Modeling for animation – Test

Lets test an edgelooped character mesh, one of the things I preach for, against a ‘normal’ mesh. Is it better for animation?

Earlier I wrote why surface flow matters and a bit about why model for animation. Here I wish to show the benefits with visual examples.

I will compare how two character meshes deform in animation.  To make this comparison mean something, I have selected one of the best base meshes I could find without directed edgeflow.  This mesh is made by unknown person.  It has nice even division of polygons – good for sculpting.  Second mesh, seen on the right, is mine and built for both sculpting and animation.  It is almost exactly the same size and shape as the first.  I have rigged both meshes in Messiah with one rig – they both do exactly same motions.   I haven’t done any weighting of bones to the mesh – Messiah bones have a good effect on the mesh by default. Point is that with this setup the only difference you can see comes from the meshes.

Modeling for animation Test - the meshes we test with

Here are the meshes in rigging pose.  My Edgelooped-mesh has different head and no toes as I was lazy and many characters will be wearing shoes anyway.    The edgelooped mesh has about the same number of polygons in the body as the ‘normal’ mesh, but more definition because the flows define shape.  The flow also helps maintain shape in extreme motions, like seen in the stretching example.  Observe the general form, especially upper shoulder and chest area and the hip.  See how the edgeflow helps to keep the shape and how it deforms it a bit better?  Difference is not notable everywhere, but it is there and it is important.

Modeling for animation Test - stretching

Modeling for animation Test - arms

You may argue the first mesh would show the same definition if we just pushed points around and added a few polygons.  But that’s just it – unless you add those polygons as carefully placed loops, you will have to add a lot more than ‘a few’ to get the same definition edgelooped mesh Modeling for animation Test, knee examplehas with less polygons.

Some might also say that the flows don’t matter that much in animation production, because when final mesh is subdivided to gazillion polygons at rendertime there will be more than enough for joints and to keep the definition.  I disagree.  Base mesh is the one that gets animated, it sets base grid for the final – any problems in the base are still present in the final.  And I dare say they become more visible in a highly detailed mesh.

Last examples show how the edgeloops help in joint areas. With the knee I’m using the loop shown here (see image with lots of loops).  Same works at elbow and at shoulder-top.  The loop ‘binds’ the parts together and provides material for both sides of the outward bending limb – keeps the volume.

Modeling for animation Test - finger loops

With fingers I’m using a simpler ‘loop’ to keep polycount low.  It adds one more edge on the out bending part and helps to keep the volume.  It also introduces triangle-polys.  If triangles are a problem, add a full around the finger loop instead.


Mesh with evenly spaced polygons does well in animation and a mesh with planned edgeflow does even better.  No suprise there, but I needed to test it anyway.

What’s your take on this?  Is edgeflow really that important?  What is your preferred flow – care to show it?  I know mine is just one way to do it.

9 replies on “Modeling for animation – Test”

Man this would also have been great to see as a quicktime video of you walk through this. You are the perfect answer for guys like myself. i would pay for this as well.


Thanks again, Savnac. Feels good to read these things are useful to others. And I agree, a video could show things better. Maybe I will do one later.

Oh man please!, please! do one I have become a big fan of yours. I will always come to your site for everything regarding my learning 3D. I know it want be easy but dammit with the correct guidance I can not go wrong here.

Thanks again for all your help my friend. Again I will pay for it if you did a full on tutorial with the face and finger and feet added, but I will leave that up to you.

If you did a video on what you showed us in your screen grabs I will still be interested for sure.


I agree with Savnac here, but if you can, please, keep your tutorials for free. I can´t pay for those things (at least not yet), which is why I can´t buy any books/DVDs. I don´t want to cry wolf or sound like a poor guy or anything, but I really can´t pay. I would be glad to pay for your help if I could, though.

However, if you ever make non-free tutorials, I´ll understand. And I will still be grateful to you for all the things I´m learning here.

It´s great that I found this blog. Thanks a lot.

I understand your problem, have been there once upon a time myself. I do plan to continue adding more free content when I can. The idea is to share the core methods for free.

The value of the big non-free tutorials, considering the method is no secret, is in longer explanation with samples and application of the technique on a real project.. and of course all the other topics the tutorials cover. There’s the beef and a great amount of work put in – which is why the big tutorials will not be free.

5 years later and this article, along with the others on edgeflow, saved my life. If you are still reading this, thanks a lot!!!

Hi Marcela, thanks for letting me know. Great to read it! And yes, I’m still reading and keeping the site up even though I haven’t written much at all in past years. Comments like yours make me wish I had time to write more.

did you done a video /tutorial on modeling the body with edge loop at main parts?if got can u copy link down here?i am doing my assignment in school,and my lecturer just use your edge loop as guidance to us.thanks a lot if got video,bcz youtube videos all built for static pose only,and did not care about the edge flow for deformation.

Hi Pangyewzhen,

Yes I did a video about poly-modeling, creating edgeloops, but it is about the technique only:
Probably is not the video you were thinking about.

Anyway you can get the ‘animation ready base mesh’ model shown in this article from my files:
And also there I share a pdf tutorial about how to build it, starting from a box.
I hope that helps some.

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