is a sample script from NoseRider used by Milkshape 3D to format Quake 3 Models.
CasManG's Tutorial links page: Contains links to many tutorials for modeling, skinning and animating, some already linked here.
HTML Format version of Team Arena Team Creation Document: Documents to be used as the Bible for creating new TA teams.
RTF Format version of Team Arena Team Creation Document: Documents to be used as the Bible for creating new TA teams.
www.gmaxsupport.com: Support for gmax tool. Of special note is the Discussion forum that can be linked to from the support page.
3DLuVr: A general modeling website.
Spiraloid: Bay Raitt's homepage. Tutorials and other good stuff.
Mammal Skulls: everything you always wanted to know about skulls but were afraid to ask.
you can find hi-res photographs of nearly every skull imaginable. A great resource.
Online Anatomy Books: These are scanned in art books. Lots of resources, subscription required to take full benefit of site.