I would like to go through some of the workflow involved with creating a 3d model.
Figure out what character you would like to model. Not all characters will translate well from 2D to 3D. (Anyone seen that Simpsons episode where Homer is in 3D..wierd.)
There is no single one way to design for 3d, but flat looking characters with no volume to their forms will probably not translate well to 3D.
Here are some early development concepts of Otis Strigifini from last year. Since then I have redesigned his face but kept his proportions.
2. Turnaround/Image Planes
To some, this is very important because most people cant just wing it in the 3d program. You have to have nearly exact front and side view of your character to match up in the viewports for reference. Once you get more comfortable in the program, exact image planes become a little less important.
Blocking out your basic form starting with a box. Get the basic form down first and then start adding details.
Once you have your overall form delete one side of the head. After your done, you can mirror over the one side to the other and weld the two together.
If youre decent at modeling, you probably havent had too much trouble yet. Now you have to unwrap the mesh off the model so you can lay the textures out without them being stretched all nasty. This process is a bitch sometimes. Its called UV Layout.
Heres the owls head uv layout.
Now after all this uv crap, I got to do some painting..
I downloaded some cool Photoshop hair brushes to paint this color map. It took me about 3 hours to slowly build up this texture.
Ok now this part really sucks. This is the technical side that I havent gotten into quite yet. So as you can imagine I suck at this and had tons of problems trying to rig this little fucker. Rigging is putting in joints/skeletal system so that you can animate or simply just to pose your character. Tons of problems arise if you forget to do one little thing right or if a joint is facing the wrong way so expect to hate this process until you've done it a hundred times.
Heres Otis's skeleton.
Theres another whole catastrophe of a process called "painting weights" that Ill spare you the details of.
6. Lighting and Rendering.
This is actually a technical side that I actually enjoy. This involves setting up physical lights and making sure your character or environment is illuminated correctly and that your textures get seen as well as producing appropriate shadows.
Well, this a pretty basic knowledge of Maya, but for those who havnt used any 3D software, this is what they are teaching us here at AI.
Heres my final images.