September 19, 2022

The Art Behind the Modular Digital Avatars

3 min read

Modular digital avatars – how are they made?

“All the characters come alive – and that is when they become independent of their creator.” - Filip Cubrilo

There is a lot of craft behind the realistic face of an avatar. Building characters in a video game is not all downhill or effortless, and it requires many hours of intense work. Let’s check out how these are made.

"The modular character creation process is highly rewarding for the 3D artist when the character comes to life." - Filip Cubrilo

We might think these are easily made characters that come from set templates but creating them actually requires professional abilities such as artistic perception, texture management, body mechanics, and anatomy knowledge, that help to master the art of modularity. Besides these, a lot of testing, coding, and textures are the key to building animated characters.

Why are believable characters so important for games?

As part of human psychology, people engage more with characters and scenarios that approach the real-life model as closely as possible. The benefits behind the realistic styles are that they appeal to the gamer’s interest and encourage the learner to keep on going while taking the mission of learning seriously. 

Moreover, game techniques that simulate reality also contribute to maintaining high levels of concentration, immersion and fascination, leading to a longer engagement with the platform, while evoking an emotional response. 

“I find myself down a rabbit hole trying to figure out why the fingers do not execute the order or why the eyes look odd”. - Filip Cubrilo

Man transformation from mash to human
The transformation process is what drives the 3D artist and makes him feel excited about the end result.

It is paramount that these features work to perfection and that simulation genuinely imitates real life. This leads to creating an emotional bond with the character and the environment and keeps the dopamine level high, which is directly proportional to elevated motivation and stimulation of the user when playing. Therefore, realistic styles are crucial for creating visually enthralling and immersive experiences that stay in the memory of the gamer for a long time. 

Girl avatar wearing white blouse
             Realism and expressions matter in order to make a character come alive.
Image from Creator

Which are the stages of creation when we talk about a realistic character?

In order to create a high-quality modular character, there is a process that involves 4 main steps, which cannot be skipped if you want to achieve a neat end-product:

  • 3D model creation. 
  • Adding textures to the characters. 
  • Rigging the model to the skeleton or weight painting.
  • Empowering the avatar: importing the character into the animation engine and making it come to life. 

“The whole character generation process is like putting together a puzzle and making all the pieces match to perfection so that they become part of a unified body, where all the components align in harmony.” - Filip Cubrilo

The best part about this tedious process behind the scenes is that we have made it easy for the consumer - with Creator, anybody can actually do this in a matter of seconds, and not only can the users dress their characters to adapt them to their story, but they can also add voices, natural sounds, emotions and different body postures in almost no time at all. These realistic features help the participants immerse themselves into a universe that simulates the real one, which contributes to higher engagement and memorability of the learning concepts. 

3 sequences of the same man dressed in different clothes
Using Creator to add modular characters to your story makes the theatre play veridic and perfectly adapted to the narrative.
Image from Creator

What are the benefits of having a modular character in your theatre play?

The advantage of having modular characters in a learning context is that the user can easily swap clothes, hairstyles, and complexions, to fit into different environments and adapt best to the customer’s story. On the other hand, if a game counts on unique characters that do not benefit from modularity, or cannot adapt to different circumstances, this might involve much more work from the designer’s side to create new avatars to adapt to each scenario, limiting the story and diminishing the learning opportunities. 

Having a realistic modular digital avatar in a learning environment helps the end user connect better with the story and promotes a deeper involvement in the learning content. Counting on modular characters also provides the user with high flexibility when it comes to repurposing the same avatars for different stories and leads to achieving a greater diversity of learning goals in a very short time while optimising resources. 

You can also enjoy the benefits of modular characters in your training!

Check how you can create your serious game and enjoy the benefits of simulation in your own theatre play.
Get in touch
Filip Cubrilo
3D artist
Filip is a 3D artist at Apprendly. He is passionate about art in general. He loves painting, creating figurines out of clay, playing video games and is extremely fascinated by biology, anatomy and psychology. In his free time, you can find him investigating or working on his own video games projects.