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Making 3d Models with Milkshape 3d

Making your own models for your Video Game.

Quick Note if you are returning to this tutorial on Milkshape: I have posted two new lessons They are very important lessons on linking together bones and skin in an animation so your model moves when you animate it. You can hop directly to these new milkshape lessons here

This is a very important step in your development as a video game maker! If you have completed one of the other tutorials on making games and have now moved on to modeling congratulations!

Before we actully move on to the actual making of a model we have to first discuss a few things about what modeling is and how it is used.

What you need to do modeling:

  • Milkshape version 1.7.10 or higher
  • A Paint Program such as Paint Shop Pro, Or some other kind of painting/image manipulation program like Photoshop
  • If you have no paint/image program you might want to try the free DrawPlus4, I haven't used it but it may be sufficient. Maybe try Google Picasa
  • I use Paint Shop Pro
  • Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI

3d Modeling

3d Modeling is the art of creating models that can be understood by the game design and development software. These models have to be made in 3 dimensions. So you can rotate and look at them from all angles.


Often times you will also want to animate these models so they move. You might want actions like swing a weapon, jump, swim, wave, shoot a weapon or anything else you can imagine.

So how do you create a model?

You use a program like Milkshape 3d. There are actually many many different progams you can use to make game models and we are going to use milkshape 3d because it has a 30 day free trial period and because it is very easy to use in conjunction with Genesis 3d and reality Factory.

If you learn the basics of modeling with milkshape you will have set yourself a nice foundation for easily learning other programs.

3d game model of a dwarfWhen making a 3d model your milkshape gives you a workspace to work in. Here is the milkshape workspace with a model of a dwarf and his axe ready to be worked on.


This Model was downloaded from and created by Psionic

This workspace gives you a lot of tools (along the right) and also shows you four different views of the model. Front, side, top and skinned. Skinned is the white version in the lower right.

If you take a close look at the picture above you will see three very important color coded things inside the dwarf.

First off there is the red color, then you see a bunch of blue circles, and deep inside the dwarf you see yellow lines. These are the basic structures of the model.

The structural components of a video game model There are three basic parts of a model: The Skeleton, the joints and the skin. When building your model you will define these components. There are of course lots of things you will have to do to make your model but these three things are the basic blocks of models.

The Skeleton and the Joints

When you play a video game you don't see the skeleton and joints of the models so why do you need them?

These are very important because they tell the game how the model will move. Here is an explanation of motion and the skeleton structure under your model.

Imagine this image as your forearm. You can see the joint at the elbow and the joint at the wrist. The bone runs from one to the other. What if you want the arm to move so the elbow stays where it is at and the wrist moves to the new position shown by the arrow.

Without a model you would have to animate this by drawing a new model in a bunch of different steps so it shows a smooth transition from the beginning point to the end point. This could be a real lot of work! Think about all the drawings you would have to make so it looked smooth. And you are not just moving the arm, you are also moving the head, torso, legs, feet and hands.

If you were drawing just a simple line it would be relatively easy to draw all the steps in between. But what if you had something like our dwarf where there is a lot of complex stuff going on like armor, clothes and an ax? It would take you forever!

This is why we do the skeleton and joints. Once they are created you define the beginning point and the end point and the computer draws out all the images in between. It saves a lot of time.

So this is where you start, by making a skelton for your model. Here is a basic human skeleton right out of the milkshape program. It comes with the program.

You have a skeleton, now you need to make it real

After the skeleton has been created there are two more things that you need to do to bring it to life.

You have to create the wire frame structure that defines the shape of the model then you have to create the pictures that will go on it.

This Model was downloaded from and created by Psionic

The picture above with all the red lines is the wire frame structure of the dwarf. These is the shape of the model. It is built around the skeleton and it could be any shape at all. You could make the dwarf plump, skinny, or change the shape of his head, arms, etc.

Important concept: This is polygon modeling and all of these shapes you see are triangles. The skin of your model will be a series of dozens, or even hundreds of these triangles. All the modeling is done by assembling groups of triangles together.

This polygon modeling with lots of triangles brings up an important point. The more triangles you use the more detailed your model will be - and the more work it is.

Now that you have the shape you have to also define the skin and you do this by creating a picture that will be poured onto the model. It looks kind of strange but this is what you would make:

This Model was downloaded from and created by Psionic

This is the final product for the dwarf animation. It defines how the dwarf looks all the way around and it makes things much easier for you. The game will take this image and pour it right onto the dwarf skeleton and wireframe.


Lets Continue with the tutorial on milkshape

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