If you work in the real estate or construction industry, you can benefit greatly from computer animation. Animation has become commonplace in our movies, ads, and social media. However, the process of "3D animation" can still seem mystifying to the common person.

What Exactly is 3D Computer Animation?

Essentially, 3D animation is the process of creating moving pictures in a digital environment. The animator creates movement within objects to "trick" our eyes into believing the motion has actually taken place.

You can divide the 3D process into three phases:

Modeling: The process of creating 3D objects and the scene around them.

Layout and Animation: How to position and animate those objects.

Rendering: The completed project.

The Process

Though there may be only three main phases, there are numerous steps to completing an animation. Below are 11 of these steps. There are probably many more, but these are the most common.

Concept and Storyboards

No one can start building an animation without first creating a storyboard. This is a flat, two-dimensional sequence of illustrations paired with a story description.

The illustrations show a sequence of time. When looking at it, you should be able to see what happens first, next, and last.

The descriptions walk you through story interactions and answer any questions about details.

What transitions will there be? Are there any effects? How do they tie into the story? How will the voice over work with the soundtrack?

During this process, a script is polished and animators can begin to see how the scenes will function.

3D Modeling

Modeling is the task of building the story environment. This includes any props, characters, and scenery.

A creator will take specific objects from the storyboard and mold them into a 3D "mesh." This is a simple shape that can be refined with more details later in the animation process.

Some art departments set hundreds of little hinges on each character called Avars. These move specific parts of a character's body for a more realistic feel. 


After a 3D object has a primitive mesh design, it needs some clothes to cover it. This is texturing.

You can texture an item by mapping out colors on the object or layering 2B images or designs in repeating patterns. Some creators also choose to use real photographs. 


Now that your character has a form, you need to put his skeleton to work. This is rigging and is the last stage before a character animation begins.

Every rig is unique to every single character and object. The process sets up a skeleton you can control so you see how it will move during animation.


Now you know how your character will move, it's time to get it moving. There are a few different techniques to use.

Keyframe animation is similar to old-style cartoons. An animator moves and manipulates the objects on a frame by frame basis.

Animators can also use splines to draw a path for a character rig to follow.

Another technique is using built-in engines in your software. So, when a scene requires a specific movement, your object will follow suit.


Lighting isn't just for photography. It's an important tool for bringing animation to life, too.

Lights in a 3D world don't exist until an animator applies them. So, when done incorrectly, it can wash out a scene and make it flat. And when done well, it makes the scene even more convincing. 

Camera Setting

Think about it. The 3D world has no physical limitations. You can take a journey to the surface of the sun. Or, explore a world inside a person's intestines. Using good camera perspective makes these journeys not only possible but also more realistic.

To get a better understanding, you can look through the lens of a real camera. How does it show the scene in front of you? Can you adjust the focus? What happens when you adjust your position?

Now, take these concepts into consideration during the animation. You can adjust that focus and your position. You can adjust your perspective, too. Bonus, you can even have the perspective of multiple cameras in your animation. 


Rendering is one of the final steps in creating great animation. This is when the animation gets "made" with its final details.

An animator creates a good, final render with attention to lighting, camera placement, and special effects. 

Compositing and Special VFX

After rendering your animation, it's time to round out your animation with special effects. Need to add an explosion? Does an alien need to morph into another object? Does a science experiment evaporate in a scene?

These are all fairly obvious examples, but there are other concepts to consider during this step. You can add in green screen to add in extra special effects. Or create more buildings in the animation environment. You can even extend the background to become a more complete world. 

Music and Sound Effects

Have you ever watched a scene without any music? It feels flat and emotionless. Adding in music and sound effects round out your animation with extra depth.

Music helps to set the mood and tone in a setting. Anything from a happy celebration to a somber breakup. 

Foley is another term for sound effects. A foley artist will create sounds specific to animation using a variety of props.

Editing and Final Output

We have reached the end! It's time to combine the renders, music, special effects, and any edits to create a final project.

Once you ensure your project has the right flow and feeling, it's time to save it in a compatible format.

Keeping a Competitive Edge

Keep in mind, a computer is just a tool for animation. There is no straightforward process. There are many steps to creating a realistic 3D world using computer animation programs.

A good team that pays attention to each detail can create a new world anyone would be happy to be absorbed in.

If you're looking for the right designers to give your real estate business a competitive edge, contact us today to learn more about how we can help. 


About The Author

Hi, we're the Designblendz team! Our mission is to raise the standard of how the built environment is designed, visualized, and constructed by blending overlapping design disciplines that merge the virtual and physical world together.