After the initial concept art stage, the 'modeling' process comes into play to bring your drawings to life within the three dimensional world. There are various types of software used to create 3D models, such as zbrush, Mudbox and Maya: All in which use different elements in order to make the most beautifully rendered models within our movie and gaming industries.
However, making 3D models isn't always an easy process. It requires plenty of drawing skill and knowledge in order to make realistic creations. Such as facial and human anatomies, structured landscapes and objects. Without this understanding, making 3D models would be near enough impossible to master. For example making a face within a 3D structure requires knowledge of the human skull, muscle and tissue structure, skin layouts (creases, stretching, folds etc) weight, gravity and hair! When it is evident that you can compose these elements successfully within drawings, You are ready to build it up in the 3D world. Drawing first is crucial, not only to understand those elements of correct proportion, but also to use as a reference when bringing those drawings to life.
So once all your drawings are underway and ready to go, it's time to make it into a 3D sculpture. When making models, there is structure known as a 'polygon mesh' which covers the surface of the object in square like shapes. A polygon mesh determines the visual quality and structure of your model, depending on how many 'squares' are present. You can change the amount of polygons on your mesh on the basis of how you want your 3D model to look (low to high quality, simple to extravagant) These days, many video game models reach into the millions upon millions of polygons on a mesh, For example games like 'Gears of War 2', 'Halo Reach', 'Final Fantasy 13' and 'Castlevania: LOS'. However, not so long ago, it was very different. It was rare for video games to breach past the thousands of polygons to a mesh, simply on the basis with lack of technology etc.
Here are some image examples representing and comparing different qualities of polygon meshes:
1.) 007 Goldeneye (1997) from the N64. Polygon count: 300-400, However! differs in FPS view. When selecting to go to the options menu, your 'hand' appears with a watch in which enables you to pan through your weapons, mission objectives and maps etc. These polygons could potentially breach into 1000.
2.) Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) and (Halo 3) 2007 from Microsoft's Xbox. For the first Halo, the polygon count breached around the 2000's mark, which at it's time was pretty impressive in terms of visually appealing graphics etc. However, it's successor Halo 3 benefited from the latest 3D modeling technology at the time, and produced polygon meshes that reached into the millions.
3.) Tomb Raider (1996), Tomb Raider Legend (2007), Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008) for Sony's Playstation, Microsoft's Xbox and PC. Tomb Raider is probably the most recognizable in terms of development with polygon meshes. It is hard to forget the 90's heroine first appearing with those triangular shaped 'Madonna' breasts. Who can blame it? with a maximum of 300 polygons to the model's mesh. In the future, as better 3D modeling systems were being produced, Tomb raider benefited from a nice re-model of our classy maiden. With Tomb Raider Legend, Lara Croft and the game itself evolved and gained a whole new level of respect, within seeing that glorious transformation of better graphics and proportions. It reached up to a nice 5000 polygons in the mesh structure. With that success of Tomb Raider Legend, the series has managed to set and produced another three games from then to now. The most recent and definitive for stunning visuals is Tomb Raider: Underworld. Beautifully rendered landscaping and character models made this addition to the franchise one not to miss! All thanks to a massive increase of up to 30,000 polygons.
. Google Images