How to make a 3D skeleton model

Updated April 17, 2017

3-D skeleton models are made with the predefined bone objects found in some computer- aided design (CAD) programs used in the arts and entertainment industries. These programs build into 3-D bones special characteristics that they don't build into non-bone objects, such as boxes or spheres. One characteristic, necessary for creating skeletons, allows a bone to connect to and influence the movement of another bone. Making some types of 3-D skeletons will provide an armature you can use to pose the skeleton, an essential activity for creating and animating characters used in games and films.

Download the front view of a skeleton, then click the downloaded file to select it. Jot down its height and width dimensions (e.g., "1440 by 800 pixels"), which Windows Explorer will display in the bottom pane.

Open your CAD program and click its "Create" menu, followed by its "Plane" item.

(Your program's "Create" menu may be called "Draw" or a similar name. Search your program's user guide for "Creating objects" for the specific name of the menu.)

Click in the "Front" viewport's drawing window, then drag to define the plane until its "height" and "width" parameters match the image dimensions you noted in Step 1.

Click your program's "Materials" toolbar icon to open its material and texture editor. Click the editor's "Bitmap" tool, which will open a file-loading dialogue box. Use this box to navigate to and load the skeleton image you downloaded in Step 1. The material editor will assign the bitmap to a material slot.

Click the material slot, then drag it to the plane object you created in Step 3. The skeleton image will now display on the plane.

Click the "Create" menu, then click the "Bones" tool to enter bone-creation mode.

Click on one of the endpoints of the plane's topmost bone image, then drag to the bone image's bottom. This defines the first bone.

Drag to the bottom of the next bone, performing this step repeatedly to create a linked chain of bones. When you reach the end of one chain, start a new one as you did in Step 5.

Right-click a bone to open a menu related to the bone's features. Click "Object Properties," then check the "Renderable" property to enable your program's rendering function to display the bone. Repeat this step for each of the skeleton's remaining bones.

Click the "Render" function on your toolbar to display a shaded image of your complete skeleton model.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer aided design (CAD) program with a bone-creation feature
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About the Author

Darrin Koltow wrote about computer software until graphics programs reawakened his lifelong passion of becoming a master designer and draftsman. He has now committed to acquiring the training for a position designing characters, creatures and environments for video games, movies and other entertainment media.