3 Ways to Catch Buyers’ Attention with Model Thumbnails

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Model thumbnails are the first impression that potential buyers have of your 3D models—they are also the preview images that will appear in web search results and wherever your 3D model is embedded.

In an earlier article, Setting up Your Model Properties, we explained how to save your model’ thumbnails. In this article, we will cover 3 techniques to make your model thumbnails look amazing and catch buyers’ attention.

Tip #1: Take advantage of basic photography composition rules

Composition is the way in which visual elements are arranged within a frame. Of the many photography composition rules that you could apply to model thumbnails, we believe the following four are the most important.

Rule of Thirds

The ‘rule of thirds’ is the single most important rule to understand when creating a thumbnail. Imagine two vertical lines and two horizontal lines cutting your image into 9 equal segments. The rule of thirds says that you should position the main subject of your composition either along the lines or at the points where they intersect. By doing so you create a visual balance of your model and the background or within the different objects in your scene.

Leading Lines

When viewing a thumbnail, our eyes are naturally guided along strong lines. You can pull the viewer towards your subject or into your scene by creating lines within your composition. The lines don’t have to be straight, they can be curved, radial, zigzagged or whatever else works for your model.

Fill the frame / Cropping

Much like poor framing, a thumbnail will lack impact when the model is so small that it becomes insignificant within the frame. Try zooming in or cropping tightly around the subject to be sure that the model gets the viewer’s full attention. In some cases you may want to focus on only part of a model, e.g., a character’s face, in order to engage viewers’ attention.

Point of view

Think about how the position and angle of the camera affects a buyer’s perception of your object or scene. Different points of view are appropriate for different types of models:

  • Architectural objects are typically seen from ground level or aerial viewpoints
  • Vehicles and table-top items are usually seen from standing or sitting positions

Tip #2: Pose your model(s)

Experiment with dynamic, active poses to make your static model thumbnail more compelling.

For example, the standard pose for 3D character models is T-pose. This neutral pose, however, can be bland and does not showcase a character’s personality.

  • If your 3D model is rigged, show off the capabilities of the rig. Pose your character to highlight its range of motion.
  • Pose your models before exporting from your 3D modeling software. Instead of positioning all your assets horizontally, try making scenes where potential buyers can visualize how the models can be used.

Tip #3: Use the background to set the stage for your model

When it comes to selecting a background, the simpler the better. A background that is simple and unobtrusive will help to draw a viewer’s focus to your 3D model and will highlight its features to potential buyers. If you find that your background is too busy, try changing it to a plain color. Experiment with different background colors to find something that looks good with but does not distract from your model. Your scene’s background should complement your model.

Keep in mind that several default images and HDRI environments are available in the 3D Editor. Members with a Pro subscription and above are able to upload custom backgrounds and environments.

If you are not yet selling on the Sketchfab Store, apply to become part of our growing community.


About the author

Sasha Carvajal

Sketchfab Store Associate Manager and AR enthusiast.

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