What Are 3D Assets? Learn More About 3D Models, Alembics, VDBs, And More

What Are 3D Assets? Learn More About 3D Models, Alembics, VDBs, And More

November 10, 2023
Cody Vineyard

Discover what 3D assets are, the various types of 3D assets, and how to use them in this all-in-one article.

In the world of computer graphics and animation, 3D assets play a vital role in creating stunning visual experiences. Whether you're working on a video game, film, or architectural visualization, understanding what 3D assets are and how they function is essential to creating immersive and realistic virtual worlds. 

In this article, we'll explore the different types of 3D assets, including 3D models, VDBs, Alembics, and LODs. Additionally, we'll provide tips on choosing the right 3D assets for your project and introduce you to some essential tools for working with these assets effectively.

After reading this article, you may interested to check out our early access 3D Asset Library coming Nov. 23rd. Stay tuned to our website and socials!

Understanding 3D Assets: An Overview

Before we dive into specific types of 3D assets, let's start with a general understanding of what they are. In simple terms, 3D assets are digital files that represent objects or elements in a three-dimensional space. These assets consist of data that defines the shape, texture, and appearance of these objects, allowing them to be rendered and animated in various software applications.

3D assets have revolutionized the way we create and visualize digital content. With the advancement of technology, artists and designers now have the tools to bring their imagination to life in ways that were once unimaginable. These assets have become an integral part of industries such as gaming, film, architecture, and product design.

When it comes to creating 3D assets, artists and designers often use specialized modeling software. This software allows them to sculpt and manipulate virtual objects with precision and detail. They can shape and mold these objects, adding intricate textures and realistic materials to enhance their appearance.

Once the 3D assets are created, we can move onto the next stage in the process. This is where the magic happens. Artists can further refine and fine-tune the assets, adjusting lighting, camera angles, and other parameters to achieve the desired look and feel. They can also add animations, bringing the objects to life and creating dynamic and engaging visual experiences.

One of the key advantages of 3D assets is their versatility. They can be used in a wide range of applications, from video games and movies to virtual reality experiences and architectural visualizations. These assets can be scaled, rotated, and manipulated in various ways, allowing artists to create unique and immersive worlds.

Moreover, 3D assets can be reused and repurposed, saving time and resources. Once created, they can be stored in libraries or asset management systems, ready to be used in future projects. This not only streamlines the creative process but also ensures consistency and coherence across different projects.

In conclusion, 3D assets are digital files that represent objects or elements in a three-dimensional space. These assets have revolutionized the way we create and visualize digital content, offering endless possibilities for artists and designers. With their versatility and reusability, 3D assets have become an essential tool in various industries, pushing the boundaries of creativity and imagination.

What are 3D Models?

One of the most common types of 3D assets are 3D models. These are digital representations of physical objects such as characters, vehicles, buildings, or props. 3D models are created by modeling software, either by starting from scratch or from scanned real-world objects. They can be highly detailed, capturing every intricate detail, or stylized, representing a simplified or exaggerated version of the object.

When it comes to creating 3D models, artists and designers use a variety of techniques and tools. Some prefer to sculpt the models using digital sculpting software, allowing them to shape and mold the object as if it were made from clay. Others may opt for polygonal modeling, where they create the model by manipulating individual polygons and vertices. This method gives them precise control over the geometry of the object.

Once the basic shape of the 3D model is created, artists can add more intricate details such as textures and materials. Texturing involves applying images or patterns onto the surface of the model to give it a realistic appearance. This can include things like skin textures for characters, rusted metal for objects, or wood grain for buildings. Materials, on the other hand, determine how the model interacts with light. Artists can specify properties such as reflectivity, transparency, and shininess to achieve the desired look.

3D models are typically stored in formats such as OBJ, FBX, or STL, which contain information about the geometry, textures, and materials used in the model. These files can be imported into 3D software for rendering, animation, or use in virtual reality applications.

Rendering is the process of generating a 2D image or animation from a 3D model. It involves calculating how light interacts with the model, taking into account factors such as shadows, reflections, and refractions. This step is crucial in creating realistic and visually appealing visuals. Depending on the complexity of the scene and the desired level of detail, rendering can take a significant amount of time and computational power.

