How to Make a Free 3D Character

Written by darrin koltow
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How to Make a Free 3D Character
CAD (computer aided design) programs can be used to create virtual 3D characters. (human body image by Alhazm Salemi from

Making a 3D character is an activity you can do for free by using open source computer aided design (CAD) programs. These programs have the same basic modelling features of the paid-for CAD programs. These modelling features include tools for creating 3D primitives, which are basic objects like cubes and spheres. They also include tools for shaping and assembling the primitives, so you can create virtual objects, including characters, of arbitrary complexity. If you're new to creating 3D characters, approach this project by first simplifying the character. This involves mentally breaking it into parts (e.g. arms, legs).

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Free CAD (computer aided design) program

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  1. 1

    Download one of the free CAD programs from the Resource section that follows this article.

  2. 2

    Open your CAD program and activate its perspective view, which displays the parallel lines of objects in the same way human vision does: as lines that converge the further they extend from you.

  3. 3

    Select the tool for creating cylinders and use it to create a cylinder whose height is approximately 1.5 times the size of its radius. The cylinder will be your character's torso.

  4. 4

    Locate the parameter that specifies the number of length and width segments your torso will be divided into. Segments provide edges and vertices that allow you to sculpt the torso.

  5. 5

    Shape the torso by applying the scaling or resizing tool to squeeze the torso so that its circular ends appear as ovals. Make each oval's width about twice the size of its height.

  6. 6

    Begin forming legs by adjusting your viewpoint to display the bottom face of the torso. Apply the cut tool to this face to divide the face in two along its short axis (AKA, its shortest dimension). This action creates the raw material for making both legs. (The cut tool creates new segments. It does not actually cut anything.)

  7. 7

    Apply the extrusion tool to the right face that you just created, then adjust the extrusion height until the leg is as long as the torso. (Extrusion is the 3D modelling term for stretching a 2D surface into three dimensions.) Repeat this step from the left face at the bottom of the torso to make the left leg.

  8. 8

    Apply the move (AKA translation) tool to move the bottoms of the legs (the feet) slightly away from each other. This will spread the legs slightly for a more realistic appearance.

  9. 9

    Select a face near the top right side of the torso. Apply the extrusion tool to grow the right arm, just as you did legs. Repeat this step to make the left arm.

  10. 10

    Move the hands down to the sides of the torso by using the move tool to reposition the end faces of both arms (i.e. the hands) to about the bottom of the torso.

  11. 11

    Apply the inset tool to the top of the torso to create the outline of the neck. Then apply the extrude tool to this outline to grow the neck a short distance up from the torso.

  12. 12

    Form the head by extruding again the neck's top face, but only for a very short distance upward. Then, apply the resizing tool to expand the size of the neck's top face to form the initial face from which you'll extrude the head.

  13. 13

    Complete the character by finishing the head. Apply the extrude tool to the head's bottom face, then adjust the extrusion height until the head is about one-third the height of the torso.

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