I have an exciting announcement for our entire 3D community. After two years of development, TurboSquid has released its CheckMate Certification program for 3D models. CheckMate Certification allows artists to submit their highest quality models for review and inspection by TurboSquid staff. Models that pass the standard are marked with a badge so you can easily search for and spot our best 3D models.
Up until now, quality in our catalog has varied too much from one model to the next. We are addressing this problem by establishing universal standards: CheckMate Pro for the highest quality, and CheckMate Lite for basic reliability. We’re sending out a press release on this groundbreaking program, and we’d like to give you a little more background on how we came to decide on CheckMate as the next important step for TurboSquid and the 3D industry.
The Stock 3D Industry’s Problem
The lack of generally accepted standards for 3D model quality has been a major problem in our industry. Customers don’t know what they’re truly buying, and artists don’t know what customers care about in a model. While our industry and TurboSquid have seen consistent growth, we haven’t come close to tapping into stock 3D’s true potential because customers get deeply frustrated if they have to repair a model or even talk to customer support – like everything, models should always “just work”. So if the field of photography has long had standards for composition, contrast, and clarity, why doesn’t 3D modeling have standards, too? It’s time for somebody to step forward and try to solve this problem.
The Solution: CheckMate Certification
CheckMate Certification is a whole program that includes the standards themselves, a submission process for artists, model inspections from our in-house team with personal feedbcak, artist training materials, and display of CheckMate badges in search results and in product previews. We’ve assembled a sizeable team to make this happen, including a large group of trained 3D inspectors to conduct manual inspections alongside our automated tools. You can find out all there is to know about the program on our CheckMate info page and in our Knowledge Base. You can also read our CheckMate Certification FAQ to find out more.
How Did TurboSquid Determine the Standards?
We surveyed customers and artists extensively to compile the CheckMate standards. We started with discussions with artists in our blog and forums, and moved on to survey and interview customers in a wide range of disciplines. For example, in one of our surveys, we asked customers how they felt about a variety of 3D model attributes. Below you can see some of the results, showing the percentage of customer respondents who considered each attribute important. These attributes all became part of the CheckMate Pro standard. We also got feedback from customers about product information and presentation in product previews on TurboSquid. More than anything else in a presentation, customers want better and higher quality images. So, as part of preparing for CheckMate, we developed and released a high-resolution thumbnail viewer and turntables which dramatically increase the amount of detail customers can see before they buy. As part of our intense push for quality, these types of images are required for CheckMate Pro models. Lastly, TurboSquid ran a six-month beta program with top customers and artists to fine-tune both the standards and the inspection process. Feedback from our artists was invaluable in developing a working certification program. From the beta process emerged a second standard, CheckMate Lite, a less rigorous specification that requires wireframe thumbnails, full product information, and a model that renders and works. Early customer feedback on CheckMate has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, many customers who participated in our surveys and beta said they’ll never buy anything other than CheckMate models, which is a great validation of the effort made by TurboSquid’s artists and our team to bring standards to this industry.
It’s time to end the game of guessing what a quality 3D model is. We named this program CheckMate for just that reason. TurboSquid has always had the widest variety and largest catalog of models, but we now have a clear brand in CheckMate to help customers know what they’re buying. CheckMate will demand more from artists who create and publish their 3D models, and more from TurboSquid in inspecting and certifying these models. But this work will create new value for our customers, and will open up stock 3D to new customers who wouldn’t have considered it an option in the past. We look forward to a new era in the stock 3D industry, and we invite you to be a part of it. Please tell us what you think by commenting below.
With all the attention we’ve been focusing on 3D modeling standards lately, we’re happy to see that many of our top artists are adopting the standards, not only for their 3D models but also for their product presentations. You’ll see a lot of these standards in action just from shopping around the TurboSquid site.
For example, we’re going for a cleaner look on Search pages to give you a better experience in finding the 3D model you want. This requires our artists to update their models’ thumbnails with an off-white background, which makes each product distinct and clear on the Search page. (For artists: you can find out how to do this in the Signature Images article our Knowledge Base.)
When you see a model that looks like this on our Search page, chances are the product presentation includes several more thumbnails including wireframes. Many also feature turntables and high-resolution thumbnails to show the model in great detail.
While our efforts are centered around developing and promoting the standards, our artists are the ones who make them work. We’re looking forward to the day when our entire catalog provides a great experience for customers, and we can achieve this only with the cooperation of our many fine artists.
Have you noticed a better Search experience? Are you more likely to look at products that are presented like this in our Search results? Please tell us what you think.
For the past year, TurboSquid has been on a valiant quest. Our goal was to find the answer to this important question:
“What is a quality 3D model?”
