What would you do if you can control the movements of Santa Claus 🎅 ? If I get the chance I would have all the gifts for myself for sure 😜 . Jokes apart, you may not get the actual Santa, but you can actually design and animate your own 3d Santa Claus game asset, using Blender. ☃️

Modeling:

We made this Santa for our new game “Swipe Santa” and now I’m gonna make the advance modeling steps clear for you so that you can have your own customized Santa Clause.

You don’t have to suffer much for designing a figure like Santa clause. Just take simple shapes like cube, cylinder, and cone; scale the shapes, rotate the directions and use some loop cuts. Don’t get disheartened if your Santa doesn’t look like ours. Every design is unique itself, and practice gives you the perfection.

Rigging:

Now, the most important part of this 3D modeling process: after giving a body to your Santa, how do you control its movement? So here comes the use of rigging, the process where you can create bones for your Santa so that it can move the parts of its body.

To start rigging, we have to place the bones first. For our Santa, we start with the upper body.

The basics steps are:

⦁ Make the head and neck bones ready
⦁ Make the shoulders and arms bones ready
⦁ Create a hand and fingers rig
⦁ Mirroring a rig from one side of the body to the other
⦁ Create an IK leg rig
⦁ Create a heel/toe roll foot rig
⦁ Make the hips and torso animation ready
⦁ Apply custom bone shapes
⦁ Manage bone layers

With both legs completed, we have a fully functioning character rig ready for some animation to be thrown at it!

You can check out Youtube for more details.

Texturing:

The next step is texturing, another important part of character designing. Though Blender has its own material tool-sets but we use Photoshop for texturing our Santa. As we use it for our Game Dev purpose, we have to add less material to it and so texturing is the best option. You can use the basic default material tool to colour your Santa if you are in your learning period.

Or if you want to add texture your character just select the object, unwrap it and add the texture you want. You can follow the instructions below.

(The following part is done on a simple cubic object to help beginners understand the whole process easily)

Step One is, of course, open blender, then unwrap the default Cube primitive, first up let’s get the ‘UV/Image Editor‘ view in place, drag a view for it.

Click this icon to change what our new view is…

Select “UV/Image Editor” and our workspace is ready.

Make sure the model we want to unwrap is selected, and then change from object mode to Edit Mode.

It’s worth keeping in mind that a model’s UVs are a part of a model’s mesh data. So you need to be in edit mode to work on UVs, just like you need to be in edit mode if you want to work on any other part of the mesh 😊

We are going to mark Seams now, seams are edges so let’s make sure we are in edge select mode. I’m also turning off ‘limit selection to visible‘ so I can easily select edges on the other side of the model.

Now we select the edges we want to become seams. I’ll go into more detail later, but for now you can think of seams as ‘cuts‘ we make in the 3D model, so that it can be unfolded (unwrapped) into a flat 2D shape (our UV layout)

We shall mark these edges as seams, select (Mesh > Edges > Mark Seam) or with your mouse over the 3D view (Ctrl+E > Mark Seam)

You should see your seam edges marked in red (if not press ‘n‘ with your mouse over the 3D view, scroll down and select the option to show seams).

Now we have our seams marked, let’s unwrap! Select all the faces you want to unwrap, in this case all of them, so a good old ‘select all‘ will do (I wrote ctrl+A on the pic, my bad, it’s just ‘a’ by default).

To tell blender to unwrap your selection, go (Mesh > UV Unwrap > Unwrap) or mouse over the 3D view and press (u > Unwrap).

You can see other unwrapping options, but for now unwrap is your best bet, Smart Projection can help you out if you’re in a hurry. But if you need UVs that you can make sense of when you are editing a texture. It’s often not the best choice (in fact whilst some will try to tell you otherwise, almost always, auto-unwrapping is not what you want)

So now we have unwrapped our cube! Hopefully now what marking the seams did makes a little more sense to you now, it basically marked all the edges that are now no longer touching. And Blender was able to use that information to unfold the model without much mess! 🙌

Rendering:

But whilst raw UV data is great, working with it without some kind of reference could get us in trouble quickly, so let’s get a texture on this model! First up, you need to change the 3D view to render textured objects.

Now the 3D view is drawing the mesh as pure white since it doesn’t have a texture, so let’s add one! In the UV/Image editor view select (Image > New Image).

For now, we have worked it all with the default settings EXCEPT we want to check ‘UV Test Grid’. This makes our new texture into a checkered pattern. T his is VERY useful for later on when you start editing the UV data, since you can look at your changes in the 3D view and from looking at the checker, you will be be able to tell if you are squashing or stretching your pixels. it’s also handy for testing Texel Density (if texture pixels are distributed evenly across a mesh)

And there you have it, 🎆 an unwrapped mesh with a reference texture! Now you can edit the UV data for your mesh in the UV/Image Editor; just like you’d edit the mesh in the 3D view. Best practices for this would take a lot more time to explain than I have for this tutorial. But generally, when you are editing UVs, you are trying to make a pattern which is simple for you to texture/paint, and have it so UV island edges (seams) are in places on the mesh where they are least likely to show issues on your model.

I hope you find this article helpful. Let us know and Share your Santa with us ❤️

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