Extras! Extras! Read all about it!

Extras. Like in the movies. Characters in a film or comic or picture book that are not part of the main story. I spoke about world-building in my last post. That was mostly about sets. Now I’m talking about people. Let’s peek behind the scenes a bit and take a look at the extras of Kinara’s Children’s Neighborhood.

I created a high-resolution and low-resolution version of a man, woman, and child. The low-resolution versions are for putting large numbers of characters in a scene. In order to keep my computer from bogging down, I use a technique called instancing. Instancing is a method of duplicating a figure or object without adding as much data to your file. This keeps Blender running smooth and snappy.



The characters in the vid above are male and female base figures. In the video you’ll see how I can manipulate each character to create different body shapes to add variety. I can make them thin or heavy and use second skins (clothing painted directly on the body) to avoid added polygons. These figures would usually be in the background so detail and refinement are not very critical. Pretty trippy huh?


The next set of figures are built from my default low-resolution female mesh. She clocks in at about 8.3k polygons. Pretty lean. They’re all the same figure with different body shapes, hair, and skin applied.  The hair is a skull cap with textures and displacement applied. The lo-rez figures are designed to only be seen from a distance or in crowd scenes but ain’t too shabby up close. They look kinda like a girl group in this pic. The Resorettes. . . ouch!


I have about 30 figures in this scene with very little lag in my viewport. There are the four base female and a base child. Then they are instanced and duplicated throughout. I’m using one clothing texture on all figures with randomized colors.

Ok. I think I got that out of my system. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

2 Replies to “Extras! Extras! Read all about it!”

  1. Very cool! Thank you for the graphics lesson – it was interesting. I’m a computer programmer so I use instancing a lot as well.

    1. Hi Joe. Glad you got something out of it. I tried not to be too technical but it’s challenging to explain these concepts without jargon. Anyhow, I’m hoping all the behind the scenes stuff I’ve been doing lately will make things quicker and easier in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.