How We Animated 100 3D Creatures For a Unity-Based Open World Game

Guillaume Chichmanov
April 24, 2024

In our latest project, a Unity-based open-world game TCG World, we undertook the ambitious task of animating 100 distinct 3D creatures, each designed to enhance the immersive experience of gamers. 

In this article, Lucas, technical 3D artist at Cominted Labs, covers the key steps taken and animation workflow from the initial categorization of creatures based on their morphology to the final export of detailed animations.

Before even starting the animation process, a key pre-requirement for this project was to have a good project management in place to track progress and allocate resources on each steps of the pipeline. We used both Click-up and Google sheet to manage this project.

Step 1: Identifying Morphology

Efficient creature animation hinges on standardization. We decided to categorize creatures into three groups:

  • Bipedal
  • Quadrupedal
  • Special

Step 2: Analyzing Animation Lists

The next step involves analyzing which animations are needed for the game.

In our case, we have over a dozen of animations per creatures, including standard animations (like walking orrunning) and more complexe ones (like attacks & defences)

While striving to utilize standard rigs, certain animations may necessitate specific movements achievable only with particular bones. Considerations include whether the creature will blink, open/close its mouth, move its ears, etc.

Step 3: Establishing a Standardized Rig and Adapting Skinning

The rig should offer stability for reuse within each category while maintaining simplicity to expedite individual skinning processes. The preparation involves:

  • Positioning the 3D model at the coordinate origin.
  • Scaling the rig to 1 and resetting rotation and position to 0.

Bone Creation:

  • Commence rig construction from the hips with a hierarchical structure, featuring a parent bone for the upper body and lower body, both children of an additional controlling bone (e.g., Bn_Hip).

  • Preferably employ 2 or 3 spine bones to balance simplicity with movement capacity.
  • Generate arm/leg bones in chains of 2 bones each, originating from the last spine bone and lower body bone for arms and legs, respectively.

  • Introduce controller bones at joints of feet, hands, or paws for rotation and IK system facilitation. Examples include Bn_HL, Bn_HR (for hand left and right), and Bn_FL and Bn_FR (foot left and right), with parent bone relationships removed.
  • Create bones for hands/paws or feet to mimic controller bone rotation. For fingers, consider bone chains for hand fingers only, while a single bone for all toes suffices for paws/feet.

  • Implement controller bones for knees and elbows, breaking parent relationships. Examples include EL, ER (elbow left and right), and KL, KR (knee left and right), with IK system integration and rotation adjustment. Ensure HL, HR, and elbow controllers are children of the last spine bone, with KL and KR as children of the lower body bone.

  • Establish a "master" bone at the origin beneath the character to govern Bn_Hip, Bn_FL, and Bn_FR.
  • Add neck and head bones, branching into possible ear, detail, jaw, and eyelid bones from the head bone.


Utilize automatic skinning to cover all vertices. Focus on details and joint areas, ensuring balanced weight distribution (approximately 50% each bone) to prevent odd deformations. Smooth weights at converging bone junctions as needed.

Step 4: Utilizing and Customizing Standard Animations

Standard animations include walk, idle, run, turn right/left, etc. Utilize existing biped or quadruped rigs for efficiency. Customize animations to reflect creature personality or gait variations, augmenting standardized rig animations. Derive new animations from existing ones to optimize efficiency.

Step 5: Animation Duplication and Rig Adjustment for New Creatures

Upon completing core and common animations for several creatures, duplicate files, rename them for new creatures, and import new meshes while retaining the rig. Adjust bones to match meshes and refine skinning. Rectify anomalies caused by biped shape discrepancies.

Step 6: Adding Unique and Creature-Specific Animations

Incorporate unique animations such as attacks, special movements, or those specific to creatures of distinct morphologies.

Step 7: Finalizing and Exporting Animations

Proceed with exporting:

  • Ensure each animation is correctly named for clarity.
  • "Push down" animations and mark them as active.
  • Select the rig and object modeling for export.
  • Choose FBX format and export only selected elements and active animations.


In conclusion, animating 100 3D creatures for our Unity-based open-world game was a blend of technical rigor and creative strategy. By standardizing rigs and tailoring animations to each creature's unique characteristics, we efficiently created dynamic and realistic animations. This post has outlined each crucial step, from initial rigging to final exports, providing insights that can inspire and guide both current and aspiring game developers. Through this detailed look at our process, we hope to encourage innovation and excellence in the game development community.

If you are building a game and looking for an efficient and cost effective outsourcing partner, Cominted Labs is at your service. We are a leading game art outsourcing platform that has collaborated with over 50 leading game publishers and developers. We are pioneers in offering immersive experiences using Unreal and Unity engines. No wonder our clients include big names like TCG World, Perp Games, Ethereum Towers, Baby Doge, Crossmint, MadWorld, and more.

So, contact us today and book a demo with an intro call.

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