3D models are not limited to just static images or animations. They can also be used in interactive applications such as video games or virtual reality experiences. In these cases, the 3D models are integrated into a real-time rendering engine, allowing users to interact with them in a dynamic and immersive environment. This requires additional considerations such as collision detection, physics simulation, and user input handling.

With advancements in technology, 3D models are becoming more accessible to a wider audience. There are now online marketplaces where artists can sell their 3D models to other creators or businesses. This has opened up new opportunities for freelance artists and small studios to monetize their skills and reach a global audience.

What are VDBs?

VDB, short for "Volume DataBase," is a file format commonly used for storing volumetric data in 3D graphics applications. Unlike traditional geometry-based 3D assets, VDBs represent objects as discrete voxels, volumetric pixels that define the space occupied by the object.

VDBs are primarily used for effects simulations, such as smoke, fire, or clouds. Due to their grid-based nature, VDBs can efficiently store and manipulate large volumes of data, making them ideal for realistic and dynamic simulations in movies, games, and visual effects.

What are Alembics?

Alembic is another file format widely used in the animation and visual effects industry. It allows the efficient exchange of animated scenes and assets between different software applications.

With Alembic, you can store complex geometry, animation, and simulation data in a compact and flexible format. This makes it easier to move assets between modeling, rigging, and rendering applications without losing any details or performance.

What are LODs?

LOD stands for "Level of Detail" and refers to a technique used in computer graphics to optimize the rendering performance of 3D assets. LODs allow artists to create multiple versions of an asset at different levels of complexity.

Here's a concise two-minute video from Markom3D that explains LODs well.

For example, in a video game, an object may have different LODs for distant, medium, and close-up views. When the object is far away, the game engine can automatically substitute the high-detail version with a simplified version, reducing the computational resources needed for rendering and improving the overall performance.

Tips for Choosing the Right 3D Assets for Your Project

When selecting 3D assets for your project, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:
  1. Quality: Look for assets that meet the level of detail and realism required for your project. Our early access 3D Asset Library is designed to give you production-quality assets.
  2. Compatibility: Ensure that the assets are compatible with the software you're using.
  3. License: Check the licensing terms to avoid any legal issues or restrictions.
  4. Performance: Consider the performance impact of the assets on your rendering and animation pipelines.
  5. Reusability: Choose assets that can be easily modified or adapted to suit different scenarios, saving time and effort.

Essential Tools for Working with 3D Assets

To effectively work with 3D assets, you'll need the right tools. Here are a few essential software applications commonly used in the industry:
  • Modeling Software: Programs like Autodesk Maya, Blender, or ZBrush are ideal for creating and sculpting 3D models.
  • Rendering Software: Applications such as Chaos Group's V-Ray or Autodesk Arnold allow you to render your 3D assets into lifelike images or animations.
  • Animation Software: Tools like Autodesk 3ds Max or SideFX Houdini enable you to animate your 3D assets and bring them to life.
  • Asset Management Systems: These systems help organize and manage large libraries of 3D assets, making it easier to find and reuse them in different projects.
With these tools at your disposal, you'll be well-equipped to unleash your creativity and produce impressive visual experiences using 3D assets.


In conclusion, 3D assets are the building blocks of captivating computer-generated imagery. Whether you're creating 3D models, VDBs, or Alembics, understanding their purpose and capabilities is crucial to achieving stunning results in your projects. By selecting the right assets and using the appropriate tools, you can unleash your creativity and bring your virtual worlds to life. So dive into the world of 3D assets and let your imagination soar.

Mark your calendars for November 23rd for the early-access launch of the 3D Asset Library.

Black Friday Discounts

Want to hear the best news of all? The early-access of the 3D Asset Library launches with Black Friday on November 23rd! You can get discounts on both 3D and 2D assets for up to 50% off.

Here's how it works:
  • 3 Exclusive Discount Tiers coming your way
    • Limited spots for each discount tier - Don't miss out!
    • Starting Offer: 50% Off
    • Followed by: 45% Off 
    • Followed by: 40% Off
Get prepped and have your cart ready. Sign up to join our VIP list to be one of the first to get 50% off.

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