Augmented Reality 101: Creating and Viewing 3D Animations on Your Smartphone

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, the line between the digital and real world is becoming increasingly blurred. One of the frontrunners in this fusion is Augmented Reality (AR), a groundbreaking technology that superimposes computer-generated imagery onto our view of the real world. It promises immersive experiences, bringing to life elements that once existed solely in the realm of digital screens. Imagine pointing your smartphone at a blank wall and suddenly seeing a dragon soar through the skies or watching a tiny dancer perform a ballet on your coffee table. These experiences are made possible by combining 3D animations with AR technology, viewable right through your smartphone camera. If you’re curious on how is that posible, or just want to upgrade your hobby or add an extra layer of interaction to your company’s digital body, you’re in the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of creating a 3D animation for AR, from conception to viewing on a smartphone.

Creating a 3D animation that can be seen through a smartphone camera typically involves Augmented Reality (AR) technology. AR superimposes digital content onto the real world through a device’s camera. Here’s a basic outline of how to create a 3D animation for AR and view it on a smartphone:

Design Your 3D Model and Animation:

  • Use software like Blender, Maya, or 3DS Max to create and animate a 3D model.
  • Export the animation in a format compatible with your AR development platform (e.g., .fbx or .obj).

Choose an AR Development Platform:

  • Unity with AR Foundation: Unity is a popular game engine that supports AR development via AR Foundation, which integrates with ARCore (Google) and ARKit (Apple).
  • ARCore (for Android): Google’s platform for building AR experiences. Requires Android 7.0 or newer.
  • ARKit (for iOS): Apple’s platform for building AR experiences. Requires iOS devices with A9 chip and newer.

Develop the AR Experience:

  • Setting up AR: Initialize your AR development platform in your project. This involves adding necessary packages or SDKs.
  • Import the 3D model and animation: Bring your model into the development environment and ensure it plays correctly.
  • Tracking: Decide how you want the AR content to appear. You can use image recognition (where the animation appears when the camera sees a specific image) or plane detection (e.g., placing the animation on a table).
  • Integrate Interaction (optional): You can allow users to interact with the animation using touch gestures.

Test on a Device:

  • For Android: Build and deploy the AR app to an ARCore-supported device. Make sure to have developer mode and USB debugging enabled.
  • For iOS: Use Xcode to build and deploy the AR app to an ARKit-supported device.

Optimize and Refine:

  • AR applications can be performance-intensive. Optimize your 3D models, reduce polygon count, compress textures, and streamline animations.
  • Test the app in various lighting conditions and backgrounds to ensure consistent AR tracking and appearance.


  • Once satisfied, you can publish your app to Google Play Store (for Android) or Apple App Store (for iOS). Ensure you comply with the guidelines of each store.

Viewing the AR Animation:

  • Users can download the AR app to their smartphones.
  • Upon launching the app and granting necessary permissions, users can point their camera at the designated trigger (e.g., image or surface) to view the 3D animation superimposed onto the real world.

Remember, AR technology is constantly evolving, so it’s a good idea to keep up with updates from AR platforms and tools to ensure the best results.