We searched high and low for the answer. We looked at resources on the Internet. We read and re-read books on 3D modeling. We perused forums, both ours and outside ones, for discussions about topology and UVs. We climbed every mountain and forded every stream. (Okay, not really, but you get the picture.)
Then we asked our customers and artists what they thought, and the result was the TurboSquid 3D Modeling Series.
TurboSquid 3D Modeling Series
The TurboSquid 3D Modeling Series is a set of Best Practices articles and videos in our Knowledge Base. These articles are available to any artist who wants to learn how to create 3D models that will appeal to the widest variety of customers. As a bonus, these Best Practices are not geared only toward TurboSquid but can be applied to custom 3D work too and even to stock 3D to sell on other websites.
The Best Practices section in our Knowledge Base has two topic categories, 3D Modeling and Publishing. Each topic includes videos on how to implement the practice with your 3D models and published products.
You can start with the TurboSquid 3D Modeling Series topic to see an overview, or just go right to the first technical topic, Ngons. At the end of each topic is a link to the next topic in the series as well as to related Knowledge Base articles and videos.
If you want additional help in implementing these practices in your own work, please contact our Support team and they’ll be glad to assist you. We’ll also be holding coffee-break-length webinars on each topic over the next few months at a variety of times to accommodate all time zones and countries. We’ll be announcing these on Facebook and Twitter as well as on our blog. We invite you to attend these free webinars and learn first-hand how to implement these Best Practices.
Straight from our Customers
In researching these Best Practices, we had a great resource at our fingertips: the many artists who purchase stock 3D at TurboSquid. We surveyed over a thousand of our customers (and our TurboSquid member artists, too) on a variety of modeling-related subjects from topology to texturing. Many of the answers confirmed what we’d suspected all along, while others were a little surprising. Below is just one of the dozens of questions we asked.
We also used a number of other tools for getting at the customer mindset, from analyzing buying patterns to interviewing our top customers in person. Here’s a video from one of those interviews.
We’re excited about bringing you this important information straight from our customers and artists, and we hope to see 3D artists using these Best Practices to improve the quality of all stock 3D and custom 3D modeling industry-wide.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback on these Best Practices, whether you’ve used them in the past or are considering adopting them now.
When we’ve talked to our customers one-on-one about their experiences in searching for 3D models at TurboSquid, a theme keeps coming up: borders, text, and badges on Search images are unappealing, and can even make a product look unprofessional.
A selection of hearts for Valentine's Day
Some artists use borders and text to make their models “stand out” in Search, but our customers feel differently. A clean presentation showing just the model is what catches the customer’s eye. The thumbnail shown in Search is determined by the Signature Image in your published product.
In this video, one of our top customers explains how he feels about these types of thumbnails in Search.
When a customer loads up your model for the first time, it’s frustrating for them if the first thing they see is an error message about textures. But this is exactly what they’ll see if you don’t take care in packaging your model before upload.
To make sure your customers don’t see this kind of message, you’ll need to package your textures with no referenced folder, or with a folder relative to the model’s folder. In other words, errors occur when textures reference a drive-specific folder like C:/MyTextures/Car/Detail/Grill.jpg. If the textures reference no folder at all, or a relative folder like Textures/Grill.jpg, the customer’s software will easily be able to find them.
You can also make life easier for customers by naming your materials and texture maps intelligently. Textures with generic names like Image0023.jpg and Hi-Res-Picture.png can make customers frustrated, especially when they want to edit one of the textures and can’t easily find the one they want.
Lately we’ve been kicking around modeling and presentation standards through customer and artist surveys, on our forums, in our Knowledge Base, and even internally at TurboSquid. One debate still raging is about the wireframe turntable, a 360-degree view of a 3D model in wireframe mode. You can see examples in the product previews for these 3D models.
One of our staff, one of the wisest and most experienced people here, thinks that all 3D models for sale at TurboSquid should have wireframe turntables. (Okay, I admit it, it’s me. But there has to be some advantage to writing this blog, right?) Other persons, equally as wise and experienced, think wireframe turntables are nice to have, but aren’t necessary.
Besides the fact that making wireframe turntables is a lot of work, some artists are concerned that such a detailed visual reference will make it too easy for lazy artists to copy their work. I don’t think it will make a difference; copycats will always copy, and those that don’t copy aren’t going to start because of wireframe turntables. However, enough of our artists are concerned for me to open up the question again.
I’d like to hear from some of our customers. Would you be more likely to buy a 3D model with a wireframe turntable if you were comparing two comparable models, one with and one without? Does a wireframe turntable contribute so much to the preview that you really want them in all the 3D models you search for, or is it fine to just have a few wireframe stills? When responding, please indicate whether you’re a customer, an artist, or both.