Will 3D Characters Ever Replace Live Models? An Open Discussion

To see these images larger, just click on one and then you can scroll through them.

Recently, I saw a posting online basically raising this question posed by a guy, like myself, that works with 3D Poser type figures—more specifically posable figures from daz.com. He was showing some of his images and felt they were so believably real looking that he felt they could someday soon replace live people model photography. So I decided to pose the question to you, the professional art directors and am looking for your comments.

10 years ago, I wrote an article called, “Remember When Poser Figures Looked Like Ugly Toys?”

I showed this image of the first Poser figures and some samples using the new and improved Poser and Daz figures from that time. But over the last 10 years many more improvements have been made, especially by Daz—and especially in the last year. 

As is evident in these various samples, realism is not only dependent on the quality of the model used, but also on proper posing, expression, and definitely lighting. Though expressions are easier to manipulate now, what you loose that photography provides is spontaneity. However, cost savings and infinite control of every aspect of the character and the image may make using 3D models, instead of photography, sometimes a viable alternative.

Take a look at these images and let me know what you think.

Click on any image to enlarge.


  1. Tracy Wong August 25, 2019 at 6:46 pm #

    I think it’s inevitable that 3D characters will replace real-life humans in several areas such as advertising, entertainment, and news broadcasting. Though we are far from it at the moment, it will almost assuredly happen eventually. Just as real-life jobs are getting more and more automated every year, more and more entertainment, modelling, advertising, and broadcasting jobs will be taken over via 3D. It’s already happening largely in the entertainment industry. Companies opting to use CGI over real-life pyrotechnics, real crashes, and real stunts. It’s safer and often cheaper to go the CGI route. The entertainment industry is like almost any other business, it’s all about the money (Building a 3D mansion is MUCH less expensive than building a real-life mansion). And it’s much cheaper to do a CGI explosion than to hire an entire crew of professional pyrotechnicians and stunt people (not to mention insurance, on-sight medical people in case something goes wrong, etc).

    Humans demand salaries, benefits, over time, they get tired, they get sick, they need days off, etc. Cost is always going to be a factor with most companies, and when 3D characters get to the point when they’re nearly indistinguishable from a real human, you better believe that many jobs will be taken over. There will always be a desire to watch real humans do things, but as 3D gets more and more realistic and gets cheaper there will definitely be areas where humans will be hired less and less for certain jobs.

    Just as many factories and jobs are being automated, there will be a time when humans tune into the nightly news and it’s being brought to you by a stunningly beautiful, never sick, never has a bad hair day, never gets grouchy, never gets pimples, never messes up news anchor. And it will be so commonplace, like self check out lines and self service kiosks, that no one blinks an eye about it.

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